Virginia Glee Club history, 1910 director… found again

I found more evidence tonight about the mysterious 1910 director of the Virginia Glee Club, M. S. Remsburg. Ironically enough, it came from the same source that gave us the information of his existence in the first place.

I was thrown off by a description of him as Prof. M.S. Remsburg. That may have been an honorific, but his real title was director, as in the director of Christ Church, Charlottesville, as I learned from the September 17, 1910 issue of Madison House Notes, the newsletter of the YMCA at the University at that time. Following the departure of Dr. Faville from the faculty, there was no other organist or music director at the University for chapel services, this being ten years before the foundation of the McIntire School of Music, and the university faculty voted on or before September 17, 1910 to reschedule chapel services so that Remsburg could cover them after Sundays at Christ Church.

A week later, Remsburg picked up directorship of the Glee Club, which appears to have been reformed out of thin air around that time. The audition notice on the 24th of September notes “It is hoped that a large number will turn out, because we ought to have a Glee Club at Virginia. Other colleges in the State have them, and we must have one also.”

The irony, of course, is that there had been a Glee Club just a few years prior, and had had one longer than any other school in Virginia. But an organization entirely run by students, with no membership or support that lasts more than four years, has no long term memory.

As for Remsburg, there’s no reference to him in subsequent years of Madison House Notes, and the increasingly plaintive recruitment notes for the chapel choir and lack of mention of a director suggest that the group was back in student hands again. But not for long; no choir practices are listed in the 1913 bulletin, so even the chapel choir was gone by this time. It took the arrival of A. L. Hall-Quest, and his taking direction of  the dormant Glee Club and the chapel choir in 1914-1915, to rebuild it, partly with voices from the Glee Club.

Incidentally, I stumbled across another Glee Club name in the Madison House Notes. J.A. Morrow, the author of “Virginia Hail, All Hail” (aka “Ten Thousand Voices”), is described as singing a solo with the chapel choir on October 10, 1916, under the direction of Hall-Quest. I’m still looking for further information about him, but it’s starting to look like he too, like E. A. Craighill, the author of “The Good Old Song”‘s lesser sung verses, might have been in the Glee Club. But that’s a post for another time.

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