VOICES OF MUSIC
Affiliated with the Eastman School in one way or another were several important Rochester musical institutions. Of them, the foremost was a new Philharmonic Orchestra, which made its debut on March 28, 1923. For the most part, the Orchestra consisted of professional players who performed in connection with motion pictures in the Theatre, and they were reinforced by teachers in the School and by the best members of the former Hermann Dossenbach Orchestra. Women in the ranks were conspicuously few. (Invited to conduct the orchestra for movies, though not the Philharmonic, Dossenbach declined.) On the whole it was a technically excellent group, partly because the performers who were drawn from the cinema ensemble had employment for forty-nine weeks of the year, in contrast to from twenty-four to thirty-two weeks in orchestras elsewhere. Professional players in other communities were obliged to supplement their incomes by teaching or another side-line.
Eager though Eastman was to have a philharmonic orchestra of distinguished quality he had no intention of acting as "angel," of providing a subsidy. Expenses of the Orchestra were to be met in the first instance by box-office receipts and the earnings (if any) of the motion picture shows; deficits were covered by donations from some two hundred patrons of the Orchestra in the Rochester area, organized (about 1922) as the Eastman Theatre Subscribers Association.
Conducting the initial Philharmonic concert was Arthur Alexander, mentioned before, with Alf Klingenberg as piano soloist. Owing to friction with the managerial board, Alexander soon resigned, and for the 1923-1924 season; two Englishmen, Albert Coates and Eugene Goosens, occupied the podium. Coates conducted the second half of the concerts and in April, 1924, directed the Philharmonic in its premiere appearance in New York City--at Carnegie Hall. Certain newspaper commentaries on the Orchestra were less than flattering, but other critics heartily applauded the performance. Finding himself at odds with the managers, who had the interests of the general public at heart while he approached music from the standpoint of a professional technician, Coates soon withdrew from the director's post. 1
After dividing the responsibilities of conductor with Coates, Goosens (Sir Eugene after 1955) was appointed to the office on a permanent basis and carried on for seven seasons. As related by Goosens in his unfinished autobiography, the invitation to come to Rochester and build up a major symphony orchestra was extended to him on behalf of the managers by George W. Todd. Upon learning of the salary attached to the conductorship, Goosens readily accepted with a curt "O.K." Belonging to a family of musicians of Flemish ancestry, Goosens was an urbane, cultivated gentleman of thirty years, reserved, if not shy, in manner. On the rostrum, his stature made him a commanding figure, and he possessed splendid talent for inspiring players.
Rochester music people welcomed him cordially in October of 1923, and his second wife was chosen from a local family. He marvelled at the facilities and the furnishings of the music center, though he was displeased by the rampant factionalism in city musical circles and by the abrupt, arbitrary ways of Eastman.
Fond of twentieth century compositions and cherishing an unconcealed admiration for syncopated noises hailed as jazz, Goosens succeeded admirably as director of the Philharmonic, though as a composer he was much less polished and esteemed. First-desk artists in the Orchestra impressed him as superior performers and the string section ranked well above the average. Capacity audiences crowded the Theatre when Goosens wielded the baton. Although he offered instruction in orchestral conducting at the School, Goosens believed, deep down, that the art could not in fact be taught but depended rather upon the innate capacity of a conductor to inspirit players with thought and feeling, as he put it.
In addition to his duties in Rochester, Goosens undertook lecture tours and worked as guest conductor with several American orchestras. In 1931 he moved off to Cincinnati to head the Symphony Orchestra of that city, and subsequently he settled in Sydney, Australia, where he endeavored to create a music center more or less modelled on the Flower City institution. Lamenting his decision to leave Rochester, a music critic in the community remarked that Goosens had taken over the Philharmonic, "when it was still in swaddling clothes and reared it to its present robust musical stature." After the departure of Goosens, guest artists conducted the Philharmonic for several seasons. 2
Precisely when George Eastman decided that training for operatic productions should be included in the curriculum of the School is unclear. What is certain is that George W. Todd first took up the idea under the influence of Vladimir Rosing, a Russian-born tenor and noted song recitalist. Boldly he dreamed of producing well-acted opera sung by young, good-looking Americans in understandable English. If realized, his vision would not only impart an impetus to operatic entertainment in America but would make it unnecessary for aspiring Americans to go to Europe for instruction in opera. Convinced of the feasibility of the Rosing plan, Todd induced Eastman to finance an opera department at the School for an experimental period.
