Edna Gockel Gussen

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Edna Gockel Gussen (born 1878 in Covington, Kentucky; died 1937) followed her husband as owner and director of the Birmingham Conservatory of Music from 1920 to 1930, and is remembered for putting Julia Tutwiler's poem "Alabama (song)" to music, accepted as the Official State Song of Alabama in 1931.

Edna Gockel studied at the College of Music of Cincinnati, Ohio under Benjamin Guckenberger, and followed him to Birmingham as his teenaged assistant at the founding of the Birmingham Conservatory of Music. R. S. Munger encouraged the development of her musical talents by sponsoring her continued studies in Berlin under Xavier and Phillip Scharwenka over the next two years.

She married William Gussen, who purchased the Conservatory from Guckneberger, in 1903. She served as organist and choirmaster for both St Mary's-on-the-Highlands Episcopal Church and Temple Emanu-El, and directed the Treble Clef Club choir.

Gussen won a statewide competition sponsored by the Alabama Federation of Music Clubs in 1917 to set Tutwiler's poem, written in the late 1860s, to music. The club lobbied for her winning composition to be adopted as the official state song, which was made official by a resolution in the Alabama House of Representatives on March 9, 1931.

Gussen took over the Birmingham Conservatory when William died in 1920, and led it for the next ten years, until faculty member Dorsey Whittington took over.

References

  • Musical Alabama Volume 2 (1936) Federated Music Clubs of Alabama. Tuscaloosa: Weatherford Printing Company