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 Schoenberg to Montreal audiences, music that was largely unheard in North America at the time.[ii]

Anhalt works closely with Hugh Le Caine and the National Research Council of Canada to obtain equipment, much of it specifically designed by Le Caine, to nurture homegrown composers such as Bruce Mather, Brian Cherney, and John Rea. Their work and compositions establish McGill as a true centre for new music in Canada and in the world.

Other changes under Dean Helmut Blume in this era include the McGill Conservatorium of Music becoming the McGill Preparatory School of Music in 1966 and finally separating from the Faculty of Music in 1970.

Having grown until it occupied all or part of half-a-dozen different buildings, the Faculty finally receives adequate and permanent premises, moving in 1971 into Royal Victoria College which was renovated and renamed the Strathcona Music Building in 1972.

This led to the opening of Pollack Hall on April 10, 1975, through a bequest from the Maurice Pollack Foundation earlier in 1966. This 600-seat concert hall was the first specifically designed venue at McGill and could host operas and orchestra performances as well as act as a space for big bands.


[i] Stubley, Eleanor Victoria. 2008. Compositional Crossroads: Music, McGill, Montréal. Page 36. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

[ii] Stubley, Eleanor Victoria. 2008. Compositional Crossroads: Music, McGill, Montréal. Page 9. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press. + Canadian Encyclopedia