A GLEE Club may have existed as early as 1846. Combined with a string instrument group, it is mentioned in the Palladium for 1859-60 as Les Sans Souci organization. In the following years the Palladium lists the Amateur Musical Club, University Choir, Sophomore Glee Club, Senior Glee Club, Cremona Club, Sophomore Aeolians, Amphionic, and Minstrels. Several fraternities organized serenading clubs in the late 1860's.
The University Glee Club had seven members in 1868-69. This group gave a series of concerts in different cities of the state, beginning at Jackson, in February, 1870. More than one hundred students "formed an excursion party to attend the debut of the club, and we are informed that the pleasure of the trip was enhanced by special railroad accommodations and fine weather" (Michigan Book, p. 137). The Jackson Citizen had this to say of the concert: "The Concert of the Glee Club of the University of Michigan, last night, was a splendid musical treat. The members composing it have fine natural voices, in the main, which they have well cultivated. That the large audience before them was pleased was testified by repeated applause." The club gave twenty-six concerts that season, and "everywhere the alumni were enthusiastic and hospitable. By wearing University caps the glee club gave to some persons the impression that they were members of a fire-company, while others took them to be Arabs travelling with Forepaugh's circus."
The Chronicle noted in 1873 an entire absence of musical organizations and suggested that each class form a glee club. A renewal of interest took place in 1876 and the Glee Club made a successful tour, visiting Detroit, Jackson, and Eaton Rapids, but in 1878 the group again became dormant.
The University Glee Club was revived in 1884, this time without break to the present — 1957. Soon after the time of its revival it became one of the most important student societies. It was supplemented in 1889-90 by the University Banjo Club and a few years later by a second organization, the University Mandolin Club.
In 1890 Albert A. Stanley became director of the Glee Club, and under his Page 1868leadership the club acquired a national reputation and began its series of long concert trips to Chicago, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, and New York City. By 1928 the club had visited forty states. Dr. Earl V. Moore followed Dr. Stanley in the directorship, and the succeeding directors have been Theodore Harrison, David Mattern, and, since 1947, Professor Philip Duey.
Professor Duey, the present director, has added considerably to the prestige of the group. He was formerly a member of the famed "Revelers Quartette." He arranges much of the music sung by the club, and some of his arrangements, known as the Michigan Glee Club Series, are being published by the Boston Music Company.
In the fall of 1951 the club gave a combined concert with the Glee Club of Cornell University and since then has given joint concerts with the glee clubs of other universities. During the summer of 1955 the Glee Club made a four-week concert tour of Europe. Sixteen concerts were given in The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and France. The tour began with a command performance before Queen Juliana of The Netherlands. The club has appeared on the Ed Sullivan "Toast of the Town" television show, and it has recorded a group of college songs for Decca records.
Members are drawn from nearly all the colleges of the University, about half being enrolled in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. Past members include Stuart Churchill, of Fred Waring fame, Chase Baromeo, formerly a basso with the Metropolitan Opera Company, and Thomas Dewey, former governor of New York, who was also business manager of the club. The club is student-managed and self-perpetuating, and the student officers are responsible for the concert tours and other activities.