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History and Archives

In the fall of 1886, a group of 15 women with a serious interest in music formed the Friday Morning Music Club, meeting at each others’ houses monthly on Fridays to study and give private concerts. At the time, women trained in music had few outlets for performance and the city’s musical life was very limited. The Club became their musical home, and its concerts the place to go to hear classical programs. By 1894, the Club had outgrown members’ houses and moved to the music room of The Washington Club, which seated 175.

As time went on, membership was opened to men and Club performances were opened to “friends” and achieved recognition for their professional quality. In 1974 the FMMC began offering weekly concerts to the public, becoming the major presenter that it is today. In addition to Friday concerts in Sumner School Museum, members present free programs monthly on other weekdays at Strathmore Hall and at Collington Auditorium, in Maryland; at the Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre, Arlington, Virginia; at the Old Town Hall, City of Fairfax, Virginia; and at the historic Dumbarton House in Georgetown. The Club supports a full orchestra, a chorale, a composers group, many at-home music groups, and an outreach program to retirement and nursing homes. A high-school division for students in the Washington area was begun in 1945, and students participate in their own recital series. Competitions in piano, strings, voice, woodwinds, and percussion for area high-school students are held each year.

During the 1946–47 season, the Club established a Foundation for the purpose of giving money to promising young musicians who are at the threshold of their careers. Since the 1950s, the FMMC Foundation has sponsored the yearly Washington International Competitions (WIC), which attract young musicians from around the world, many of whom have become international stars in piano, strings, and voice. A chamber music composition competition is held every third year, as is the Johansen International Competition (JIC) for Young String Players Ages 13 to 17.

The FMMC was one of five organizations/individuals that gave $5,000 to found the National Symphony Orchestra in 1931. FMMC also supported what later became the Washington Performing Arts Society (WPAS), co-sponsoring its concerts from 1957 to 1962 and using the Club’s share of the proceeds to support the FMMC Foundation’s music scholarships. In 1945, the Club took music to the public schools. Soon after, WPAS joined this effort and both groups formed Concerts in Schools, which today is funded mainly by WPAS with assistance from the FMMC.

For more detail about FMMC’s past, download our publication, “The First Hundred Years of the Friday Morning Music Club of Washington, D.C.,” by Charlotte Shear: First Hundred Years part 1 and First Hundred Years part 2.

Archives

Records of the Friday Morning Music Club and Foundation since 1885 preserve newsletters, yearbooks, and concert programs, as well as minutes, financial ledgers, tax reports, membership records, photographs, recordings, and scrapbooks. Archives from 1885 to 2000 are stored with the Historical Society of Washington, DC, located at Mount Vernon Square, 801 K Street, NW. Records since 2000 are available at the Club office. Scrapbooks covering the Club’s activities from 1944 to 1984 are in the Martin Luther King Public Library. Recordings of the Composers Group are also at the Martin Luther King Library. Several manuscripts of string quartet compositions by WIC winners are held by the Library of Congress Music Division, courtesy of the Kindler Foundation.

For more information, and to see an FMMC archives directory, please write to fmmc@fmmc.org.