Virtual Yearbooks: 1990s

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.


May — Dr. Walter Turnbull (MM '68 / DMA '84), pictured, founder of the Boys Choir of Harlem is given a Distinguished Alumni Award at Commencement. Jazz legend Max Roach (Undergraduate '52) is given an honorary doctorate.

December — The John Brownlee Opera Theater presents the American Premiere of Cornet Christoph Rilke's Song of Love and Death by Siegfried Matthus.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Steve Reich receives Grammy for Best.
  • Contemporary Composition for Different Trains, recorded by Kronos Quartet on Nonesuch label.
  • Joan Tower is first woman awarded Grawemeyer Award in Composition.
  • Evgeny Kissin gives New York debut.



Graduate Program in Orchestral Performance begins, the first of it kind in North America. It offers intensive study with members of the New York Philahrmonic and other prominent area ensembles. Founding members include: Glenn Dicterow (pictured), Joseph Robinson, and Frank Morelli (BM '73).

Summer — Manhattan School of Music founds Professional Musical Theater Workshop, Paul Gemignani, Director.

November — Soprano Birgit Nilsson is honored with a gala concert celebrating her years of master classes at the School. Guest performers include several alumni, as well as Mignon Dunn and Sherrill Milnes. George Manahan (Class of 1976) leads the School’s Symphony. Mme. Nilsson is pictured here during one of her classes in Borden Auditorium.

The School’s administration incorporates the activities of the disbanded alumni association to serve former students on an institutional level.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Kurt Masur appointed conductor of New York Philharmonic.
  • Lionel Hampton, age 82, records live with his Golden Men at Blue Note.
  • Paul Simon gives free concert with African and South American bands in Central Park to an audience of more than 600,000.
  • Carnegie Hall celebrates 100th birthday.
  • Mario Bauzá comes out of retirement to record his suite Tanga, orchestrated by Chico O’Farill, with Bobby Sanabria (current MSM faculty) on drums, and receives Grammy nomination.



Marta Casals Istomin, formerly artistic director of the Kennedy Center, becomes president (president until 2005).

Under the guidance of Carolyn Marlow, the first American Musical Theater Ensemble production, Love Songs and Alka Selzer, is performed.

Composer John Corigliano (Class of 1963) receives an honorary doctorate.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Phillip Glass’s opera The Voyage premiered at Metropolitan Opera to mark the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the Americas.
  • Jelly’s Last Jam, music by “Jelly Roll” Morton, lyrics by Susan Birkenhead, with Gregory Hines as the late Morton, opens at the Virginia Theater (569 performances).
  • Ghosts of Versailles, commissioned from John Corigliano (MSM alumnus) for the Metropolitan Opera’s centenary. The cast includes Lauren Flanigan (MSM alumna).
    Lauren Flanigan (MSM alumna) makes headlines, substituting for an ill Aprile Millo in Verdi's I Lombardi at the Metropolitan Opera. She performs wih no stage rehearsal, opposite Luciano Pavarotti, in an internationally televised broadcast.



Alumna Dawn Upshaw (MM '84) gives a master class (pictured her with mezzo-soprano Patricia Cay) in John C. Borden Auditorium on November 4.

School celebrates its 75th anniversary.

The School has 875 students, having admitted 39% of 1,725 applicants. The preparatory division has 470 students.

Alumni receptions held in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

A special performance program is inaugurated in the fall with Pinchas Zukerman, offering an intensive two-year course of study for exceptionally gifted violinists and violists.

Jazz Orchestra features guest artists Wynton Marsalis, Priscilla Baskerville (Class of 1974), and Jon Hendricks, in a performance of Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concert.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Tania León becomes Music Advisor to Kurt Masur and New York Philharmonic.
  • Luciano Pavarotti gives concert on Great Lawn in Central Park, drawing an audience of more than 250,000.
  • "A Day Without Art" is held on December 1: from 7:45–8:00pm, the lights on Broadway, the Empire State Building, and all the bridges from Manhattan are dimmed in memory of those who have died from AIDS.
  • Mayor David Dinkins renames the corner of Broadway and 65th Street “Leonard Bernstein Place."



An alumni reunion is held in celebration of the School's 75th Anniversary.

May 16 — The culminating event of the seventy-fifth-anniversary season features Kurt Masur conducting the Manhattan School of Music Symphony in a gala concert. The concert includes the world premiere of Manhattan Concerto by noted German composer Siegfried Matthus, commissioned by the School for its anniversary. After intermission, the School confers the degree of doctor of musical arts, honoris causa, upon Maestro Masur. Alumni reunion held in conjunction with festivities.

The Augustine Guitar Series moves to Manhattan School of Music and presents recitals by David Russell, Eduardo Fernandez, and Julian Bream in its first year.

New York Wind Soloists (later renamed Windscape) becomes an ensemble in residence.

The first comprehensive Alumni Directory published.

December — The Opera Theatre presents Miss Julie by Ned Rorem. A live, premiere recording is later released (Newport Classics label).

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Frank Sinatra receives Lifetime Grammy Achievement Award.
  • Beverly Sills elected Chairman of the Board of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the first woman and first professional musician to hold this position.



Manhattan School of Music Alumni Council is established with 24 members.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Max Roach (MSM alumnus) is inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
  • Ellen Taaffe Zwilich becomes first occupant of Carnegie Hall’s Composer’s Chair and creates the “Making Music” concert series, focusing on living composers.
  • Empire State Building displays two rows of blue lights to celebrate Frank Sinatra’s 80th birthday on December 12.
  • George Manahan (BM '73 / MM '76) is appointed Music Director of New York City Opera.



