Collection spotlight: Harriet Bacon MacDonald Collection

Harriet Bacon MacDonald organized the performances of notable musical acts from around the world including Sousa and Rachmaninoff among many others in Dallas, Texas. MacDonald was also a teacher of classes in the Dunning Music System. The bulk of the material in this collection was gathered during her time as an impresaria in Dallas, Texas and a teacher of Dunning classes across the United States. The collection includes correspondence, documents, ephemera, programs, published works, photographs, and a scrapbook. Most of the material originates from Dallas, Texas, but there is also material from other states and cities.

Harriet Bacon MacDonald (1865-1935) was a notable impresaria in Dallas, Texas and teacher of the Dunning system. MacDonald received musical training in her hometown near Boston, Massachusetts where she first studied piano under the tutelage of James M. Tracy. MacDonald became a professional accompanist. She continued her training in Europe and worked with prominent artists. After her studies were completed, she returned to the United States and toured with the Norma Trio and the Constance Balfour Concert Company as an accompanist and impresaria. She came to Dallas, Texas through the Constance Balfour Concert Company and opened a studio in 1910. Soon afterward, she became director of the Schubert-Choral Club and used her connections from Europe to arrange musical acts in Dallas. MacDonald partnered with Mrs. Wesley Porter Mason to manage the performances of influential and well-known artists in Dallas, TX. MacDonald took the Dunning System course in 1915 and became a teacher soon after. Through this position, she traveled all over the United States teaching the Dunning System. In 1928, Macdonald’s husband, James R. Saville, became the new lessee of The Circle and renamed it the Showhouse. The theater hosted musical acts managed by MacDonald. In 1931, after being unable to pay for an opera troupe’s performance, along with some other scandals, MacDonald began having financial problems, which in turn caused her to go bankrupt and end her career as a manager. MacDonald passed away in 1935 at the age of 70. Her husband, James R. Saville, donated her papers to Southern Methodist University a week after her passing.

Please take a look at the detailed finding aid available through Texas Archival Resources Online here:

Image Courtesy of Harriet Bacon MacDonald collection, Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University

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