HRUBY FAMILY - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
The HRUBY FAMILY has produced leading musicians in Cleveland for three generations and was once known as "America's foremost musical family." FRANK HRUBY, SR. (IV), the family's patriarch, was born in Cehnice, Bohemia in 1856. His first musical job, at age 9, was with the Hagenbeck Circus. He stayed with the circus for 12 years and directed three bands at the end of his time. After working as a traveling musician across Europe, he played first clarinet with a band at Brighton Beach in England for a few years. He came to the United States in 1883 upon learning from Joseph Zamecnik, a Czech-born bandleader, of the demand for experienced musicians in Cleveland. With Zamecnik's assistance, Hruby secured a position as clarinetist with the EUCLID AVENUE OPERA HOUSE and brought his wife Katerina (1861-1933) and infant son Frank (V) (1883-1974) to Cleveland. He played the clarinet at the Opera House for the next 22 years. In 1889, Hruby organized the Great Western Band, which played in the city parks every summer and in every large city in the state of Ohio. Favorite with the Republican Party, the band played at the dedication of the SOLDIERS' AND SAILORS' MONUMENT on July 4, 1894 and the 1896 Republican National Convention in St. Louis.
As the Hruby family grew, younger brothers and sisters joined Frank, who played clarinet, piano, viola, and bass clarinet, just as soon as they could play a musical instrument. While their father taught them to play, their mother enforced a rigid practice schedule. Alois (Louie) (1886-1968) played cello, trumpet, cornet, and cellophone. He taught at the CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF MUSIC from 1935 to 1955 and played first the cello and later the trumpet in the CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA from 1918 until 1966. John (1887-1964) played cornet, trumpet, and violin in the Cleveland Orchestra from 1918 until 1926. He taught music at Patrick Henry and Audubon junior high schools in the Cleveland school system and at CATHOLIC LATIN SCHOOL from 1930 until 1950. Celia (Mazanec) (1889-1937) played flute and piano. Ferdinand (Fred) (1891-1978) played piano and clarinet. Charles (1893-1976) played cornet, trumpet, and violin. Mayme (Kolda) (1897-1984) played piano and cello. William (1899-1965) played percussion and trumpet in the Cleveland Orchestra. He was also a prize-winning bandleader for various northern Ohio American Legion posts. All of the siblings but Celia and Fred played for the Cleveland Orchestra at one time or another, three being on its roster for its inaugural concert in 1918.
The Hruby children played over 600 concerts throughout the country on the Lyceum and Chautauqua circuits from July 17, 1907 until August 27, 1922. Shortly before his death in 1912, the elder Hruby took the children on a European tour to Bohemia, Germany, and the Netherlands. The five eldest brothers , also formed a quintet which toured nationally and was known for its musical repertoire and skill. In 1917, Frank and Fred founded the Hruby Conservatory of Music at Broadway Avenue and East 55th Street. The conservatory had a branch in EAST CLEVELAND, first at the intersection of Euclid and Superior avenues (1921-1949) and then at Northfield Road and Euclid Avenue. Both the Broadway and East Cleveland branches closed in 1968 upon the retirement of Fred and Frank from active teaching. Before the conservatory closed, however, all eight Hruby siblings taught there as well as three grandchildren of Frank (IV): Frank Hruby (VI) (b. 1918), Richard Kolda (b. 1920), and Joseph Hruby (b. 1922). Trained at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, Frank (VI) had a distinguished career as a teacher, music director and conductor of the Cain Park Summer Theater in CLEVELAND HEIGHTS from 1946 until 1956, and music critic for the CLEVELAND PRESS from 1956 until 1982. He also composed several musicals for Curtain Pullers, children's theater program at the CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE. Richard, Mayme's son, played trumpet and taught in the Cleveland Heights schools from 1948 until 1980. Joseph, Alois's son, played trumpet with the Cleveland Orchestra and the CLEVELAND PHILHARMONIC as well as many stage, theater, and dance bands in Cleveland. He also served as vice president of the CLEVELAND FEDERATION OF MUSICIANS, Local No. 4 in the 1970s.
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