November 22, 2022

A new tradition at MSM: “Founder’s Day” on November 22 celebrating Janet Daniels Schenck

This November 22 marks the inaugural “Founder’s Day,” a new MSM tradition launched by MSM President James Gandre that will take place annually to celebrate Janet Daniels Schenck, the School’s visionary leader for over four decades. The new tradition will also serve to mark Dr. Schenck’s birthday; she was born on November 22, 1883.

“Dr. Schenck’s legacy is evident in everything we do,” says President Gandre. “Although every moment of music, learning, and camaraderie at MSM is an implicit celebration of that legacy, this annual institution-wide acknowledgement of the School’s founder is long overdue.”

A Day of Gratitude at MSM

Dr. Schenck’s life and career will be highlighted at MSM on Tuesday, November 22, 2022 with an extensive exhibit in the Library; social media posts (including a post on our new TikTok account); an enhancement of Dr. Schenck’s story on our website; and the premiere of a mini-documentary video about MSM’s founding and early years of the School.

All members of the MSM Community — students, faculty, staff, alumni, and donors — are encouraged to mark this special day with acts of gratitude and community support. Many will wear MSM-branded clothing and other items as a show of gratitude.

President Gandre has asked each person to find their own personal way of embodying the spirit of Dr. Schenck, who wrote in her 1960 memoir: “No one knows better than I do that our School, or any school, is more than the efforts of any one person — it grows from the devotion and vision and hard work of a group of dedicated people — some contributing much and some little, but each leaving upon it the touch of [their] personality.”

Featuring a premiere!

A new 13-minute video documentary has been created by MSM’s Institutional Historian & Director of Archives, John K. Blanchard (MM’ 89). It chronicles Dr. Schenck’s journey and the School she nurtured. MSM voice faculty member Ruth Golden reads selections from Adventure in Music, Schenck’s 1960 memoir. The video can be found here on our website.

“MSM today would not exist if not for Dr. Schenck and the work she inspired others to undertake; this new tradition will pay tribute to her efforts.”

PREMIERE VIDEO: To celebrate a new tradition at MSM — "Founder's Day" each November 22 — this new 13-minute video chronicles Dr. Schenck's the journey and the growth of her beloved School.

SLIDESHOW (use arrows or SWIPE IMAGES W/ CURSOR): photos from the Archives of Dr. Schenck and the School's first home on East 105th Street.

An Amazing Accomplishment by an Amazing Individual

Dr. Schenck developed a community music school at the Union Settlement House on East 104th Street between 1913 and 1917, which became an independent endeavor by the Spring of 1918.

Known as the Neighborhood Music School, it became Manhattan School of Music in 1938. Dr. Schenck brought Pablo Casals and Harold Bauer onboard as Advisors and rallied donors to raise funds. She saw a small community school grow to become a college in the 1940s; receive full accreditation by and membership in the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools in the 1950s; and then outgrow its original home on the East Side, raising more money than any independent conservatory to relocate to MSM’s current campus on Claremont Avenue in the 1960s.

“Dr. Schenck championed so much in a time of United States history during which women were not granted the right to vote, making her accomplishments that much more meaningful and impressive,” says President Gandre.

More details on this central figure in MSM’s history can be found here on our website.

A scale-size architectural model of MSM's first home on East 105th Street, to be on exhibit in the School's library beginning November 22

If you have questions about this inaugural tradition, wish to organize an activity in Dr. Schenck’s honor, or would like to share how you plan to mark this occasion, please be in touch with John Blanchard (MM ’89), Institutional Historian and Director of Archives, at

painting of woman in front of piano

A 1970 painting by John Koch of Dr. Schenck, to be part of Founder’s Day exhibit

    Email This Page

    Email Message

    Page Reference
    (will be sent in email)