MSM History

Virtual Yearbooks: 1960s

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This information is arranged by year and includes MSM historical and other highlights of New York City’s music history.


invitation and photo of pianist

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.

man with violin in front of crowd

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.

woman at desk

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:

  • Max Roach (MSM alumnus) records “We Insist! Freedom New Suite,” lyrics by Oscar Brown, vocals by Abbey Lincoln.
  • Isasc Stern saves Carnegie Hall from demolition.
  • George Solti debuts at Metropolitan Opera.


book cover

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.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Seiji Ozawa makes New York conducting debut.
  • Milton Babbitt produces Music for Synthesizer, working as a consultant composer with RCA on their RCA Mark II Synthesizer.
  • The Fantasticks, music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones, opens off-Broadway at the Sullivan Street Playhouse (17,163 performances).


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.

woman with viola

Lillian Fuchs joins the chamber music and viola faculities, and teaches at the School for almost 30 years.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Money Jungle by Duke Ellington, piano, Max Roach, drums (MSM alumnus), and Charles Mingus, bass, recorded for Blue Note Records.
  • William Schuman named president of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Pianists Richard Goode, Ruth Laredo (former MSM faculty), and Ann Schein make New York debuts.
  • Leonard Bernstein conducts the first of the New York Philharmonic’s Young People’s Concerts to be televised from Lincoln Center.


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.

man conducting ensemble

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).

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Alfred Brendel and Andre Watts make New York debuts.


man conducting orchestra rehearsal

Anton Coppola (pictured) joins the conducting and opera faculties where he teaches for 15 years.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Elizabeth Schwarzkopf makes Metropolitan Opera debut in Der Rosenkavelier.
  • Pierre Boulez makes New York conducting debut.
  • Yo-Yo Ma, 9, makes Carnegie Hall debut.
  • Hello Dolly by Jerry Herman with Carol Channing opens at the St. James Theater (2,844 performances).
  • Funny Girl by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill with Barbra Streisand opens at the Winter Garden Theater (1,348 performances).
  • Fiddler on the Roof by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick with Zero Mostel opens at the Imperial Theater (3,242 performances).


woman giving speech at commencement

American contralto Marian Anderson visits MSM, giving the commencement address at the spring graduation ceremony.

man reading music score

Artur Balsam (pictured) joins the piano and chamber music faculties, where he teaches until 1993.

man leaning next to window

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.)

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Monserrat Caballé, Renata Scotto, and Mirella Freni make debuts at the Metropolitan Opera.
  • Rev. John C. Gensel becomes “pastor to NYC jazz community.”
  • An Evening with P.D.Q. Bach features Prof. Peter Schickele at Town Hall.


three men in suits, one playing the violin

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.

opera production on stage with orchestra

March — The Opera Theatre presents a production of The Judgement of St. Francis by faculty member and alumnus Nicolas Flagello ’50.

women with poster at tea and four men performing on stage

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.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Faculty member Leon Kirchner’s String Quartet No. 3 wins Pulitzer Prize.
  • George Rochberg’s Black Sounds wins Prix Italia.
  • Metropolitan Opera House opens at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts with the premiere of Samuel Barber’s Anthony and Cleopatra starring Leontyne Price and Ezio Flagello (MSM alumnus).
  • “Blues at Carnegie Hall,” a live album by the Modern Jazz Quartet — featuring performances recorded at a Carnegie Hall benefit concert presented by Manhattan School of Music — is released on the Atlantic label.


performers on stage, dignitaries in front

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.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Carnegie Hall is designated a New York City landmark.
  • Hair opens off-Broadway at the Public Theater, founded by Joseph Papp.


A double-bill in March by the Opera Theatre pairs Médée by Darius Milhaud with Medea (Act I) by Luigi Cherubini.

people lined up to board plane

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.”

woman with group of children

Children’s opera theatre program, under the guidance of Cynthia Auerbach, is established to present opera for children, sung by children.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • The Boy’s Choir of Harlem is founded by alumnus Walter J. Turnbull (MM ’68 / DMA ’84).
  • Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia receives New York premiere.
  • Alumnus Clem De Rosa (MM ’55) co-founds and becomes president of the National Association of Jazz Educators in NYC.
  • Dave Grusin (MSM alumnus) wins a Grammy Award for his score to The Graduate.
  • Duke Ellington’s Second Sacred Concert premieres at Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
  • Luciano Pavarotti makes Metropolitan Opera debut.
  • Placido Domingo makes Carnegie Hall debut.


MSM President John Brownlee dies unexpectedly on January 10.

man with arms crossed

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.

men moving instruments

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).

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Miles Davis records In a Silent Way, with pianist Herbie Hancock (MSM alumnus), and Bitches Brew.
  • Pinchas Zukerman (current MSM faculty) makes New York debut.
  • The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center is founded.

Do you have pictures or memories that you’d like to share? Please email us here.


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