Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame

Inductees

Harry Wenger - 2001 Inductee

A music teacher who invented specialized equipment to improve music education, including choral risers, music stands, acoustical shells, cabinets, stages and more. His passion was music education and he built the local programs into national award winners. The one thing that troubled him was the lack of good equipment -- so when he needed something, he invented and built it himself. Wenger moved to Owatonna in 1936 as a teacher in the school music program and started ‘tinkering’ in his spare time with creative inventions that would make his job as a music teacher easier. Wenger was a band director in the 1940s when the sousaphone became popular. His younger students were tipping over with the weight of the bell during seated band concerts. He invented the sousaphone chair that unlocked the potential of his young students. In 1946, Wenger left teaching music at Owatonna High School to devote full time to Wenger Music Company, now the Wenger Corporation, which has become the world's leading manufacturer of equipment for music education and the performing arts, including schools, theatres, places of worship, parks and recreation, rental, and athletics. In addition to its headquarters in Owatonna, the Wenger Corporation now has facilities in Canada, Europe and China, along with international distributors.

In the 1940's, Harry Wenger was the music director in the Owatonna, Minnesota school system where he built the programs into national award winners. The lack of specialized music equipment at the time sent Harry to his basement, and he began inventing products to improve music education. His first inventions included a snare drum practice pad and a sousaphone chair that made this instrument manageable for any size. The innovations continued, and he founded Wenger Corporation, which has grown to become the world's leading manufacturer of equipment for music education and performance arts. Because Harry's innovation and entrepreneurship, in music education and performance facilities all over the world, you will find Wenger choral risers, music stands, acoustical shells, cabinets, stages and more.

NOTE: These biographies have been compiled from information accompanying the nomination form submitted to the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame, information available on the Internet and from a variety of other sources.