MSM History

Virtual Yearbooks: 1970s

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


four men in suits

John C. Borden Auditorium dedication concert is held on January 31. Pictured here, waiting for the concert to begin are (from left to right) composer David Diamond, conductor and MSM President George Schick, composer and President of The Juilliard School Peter Mennin, and composer Aaron Copland.

woman singing opera at desk

May – The newly-named John Brownlee Opera Theater presents a production of L’Amico Fritz by Pietro Mascagni. Catherine Malfitano (pictured), a junior undergraduate voice student, sings the female lead, Suzel. The New York Times writes: “[Miss Malfitano has] a warm vocal quality and even, considering the present state of her training, a good deal of command… she sounded a bit like the young Albanese.” The Daily News calls it an “impressive debut.”

various distressed students

Classes are suspended as the MSM community grapples with the aftermath of the Kent State shootings that occurred on May 4. Vincent Belford (BM ’69 / MM ’70) writes: “The gatherings of students, faculty and administrators were convened to find a way to mount a peaceful protest through music. The results were a school wide strike as part of the national student peace strike and a full-scale memorial concert…”

October 14 — The School sponsors “Salute to Jack Benny” at the Waldorf-Astoria. Dick Cavett is master of ceremonies for a program which features members of the School’s Orchestra conducted by Anton Coppola.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Marilyn Horne, Frederica Von Stade, and Enrico di Giuseppe make Metropolitan Opera debuts.
  • Company by Stephen Sondheim, directed by Hal Prince, with Elaine Stritch, Donna McKechnie, and Dona D. Vaughn (MSM faculty) opens at the Alvin Theater and wins Tony and New York Drama Critics Award (706 performances).
  • Lincoln Center offers first season of outdoor events through efforts of Leonard de Paur.


man and woman study an orchestral score

The world premiere of Michelangelo — a tone poem for orchestra composed by MSM alumna and faculty member Ludmila Ulehla (b. 1923 – d. 2009) — was given by the Manhattan Orchestra under the baton of Alvaro Cassuto on February 18, 1971. (Ms. Ulehla is pictured above with Mr. Cassuto.)

In February, a concert is given by the first official jazz ensemble at the School, the Manhattan Stage Band, later called the Manhattan Concert Jazz Band. John Carisi conducts.

stone seal insert into brick wall

A group of alumni organize an effort to reclaim the stone seal from the old building (pictured) by contracting stone cutters working on the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. (The seal goes into storage until it is installed in the current building main lobby in 2004.)

chorus and orchestra at the united nations

On United Nations Day 1971 (October 24), MSM President George Schick presented a citation, in honor of the establishment of the MSM Pablo Casals Award, to Casals at the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations. The following day, Maestro Casals conducted a special televised concert at the U.N. (pictured), that included MSM students in the chorus and orchestra.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • The rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice opens at the Mark Hellinger Theater (711 performances).
  • Fillmore East closes, June 27.


Dorothy Maynor, soprano and head of the Harlem School of the Arts, gives the commencement address at the June exercises.

woman at piano teaching student to sing

Margaret Hoswell joins the voice faculty where she teaches until her death in 1987.

newspaper article

Allen Hughes wrote in his 1972 New York Times review (pictured): “Is it possible, in a few words, to explain why the John Brownlee Opera Theatre production of Mozart’s ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ at the Manhattan School of Music Saturday night was the most completely satisfying this reviewer has ever experienced here or abroad?”

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Schuyler Chapin appointed general manager of Metropolitan Opera.
  • 40-year old Radio City Music Hall holds first ‘pop’ concert, featuring James Taylor.


An interesting double-bill is presented in February, when Mavra by Igor Stavinsky is paired with Puccini’s Suor Angelica (both sung in English).

black and white photo of woman standing spekaing with bald man seated

Virgil Thomson, seated, with MSM faculty member Dora Zaslavsky Koch.

Composer Virgil Thomson visits the School in May for a series of lectures, where he speaks about the operatic “form,” setting music to poetry, and how one goes about critiquing music.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Lincoln Center renames its 11-year old Philharmonic Hall after philanthropist Avery Fisher.
  • A Little Night Music by Stephen Sondheim opens with Len Cariou, Hermione Gingold, and Glynis Johns at the Shubert Theater (600 performances).


Amendment to the charter authorizes the granting of the doctor of musical arts degree.

woman standing next to plaster bust of man's head

In June of 1974, the late Arturo Toscanini’s daughter, Wanda Horowitz, presents Manhattan School of Music with a death mask sculpture of her father by Italian artist Morobito. At the event to honor the Maestro, were Licia Albanese, Robert Merrill, and Rose Bampton (a member of MSM’s voice faculty).

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • José Carreras and Kiri Te Kanawa make Metropolitan Opera debuts.
  • New York-born composer Marvin Hamlisch writes “The Way We Were,” lyrics by Brooklyn-born writer Alan Bergman and his wife Marilyn.
  • Maria Calas gives farewell performance at Carnegie Hall.
  • New York-born Soprano Catherine Malfitano ’71 (MSM alumnus) makes her New York City Opera debut.
  • The Avery Fisher Artist Program is established to recognize outstanding American instrumentalists with both the Avery Fisher Prize and Avery Fisher Career Grants.
  • André-Michel Schub (to later join the MSM piano faculty) receives the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation Award.


A May 19 benefit remembers the late MSM President John Brownlee. Among the tributes are Licia Albanese, Antal Dorati, Herta Glaz, George London, Rose Bampton, Eve Queler, Regina Resnik, Francis Robinson, Bidu Sayão , Eleanor Steber, and Risë Stevens. Students performed Act II of the Marriage of Figaro. Gabor Carelli was MC.

