Category:School of Music

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The School of Music

From its early years as the Brigham Young Academy to its present stature among the nation's top university programs, the growth and development of the School of Music at Brigham Young University mirrors that of the university itself.

In 1876, the second year of the Brigham Young Academy, music began to be offered to all the students, interestingly, by the Academy principal himself, Karl G. Maeser. The 100 member student body soon enjoyed performances by the Academy choir at the weekly devotional. Two years later the faculty was augmented by a second teacher, Susa Young (Gates), the 22-year old daughter of the school's namesake. More teachers and new courses soon followed. After two building moves the department settled in the ZCMI warehouse at 5th south and J street (now University Avenue). A course in harmony was taught by new faculty member Henry E. Giles, who used the Evan Stephen's Music Reader as a text.

By 1892, Academy enrollment had reached 275 with 16 teachers. The most notable development was the completion of the new Academy building located on 300 North and University Avenue (still standing and renovated). The Academy also saw the inauguration of its second president, Benjamin Cluff, Jr. The four-story building easily housed the music department which offered 7 courses: vocal music, voice culture, instrumental music (piano), harmony, theory, composition, and church organ music.

In 1896 Professor Giles took a position as music supervisor for the Provo public schools and was replaced by Anthony C. Lund, who guided the music department for the next 20 years. After graduating from the Academy in 1891, Lund had gone on to study at the Royal Conservatory in Leipzig. Almost immediately upon taking over the helm of the music department Lund set about making improvements based on the conservatory model he had experienced in Germany. Albert Miller, a former member of a Dresden military band, and a recent convert to the church, was hired to start an orchestra and band program. Miller also taught violin and wind instruments. The next prominent faculty addition was Claire W. Reid, a Manti, Utah native who had studied at the New England conservatory following his graduation from the Brigham Young Academy. Because of growth, the music department was moved from the Academy Building to the adjacent Education building where it remained for the next 65 years. The primary emphasis at the Music School was to prepare music teachers for employment at the 22 church-owned academies throughout the West, as well as at public schools throughout the state and region.

Sadly, Albert Miller, who had done so much for the development of the instrumental programs of the Music School died from typhoid in 1906, and was replaced by Moses S. Gudmendsen who led the orchestras for the next 13 years. During these years, the orchestra and band both were generally comprised of 20-30 students and gave regular concerts of the standard music canon and played for the operas that Professor Lund staged. Opera played a prominent role at the school, though productions were performed in the Provo Opera House, because the University facilities were insufficient. The school's orchestra accompanied other local opera productions there as well. In addition, the school's productions were taken on tour to other nearby cities on a regular basis, even as far north as Logan, Utah. In the period from 1903 to 1916 Lund conducted over 100 opera performances. By 1916 the orchestra had grown to 51 members, and performed Beethoven's 5th Symphony for the first time. The role of the Music School extended beyond their own resources as they also sponsored guest artists and ensembles in local concerts, notably the Chicago Symphony in 1908, and the Minneapolis Symphony in 1918.

In 1910 Professor Lund received, but declined, an offer from the New England Conservatory. However, in 1916 he accepted the appointment to be the director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a position he held 'til his death in 1935. Other changes included reduction of the School's preparatory component and a strengthening of its college mission, and in 1917 the School of Music was authorized to offer it's first academic major in music.

The year 1920 was a particularly important year which saw many faculty changes. Professor Reid, who had taken over for Lund in 1916, left to teach at the McCune School in Salt Lake. His replacement was [[|Florence Jepperson Madsen|Florence Jepperson]] whose career and leadership was to last the next 32 years. Another 30-year career began that fall when a new faculty member, Franklin Madsen, took over the orchestra program.

In 1964 the Music School moved to the recently constructed Harris Fine Arts Center, becoming part of the College of Fine Arts and Communications. In 1996 the name was changed to the School of Music, reflecting its status among other highly qualified music programs with national and international reputations. Today over 700 majors, 52 full-time faculty members, 58 part-time faculty members and numerous support personnel make up the Brigham Young University School of Music. The School of Music hosts youth camps each summer for students in middle and high school to come to BYU and improve their skills.

Department Chairs

List of Chairs of the Music School with their years of service:

In 1996, the Department of Music was renamed the School of Music. Directors have included:


The School of Music is home to several student clubs, as well as local chapters of national organizations. Clubs in the School of Music include:

  • American String Teachers Association
  • Audio Engineering Society
  • National Association for Music Education Collegiate Chapter
  • BYU Student Chapter of the National Association of Teachers Singing
  • UMTA BYU Student Chapter

External Links

News Links


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