The PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA was the first substantial orchestra in Cleveland drawing its members from the community. Although an earlier ensemble of the same name flourished ca. 1853-60, the orchestra in question was founded in 1881 by FERDINAND PUEHRINGER. Originally called the Philharmonic Society, it consisted of 30 amateur musicians augmented later with professionals. The Philharmonic was designed to combine musicians of all nationalities to form an orchestra with a permanent conductor. It was chiefly concerned with playing orchestral pieces. Puehringer was succeeded by Prof. Mueller Neuhoff, who expanded the orchestra's repertory to include opera productions. Franz X. Ahrens followed Mueller and expanded the size of the orchestra from 40 to 60 musicians. Finally, in 1888, under EMIL RING, the programs were enhanced and the performances improved. Its apogee was achieved when it served as the orchestra for the 1893 SAENGERFEST held in Cleveland, but it also became heavily indebted. Despite a reorganization in 1894, it was forced to disband in 1895.

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