May Beegle was Pittsburgh’s internationally famous concert Impressario. As founder of the Pittsburgh Orchestra Association and later the Mary Beegle Agency she brought outstanding international musicians to Pittsburgh for 28 years from 1913 through 1944. She booked, financed, and promoted concerts by Ernico Caruso, Sergel Rachmininoff, Ignace Jan Paderewski, Yehudi Menuhin, Friz Kreisler, Feodor Chaliapon, Pavlova, Madame Schumann-Heinck, Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra, Arthur Fielder and the Boston Pops, Victor Borga, and Will Rodgers. May also brought dramatic plays to Pittsburgh featuring Agnes Moorehead, Charles Boyer, Tyrone Power, and Charles Loughton, She brought the Chicago Grand Opera Company to Pittsburgh for 8 consecutive seasons. May also managed the Art Society Concerts from 1927 to 1937 and coordinated the Summer Pop Concerts.
Will Rogers wrote in her autograph book, "To May Beegle, my favorite Emprosario-I can't spell it."
Born and raised in Bedford, Pa, she moved to Pittsburgh with her parents after she graduated from Bedford High School. She wanted to be a piano teacher but took a job as a secretary to help her family financially. She stared as a secretary to William Mossman the manager of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1907. Working her way up she became the PSO’s publicist. When the PSO disbanded in 1909, May organized the Pittsburgh Orchestra Association to bring bring outstanding visiting orchestras to Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Orchestra Association sold season subscriptions from $7.50 to $1.75.
In 1927 when May pushed to present concerts on Sundays seven members of the Pittsburgh Orchestra Association resigned protesting that Sunday concerts were against their principles.
May Beegle Concerts
May worked with the Ellis agency starting in 1913 managing the Ellis concert series. In 1923 May decided to start her own concert promotion business. She wrote to her friends in the music business asking their suggestions for a name for her business. John Philip Sousa wrote back telling her to name her new business "May Beegle Concerts". May went on to became on of the most influential concert promoters in the world.
The May Beegle concert series was held at the Syria Mosque for over 20 years. Beegle financed and promoted concerts at the Syria Mosque. Highlights of her concerts included performances by Ernico Caruso (1920), The New York Philharmonic (1927), The Metropolitan Opera in Faust (1927), Sergei Rachmininoff, (1931, 1936) the Russian Grand Opera (1936), Jascha Heifetz (1937,1939) Ignace Jan Paderewski (1930, 1933, 1939), violinist Friz Kreisler (1930, 1935), Yehudi Menuhin (1935), Vladimir Horowitz (1937), 1940), Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra (1929, 1939), singer Ezio Pinza (1945) pianist Arthur Rubinstein (1949), Feodor Chaliapon, Pavlova, Madame Schumann-Heinck, and Arthur Fielder and the Boston Pops. She brought the Chicago Grand Opera Company to Pittsburgh for 8 consecutive seasons.
Mary died at age 56 in 1943. Her brother Thomas and his son William carried on her concert series until 1954.