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 Royal Victoria College (RVC), providing music instruction for young women. She would introduce courses in music theory and history believing that “the application of expressive performance techniques demands an understanding of the language of music itself”.[i] Lichtenstein’s vision and dedication helped overcome a prevailing attitude at McGill that music was not “an intellectual pursuit worthy of academic credit”[ii], winning over her detractors with the rave reviews her students received for performances in Europe and New York.
[i] Stubley, Eleanor Victoria. 2008. Compositional Crossroads: Music, McGill, Montréal. Page 6. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
[ii] Stubley, Eleanor Victoria. 2008. Compositional Crossroads: Music, McGill, Montréal. Page 6. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.