A brief history of the Schulich School of Music

1880 - 1904

“A musical history worthy of being told” – The journey begins

Music instruction has existed at McGill since 1884, but it was Chancellor Lord Strathcona (Donald A. Smith) bringing celebrated Hungarian pianist Clara Lichtenstein to McGill in 1899 that truly laid the cornerstone for what is today the Schulich School of Music of McGill University. Lichtenstein was to head the Music Department of the recently founded […]

1904 - 1920

“A good and proper technique” – New instructors, a new home

The remarkable work of Clara Lichtenstein at the Royal Victoria College (RVC), along with financial support from Lord Strathcona, helped establish the McGill Conservatorium in 1904, located in the Workman Mansion at 799 Sherbrooke Street. Composer Charles A.E. Harriss became the first director of the Conservatorium with the first session in September 1904 attended by […]

1920 - 1950

“Hope Springs Eternal” – Music reborn at McGill

The post-war era sees the establishment of the Faculty of Music on April 26, 1920 and music finally has equal stature with the other arts and sciences at McGill.[i] The inspired teaching of organist Alfred Whitehead and composer Claude Champagne in the 1920’s helps the focus of instruction in the Faculty evolve to “encourage the […]

1950 - 1964

Reorganization – The era of “the three Deans”

The post-WWII era saw the relocation of the Faculty from the Workman Mansion to the Shaughnessy House at 40 Drummond Street and is characterized by a significant reorganization. In the first half of the 20th century, the Faculty was following the British model of music education, emphasizing the mastery of historical repertoire. This was about […]

1964 - 1975

A centre for new music – “The eclecticism of the period”

After years of suffering from a lack of appropriate premises and a dearth of equipment[i], the Faculty of Music reinvents itself. In 1964, the Electronic Music Studio (EMS) is established under the direction of István Anhalt, who had brought a very European aesthetic to Montreal the previous decade by introducing works by Bartók, Stravinsky, and […]

1976 - 1990

“This is our music” – New sounds and new degrees at McGill

This era is defined by an embracing of technology and the establishment of many new degrees. McGill University Records is founded in 1976, offering recordings of Faculty performers and music created by Faculty composers. The Preparatory School becomes the McGill Conservatory of Music in 1978, while PhD programs in Musicology, Music Theory, and Music Education […]

2000 - 2015

“Created by creators for creators” – much needed new facilities and new friends

Construction begins in 2003 on new facilities for the Faculty and in 2005, the New Music Building opens. The Faculty of Music is renamed the Schulich School of Music following an unprecedented donation of $20 million dollars from Canadian philanthropist and McGill alumnus Seymour Schulich. The building stands at “the intersection where technology, science and […]

2015 - Present

The advancement of learning through the free expression of ideas and pursuit of research and artistic creation

Today, the Schulich School of Music offers 50 different programs in research and performance and puts on almost 700 concerts and events annually, several of which are webcast by Schulich’s own faculty and students. The School is made up of 860 students (32% from Quebec, 33% from the rest of Canada, and 35% international), 200 […]