An intelligent person, volatile and impulsive, with original and unconventional ideas on operatic production, Rosing accepted the responsibility of directing the new venture; he was confident that in four years with a carefully selected ensemble of singers he would be able to produce performances of high caliber. 3
To teach dramatic action, Rosing brought to Rochester Rouben Mamoulian, a tall, dark, bespectacled Armenian who had had experience with the Moscow Art Theatre, and who subsequently attained national distinction as a film director and producer of plays. Supervision of music for opera and the role of conductor were first assumed by Coates, then by Goosens and Emanuel Balaban. The name Rochester American Opera Company soon replaced the original Rochester Opera Company.
Promising youths were drawn to the opera department by generous scholarships of $1,000 together with free tuition. Candidates had to be North Americans either by birth or adoption and had to demonstrate their qualities in auditions held in Rochester, and, three other cities. Three hundred ambitious singers participated in the initial competition, of whom thirty from all over the United States and Canada were chosen, three from Rochester itself.
Operatic instruction, stressing both singing and acting, commenced in the summer of 1923 and by the autumn sufficient progress had been made to present an act from "The Barber of Seville," three times daily for six days, as incidental entertainment in connection with silver screen fare at the Eastman Theatre. In that way young artists gained practical experience and scholarship holders made compensation for their grants. 4
On November 20, 1924, the opera troupe after months of rehearsals presented its first full public performance, giving "Pagliacci" and portions of "Boris Godunov." An enthusiastic audience of some 2,000 applauded lustily, and Rochester music critics commented appreciatively on the production (extolling the male singers more warmly than the women) and on the distinctive, impressionistic stage settings.
At the Easter season of 1926, an Operatic Festival was staged on six evenings and at a matinee. As witness to the strides that had been taken, the famous operatic star, Mary Garden, after attending rehearsals, was heard to remark, "What a superb professional-like show!" She ventured the prediction that the Eastman institution would train the great American singers of the future. It was erroneously bruited about that the glamorous and temperamental diva would assume a teaching post at the School, but in February, 1927, she did participate in "Carmen" with the Rochester students; she sang in French, the others in English. 5
In April of 1927 the Rochester American Opera Company adventurously staged three operas at the Guild Theatre in New York City. Sophisticated metropolitan audiences and highly respected critics showered the performers with praise. Fresh, pretty voices in the excellently coordinated ensemble sang with youthful gusto, it was commented, and the conducting of Goosens, the costumes, lighting, and stage scenery elicited gratifying compliments. "The Marriage of Figaro," in particular, was appraised as "an entertaining exhibit by finished artists." One critic observed that the productions "quashed the myth that English cannot be sung and that operatic librettos do not sound well in English." 6
The New York performances marked the high point in the saga of the Rochester American Opera Company--and its end. From the outset the opera department had proved expensive, and Eastman never intended to subsidize the innovation beyond a few years. When financial support from other sources was assured, the ensemble was reorganized as the American Opera Company and performed in musical centers in the United States and Canada. But in the spring of 1930 the onset of the Great Depression forced the troupe to dissolve; except for money troubles the praiseworthy Adventure started in Rochester might well have grown into a national institution. As it was, the experiment exerted an enduring influence upon operatic productions in the English language all across North America. At the Eastman School instruction in opera continued to be given, coupled with the teaching of French, German, and Italian diction; graduates were engaged by the foremost operatic ensembles in the United States. 7
Teaching of ballet dancing, meanwhile, had been established at the School. With London-trained Enid Knapp Botsford as mistress of ballet, the first class of six girls entered in February of 1923, and within a year enrollment had climbed ten-fold; children as young as seven years were admitted. Just as with scenes from operas, ballets were danced in conjunction with movies in the Eastman Theatre.
