Founding & History

We Provide Help When Musicians Need It Most

Founded in 1914, the Musicians Foundation is the country’s oldest independent nonprofit organization dedicated to providing financial assistance to musicians and their families in times of need, crisis or transition.

Since its inception, the Musicians Foundation has provided nation-wide support to thousands of musicians across all genres, offering compassion, respect and the support necessary for them to weather financial difficulties and personal setbacks with dignity and security. Funds raised through concerts, annual dinners and bequests, as well as generous individual donors, have enabled the Musicians Foundation to spend a century giving back to the people who make the music — our shared source of joy, inspiration and incomparable, irreplaceable artistry.

Created By Musicians for Musicians

The Musicians Foundation was incorporated in 1914 by The Bohemians, a prestigious New York-based musicians club whose membership has included the most renowned names in the music industry for over 100 years.

Forward-thinking and philanthropic, the original Bohemians decided that rather than invest in a permanent clubhouse of their own, they would direct their formidable fund-raising abilities toward creating and endowing an organization “to provide voluntary aid and assistance to professional musicians and their families in case of need.”

The Bohemians set to work making their philanthropic vision a reality, drawing on the extraordinary talents and connections of their members. An early benefit concert, described by Bohemians historian H.E. Krehbiel as “the most sensational incident of the 1913 musical season,” featured Pablo Casals, Max Liebling, and Jan Paderewski. Charles Steinway spoke on behalf of the foundation, and the famed opera singer Madame Marcella Sembrich gave a concert for the organization in 1915. Over the years, music’s brightest stars, among them Jascha Heifetz, Yo-Yo Ma, and Isaac Stern, have lent their skills and artistry in support of the Musicians Foundation’s important work.

The relationship between The Bohemians and Musicians Foundation remains strong today, with considerable Musicians Foundation funding continuing to come from Bohemian members. The Bohemians not only founded what has become the nation’s oldest charitable organization for musicians, they forged a culture of compassion, responsibility and respect that continues to define the Musicians Foundation mission today.

Big Names With Big Hearts

Music’s brightest stars and supporters have been active with The Bohemians and the Musicians Foundation over the last century:

Leonard Bernstein
Enrico Caruso
Pablo Casals
Walter Damrosch
Jascha Heifetz
Yo-Yo Ma
Elkan Naumberg
Jan Paderewski
Sergei Prokofiev
Sergei Rachmaninoff
Arthur Rubinstein
Gustav Schirmer
Charles Steinway
Isaac Stern
Arturo Toscanini

Today, the Musicians Foundation is proud to have an advisory council consisting of world-renowned musicians Joshua Bell, Cipa and Misha Dichter, Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, and Wynton Marsalis.

To volunteer with The Musicians Foundation, explore Get Involved or contact:
B.C. Vermeersch, Executive Director