This timeline overview contains important milestones in the School's history.


Janet Daniels, a young musician and graduate of the New York School of Social Work, begins teaching music at the Union Settlement on East 104th Street in Manhattan.


Due to the events of World War I, The Union Settlement notifies Janet Daniels Schenck that they can no longer support the Music School financially. She establishes an independent Board which keeps the School going.


In March, Harold Bauer and Pablo Casals become the founding members of the artist auxiliary board.

A budget of $3,000 for 1918–1919 is approved by the new Board of Trustees.


The first District Music Service begins (community outreach) with concerts given at various divisions of Ellis Island, including the tuberculosis and psychopathic wards. Surgical and shell-shock hospitals are visited weekly.


The School’s first charter is issued. The School is incorporated as the Neighborhood Music School under the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York.


In October, the Board of Trustees purchases a building from the Jewish Guild for the Blind, giving the Neighborhood Music School its first real home, at 238 East 105th Street. 


May — The first commencement is held and the first diploma awarded.


The School’s first auditorium is constructed seating over two hundred people.

In November, the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York grants the School’s permanent charter.


The School moves into a new four-story building, built on the same site as the old.



New library and elevator for the library are added; a beautiful reading room is constructed in place of the entrance court.


“District Music Service” (community outreach) includes 32 concerts at 15 different agencies; 23 additional agencies are reached regularly through concerts, designed especially for the community, and given at the School. This program grew out of the first music programs given in the hospitals immediately after the last war.


Amendment to charter of the Neighborhood Music School renames the institution Manhattan School of Music.

The new Hubbard Auditorium and additional rooms added to the building are completed.


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.”


Postgraduate department is formed. 


The School awards its first postgraduate diploma.


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


Janet D. Schenck, the School's director, is assisted by Dr. Harold Bauer in conferring the degree of bachelor 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).


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


School is expanded; library wing is added.


Janet Schenck retires as director; she remains on the School’s board of trustees and becomes director emeritus and trustees’ representative to the administration.

Board of trustees appoint Metropolitan Opera baritone John Brownlee as the School’s new director. He serves as director/president until 1969.

School receives full membership to the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.


First time School makes a widespread drive for funds; slogan is “Help us to raise the roof,” as they need two new floors, one to be a new dining hall, the other to have a recital hall.


Two additional floors are added, which include a large and beautiful dining hall, a recital hall, studios, and additional practice rooms.


May — The board of trustees announces an $8.5 million expansion program (later changed to $9.5 million) which includes the purchasing of the Juilliard building on Claremont Avenue.


Children’s opera theater, under the guidance of Cynthia Auerbach, is established to present opera for children, sung by children.


School president John Brownlee dies unexpectedly on January 10.

George Schick, noted opera conductor and music director of the Metropolitan Opera Studio, is appointed president and assumes office in the fall term, (president until 1976).

The School moves to 120 Claremont Avenue.


John C. Borden Auditorium dedication concert is held on January 31 at the School's new home on 120 Claremont.


A group of alumni organize an effort to redeem the stone seal from the old building by contracting stone cutters working on the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.


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


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


Josephine C. Whitford, dean of students, retires. She is named dean emeritus.


The Business of Music: Anatomy of a Career is offered in the spring. Taught by Richard E. Adams (Class of 1961), it is the first course of its kind.


Jazz studies courses are offered for the first time.


American String Quartet becomes quartet in residence.

Jazz/Commercial Music major in the Graduate Program is announced.


Gideon W. Waldrop, composer, conductor, and former dean of The Juilliard School, becomes president (president until 1989).


Jazz/commercial music department offers new bachelor’s degree program.


Peter Simon, pianist and former director of academic studies at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, becomes president (president until 1991).


Graduate Program in Orchestral Performance begins.


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

First American Musical Theater Ensemble production, Love Songs and Alka Selzer, is performed.


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.


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.


Manhattan School of Music constructs an additional multi-use building directly north and adjacent to the School’s existing building. This long-awaited facility permits the School to house students and provide expanded facilities for both practice and performance.


The G. Chris and SungEun Andersen Hall is dedicated and opened in the fall, housing over 350 students. This wonderful new facility provides our students with an increased sense of community as well as much-needed practice rooms, doubling the practice space previously available for our students. There are also plans for an expanded library and two new performance spaces in Andersen Hall. SungEun Andersen is a member of the Board of Trustees and a Manhattan School of Music graduate, having studied piano with Constance Keene.


Hubbard Recital Hall is given major renovations over the summer and renamed Gordon K. and Harriet Greenfield Recital Hall, in honor of the long-standing trustee and his wife.


A new degree offering in the doctoral program is announced for the fall: the jazz department will offer a DMA in Jazz Arts Advancement. This degree is unique in its shared emphasis on composition, performance, and pedagogy.


Work is completed on the Peter Jay Sharp Library in the new building, and doors open for use in the fall.


Marta Casals Istomin, president of Manhattan School of Music since July 1992, announces her retirement. 

The Preparatory Division is renamed the Precollege Division.

The Manhattan School of Music Board of Trustees vote unanimously on June 21 to name the distinguished American composer Robert Sirota the School’s eighth president, effective October 2005. Dr. Sirota had been the director of Baltimore’s Peabody Conservatory for the previous ten years.


Construction of a president’s residence and two state-of-the-art performance spaces is completed in the spring. Architects and planners Beyer Blinder Belle spearhead the design of the final phase of campus enhancement started in 2000. The new spaces include: the Peter Jay Sharp President’s Residence located atop the 19-story G. Chris and SungEun Andersen Hall; the William R. and Irene D. Miller Recital Hall, an intimate jewel box space seating 153; and the Alan M. and Joan Taub Ades Performance Space, a multi-faceted space for informal performances of chamber music, jazz, opera, musical theater, as well as rehearsal space for large ensembles.

Manhattan School of Music inaugurates graduate degree program in Contemporary Performance, the first of its kind.

A dual-degree program in music education is begun. Graduates will earn a master's degree in performance, a master's degree in education (from Teacher's College at Columbia University), and 1-12 certification to teach n the New York City public school system.


A Center for Music Entrepreneurship is launched, continuing and expanding the offerings of the previous Office of Career Development.


Dr. James Gandre is appointed the School's ninth president. An educator and musician with a deep commitment to students and the development of American conservatory learning, Dr. Gandre assumes the presidency on May 6. He had served the School for fifteen years from 1985–2000, leaving as Dean of Enrollment and Alumni, and had most recently held top positions at Roosevelt University in Chicago.


A new degree program in Musical Theatre is announced.

Virtual Yearbooks

Enjoy our "Virtual Yearbooks" which include 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 highlights of New York City's music history.

Select a decade or other page in the menu below to begin your journey.  

Founder's Page  |  Timeline Overview 

Pre-1940s | 1940s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s