Music at Columbia: The First 100 Years

Exhibit Curator

Mary Monroe; Online Exhibition Catalog, Jennifer B. Lee

The Centennial Celebrations, 1996-97 »

The range of Centennial-related activities during 1996-97 demonstrated the vitality and diversity of Columbia's Department of Music as it entered its second century.

The Centennial Exhibition, 1996  »

The 1996 Centennial Exhibition of Columbia University’s Department of Music, Music at Columbia:  The First 100 Years, mounted at Low Library as part of the department’s celebration, was a highly varied and eclectic collection of items from many different sources.

The Online Catalog, 2012 »

The online version of the 1996 exhibition Music at Columbia: The First 100 Years includes digital images of nearly everything listed in the printed catalog, plus some additional images to help bring to life the people who have shaped Columbia's Music Department.

Beginnings »

Columbia University’s Department of Music came into being in the Spring of 1896, after Mrs. Elizabeth Mary Ludlow made a gift to Columbia College of the estate of her late son, Robert Center, for the purpose of providing instruction in music.

The MacDowell Era »

Although Edward Alexander MacDowell's own training and experience scarcely prepared him for his new career in higher education, he nevertheless enunciated a forceful and far-reaching vision for music at Columbia.

Finding A Home »

In September 1896, when the Department of Music began its first term, the Morningside campus was under construction.

Music Performance: The Early Years »

The Columbia College Musical Society, the University’s leading musical organization, had been active for several decades before it was incorporated in 1892.

Music Performance: The Middle Years »

Operations of the Music Department could be found in the Journalism Building, Earl Hall, McMillin Academic Theater (now the Kathryn Bache Miller Theatre), St. Paul’s Chapel, and Brander Matthews Hall (now the site of the Law School).

Music Performance: Recent Years »

In 1972, Howard Shanet, then chairman of the Department of Music and conductor of the Columbia Orchestra, was named the University’s first Director of Music Performance.

Music In The Undergraduate Curriculum »

As early as 1897, the Department of Music was prepared to offer music as a major or minor subject.

Faculty And Graduate Students: Taking A Leadership Role »

On February 16, 1897, the University Council approved the resolution of the Faculty of Philosophy that music could be offered by that faculty for the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees.

The Alice M. Ditson Fund »

In 1940, the will of Alice M. Ditson, widow of the music publisher Charles Ditson, made Columbia the beneficiary of a fund of $400,000. The fund has proved to be a prestigious and widely respected source of support for music performance, with American music and musicians its chief beneficiaries.

The Fritz Reiner Center for Contemporary Music »

The Fritz Reiner Center for Contemporary Music was established in October 1984 with a bequest from the estate of the widow of the legendary conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Composition »

Many prominent composers have taught music at Columbia and have helped to make it a center of activity for new music.

Electronic And Computer Music »

In 1959, Vladimir Ussachevsky helped to found the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center (CPEMC), which he modeled on the musique concrète experiments of the Centre d’Études Radiophoniques in Paris.


Historical Musicology »

It would be difficult to overestimate the role of Paul Henry Lang in the history of musicology in America.

Ethnomusicology »

Ethnomusicology has been taught at Collumbia since 1938 when George Herzog merged European comparative musicology and American anthropology into the particular brand of the study of music as a cultural phenomemon that we now call ethnomusicology.

Music Theory »

Some 50 years ago, William J. Mitchell introduced a music theory seminar into the graduate curriculum.

Music Librarianship »

Richard S. Angell became Columbia's first professional music librarian in 1934.

Music Library Milestones »

Since 1934 when books on music from the main library in South Hall (renamed the Nicholas Murray Butler Library in 1945) were joined with the Department of Music's scores and recordings, the Music Library has resided adjacent to the Department's headquarters.

Department of Music Chairpersons »

Epilogue – Edward A. MacDowell »

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