Manhattan School of Music

Manhattan School of Music

Logo of the Manhattan School of Music
Motto Latin: Macte virtute sic itur ad astra
Motto in English
Those who excel, thus reach the stars.
Type Private
Established 1917
President James Gandre
Provost Marjorie Merryman
Location New York City, New York, United States
Campus Urban
Manhattan School of Music, at the intersection of West 122nd Street (Seminary Row) and Broadway

The Manhattan School of Music (MSM) is a major music conservatory located on the Upper West Side of New York City. The school offers degrees on the bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels in the areas of classical and jazz performance and composition.

Founded in 1917, the school is located on Claremont Avenue in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of New York City, adjacent to Broadway and West 122nd Street (Seminary Row). The MSM campus was originally the home to The Institute of Musical Art (which later became Juilliard) until Juilliard migrated to the Lincoln Center area of Midtown Manhattan. The property was originally owned by the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum until The Institute of Musical Art purchased it in 1910.[1] The campus of Columbia University resides close by, where it has been since 1895. Many of the students live in the school's residence hall, Andersen Hall. As of 2011, 75 percent of the students come from outside New York State and 31 percent from outside the United States.


Entrance to the John C. Borden Auditorium

The Manhattan School of Music was founded in 1917–1918, by the pianist and philanthropist Janet D. Schenck, as the Neighborhood Music School. Initially located at the Union Settlement Association on East 104th St in Manhattan's East Harlem neighborhood, the school moved into a brownstone building at East 105th St.[2] Pablo Casals and Harold Bauer were among the first of many distinguished artists who offered guidance to the school. Eventually, its name was changed to Manhattan School of Music.

In 1943, the artistic and academic growth of the school resulted in a charter amendment to grant the bachelor of music degree. Two subsequent amendments authorized the offering in 1947 of the master of music degree and, in 1974, the degree of doctor of musical arts. In 1956, Dr. Schenck retired and Metropolitan Opera baritone John Brownlee was appointed director, a title later revised to president. President Brownlee initiated the idea of relocating the school to the Morningside Heights neighborhood; his death occurred only months before his efforts were realized. In 1969, George Schick, Metropolitan Opera conductor, accompanist, and opera coach, succeeded Brownlee as president and led the school's move to its present location. He created the opera program, while all other major school functions were managed by Senior Director Stanley Bednar.

John O. Crosby, founder and general director of the Santa Fe Opera, was appointed president in 1976. He was followed by Gideon W. Waldrop, who was appointed in 1986, and Peter C. Simon in 1989. On July 1, 1992, Marta Casals Istomin was named president, a position which she held until October 2005 when she retired.

Dr. Robert Sirota, former director of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, took over the presidency in 2005.[3] He was succeeded by James Gandre, formerly of Roosevelt University, effective May 2013.[4]

Notable teachers and administrators

The Manhattan School of Music, facing Claremont Avenue

Notable students and alumni

Instrumental performing ensembles

Since 1999, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and the Manhattan School of Music have partnered to offer a free summer music program for students who attend New York City's public schools.

Manhattan School of Music offers a wide variety of live audience performance experiences for its students. There are three major orchestras: The MSM Symphony, the Philharmonia, and the Chamber Sinfonia. In addition, many smaller ensembles are assembled for orchestral chamber music. The MSM Wind Ensemble also performs throughout the year. The Jazz Arts Program also contains various ensembles, such as the Jazz Philharmonic (full jazz big band with full orchestra), the Jazz Orchestra, Concert Jazz Band, Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, and Chamber Jazz Ensemble. Tactus, the ensemble for contemporary chamber music, is made up of graduate students in the school's Contemporary Performance Program (CPP). The school also holds an annual concerto competition with which the winner is offered the opportunity to perform with the Symphony Orchestra.

Performance venues

The Manhattan School contains multiple performance spaces, each dedicated to separate ensemble requirements. The largest is the John C. Borden Auditorium, where all orchestral and large jazz ensemble concerts are held. The smaller Greenfield Recital Hall and Miller Recital Hall are used for solo and small ensemble recitals, especially for graduation-required recitals. The Ades Performance Space is among the newest of MSM's venues, and is used to present everything from fully staged operas to contemporary chamber music. The newly dedicated Carla Bossi-Comelli Studio on the seventh floor is a multipurpose rehearsal and performance space which was formerly a dance studio; other smaller performance spaces include the Myers Recording Studio, Mikowsky Recital Hall, and Pforzheimer Hall.


  1. "Historical Significance, Historic Morningside Heights". Retrieved September 20, 2013.
  2. "Manhattan School of Music: Timeline". Retrieved October 31, 2012.
  3. "Composer Robert Sirota".
  4. "Manhattan School of Music Names New President". The New York Times. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
  5. F. Paul Driscoll (December 2015). "Sound Bites: Andrea Carroll". Opera News.

Coordinates: 40°48′44″N 73°57′41″W / 40.81222°N 73.96138°W / 40.81222; -73.96138

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