From these beginnings, the Eastman School of the Dance and Dramatic Action emerged (1925), with Mamoulian as Director. Primarily, it offered instruction in classic and interpretative dancing and trained students for operatic productions. For a short term in 1925 the graceful and radiantly charming Martha Graham, one day to be known as "the high priestess" of modern dance, taught at the School and supervised ballet performances; a few of the more gifted pupils went on the road with the Graham company. Although the life of the Dance and Dramatic Action experiment was cut short, teaching of ballet held a permanent place on the Eastman School curriculum.8
Encouragement of young American-born composers appealed strongly to Howard Hanson--as to Albert Coates earlier. As matters stood, unknown native artists had virtually no opportunity to hear their creations performed. Primarily to remedy that situation, and also to acquaint listeners with what youthful Americans were writing and to afford players a chance to meet composers and music critics, an annual American Composers' Concert was begun in 1925. Composers were invited to submit unpublished scores, and over fifty were sent in for the initial competition. From them a panel of experts chose six works to be played by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra; among the winners were Aaron Copeland, destined to gain a secure place among American composers of all time, and Bernard Rogers, who was presently appointed to the Eastman School faculty. Distinguished music critics who listened to the original performance on May 1, 1925, cordially welcomed the innovation and its execution. The School treasury financed the travelling and related expenses of the composers whose works were played and of the professional critics. So large was the number of manuscripts sent in that concerts had to be increased to four or five a year, and they proved so popular that performances had to be moved from Kilbourn Hall to the theatre. The American Composers' Concert of 1927 was carried across the nation by radio, and the Eastman center, which had transmitted serious music from its own studio since 1922, pioneered (1927) in sending a concert around the globe. 9
With time, a large proportion of the renditions at the Concerts came from America's foremost living writers of music, and it became customary to ask concert audiences to vote on which compositions they liked best. What was being done in Rochester, parenthetically, contrasted markedly with most of the large metropolitan orchestras which haughtily disdained to play contemporary American music.
By 1950, the works of more than 500 American composers, representing a wide variety of types of music, had been given a hearing, and certain scores, in whole or part, had been published under the Eastman School imprint. Starting in 1939, recordings of selected works were made, Hanson, as a rule, conducting the orchestra.
Intimately linked to the Eastman School was a Rochester settlement music school which furnished instruction to talented children of low-income families. It was known as the David Hochstein School in memory of a gifted Rochester-born violinist, who had been trained in Europe, and who was killed on a French battlefield in the First World War. Administrators of the School were drawn from the Eastman staff, and teaching was carried on by Eastman faculty and students, seeking experience, but management was in the hands of a separate board. Salaries of directors and instructors were paid out of Eastman School resources.
The original seat of the School was the Hochstein home (421 Joseph Avenue), purchased by Rochester patrons of music in 1920, and eight years later a new center for instruction was dedicated as the Hochstein Memorial Music School, with the celebrated English artist, Dame Myra Hess, giving a piano recital. Pupils, normally under twelve years old, came mostly from homes of recent European immigrants, and some of them in the early period could not speak English. Apart from instruction in music, concerts were given for the parents and friends of the pupils. Hundreds of children benefited from the Hochstein institution, and some of them continued their musical training at the Eastman School. 10
The Eastman School also fruitfully promoted musical culture and appreciation in the public schools of Rochester. If pupils could not afford orchestral or band instruments, they were borrowed from the School, (George Eastman had provided a special fund for their purchase) which also employed public school teachers on its instructional staff. Under appropriate supervision, students at the School who were planning to become public school teachers engaged in practice teaching in the city schools.
At one point it was thought of calling the Eastman Theatre "The Academy of Music and Motion Pictures," or "The National Academy of Motion Pictures," but these names were brushed aside as inappropriate. Yet the very suggestions reflect the use of the theatre, six days each week, for presentation of screen dramas, interspersed with high-grade music by a large symphonic orchestra, ballet dances, or snatches of opera. It was reasoned, as has been related, that programs of this character--good music in alliance with good moving pictures--would not only elevate the tone of popular entertainment, but would quicken tastes for (and enlarge attendance at) Philharmonic concerts. It was assumed that films would be of excellent quality, would have wide public appeal, and that patrons would be willing to pay nearly New York City prices for seats in the most luxurious cinema temple in existence. To control booking rights for first runs of outstanding silver screen stories, Eastman bought up commercial picture houses in Rochester and gave them to the University. 11
While movie audiences in the first years of the Theatre were generally large, a variety of complaints passed across Rhees' desk. Protestant clergymen, for example, objected that Sunday evening shows competed with church services and savored of commercialism beneath the dignity of a University. Other voices protested that certain pictures were coarse, objectionably "sexy," that ballet dancing was unwholesome or that colored people were refused admittance to the Theatre. As best he could, Rhees endeavored to soothe ruffled sentiments.
