Virtual Yearbooks: 1940s

During this period, the School is located at 238 East 105th Street.
The main hall is Hubbard Auditorium, built in 1938.

Information on this page is arranged in ascending year order for this decade. It includes Manhattan School of Music historical facts and images from the School's archives, as well as items and quotes submitted by alumni. Each section also includes some Other Highlights of New York City's music history.

  • View the Mysterious & Miscellaneous Photos section at the end and see if you can identify the time, place, and people in the photos.
  • Submit your own memories and photos through the Class Notes section of the Online Community.

1940

The Concert and Placement Bureau (placement office) opens in May “to secure engagements for our gifted students so that they may have the encouragement and discipline of frequent appearances.”

The School has 525 students and a faculty of 58.

Appearing in recital at the School are Harold Bauer (pictured); Rudolf Serkin; the two-piano duo of Rudolph Gruen and Frances Hall; and one of the School's first graduates, Dora Zaslavsky (pictured).

Leander Dell'Anno — (DP, piano) — joins the faculty, where he teaches piano and theory until 1975. In 1960 he became coordinator of the piano minor department and also acted as student advisor in the 1970s. READ MORE

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Bela Bartók moves to New York from Hungary.
  • Frank Sinatra joins the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.
  • Virgil Thomson becomes a music critic for the New York Herald-Tribune.
  • Higher and Higher, music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart, opens with Jack Haley and Marta Eggerth at the Shubert Theater (84 performances).
  • Texaco begins sponsorship of the Metropolitan Opera’s Saturday afternoon broadcasts, with Ezio Pinza and Licia Albanese in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro.

[SUBMIT YOUR OWN MEMORIES]

1941

Postgraduate department is formed. Courses are offered in conducting by Hugo Kortschak (pictured); in ensemble by Harris Danziger, Dora Zaslavsky, and by Oliver Edel, Julius Shaier, and Rachmael Weinstock of the Roth Quartet; in scoring, arranging, fugue, and composition by Vittorio Giannini; and advanced dictation, ear-training, analysis, score reading, and keyboard harmony by Dr. Howard Murphy (pictured below).

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Folk singer and songwriter Joan Baez born on Staten Island, January 9.
  • Lady in the Dark, music by Kurt Weill, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, opens with Gertrude Lawrence and New York-born Danny Kaye at the Alvin Theater (162 performances).
  • Billy Strayhorn composes “Take the A Train.”

[SUBMIT YOUR OWN MEMORIES]

1942

The School awards its first postgraduate diploma.

Conductor Leopold Stokowski attends a Manhattan School of Music orchestral concert. A communiqué from Janet Schenck to the members of the School’s orchestra following a concert mentions “all the very complimentary things Mr. Stokowski had to say … how delighted Mr. Stokowski was and that he could not say enough about the performance, the phrasing, and Mr. Kortschak’s leadership. He was also much interested in Miss [faculty member and alumna Ludmila] Ulehla’s composition.”

Monthly concerts for children are inaugurated at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Rock singer-songwriter and guitarist Lou Reed born in Brooklyn, March 2.
  • Irving Berlin composes White Christmas.
  • Charlie Parker joins Earl Hines band, alongside Dizzy Gillespie.
  • 12-year-old Lorin Maazel conducts the New York Philharmonic.
  • Barbra Streisand born in Brooklyn, April 24.
  • Aaron Copland’s Rodeo, with Harlem-born dancer Agnes de Mille, debuts.
  • Frank Sinatra breaks contract with Tommy Dorsey, then opens at the Paramount Theater on a program headed by Benny Goodman.
  • Steinway & Sons retools its factory to begin producing gliders for the U.S. Air Force, some of which are used on D-Day.

[SUBMIT YOUR OWN MEMORIES]

1943

Friedrich Schorr (pictured, left), having just retired from twenty years at the Metropolitan Opera and with a great European tradition behind him, takes over the vocal department and Opera Workshop.

Amendment to the charter authorizes the School to grant the bachelor of music degree.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Bela Bartók composes Concerto for Orchestra, a commission from the Serge Koussevitsky Foundation, at the urging of conductor Fritz Reiner and violinist József Szigeti.
  • Isaac Stern, 22, makes Carnegie Hall debut.
  • Duke Ellington, 44, makes Carnegie Hall debut.
  • The New York City Center of Music and Drama opens (West 55th Street).
  • New York City Opera founded, debuts with Puccini’s Tosca at City Center.
  • Oklahoma by Rodgers and Hammerstein, choreography by Agnes de Mille, starring Alfred Drake, Celeste Holm, and Howard da Silva, opens at the St. James Theater (2,212 performances).
  • First authentic Afro-Cuban jazz tune, Tanga, by Mario Bauzá, is recorded by Machito and the Afro-Cubans.
  • Leonard Bernstein, 25, makes conducting debut with the New York Philharmonic, substituting for Bruno Walter, at Carnegie Hall.

