Boston Conservatory Governance records, 1867-2019
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.
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.
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 https://bostonconservatory.berklee.edu/about/history
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.
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.
Compiled from materials previously housed in the Albert Alphin Library and materials donated from the Presidents and Development offices.
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.)
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).
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