Timeline

widneyhouse.jpg
1880
More than 500 people gathered in a crowd to watch the laying of the corner stone of University Building on September 14, 1880, the University’s very first structure. Later to be called Widney Hall, this small wooden building would house the School of Music for almost half of its history.
classof1912.jpg
1912
The Graduating Class of 1912, pictured with Dean Skeele on the steps of a vanished building. The two women in front are College of Music staff members, and the five young women in white blouses are graduates of the Diploma Course.
1913
1913
USC created a College of Education in 1913, and a Music Education Department soon followed. This bulletin, from the Children’s Department, advertises the school’s early music training programs for young children.
1914
1914
Throughout the 1910s, many of the professors teaching at the College of Music were musicians in the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In addition to individual instruction, their students, such as those pictured here in the USC Concert Orchestra, 1914, benefited from hearing their professors in concert. Every year the College purchased a section of seats for the Philharmonic’s Friday afternoon concert series, and mandated the attendance of the entire student body.
1915
1915
In 1915 the College of Music moved into the old Marble Homestead at 30th and Figueroa. The Fall Bulletin read “The college is located three blocks from the University and one block north of West Jefferson on one of the most beautiful boulevards in the city. The picturesque and spacious grounds covering an entire acre include tennis courts, croquet grounds and shady nooks among the magnificent old tress which offer delightful opportunities for relaxation and diversion.”
1916
1916
“We’ve got the largest aggregation of trained pretzels and string beans ever brought upon the American stage,” begins a 1916 advertisement for the University of Southern California Orchestra. The ad also boasts seventy-five blushing mermaid nymphs in the musical company.
1920s
1920s
Created in the 1920s after various alumni complaints regarding the uninspired band music of football games, the Department of Musical Organizations oversaw the Trojan Marching Band, campus glee clubs, and other pep ensembles. Under the direction of Harold William Roberts, each group became a colorful institution, especially the marching band, well-known for its personality and formations.
1920s
1920s
The social life of the School of Music was marked by the constant presence of music faculty members at student parties. Dean Walter Skeele, depicted here teaching an organ lesson in Bovard Auditorium, supported the family atmosphere of the college, and expected every faculty member to be present at all of the numerous meetings, recitals, concerts and parties.
1922
1922
The graduating Class of ’22, pictured here in front of the old College of Music at 30th and Figueroa. Seated in the foreground is Dean Skeele, surrounded by other faculty professors including Horatio Cogswell (voice) and the famous German contralto Ernestine Schumann-Heink.
1922
1922
German contralto Ernestine Schumann-Heink, friend of the College of Music, in a newspaper advertisement from 1922. After a great career in Bayreuth, Covent Garden and the Metropolitan Opera, she made her home in Southern California. A friend of the von KleinSmids, she received an honorary degree from the University.
1923
1923
The first musician to be distinguished by the university with an honorary degree was Ignaz Paderewski, the noted pianist and Prime Minister of Poland. Presented at a special ceremony on February 2, 1923, the event was marked by Paderewski’s eloquent address on music in the United States. Less than a year earlier he had purchased a sprawling ranch and vineyard in Paso Robles, California. As he wrote in his memoirs, Paderewski considered America “the country of my heart, my second home.”
1923
1923
Professor of Organ and Dean of the College of Music for 36 years, Walter F. Skeele is pictured here teaching a piano lesson in his studio. In a bizarre series of events, Mary Skeele, wife of the Dean, was kidnapped in 1923 and held for $10,000 ransom. The Dean himself deposited the cash ransom in a buried cracker tin in the appointed lonely spot in the Pasadena hills, and Mrs. Skeele was promptly returned, blindfolded and weary, to her family and home. A police investigation and court trial later found a former student, expelled from the school for hysterical behavior, guilty of the crime.
1924
1924
The required course of study for a 1920s student of the College of Music, as shown here in a 1924 Catalogue, includes classes in French, Italian, Educational Psychology, and Platform Deportment.
1924
1924
Printed in a 1924 Degree Bulletin, this page depicts a typical teaching studio in the College of Music. The underlying text explains the Normal Training Department, a division for preparing students to be piano instructors.
