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History of the Friends of Music

Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss designed Dumbarton Oaks to be beautiful without and within, filling the gardens with flowers, the library with rare volumes, and the house itself with fine art and music. The Friends of Music, founded in 1946, continues this tradition with classical concerts from established and rising musicians.
The Musical Art Quartet and the Bliss Stradivarius Viola

The Musical Art Quartet and the Bliss Stradivarius Viola

Mildred Barnes Bliss was an enthusiastic patron of the Musical Art Quartet. She supported the string quartet from soon after its inception in 1926 until it disbanded in 1944. The quartet performed in the Music Room each year between 1941 and 1944, and it was largely due to the success of these performances that Dumbarton Oaks decided to inaugurate a Friends of Music concert series in 1946.

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Stravinsky, Copland, Tower, and Shaw

Stravinsky, Copland, Tower, and Shaw

The Blisses ensured that music was given proper space in their homes, a commitment that was enhanced through their sponsorship of musicians and the commissioning of new works. Dumbarton Oaks continues this commitment through a concert series and commissioning new works from early-career musicians.

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Music at Dumbarton Oaks: The Performers

Music at Dumbarton Oaks: The Performers

Many famous or soon-to-be famous musicians performed at Dumbarton Oaks over the years, and several have reminisced fondly about their concertizing there, in both the residential and institutional periods.

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Commissioning and Performing Contemporary Compositions

Commissioning and Performing Contemporary Compositions

Dumbarton Oaks’ mission to foster original research and publication in humanistic studies has found a parallel expression in the Friends of Music commissions and performances of contemporary music.

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The Friends of Music

The Friends of Music

Maintaining the Blisses’ tradition of having music performed in their home, the concerts continue to present some of the most celebrated and promising musicians to Georgetown in the splendor of the Blisses’ former estate.

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Celil Refik Kaya

Celil Refik Kaya

Third recipient of Early-Career Musician Residency

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