An alumni event is held celebrating violin faculty member Raphael Bronstein and featuring his student Elmar Oliveira, the first and only American violinist to win the Gold Medal at Moscow’s Tchaikovsky International Competition.

woman conducting children's orchestra

Dianne Danese Flagello (Class of 1952) is chosen to succeed Mary Lenom as Director of the Preparatory Division. She retires in 1999.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • NYC U.S. District Court Judge Richard Owen (MSM alumnus and member of Board of Trustees) rules that John Lennon and his lawyers can have access to Department of Immigration files pertaining to his deportation case.
  • James Levine appointed musical director of Metropolitan Opera.
  • Through the bequest of Jack Norworth, writer of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” the ASCAP Foundation is incorporated to honor and support young composers.
  • Chicago by Kander and Ebb, opens at 46th Street Theater with Chita Rivera, Gwen Verdon, and Jerry Orbach (922 performances).
  • Michael Bennett’s A Chorus Line, music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban, opens at the Public Theater and later moves to the Shubert Theater (6,137 performances).
  • Beverly Sills makes Metropolitan Opera debut.


woman and man acting

The Opera Theatre mounts a production of Kurt Weill’s Street Scene (pictured are Judy Blazer as Rose and Michael Philip Davis as Sam). Anton Coppola conducts, James Lucas directs. Lotte Lenya, the late Weill’s wife, attends opening night. Michael Philip Davis (MM 1976) writes: “Portraying Sam Kaplan in the 1976 production of Street Scene was my most memorable and important experience at MSM. It was a role with which I strongly identified. Moreover, the unforgettable production afforded me the guidance of conductor Maestro Anton Coppola, stage director James Lucas, and technical director M. M. Streicher — memories I carry with me to this day.”

old newspaper article

Janet Schenck, founder, former director, and member of the Board of Trustees, dies at age 93.

man in tux

John Crosby becomes president, a position he holds until 1986.

woman and man on sidewalk; man teaching piano student.

Pianist and former MSM faculty member Abbey Simon gives a master class in October (pictured in top photo with MSM faculty member Constance Keene).

Master classes are given by Jean-Pierre Rampal, Sir Yehudi Menuhin, Gina Bachauer, Arthur Rubinstein, Abby Simon, Dame Eva Turner, Vladimar Spivakov, and Bidu Sayao.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Johanna Meier (MSM alumna) debuts at the Metropolitan Opera: scheduled to sing in December as Marguerite in Faust, she is sent onstage in April as a last-minute replacement for Montserrat Caballé as Ariadne in Ariadne auf Naxos.
  • American Composers’ Orchestra founded.
  • The Bicentennial Band, 67 instrumentalists with a 24 member chorus, performs at Avery Fisher Hall on April 14.
  • Philip Glass’s opera Einstein on the Beach debuts at the Metropolitan Opera.
  • First telecast of “Live From Lincoln Center” broadcast over PBS.
  • Eddie Palmieri wins first Grammy awarded to Latin music for his masterpiece, The Sun of Latin Music.
  • The King & I is produced in revival on Broadway, with Yul Brynner reprising his role as the King and alumna Hye-Young Choi ’76 featured as Lady Thiang.


woman wearing pearls

Soprano Johanna Meier (BM 1960) gives a concert at Alice Tully Hall to benefit the MSM Alumni Association.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Chamber Music America is founded.
  • West 106th Street, between Riverside Drive and Central Park West, renamed Duke Ellington Boulevard (The ‘Duke’ owned a Riverside Drive mansion at 106th Street).
  • John Kander and Fred Ebb write title song for Martin Scorsese’s film New York, New York.


jazz bassist, piano player, and drummer give class to students

A Jazz Workshop is held in January featuring pianist Dick Hyman, bassist Milt Hinton, and percussionist Bob Rosengarten.

man conducting

John Crosby conducts his first opera at Manhattan School of Music: Nino Rota’s Italian Straw Hat.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Carol Wincenc (MSM alumna) receives the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation Flute Award.
  • Zubin Mehta appointed conductor of New York Philharmonic.
  • Elmar Oliveira (BM ’72) wins the Gold Medal at Moscow’s Tchaikovsky International Competition; he is the only American violinist to receive the honor.
  • David Starobin (MSM current faculty) makes New York debut.
  • A Pulitzer Prize is awarded composer Michael Colgrass (MSM alumnus) for his Deja Vu for Percussion Quartet and Orchestra, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and premiered by that orchestra on October 20.


Auditions are held at MSM for the film musical Fame. On-screen parts go to Prep students Anne-Marie McDermott, Maureen McDermott, and Kerry McDermott, as well as alumnus Jonathan Strasser ’70.

March — John Brownlee Opera Theatre gives the New York Premiere of Hindemith’s News of the Day. The New York Times wrote: “… a production and performance that deserved nothing but praise …”

Jazz pianist Marian McPartland appears in concert with the Manhattan School of Music Jazz Band.

Master classes are given by Arnold Steinhardt, John Mack, Raymond Lewenthal, Ezio Flagello (Class of 1953), Nico Castel, Jon Vickers, and Magda Tagliaferro.

older woman with diploma

Josephine Whitford is given the School’s first-ever honorary doctorate for her almost 50 years of service to the School.

man speaking at graduation

Composer Ezra Laderman is the commencement speaker at the May graduation ceremony.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Walkman cassette player introduced by Sony Corp.
  • Sweeney Todd by Stephen Sondheim, with Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury, opens at the Uris Theater (558 performances).


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