Reis, Claire Raphael (1888–1978)

By: Donna P. Parker

Type: Biography

Published: June 1, 1995

Claire Raphael Reis, music promoter and author, daughter of Gabriel M. and Eugenie (Salamon) Raphael, was born at Brownsville, Texas, on August 4, 1888. She married Arthur M. Reis, president of Robert Reis and Company, on December 20, 1915. They had two children. Claire was educated in France, Germany, and New York and studied music under Bertha Fiering Tapper at the Institute of Musical Art. From 1912 to 1922 she worked to found the People's Music League of the People's Institute in New York, an organization that provided free concerts for immigrants and public schools. She became licensed as a kindergarten music teacher and adapted Montessori teaching methods to music. In 1914 she helped establish the Walden School.

In 1923 Mrs. Reis and several contemporary composers established the League of Composers as an alternative to the International Composers' Guild. She was the league's executive director for twenty-five years, during which time she promoted many first performances and commissioned 100 new works; among the new artists she helped was Aaron Copland. In 1955 she published Composers, Conductors and Critics, which describes events and people from her experience in the league. She also wrote several articles, two catalogs for the International Society for Contemporary Music, and American Composers of Today (1947; revised and enlarged as Composers in America: Biographical Sketches, 1977). She was secretary of the board of directors of the New York City Center of Music and Drama.

Mrs. Reis helped found the Women's City Club and was a member of the advisory board for New York City of the Work Projects Administration. She served on the advisory committee of music for the 1939 New York World's Fair, and she was appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt to the New York Committee on the Use of Leisure Time. Among the awards she received were the National Association of American Composers and Conductors award for outstanding service (1945–46); the Laurel Leaf award of the American Composers Alliance (1963); a scroll from Mayor John V. Lindsay acknowledging her assistance in founding the City Center (1968); the New York City Handel Medallion for "her outstanding contributions and dedicated efforts for cultural achievement" (1969). Mrs. Reis died in New York on April 11, 1978.

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H. Wiley Hitchcock and Stanley Sadie, eds., The New Grove Dictionary of American Music (4 vols., New York: Macmillan, 1986). New York Times, April 13, 1978. Who's Who of American Women, 1968–69.
  • Music
  • Business, Promotion, Broadcasting, and Technology
  • Genres (Classical)
  • Women

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Donna P. Parker, “Reis, Claire Raphael,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 14, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995

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