Richard Arnold, Philharmonic concertmaster from 1876-1909, was born in Germany and explored many parts of the United States during his childhood. His family came to the U.S. in 1855 when Richard was only ten years old. As he later described, “we were a family of musicians. Both my father and my older brothers played, and I took lessons first from my father. We drifted to Columbus, O., when we landed here and later went to Memphis.” At the age of 19, Arnold sailed back to Germany to study the violin for three years in Leipzig, returning to New York in 1867 to begin his professional career. He joined the Philharmonic in 1876. The National Archives at New York City holds his travel documentation, including this passport application from 1878. Arnold not only led the orchestra on stage, he became an important administrator in the musician-run institution. When Gustav Mahler took the podium in 1909, appointing Theodor Spiering as concertmaster, Arnold stopped performing but continued his managerial duties, corresponding with Mahler on everything from repertoire to personnel decisions, to the Mahler family’s accommodations in New York City.
– New York Philharmonic Archives