The Musical Research Society of Bartlesville (MRS), Oklahoma was organized in 1908 by Mrs. R.D. Rood and Mrs. Howard Sharp and had 14 charter members. Mrs. R.D. Rood was the first president. For its first two years the society was called the Society for Musical Research. The Society federated with the State and National Federation of Music Clubs the same year they were organized.
The Society’s object has always been “the development of musical culture.” Its membership grew from the original 14 to a peak of 257 in 1948. Until 1952 there were three classes of members – active, associate, and auxiliary. During the war years the men became auxiliary members and the second meeting of each month was held at night so that they could attend. In 1955 the Society discontinued associate membership.
At first the Society met in the Civic Center and various schools. In 1956, six clubs formed a corporation in order to build a club house. Since then the Society has met at the Bartlesville Women’s Club and remained an active member of Bartlesville Women’s Club, Inc. In addition to MRS, there are now four other members of the Women’s Club: Tuesday Club, Daughters of the American Revolution, and Indian Women’s Club.
Musical Research worded to raise money to purchase its first Steinway grand piano. Mrs. Frank Phillips, one of Bartlesville’s most public-minded citizens, donated their second Steinway in 1949. Miss Martha Boucher willed them their third Steinway in 1989. She was one of Bartlesville’s most gifted teachers, and her pupils won many awards.
The Musical Research Society has done much to elevate the community’s musical standards. In 1935, in conjunction with Community Concerts of New York City, it sponsored the organization of the Bartlesville Cooperative Concert Association, which brought many splendid artists to the city each year.
The Society established its Scholarship Program in 1944 and began awarding scholarships to outstanding music students in their senior year of high school. It also awarded young composers. With the help of special programs and individual contributions, the program has grown throughout the years.
Mrs. F.W. Stewart, a former president and long-time active member, bequeathed a large sum of money to the Musical Research Society Scholarship Fund. In 1983, the Society formed a Board of Trustees to manage the greatly increased scholarship fund. Additionally, it added the Stewart Award to the High School Senior Awards and began awarding graduate grants biannually by audition. The Society also awards other scholarships, and each year it pays $1 per member for the upkeep of “Inspiration Point” in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. MRS received the “Pillar of the Point” award in 1988 for its ongoing support of the fine arts colony.
Musical Research Society sponsored two Junior Music clubs for many years –Da Capo, which was organized in 1948, and Del Segno, organized in 1952. The first national juvenile music club was organized in 1936. MRS also contributed to the community with operettas, musicals, and talent programs that involved many young people of the community.
The Society’s first Choral Group was organized in 1928 with Mrs. Bert Sutton, Sr. as Director. There have been many excellent choral groups through the years that contributed to the community, as well as the Musical Research Society.
Each year Bartlesville holds a very successful East District Music Festival for the Oklahoma Federation of Music Club.
The Society has participated in National Music Week since its inception; until recently, presenting many fine programs for the public. It has been the policy of the Society to stress American music and to assist American artists in every way possible.
For many years the Society maintained a book shelf at the Bartlesville Public Library. In 1946 the club helped to establish and furnish a music room where sheet music, reference books and recorded music could be checked out. The club contributed regularly to this project’s upkeep. In 1952 the late Bernice Breazeale’s music library was gifted to the library. Although some early artifacts and photographs remain in the library, the rest is at the Bartlesville History Museum.
Over the years the Society has received many awards from both OFMC and NFMC for yearbooks, achievement books, Parade of American Music programs, and Crusade for Strings.
Musical Research Society has hosted the OFMC State Convention several times since 1952, most recently in 2014.
Two members of Musical Research Society have served as Oklahoma Federation State Presidents: Mrs. F.W. Stewart and Mrs. C.R. Ringham. They also both served on the NFMC Board. Mrs. Stewart was the Central Region Vice President for four years. Mrs. Ringham was the Lone Star District President for four years, served as NFMC Student Advisor for four years, and later as Young Artist Presentation Chairman for eight years.
Mrs. J.M. Brush was appointed Young Composers Chairman for four years for NFMC. She brought honor to Musical Research Society through her national reputation as a composer, and the Society’s composition award bears her name.
The Society has had five Life Members of the National Federation of Music Clubs.
Musical Research Society feels that in its 106 years, many good deeds have been accomplished by members of our organization for the club and for our community, our state, and our nation. As we look forward, we realize that yesterday our field was America. Today we are linked culturally as well as politically with the world. Let each of us face the challenge to explore and master new horizons.
— Mrs. C.R. Ringham
updates – Mrs. L.F. Christensen