Virtual Yearbooks: 1970s

Workmen moving a piano into the School's new home.

The School's new home on Claremont Avenue in Morningside Heights at 122nd Street.

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.


John C. Borden Auditorium dedication concert is held on January 31.

A special event introduces alumni to the new building.

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."

Classes are suspended as the MSM community grapples with the aftermath of the Kent State shootings that occured 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.
  • Rev. John G. Gensel holds All-Nite Soul marathon at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church.
  • New York-born Arthur Mitchell founds the Dance Theater of Harlem.
  • 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.



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.)

The first Alumni Award is announced at Commencement.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Isaac Hayes’ theme from Shaft wins Oscar.
  • Brooklyn-born Carole King releases Tapestry album (which will have sales of more than 13 million by 1983).
  • The rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice opens at the Mark Hellinger Theater (711 performances).
  • Mary J. Blige born in the Bronx, January 11.
  • Fillmore East closes, June 27.



Alumna Catherine Malfitano ’71 returns to her alma mater as a guest artist with the John Brownlee Opera Theatre singing in the fiendishly difficult role of Manon Lescaut in the New York Premiere of Hans Werner Henze’s Boulevard of Solitude. Anton Coppola conducts.

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

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

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Schuyler Chapin appointed general manager of Metropolitan Opera.
  • Lou Reed releases “Walk on the Wild Side.”
  • John Lennon and Yoko Ono perform at Madison Square Garden.
  • 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).

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Lincoln Center renames its 11-year old Philharmonic Hall Avery Fisher Hall.
  • CBGBs opens as a venue for country, bluegrass and blues on Lower East Side.
  • A Little Night Music by Stephen Sondheim opens with Len Cariou, Hermione Gingold, and Glynis Johns at the Shubert Theater (600 performances).
  • Stevie Wonder, 22, makes Carnegie Hall debut.



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

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • José Carreras and Kiri Te Kanawa make Metropolitan Opera debuts.
  • Joey, Johnny, and DeeDee Ramone form the Ramones in Forest Hills, Queens.
  • 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.



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.

Class of 1975 refurbish lounge in John C. Borden Auditorium.

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.
  • Billy Joel records hit song “New York State of Mind.”
  • James Levine appointed musical director of Metropolitan Opera.
  • Beverly Sills makes Metropolitan Opera debut.
  • Three Led Zeppelin concerts at Madison Square Garden sell out in hours.
  • At 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).



The Opera Theater 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."

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.

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

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

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • 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.
  • Bubblin’ Brown Sugar, based on music by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Eubie Blake, Fats Waller, and others, opens at the ANTA Theater (766 performances).
  • 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.



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.
  • Annie, music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, with Andrea McArdle, Reid Shelton, and Dorothy Loudon, opens at the Alvin Theater (2,377 performances).
  • 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.



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

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:

  • 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.
  • Samuel Barber composes Third Essay for Orchestra.
  • Liza Minelli sets a Carnegie Hall record with 17 consecutive sold-out concerts.
  • Ain’t Misbehavin’,music and lyrics mostly by the late Thomas Wright “Fats” Waller, opens at the Longacre Theater (1,604 performances).



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 Theater 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.

Josephine Whitford, pictured c. 1960, is given the School's first-ever honorary doctorate for her almost 50 years of service to the School.

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

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • James Taylor performs in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow.
  • 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).
  • Evita by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, with Patti Lupone, opens at the Broadway Theater (1,556 performances).


Mysterious & Miscellaneous Photos

If you can identify the time, place, and people in these photos, please let us know.

Mrs. Whitford (pictured, right) speaks with two mystery individuals at an unknown event.
Any guesses?

Bina Dubno (Shevin) BM '78 writes: " I think this is me playing the bassoon...   Stephen Maximis conducting."

Do you have a photo with unknown people in it or are you just not sure when or where the photo was taken? Send us a copy and we'll help you find out.



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