LaBudde | Theodore (Ted) Dreher Collection



Related Cataloged Material

- Scores


Related Collections By Topic

- Music
- Music: Classical & Sacred
- Music: Jazz & Big Band
- Music: Kansas City Jazz

Scope and Content of Collection

The Theodore (Ted) Dreher Collection was donated to the UMKC Miller Nichols Library in December 2007 by David Paul Dreher (grandson) and Ted Dreher (son). The manuscript collection is housed in the Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections, while the sound recordings are held in the Marr Sound Archives. The collection, which includes material from the 1940s to the 1990s, is contained in 19 boxes and is divided into seven series: Manuscript Scores, Musicals, Music Notebooks, Correspondence, Miscellaneous, Oversize Manuscript Scores, and Sound Recordings. The richest part of the collection is the original works by Dreher, including numerous manuscript scores, and a book entitled The Wicked Wicket: Prohibition's Effect on Kansas City's Early 30s Gin Mills. The book is housed separately in the general book collection of the Department of Special Collections.

Biographical Sketch

Theodore (Ted) Dreher was born January 5, 1912, in Calgary, Alberta, to American parents Irving Andrew Dreher and Clara Louise Lewis. Dreher's parents relocated to Kansas City, Missouri, where he grew up and was educated. He attended H.C. Kumpf School (1924), Central Junior High School (1925), Paseo High School (1928), and Kansas City Junior College (1930). He married Marguerite Chuning in 1935 and had several children with her.

In 1922, when Dreher was ten years old, his parents hired Fred Brack in order to teach their son how to play the piano. Brack was only the first of several formal and informal instructors Dreher had, but it was the beginning of his musical career. As a young man during the 1930s, Dreher played at several clubs, including Club Leisure, Paradise Club, Silver Slipper, and Oriental Amo Club. He was composer-in-residence to the Oklahoma Symphony Works Progress Administration project in 1937, and worked in Chicago for the WGN radio orchestra and Jack Teagarden's band during the 1940s.

Dreher moved back to Kansas City in 1943. He was elected president of the Kansas City Musicians' Union Local #34 in 1951. He served until 1969 when he was appointed assistant to the President of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) by then-president Herman D. Kenin. He was also commissioned as a composer, including the AFM Congress of Strings training project and the Capitol Chamber Artists of Albany, New York.

Dreher composed numerous works, such as Bettina, Bing Is Going To Sing, The Clown Who Was Sightless, Don’t Wait For Me, Essay For Solo Cello, Honky Tonk Saturday Night, She Said "Someday", and Sweet Candy Baby, among other noteworthy compositions. In his book The Wicked Wicket, Dreher stated he had composed 418 songs during his career (Dreher 24).

Ted Dreher died May 8, 1996, in Plano, Texas. He was 84.


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