Striking a Chord

Suffolk County’s Early Music Identity

Featured in our Weathervane Gallery through 2024.

Music has always been an integral part of life among Suffolk County residents. By the mid-1800s, formed music organizations such as the Suffolk County Harmonic Society were established with the purpose of supplying music for community events and theatrical productions. By the late nineteenth century, opera houses emerged as community centers that hosted charity events and recreational competitions. Immigrants arriving to Long Island brought the music and instruments that reminded them of home, introducing new sounds to Suffolk County.  At the turn of the century, Thomas Edison’s work was demonstrated at the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall in Riverhead to showcase new developments in music and sound recording technology. Amidst the outbreak of World War I (1917-1918) Irving Berlin, stationed in Camp Upton, began publishing numerous Broadway-worthy music revues, helping to fund the war effort.

Through examples of early instruments, early composers, immigration influence, recording technology advancements, and wartime home front efforts, this exhibit celebrates the many ways music has been interwoven into the social fabric of Suffolk County. 


300 West Main St.  Riverhead, NY 11901

Wednesday to Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
(excluding holidays)


Copyright © 2024 Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.

Suffolk County Historical Society
300 West Main St.
Riverhead, NY 11901



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