Cluss Family Stories -- Music
The Cluss family was well known in the musical life of Washington. Daughters Anita and Lillian played the harp and sang in public performances. Adolf Cluss joined and supported the Washington Sängerbund, a German singing society founded in 1851 and still active today. Anita Cluss performed professionally in Washington, New York, and Europe and on the summer circuit in Asbury Park, Saratoga Springs, and Chautauqua.
The musical tradition probably evolved from Rosa Schmidt Cluss's family. A Cluss family history tells that Cluss's father, Heinrich, was never interested in music. He considered it to be a waste of time--and money. Heinrich once replied to his daughter's request for money to attend a piano concert by Liszt, that he would not spend that amount on only one musician. On the other hand, despite their father's lack of interest, Cluss's half-sister Ernestine was among the performers in the great singing festival or Liederfest held in June 1840 in Heilbronn, which featured Mendelssohn's oratorio Paulus (St. Paul) in St. Kilian's Church. This was one of the earliest pan-German singing festivals and involved people from well beyond regional borders.
Rosa's Cluss's family, however, counted among its closest friends Philipp Wolsieffer, a music teacher, who emigrated from the Palatinate with the Schmidts in the mid-1830s. Wolsieffer taught with Jacob Schmidt at Baltimore's Zion School for a few years, before moving to Philadelphia where he was well known as a composer, singing teacher, and organizer of musical productions. Rosa's sister, Sophia, "was a woman of unusual musical talent and with a glorious voice." She married Edward F. Droop, owner of a Pennsylvania Avenue music store, composer and bandleader. Edward Droop and Adolf Cluss became life-long friends. The Droop's son, Edward H. Droop, besides continuing the family music store business into the 1940s, was an organizer of the Washington Symphony Orchestra, the predecessor of today's National Symphony Orchestra.