Eben Tourjee was born at Warwick, Rhode Island, June 1, 1834, and died in Boston, April 12, 1891.
He was the son of parents in humble circumstances and was obliged to work for his living at the age of eight.
He managed to teach himself music, however, and at the age of fifteen became a clerk in a music store in Providence, Rhode Island.
Two years later he opened a store is his own in Fall River, and also taught music in public school. It was here that he first established the class system of teaching piano, voice and organ which has since become so popular in the United States.
In 1859 he founded a conservatory in East Greenwich, and still further developed his ideas in class teaching.
A trip to Europe in 1863 enabled him to study piano with various distinguished teachers, including August Haupt.
He also made a careful study of the European conservatory system.
Upon his return he founded a conservatory in Providence, and in 1867 extended his operations to Boston, where he founded the New England Conservatory.
He soon drew around him a distinguished body of teachers and placed a sound musical education within reach of all.
He took an active part in the great “Peace Jubilee” of 1869, and much of his musical success was due to his enterprise and energy.
Ebon Tourjee must be counted among the great promoters of musical education in America. He is a startling example of how zeal and enthusiasm, and a talent for organization will overcome a lack of fundamental education.