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Ralph Nielsen Music on 7th Street was the place in Rockford to go for musical instruments, lessons, gifts and antiques. It began as American Beauty Music House in 1921, a branch of the Pierson Furniture Company as a retail outlet for their American Beauty Phonograph and accessories.
Ralph Nielsen began singing on WGN and WMBI in Chicago. He was the music director of the worldwide “Temple Time Broadcast” for 23 years and sang with the Lyric Opera in Chicago, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the St. Louis Philharmonic and more. In 1956 Ralph, his wife Marilyn and their son Richard moved from Elmhurst to Rockford after Ralph’s brother George convinced him Rockford was a good city to live and play music.
Ralph, Marilyn and Marilyn’s parents purchased the American Beauty House of Music. The name changed to Ralph Nielsen Music House in 1957. He continued singing and learned how to fly to keep his many engagements. Ralph produced “Trinity Meditations” from 1974 to 1994, conducted Mendelssohn Chorale from 1978 to 1992, was a soloist in 400 oratorio performances and 1,200 recitals. He was tenor soloist at Trinity Lutheran for 30 years and choir director for six seasons. He even sang backup vocals on Cheap Trick’s fourth album.
By 1967 the music store had expanded to include Nielsen Music House and School of Music, The Music Box Gift Shop, Nielsen Pianos and Organs and the Cellar of Antiquity. The music store eventually closed in 1979 but the Music Box Gift Shop was re-opened until 1996. Ralph Nielsen passed away in 1995 and Marilyn a year later.
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