This information is arranged by year and includes MSM historical and other highlights of New York City’s music history.
A concert at Carnegie Hall on January 4 was used to benefit MSM’s scholarship fund. Presented by Sol Hurok, the Moscow State Symphony appeared for the first time in the U.S., with Emil Gilels as piano soloist, under the baton of Constantin Ivanov.
Yehudi Menuhin (pictured, left) gives a string seminar.
Operas abound: The Maletroit Door by Seymour Barab is given its World Premiere performance and Yu-Zuru: The Twilight Heron by Ikuma Dan is given its American Premiere (January); a double-bill is presented of Il Tabarro and Suor Angelica by Puccini (March); Verdi’s Rigoletto is given in workshop (April) as is Bizet’s Les Pecheurs de Perles (May); the Summer Opera Workshop presents a program of opera scenes as well as a complete production of The Rape of Lucretia by Benjamin Britten (July); and the year is wraps up with performances of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville (November/December). The advanced opera workshop coaches 72 entire roles, from seven different operas — sung in French, German, and Italian — with two casts each.
Dr. Mary B. Lenom is appointed to head the Preparatory Division, which she does until her retirement in 1975.
Hugh Masekela entrolls as an undergraduate student, having been assisted by Harry Belafonte and Miriam Makeba to secure a scholarship. He studies classical trumpet for four years and meets fellow student Stewart Levine, with whom he founds the independent label Chisa.
Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:
Adventure in Music, a memoir by the School’s founder, Janet D. Schenck, is published. Read a complete version of her book.
Rosina Lhevinne appears as piano soloist with the School’s Symphony, under the baton of Jonel Perlea.
The World Premiere performance is given of The Sisters, a new opera by faculty member and alumnus Nicolas Flagello ’50.
January — The Opera Theatre, under the guidance of John Brownlee, begins a series of plays, on which composers have based operas, to be performed by students. First up: Madame Butterfly, the play by David Belasco/John Luther Long, followed in concert by scenes by Puccini’s opera.
Lillian Fuchs joins the chamber music and viola faculities, and teaches at the School for almost 30 years.
May — The Board of Trustees announce an $8.5 million expansion program (later increased to $9.5 million) which includes the purchasing of the Juilliard building on Claremont Avenue.
Paul Price, percussion faculty, conducts a student ensemble at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in March. Conductor Leopold Stokowski was in attendance (personal note below).
Anton Coppola (pictured) joins the conducting and opera faculties where he teaches for 15 years.
American contralto Marian Anderson visits MSM, giving the commencement address at the spring graduation ceremony.
Artur Balsam (pictured) joins the piano and chamber music faculties, where he teaches until 1993.
Fritz Kramer joins the faculty where he teaches music history, musicology, and music literature until 1988. (Shown here c. 1970 in a 122nd Street classroom.)
Soviet violinist Boris Gutnikov (center) — with violin faculty member Raphael Bronstein and President John Brownlee — on the occasion of Gutnikov’s February 1966 master class at MSM.
March — The Opera Theatre presents a production of The Judgement of St. Francis by faculty member and alumnus Nicolas Flagello ’50.
The Modern Jazz Quartet gives benefit concert for MSM, arranged by alumnus and MJQ pianist John Lewis, at Carnegie Hall. (Pictured are members of the planning committee discussing marketing plans and the MJQ on stage.)
November — Jonel Perlea leads the Orchestra in a performance of the Wheeler version of Mahler’s Tenth Symphony, performed only once previously in New York.
Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson is honorary chairperson of the School’s Salute to American Musical Theater presented at the Waldorf Astoria and repeated twice, by special invitation, at the White House (pictured). Photo courtesy of Helene Freedman Blue (BM ’68) who writes: “In Washington, I thought the days passed by in an instant. After our first performance, there was a reception in the East Room to which we were all invited. I was asked to dance by President Johnson and Vice President Humphrey. I could not believe a girl from Brooklyn could have an experience like this. It was like a dream…”
Volo di Notte by Luigi Dallapiccola is given its New York Premiere in March by the Opera Theatre, conducted by Anton Coppola.
A double-bill in March by the Opera Theatre pairs Médée by Darius Milhaud with Medea (Act I) by Luigi Cherubini.
The MSM Percussion Ensemble, under the direction of Paul Price, became the first unit of its kind chosen by the Department of State to represent the U.S. abroad under the auspices of the Cultural Presentations Program. The nine-member Ensemble toured nine countries and gave 54 performances. (Shown here preparing to fly out of New York.)
The School celebrates its 50th Anniversary. Dr. Janet D. Schenck, founder and Director Emeritus, receives the Handel Medallion of the City of New York at a Philharmonic Hall reception (May 21). Mayor John V. Lindsay writes: “…the City has been proud to bestow upon you [this honor] for your dedicated service to the cultural life of New York and to the cause of musical education, in particular.”
Children’s opera theatre program, under the guidance of Cynthia Auerbach, is established to present opera for children, sung by children.
MSM President John Brownlee dies unexpectedly on January 10.
George Schick (pictured), noted opera conductor and music director of the Metropolitan Opera Studio, is appointed president and assumes office in the fall term. He is president until 1976.
Mezzo-soprano Betty Allen joins the voice faculty, where she teaches until her death in 2009.
Manhattan School of Music moves from its location at East 105th Street to 120 Claremont Avenue in the Harlem community of Morningside Heights. The move is coordinated by administrator Stanley Bednar (BM ’49 / MM ’51).
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