Hyman Schandler, Founder of the Cleveland Women's Orchestra
Hyman Schandler was born in Latvia in 1900 and came to Cleveland at the age of 3 with his mother and three sisters. His father had preceded them by two years.
He began playing the violin at the age of nine, taking lessons at Bailey's Music School, the forerunner of the Cleveland Music School Settlement. He studied at the Settlement for eight years, and began teaching there at age eighteen. In 1926, in a ceremony performed at the Settlement, he married a faculty colleague, Rebecca White. He continued teaching there and, when he died in 1990, he had been teaching at the Settlement for more than 70 years.
He studied with Theodore Mueller in Salzburg, Austria, and performed with the Salzburg Festival Orchestra and Salzburg Mozarteum. He also studied conducting under the world-famous conductor, Herbert von Karajan. In 1927, he auditioned for conductor Nikolai Sokoloff and was accepted into the Cleveland Orchestra. He soon became principal second violin, a position that he held for 35 years. In 1935, he organized the Cleveland Women's Orchestra, the city's first full symphony orchestra for women. The Orchestra made its debut in November of 1935 at Severance Hall. Mr. Schandler conducted the Orchestra until his death in 1990.
Mr. Schandler also conducted other orchestras in the area including the Lorain Symphony Orchestra and the Temple Men's Club Orchestra. When he retired from the Cleveland Orchestra in 1975, his tenure of 48 1/2 years was a record. In 1976, he was invited to join the Dallas Symphony Orchestra where he played until 1978. During this time he commuted back to Cleveland to continue conducting his beloved Cleveland Women's Orchestra.
Hyman Schandler was a fixture on Cleveland's musical scene since the 1920s. He was an outstanding musician, teacher and advisor to generations of music groups and musicians in Cleveland. But he probably will be remembered most for his "forward thinking" in founding the Cleveland Women's Orchestra, and certainly will be remembered for his 55 years of conducting it.
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The Cleveland Women's Orchestra is a member of the American Symphony Orchestra League.