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 are introduced.

The MMus in Sound Recording was introduced in 1979. It was directed by Wieslaw Wosczyk, who is still teaching in the Department today.

Echoing the struggle that music faced in being acknowledged at the University a century earlier, the “established conviction that jazz was street music, that it wasn’t very sophisticated” is refuted, and jazz at McGill is finally accepted as “an intellectual pursuit worthy of academic credit.”[i] In 1981, McGill becomes the first university in Canada to offer a BMus in Jazz Performance and Kevin Dean establishes a degree-granting program with a full jazz curriculum by 1985. Jazz joins the storied tradition of composition in the Faculty with many works composed by Jazz Area professors and recorded by McGill University Records.

1981 also sees the inauguration of the Hellmuth Wolff French classical organ in Redpath Hall after a generous and anonymous donation.

The McGill Opera Studio is renamed Opera McGill in 1989 and stages many acclaimed productions throughout the 1990’s including Kurt Weill’s Street Scene and Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring.

The Faculty awards honorary degrees to Montreal Jazz pianist Oliver Jones and violinist Isaac Stern in 1995.


[i] Stubley, Eleanor Victoria. 2008. Compositional Crossroads: Music, McGill, Montréal. Page 6. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.