1925
1925
The 1925 Trojan Glee Club Constitution states the member qualifications and responsibilities of the student ensemble. Article IX – Rules of the Road, explains the required promise to observe regular hours, “to retire not later than 12 o’clock midnight every night” and the established penalty system. A $ .50 fine was enacted for tardiness, and a $ 1.00 fine for each absence.
1932
1932
USC Symphony Orchestra, Alexander Stewart, conductor (1932). For almost twenty years Alexander Stewart was active in choral and orchestral conducting for the University and College of Music.
1934
1934
In the fall of 1934, Arnold Schoenberg moved with his family to Hollywood and attempted to attract students among the local film composers. In Mudd Philosophy Hall he taught a Composition class which discussed only the most conventional and traditional harmony. During the intermission Mr. Schoenberg would smoke a cigarette or two, defying the “no smoking” rule of the building. After every class session ended the class would move to the tennis courts, where the students waited their turn to play with him. Mrs. Schoenberg often sat on the sidelines and admonished the players, “Keep him near the net. He must not run much.”
1940s
1940s
Recordings and radio broadcasts have long been a tradition of the Thornton School, even before the founding of KUSC. Seated at the piano for this live broadcast is John Crown, professor of piano for many years. During WWII, when the university was downsizing its course offerings and faculty, Crown taught mathematics, and continued to give numerous chamber music concerts on campus as a member of the Hancock Trio.
1941
1941
Baroque specialist and enthusiast Alice Ehlers joined the School of Music in September 1941, as Professor of Harpsicord. A former student of Leschetitzky and Wanda Landowska, she toured Europe with a Baroque group that included Paul Hindemith (who played the viola d’amore). Fascinated by one of her concerts, William Wyler of MGM studios contracted her to appear in the film Wuthering Heights. In addition to her active career and harpsichord teaching, and her rumored habit of practicing in her studio in only her negligee, Ehlers organized numerous baroque music festivals and concerts at USC.
1941
1941
Philanthropist Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, famous for her support of chamber music and international commissions, funded several series of chamber music in Bovard Auditorium. In addition to bringing concerts of the Pro Arte Quartet and other eminent chamber ensembles to USC, she presented wartime concerts of members from the Hancock ensemble, including this 1941 concert series of the University Trio. No one was free from the pressures and effects of the war, and Antonio Brosa, professor of violin and performer in this playbill, later resigned for war service.
1945
1945
As a youth Ingolf Dahl was an opera coach and guide for mountain climbers in Zurich, but in 1945 he joined the faculty at USC and taught composition, conducting, and music history. In addition to his teachings, he also directed the university’s symphony orchestra (1945-1958), performing much contemporary music in addition to the standard repertory.
1949
1949
Benjamin Britten and his partner Peter Pears, onstage at Bovard during their 1949 visit to USC. They were in town to watch the Department of Opera’s 1949 production of Britten’s Albert Herring.
1949
1949
Carl Ebert, first director of the Department of Opera, proved that a local company of young singers could produce lively, well-performed opera at affordable prices for the public. With Benjamin Britten, Peter Pears and Virgil Thompson in the Bovard audience, Ebert presented a 1949 production of Britten’s chamber opera Albert Herring, featuring Marni Nixon (’50).
1950s
1950s
USC Wind Orchestra, William A. Schaefer conducting, 1950s.
1953
1953
Incoming USC Thornton Opera director Walter Ducloux (left) meets with program founder Carl Ebert, bringing together two pillars of the opera program at USC.
1953
1953
Marilyn Horne, as a young student at USC, where she studied voice with William Vennard and Gwendolyn Koldofsky, and participated in Lotte Lehman’s master classes. Before her career as a diva began, she first came into the public spotlight in 1954 as the dubbed voice of Dorothy Dandridge in the motion picture Carmen Jones.
1953
1953
Charles Hirt, pictured here with the Madrigal Singers, was a member of the University of Southern California faculty for 35 years, where he directed the Department of Church and Choral Music. Also very active throughout Southern California as a choral conductor, he was music director of the Hollywood Presbyterians Church and a musical advisor to Disneyland.
1955
1955
A major figure in the world of contemporary music, Halsey Stevens was a composer, critic, program annotator for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and professor at the USC School of Music. A world authority on Bela Bartok, he wrote the first full-length study in English of the composer’s life and music.