The legacy left by Raphael Bronstein (violin faculty from 1950–1988) is celebrated in John C. Borden Auditorium on February 11 by alumni, faculty, friends, and colleagues. The gala concert, organized by the Alumni Affairs office, establishes an award given each year at commencement.

Jazz pianist and composer John Lewis (Class of 1953) is given an honorary doctorate.

A Gala Benefit Concert is held on October 4. Guest artists include Pinchas Zukerman, Lauren Flanigan (Class of 1984), and John Lewis (Class of 1953).

Videoconferencing begins at Manhattan School of Music on November 1 — esteemed French composer Henri Dutilleux is broadcast live from Paris into Borden Auditorium at a concert which features the New York premiere of his composition, Timbres, espace, mouvement. A live international question and answer session allows students and audience members to ask Maestro Dutilleux about his music, life, and compositional process.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Paul Kellogg is appointed general and artistic director of New York City Opera.
  • Jonathan Larson’s Rent premieres at the Nederlander Theater (runs for 5,075+ performances).



May 18 — A second transatlantic videoconference enables the School to bestow concurrent honorary doctoral degrees on Mstislav Rostropovich (who is in France) and Clark Terry (who is in New York City). President Istomin confers the honors upon both musicians and gives her annual commencement greeting from France, where she is engaged as the director general of the Rencontres Musicales in Evian.

Four recordings of the School’s opera productions are released on CD: Rorem’s Miss Julie, Donizetti’s Il campanello di notte, Britten’s Albert Herring, and Daniel Catán’s Rappaccini’s Daughter.

Summer — Jazz Orchestra embarks on a European tour to the Netherlands, Italy, and Switzerland.

A memorial concert is held in November honoring Lillian Fuchs (who joined the faculty in 1962), organized by the Alumni Affairs office. It inaugurates an annual chamber music concert series in her name.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • The Lion King, music and lyrics by Elton John and Tim Rice, directed by Julie Taymor, opens at the New Amsterdam Theater (4,450 + performances).



March — A performances of Mahler's Symphony No. 3 is given at The Riverside Church. A CD (on Titanic) and later a DVD (on VAI) are released. The American Record Guide proclaims: "... the performance is great and can stand proudly with the best of its rivals in the recorded catalog."

A benefit concert for MSM's scolarship fund is held. Feaured performers (pictured) are accomanied by faculty member Warren Jones and include current students, as well as bass James Morris, mezzo and alumna Susan Quittmeyer (Class of 1978), mezzo Marilyn Horne, and soprano Ruth Ann Swenson.

April — The library celebrates the installation of its new online catalog.

Commencement: Ludmila Ulehla (Class of 1947) receives the first Presidential Award for Distinguished Service for her 50 years of teaching excellence. Soprano Dawn Upshaw (Class of 1985) and jazz bassist Ron Carter (Class of 1961), given honorary doctorates. Mr. Carter is pictured here outside Borden Auditorium.

A daylong, interdisciplinary symposium on Dmitri Shostakovich is held in September in conjunction with the Harriman Institute of Columbia University. Yuri Temirkanov leads a reading of Shostakovish’s 10th symphony with student orchestral musicians.

Six principal musicians from the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra lead sectional rehearsals of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with the School’s Symphony. A full orchestra rehearsal of the work, conducted by Graziella Contratto, follows.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Aaron Jay Kernis (BM '81) receives Pulitzer Prize for second string quartet, musica instrumentalis.
  • New York City Board of Education establishes the JD Award, named for MSM faculty member and alumnus Justin DiCioccio (MM '71), to be awarded annually for outstanding service to music in NYC schools.



Alumni receptions are held in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Dianne Danese-Flagello (Class of 1952), director of the preparatory division for 25 years, receives an honorary doctorate.

July 5 — The Manhattan School of Music Summer Music Camp opens exclusively for public school students in grades 5 through 8 from the five boroughs, created in association with the NYC Dept. of Education and the ASCAP Foundation.

Second annual interdisciplinary symposium on significant composers is held on October 12 to examine the music of Johannes Brahms. Kurt Masur (pictured), music director of the New York Philharmonic, leads the Manhattan School of Music Symphony in a reading of Brahms’s Symphony No. 1.

An alumni reunion (pictured) is held at the School celebrating the decade of the 1950s.

Justin DiCioccio (Class of 1971) is appointed chair of the Jazz Department.

December — The Opera Theatre presents A Death in the Family by William Mayer. A live, premiere recording is later released (Albany label).

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Bronx-born Jennifer Lopez releases debut album On the 6 (referring to the #6 train), and the single If You Had My Love peaks at No. 1.
  • New York composer John Corigliano (MSM alumnus) wins an Academy Award for Original Music Score for The Red Violin.
  • John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby premieres at the Metropolitan Opera, conducted by James Levine, with MSM alumnae Dawn Upshaw '84 and Susan Graham '87 in leading roles.
  • James Levine’s 25th anniversary at the Met is celebrated.



Mysterious & Miscellaneous Photos

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

Yuan Sheng (‘97) writes: “I believe the principal of the second violin section is David Brubaker (’95), sitting behind him is Jinsong Gao (’95), sitting next to Jinsong is Cindy Lin (’96).”

Rebecca Zepick (BM ’00) tell us: “I believe the man on the left is Yanni Amouris and the woman is Robin Snyder.”

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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