Finding aid for the Frank Hruby, Sr. Family Photographs

Frank Hruby, Sr. Family Photographs
Western Reserve Historical Society
Phone: 216-721-5722
Hruby Family
0.80 linear feet (4 containers)
Frank Hruby Sr. (1856-1812) was the founder and patriarch of one of Cleveland, Ohio's leading musical families. A native of Bohemia, he traveled throughout Europe as a musician and conductor before settling in 1884 in Cleveland, where he organized the Great Western Band in 1889. His eight children all became musicians, including several who became members of the Cleveland Orchestra. In 1916, two of his children, Frank (V) and Fred, founded the Hruby Conservatory of Music in Cleveland. The collection consists of 400 mostly black and white photographs, 280 slides, 100 negatives, and 20 sound recordings (17 records, one cassette, and one reel-to-reel tape).
PG 608
The records are in English and Czech

History of the Hruby Family

Biographical sketch courtesy of the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

The Hruby Family has produced leading musicians in Cleveland, Ohio, 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. A favorite with the Republican Party, the band played at the dedication of the Cuyahoga County Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument on July 4, 1894 and the 1896 Republican National Convention in St. Louis, Missoui.

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 V and Fred founded the Hruby Conservatory of Music at Broadway Avenue and East 55th Street in Cleveland. 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 V 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.
click here to view the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History entry on the Hruby Family
click here to view the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History entry for Frank Hruby, Sr.

Scope and Content

The Frank Hruby, Sr. Family Photographs, 1884-2001 and undated, consist of 400 mostly black and white photographs, 280 slides, 100 negatives, and 20 sound recordings (17 records, one cassette, and one reel-to-reel tape).

The photographic material in the collection depicts Hruby family members and friends in Cleveland, Ohio. It also depicts Hruby family musical groups including the Hruby Quintet, Great Western Band, Lakeside Band, Heights High School band, Hruby Family Orchestra, and the Belvedere Pleasure Club. Places depicted include Cehnice, Czech Republic; Liberal, Kansas, where the Hruby family owned property; and several locations in western Europe visited by the Hruby family on vacation.

Sound recordings are mostly commercial releases from the Czech Republic, but also include some test recordings by Frank Hruby.

Statement of Arrangement

The collection is arranged in two series.
Series I: Photographic Material is arranged alphabetically by format and then alphabetically by subject.
Series II: Sound Recordings is arranged by format.

Restrictions on Access


Related Material: Related Material

Researchers should also consult MS 5258 Frank Hruby, Sr. Family Papers; and MS 4567 Frank Hruby, Sr. Papers.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


Arrangers (Musicians) -- Ohio -- Cleveland.
Conductors (Music) -- Ohio -- Cleveland.
Czech Americans -- Ohio -- Cleveland.
Czechs -- Ohio -- Cleveland.
Great Western Band (Cleveland, Ohio).
Music -- Ohio -- Cleveland.
Musicians -- Ohio -- Cleveland.
Orchestral music.


Hruby, Frank Sr, 1856-1912.

Family Names:

Hruby family.

Technical Requirements

Researchers will need access to a record player, cassette player and/or reel-to-reel tape player in order to listen to the sound recordings in this collection.

Preferred Citation

[Container ___, Folder ___] PG 608 Frank Hruby, Sr. Family Photographs, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Ohio

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mike Hruby in 2012.

Processing Information

Processing of this collection was made possible by a gift from Gina Hamister. Processed by Christine Borne in 2014.

Detailed Description of The Collection

Series I: Photographic Material, 1884-2001; undated

Box 1 / Folder 1
Negatives, Hruby family members and unidentified people, ca. 1930s

Box 1 / Folder 2
Photographs, Hruby and Ptacek family album, ca. 1900s

Box 1 / Folder 3
Photographs, Hruby Conservatory orchestra concert, 1925

Box 1 / Folder 4
Photographs, Hruby family members and friends, ca. 1884-1974

Box 1 / Folder 5-6
Photographs, musical groups and performances, 1884-1980

Box 1 / Folder 7
Photographs, places, 1895-2001

Box 2
Slides depicting Hruby family members in Europe, ca. 1960

Series II: Sound Recordings, 1935-2000; undated

Box 3 / Folder 1
Records, Axman, "Sladeckovi Kone" / Nesvera, "Morave," 78 rpm, undated

Box 3 / Folder 2-3
Records, Ceska Narodni Sin, Hruby Brothers Quintet, Cleveland Recording Company 33 1/3 rpm, (2 copies), 1956

Box 3 / Folder 4
Records, Cleveland Orchestra, Hruby Brothers Concert, "Secret," Cleveland Recording Company, 78 rpm, 1945

Box 3 / Folder 5
Records, Foerster, "Polni Cestou" / "Kdyz Jsme Se Loucili," 78 rpm (broken), undated

Box 3 / Folder 6
Records, Hruby, "Maresh" (piano), undated

Box 3 / Folder 7
Records, Janacek, "Marycka Magdonova," 78 rpm, undated

Box 3 / Folder 8
Records, Narodni pisen, "Anicko Dzevecko" / "Panimamo," 78 rpm (broken), undated

Box 3 / Folder 9
Records, Narodni pisne, Cizmicky Moje, "Tancuj, Tancuj, Vykrucaj" / "Bol Jeden Gajdos," 78 rpm (broken), undated

Box 3 / Folder 10
Records, "Nepudu Domu Part I," Frank Hruby, composer, 1935

Box 3 / Folder 11
Records, "Nepudu Domu Part II," Frank Hruby, composer, 1935

Box 3 / Folder 12
Records, Program transcription, "In a Persian Market," Victor Concert Orchestra, 78 rpm, undated

Box 3 / Folder 13
Records, "Robert McGinnis Plays the Clarinet", ca. 1960

Box 3 / Folder 14
Records, Smetana, "Pisen na Mori," 78 rpm, undated

Box 3 / Folder 15
Records, Test recording, metal and wood clarinets, 33 1/3 rpm, 1936

Box 3 / Folder 16
Records, unidentified, undated

Box 4 / Folder 1
Cassette tape, Frank M. Hruby interview on WCPN regarding Severance Hall remodeling, 2000

Box 4 / Folder 2
Reel to reel tape, Frank Hruby "G bratni a sestra", undated