In 1959, Marguerite Kozenn Chajes, under the sponsorship of the International Foundation Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, founded the Pro Mozart Society of Greater Detroit. Its purpose was to further the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in annual concerts and to help promote worldwide awareness of the preparation and publication of a new and complete critical edition of all of Mozart’s compositions. This massive, modern musicological research project was undertaken in the 1950′s by the Mozarteum in cooperation with three “Mozart” cities, Salzburg, Vienna and Augsburg, to supersede the edition published by “Breitkopf and Hartel” between 1876 and 1905.
To provide financial support for this major scholarly publishing venture, Pro Mozart societies were organized in many countries around the world including six in the United States, Detroit being the first. As each new volume of “Die Neue Mozart-Ausgabe” was published, it was sent to libraries worldwide, including the Detroit Public Library and the Wayne State University Library.
Mrs. Chajes was the passionate and devoted Artistic Director of the Society until her death in the year 2000. She gathered friends and music lovers to the cause, appointed a Board of Directors and incorporated the Society with the State of Michigan. Lawrence LaGore, a well-known Detroit area pianist, performed on the first program in 1959 and was soon named Music Director, a position he held until his death in 1999. Pianist Pauline Martin has served as artistic director since that time.
Among the early supporters of the new Society were The Tuesday Musicale of Detroit and the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Michigan when the Masons were made aware of the involvement Mozart had with the free masonry movement in the course of his short life.
Over the years, several promising music students in the Detroit area were awarded scholarships by the Society to attend summer classes at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Among them is the widely acclaimed pianist, James Tocco, founder of the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival.
Many years ago the Mozarteum created the “The Magic Flute Medal” to be presented periodically to individuals for meritorious service to their respective Societies. Local recipients have included Alice Lungershauen, Lawrence LaGore, Armand Gebert and Alice Berberian Haidostian.
In tribute to Mrs. Chajes the Society was honored in 1992 when Dr. Fredrich Gehmacher, the International President of the Mozarteum, took time to make a quick visit to the Society’s annual Detroit concert while on a business trip from Austria to New York City. On behalf of the Mozarteum the President praised Mrs. Chajes for her untiring efforts to promote Mozart wherever she traveled in the United States, in Europe (where she was affectionately referred to as “Mrs. Mozart”) and in the Middle East. A permanent recognition of her life’s work can be found on the ceiling of the Mozarteum where her name “Marguerite Kozenn Chajes” has been engraved.
Since its inception the society has presented annual concerts at various venues in the metropolitan area with the participation of local professional vocalists and instrumentalists, mainly from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The Pro Mozart Society has appreciated a loyal audience through the years who have enjoyed and supported the artistic endeavors of the Society.