[SUBMIT YOUR OWN MEMORIES]

1944

Mr. Bertram Borden, a Trustee of MSM, gives a large endowed gift to the School in memory of his wife, who had also been a Trustee. Given through the Mary Owen Borden Memorial Foundation, it was the largest single gift the School had received up to that time.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Ned Rorem (MSM current faculty) begins studies with Virgil Thompson.
  • Miles Davis moves to NYC to study at Juilliard.
  • New York jazz singer William Clarence “Billy” Eckstine forms big band playing new “bebop” jazz; Sarah Vaughan, 20, records “I’ll Wait and Pray” with the Billy Eckstine big band.
  • Pianist Leon Fleisher, 16, debuts with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Pierre Monteux at Carnegie Hall.
  • National Negro Opera Company brings Verdi’s La Traviata to Madison Square Garden.
  • Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis premieres, conducted by Artur Rodzinsky.

[SUBMIT YOUR OWN MEMORIES]

1945

June 1 — Janet D. Schenck, the School's director and founder, is assisted by Dr. Harold Bauer (pictured, right) in conferring the degree of Bachelor of Music at Manhattan School of Music for the first time.

Special classes are arranged to help the returning veterans. The School is one of two music schools in New York City, outside the universities, qualified by the government to accept returning veterans both under Public Law 346 (G.I. Bill of Rights) and Public Law 16 (Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation Law).

Janet Schenck meets several times with NYC Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. "His interest in the school had been significant," writes Mrs. Schenck.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Up in Central Park, music by Sigmund Romberg, lyrics by Dorothy Fields, opens at the Century Theater (504 performances).
  • New York Philharmonic joins in mourning President Roosevelt’s death by cancelling its concert, April 13.
  • Carousel by Rodgers and Hammerstein opens at the Majestic Theater (890 performances).

[SUBMIT YOUR OWN MEMORIES]

1946

Early in the year, John Lewis (pictured) begins work toward a Bachelor of Music degree, studying theory. This same year, he joins Dizzy Gillespie’s big band and premieres his “Toccata for Trumpet” with Dizzy’s band at Carnegie Hall in 1947. Lewis later works with Miles Davis’s nonet and founds the Modern Jazz Quartet.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Juilliard String Quartet is founded, Robert Mann (MSM faculty) and Robert Koff violins; Raphael Hillyer, viola; Arthur Winograd, cello.
  • Annie Get Your Gun by Irving Berlin opens at the Imperial Theater with Ethel Merman, includes “There’s No Business Like Show Business” (1,147 performances).
  • Virgil Fox begins 19-year tenure as organist at Riverside Church.

[SUBMIT YOUR OWN MEMORIES]

1947

Ludmila Ulehla completes her Bachelor of Music degree and joins the faculty, where she teaches until 2007. READ MORE

Amendment to the charter authorizes the School to confer the master of music degree.

The School has 663 students.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Atlantic Records is founded by Ahmet and Neshuri Ertegun and Jerry Wexler at Jefferson Hotel.
  • New York-born Tito Puente leads his first band, The Picadilly Boys.
  • Pianist George Shearing emigrates to New York from England.
  • Café Society and Café Society Uptown close following savage attacks by newspaper columnists Walter Winchell and Lee Mortimer.
  • Street Scene by Kurt Weill premieres (Adelphi Theater); Kurt Weill receives first TONY Award for best original score.
  • Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday appear at Carnegie Hall.
  • Brigadoon by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick “Fritz” Lowe opens at the Ziegfeld Theater (581 performances).
  • Brooklyn-born Lena Horne, alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, and Ella Fitzgerald make Carnegie Hall debuts.
  • The Mother of Us All, music by Virgil Thomson with libretto by Gertrude Stein, premieres (Brander Matthews Hall, Columbia University).

[SUBMIT YOUR OWN MEMORIES]

1948

Class of 1948 (courtesy of Dr. Marilyn Teitler Tyler BM '48 / MM '49 -- top row, fourth from right)

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • George Rochberg awarded the George Gershwin Award for Overture in C.
  • Igor Stravinsky’s ballet Orpheus, choreography by George Balanchine, opens at City Center.
  • The Weavers founded by Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman, and Ronnie Gilbert.
  • Kiss Me Kate by Cole Porter opens at the New Century Theater (1,077 performances).

[SUBMIT YOUR OWN MEMORIES]

1949

Nicholas Granitto joins the Academic Faculty where he teaches Italian and French until retiring in 1989.

READ MORE

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Vladimir Horowitz premieres Samuel Barber’s Piano Sonata, op. 26.
  • Miles Davis records “Birth of Cool”; musicians include pianist John Lewis (MSM alumnus).
  • Pianist George Shearing debuts “Lullabye of Birdland.”
  • Robert Sirota (current MSM president) born NYC, October 13.
  • Birdland opens with saxophonist Charlie Parker as headliner (on Broadway).

[SUBMIT YOUR OWN MEMORIES]

 

Mysterious & Miscellaneous Photos

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