Our History

In 1932, Eva Judd O’Meara, then Librarian of the School of Music at Yale, was offered the opportunity to acquire for Yale a great musical manuscript at a price far beyond the possibilities of annual budgeting. In this exciting emergency a group of individuals interested in music at Yale made it possible for Yale to acquire its most famous musical treasure, the original manuscript of J.S. Bach’s Clavier-Büchlein vor Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, generally considered the most important Bach manuscript in the United States.

The formal organization of The Friends of Music at Yale did not come about until eight years later, when the experience of the Bach manuscript inspired a group of alumni to inaugurate Yale’s Friends of Music. As in that first instance in 1932 when a group of friends banded together to perform a great service for Yale, so ever since its inception The Friends of Music at Yale have sought to serve music at Yale in unusual and imaginative ways.

Important individual items of printed and manuscript music, historically significant musical instruments and modern replicas, restoration to playing condition of original instruments of great significance, equipment for an electronic music laboratory, incentives for the encouragement of talented students, sponsorship of a number of stunning concerts, and fostering valuable publications and research — these are among the accomplishments of The Friends of Music at Yale.

For over 70 years, The Friends of Music at Yale have supported and enriched the musical activities, acquisitions, recordings, and performances for the Yale community and the public at large, through grants to the Yale Symphony Orchestra, Music Library, Bach Society, Collection of Musical Instruments, Collegium Musicum, Music Department, and to the residential colleges for special musical events, as well as through prizes to accomplished undergraduate scholars, composers and performers. The Friends of Music have augmented low budgets to ensure the highest possible quality of musical life at this great university.