1959
1959
Michael Tilson Thomas (BM ’67, MM ’76) and Eudice Shapiro, member of the School of Music faculty from 1959 until her death in 2007.
1960s
William Primrose, Jascha Heifetz and Gregor Piatigorsky teaching a chamber music master class at USC, date unknown. Throughout the 1960s Heifetz and Piatigorsky taught master classes of extremely talented students at the School of Music.
1962
1962
Beginning in 1962 and lasting until his death in 1976, Gregor Piatigorsky held master classes at USC for cellists who flocked to him from every part of the world. The classes met twice a week for four or five hours, in the then newly completed Ramo Hall of Music. It was a common occurrence to see many of Piatigorsky’s former students, major artists in their own rights, drop in for a “try-out” in front of one of the most demanding group of critics anywhere.
1966
1966
Scene from the 1966 production of Mathis der Maler, conducted by Walter Ducloux, director of the USC Symphony and Opera Department.
1970
1970
Conductor and composer Michael Tilson Thomas (BM ’67, MM ’76), pictured here as a student with Ingolf Dahl, began his formal studies at the University of Southern California where he studied piano with John Crown and conducting and composition with Dahl.
1973
1973
Front page of program from James Horner’s (’74) undergraduate composition recital, in 1973. After studies at USC and The Royal College of Music, James Horner became famous for his numerous Hollywood film scores including Titanic, Braveheart, and Apollo 13.
1974
1974
Gregor Piatigorsky (left) and Dean Beglarian (right) enjoying a break, in the foreground of ongoing construction of the new Music School facilities.
1974
1974
The Heifetz Master Class, featured in a recital program from 1974.
1975
1975
A lesson from the master, Jascha Heifetz demonstrating for a violin student in one of his master classes.
1975
1975
Workers laying the foundation of the Raubenheimer Music Faculty Building, 1975.
1975
1975
In 1975 USC awarded an honorary doctorate to composer William Grant Still for his efforts to dissolve music’s racial barriers by emphasizing the universalities in African and Western music. In 1926 he became the first black conductor to lead a major American orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.
1976
1976
Gregor Piatigorsky, professor of cello, and James Arkatov, a cellist and photographer who captured images of the great musical personalities of the 20th century from his seat as principal cellist of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and other major symphonies. His collection of photographs is currently located in the USC Library’s Special Collections.
1977
1977
The downstairs lobby of the new Arnold Schoenberg Institute, built as an international research center for the study and performance of not only Schoenberg’s music, but all 20th century music.
1977
1977
Recreation of Arnold Schoenberg’s study, furnished with the composer’s artifacts and papers in the Schoenberg Institute.
1983
1983
The Kronos Quartet was in residency at USC in the 1983-84 season. The six-concert season was built around the Bartok Quartets, one per concert in reverse order. In their final concert of the residency, beginning 35 minutes after the starting time given to everyone but the performers, the group performed Frederick Lesemann’s (MM ’61, DMA ’71) “Strokes”, Morton Subotnick’s “The Fluttering of Wings”, Ben Johnston’s Fourth Quartet, and Bartok’s First Quartet.
1985
1985
Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski in a 1985 residency at USC. During his two-week tenure at the School of Music he was active in lectures, rehearsals and performances of his music.
1985
1985
While in residency at USC, Witold Lutoslawski conducted open rehearsals of several of his works, including “Chain 1″, “Mi-Part”i and “Trois Poemes de Henri Michaux.”
1999
1999
Thornton friends Martha Newman Ragland and Alice Harnell on the occasion of the renovation and opening of Alfred Newman Recital Hall.
2001
2001
The late virtuoso violinist Isaac Stern thanks members of the USC Thornton Symphony after a rehearsal. Maestro Stern appeared with the Symphony in one of his last public performances before his death.
2004
2004
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma works with a Thornton student during a master class at Bovard Auditorium. Mr. Ma also appeared with the USC Thornton Chamber Orchestra in November 2004.
2005
2005
Members of the student group New West Guitar Quartet are interviewed during their tour of Japan. The group, part of the USC Thornton Protege Program, also released a CD under the Thornton School’s Flora Records label.