Skip to main content

Boston Conservatory Governance records, 1867-2019

Identifier: BCB-001

Scope and Contents

This collection comprises records related to the governance and operations of the Boston Conservatory from its founding in 1867 through 2019. Materials primarily pertain to the early history of the Conservatory and the activities of the Board of Trustees from the 1970s through the 2010s. The collection also includes a small amount of material pertaining to select Conservatory presidents.


  • 1867-2019

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for reseach by appointment, with the exception of Series 2 (Board of Trustees), which is restricted 30 years from date of creation except to department or body of origin.

Advance notice is required for access because materials are stored offsite.


The Boston Conservatory of Music was founded in 1867 by German-born composer and violinist Julius Eichberg, who established the school with the dual mission of serving as a community music school and as a professional training academy. The Conservatory was the first conservatory in the nation to admit both women and Black students, the first to establish a grand opera department, the first to create a professional training program in dance with equal emphasis on both European classical ballet and American modern dance, and the first to grant undergraduate degrees in all three major arts disciplines: dance, music, and theater. Together with Berklee College of music, the Boston Conservatory was a founding member of the Pro Arts Consortium in 1983. In 2016, the Boston Conservatory merged with Berklee College of Music, becoming the Boston Conservatory at Berklee.

Institutional Chronology

1867: The Boston Conservatory opens at Mason and Hamlin’s building at 154 Tremont St., Boston. Julius Eichberg is Director.

1870: First Boston Conservatory diploma awarded to Richard E. Bobbitt

1878: Eichberg Quartet, the first all-female professional string quartet, formed by Eichberg

1887: Coronetist P.G. Lowry studies at the Conservatory under Henry C. Brown, becomes the first African-American student to complete a training program at the school

1893: Roscoe Marriner Floyd assumes presidency following the death of Eichberg, with Herman P. Chelius as musical director

1896: Incorporated as Boston Conservatory of Music, Inc

1898: Fire at Conservatory studios on Tremont Street

1905: Reincorporated following a period of non-operation

1914: Re-established as Boston Conservatory and College of Oratory.

1920-1932: Boston Pops conductor Agide Jacchia is president, reorganizes Conservatory

1920: Establishes nation’s first grand opera department

1928: Conservatory moves to new location at 256 Huntington Avenue opposite Symphony Hall

1932: Ester Ferrabini Jacchia is temporary Director following Agide Jacchia’s death

1933: Merger with National Associated Studios of Music led by alumnus Albert Alphin

1933-1967: Albert Alphin is president

1935: Re-established as Boston Conservatory of Music

1936: Dissolves as a business corporation and becomes a nonprofit organization; first classes held at 26 The Fenway

1938: Authorized to award bachelor of music degrees, is the first to offer a degree in music education

1939: 32 The Fenway purchased

1940: William Andrew Rhodes awarded a composition degree, becoming the first black composer to graduate from a Boston institution.

1943: Dance Division established by Jan Veen, is the first integrated department of ballet and modern dance at the college level in the country

1946: Theater Division established with assistance from Harlan F. Grant

1949: Theater building at 31 Hemenway Street opens

1951: Conservatory authorized to award Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in drama and dance, is the first conservatory to offer an undergraduate degree in drama

1958: First conservatory to offer undergraduate degrees is musical theater, also receives authorization to grant degrees of Master of Music and Master of Music Education,

1964-1965: 54 and 8 The Fenway purchased

1967-1969: George A. Brambilla is president

1969-1977: Dr. Herbert Philpott is president

1979-1981: Dale A. Duvall is president

1981-1998: William Seymour, former associate dean, returns to the Conservatory as President

1982: Official name change to The Boston Conservatory

1983: ProArts Consortium founded with Berklee College of Music

1998-2016: Richard Ortner is president

2006: First capital campaign launched

2007: First conservatory to offer a private music lessons program to community members on the autism spectrum

2011: 132 Ipswich St purchased

2015: First conservatory to offer graduate degrees in music education and autism

2016: Merger with Berklee College of Music, renamed Boston Conservatory at Berklee

2017: Cathy Young named Executive Director, the institution’s first appointed female leader

Timeline adapted from


11 boxes

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged into 3 series.

Series 1: History of the Boston Conservatory, 1867-2017

This series comprises various accounts and timelines of the history of the Boston Conservatory, news clippings, photographs, and published method books created by the Conservatory.

Series 2: Board of Trustees, 1927-2016

This series primarily comprises meeting minutes from the late 1920s through the 2010s (bulk 1970-2016), as well as annual reports, photographs, and organizational documents.

Series 3: President’s Office, 1880s-1990s

This series contains material pertaining to former Conservatory directors and presidents, including Herman Chelius, Roscoe Marriner Floyd, George Brambilla, and William Seymour.

Custodial History

The majority of materials in this collection were held in multiple offices of the Conservatory and transferred to the archives upon its creation in 2015.

Acquisition History

Compiled from materials previously housed in the Albert Alphin Library and materials donated from the Presidents and Development offices.

Related Materials

For additional collections about Boston Conservatory presidents, see:

BCB-013 Julius Eichberg collection

BCB-014 Agide Jacchia collection

BCB-015 Albert Alphin collection

BCB-016 Richard Ortner collection

Separated Materials

Presidential series for Julius Eichberg, Agide Jacchia, Albert Alphin, and Richard Ortner were intellectually reassigned as discrete collections under each Conservatory president in 2021. (See Collections BCB-013 through BCB-016.)

Processing Information

Processed by Brendan Higgins, May 2016-June 2019; finding aid prepared for ArchivesSpace by Ashley Gray and Thomas Wandborg, 2021

In 2021, the majority of presidential collections were reassigned as discrete collections (BCB-013 through BCB-016).

Boston Conservatory Governance records, 1867-2019
Under Revision
Brendan Higgins; prepared for ArchivesSpace by Ashley Gray and Thomas Wandborg, 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Berklee Archives Repository

Berklee College of Music
1140 Boylston St
Boston MA 02215 USA