Thomas, (Christian Friedrich) Theodore(1835–1905) conductor; born in Esens, Germany. Thomas studied violin before coming the U.S.A. with his family in 1845. After peripatetic years playing violin around the country, he made his conducting debut in New York in 1860; two years later he founded the Thomas Orchestra, which played in New York and toured the U.S.A. until 1878, all to immense acclaim. From 1862 Thomas was also co-conductor of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and in 1877 took over the New York Philharmonic. Except for 1878 to 1880, when he served as president of an institution he founded, the Cincinnati College of Music, Thomas conducted in New York and Brooklyn until 1891. In that year he was named conductor of the Chicago Orchestra (later Symphony), where he remained until his death. He was a dynamic apostle of the symphony orchestra in the U.S.A., perhaps doing more to foster classical music than any other in the country's history; besides establishing the older European repertoire, he introduced to the U.S.A. the music of Tchaikovsky, Dvořák, Bruckner, Richard Strauss, and many others.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.