It was worrisome, too, that the income from the motion picture showings fell short of expectations; instead of earning money, the theatre suffered losses, chiefly because of the high cost of maintaining the orchestra for cinema performances. Worse followed with the advent of "talking" or sound pictures; expenses mounted, while receipts declined, so that the loss on operations in 1928-1929 reached $250,000.12
Under these conditions, the U. of R. leased the Theatre for ten years to the Ackro Theatrical Enterprises, Inc., owned by the Paramount-Publix motion picture corporation. A noble experiment in community enrichment came to an ignoble end. The agreement reserved twenty-two days each year for symphonic concerts, artist's recitals, and opera. The transaction provoked a good deal of criticism, to the effect that the Theatre had been given to the community only to be arbitrarily taken away.
The Paramount management resorted to a variety of stratagems to lure more moviegoers to the Theatre: gaudy advertising, garish decoration of the beautiful lobby, films of an inferior artistic grade, and the costly theatre orchestra was eliminated. Yet to no avail. Losses in operation soared higher than ever, and all parties rejoiced in 1931 when negotiations were completed canceling the lease. No longer was the great Theatre "a temple of the movies," except for well-patronized--though infrequent--travelogues. 13
Not long after the leasing of the theatre to Paramount, the orchestra that had played for motion pictures passed out of existence. In its stead, however, the Rochester Civic Orchestra was created (1929) and supported, as a major community asset, by some 10,000 people in the Rochester metropolitan area through a Civic Orchestra Association. This arrangement, which assured a continuance of good music in Rochester, was believed to be unique in American cities. Approximately fifty musicians of ability and reputation played in the Civic Orchestra and all of them filled chairs in the Philharmonic as well. Guy Fraser Harrison and Paul White divided the responsibilities of conductor with Goosens.
It was announced on March 5, 1930, that the Civic Orchestra Association had merged with the Eastman Theatre Subscribers' Association, mentioned above, organized to assist in financing the Philharmonic Orchestra and annual visits by the Metropolitan Opera Company, to form the Rochester Civic Music Association. Managed by a large board of directors, representing a cross-section of community leadership, the new Association was dedicated to the promotion of the educational and cultural aspects of music. Arthur M. See, 1912, who conceived the Civic Orchestra Association plan, served as executive secretary or general manager. In its initial appeal for public backing, the Association attracted 7,213 subscribers, and membership campaigns became annual fixtures on the civic calendar.
Part of the revenue so raised was applied to maintain the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (the Eastman School helped out with substantial appropriations from its treasury) and the remainder financed the Civic Orchestra. The latter gave concerts of light classics and popular music for members of the Association, played in city public and parochial schools (with radio transmission), and accompanied Senior students at the Eastman School in graduation recitals. Normally, three out of four performers in both the Civic and the Philharmonic Orchestras were teachers or advanced students at the Eastman School. 14
In the course of the first decade students attending the School for full or part-time instruction more than doubled. Under the leadership of Hanson the proportion of candidates for a bachelor's degree increased sharply, while certificate students dropped way down. Moreover, the number of students trained in instruments--as distinguished from voice--grew substantially. Although teaching facilities, were expanded, as has been noted, they failed to keep pace with the growing body of students; the most severe congestion existed in the piano department.
Applicants for admission were more carefully selected in keeping with higher standards, and students whose accomplishments were unsatisfactory were more freely dismissed. The 1928 class historian lamented that in the junior year only forty persons out of the 115 admitted were still attending the School. It was tentatively agreed that for optimum effectiveness degree candidates should not exceed 400. For the academic year 1929-1930, 2,083 learners at all levels were registered at the school. Of them 365 sought bachelor's honors, forty-seven were graduate students, and only thirty belonged in the certificate category; the others were special, preparatory, and summer session registrants.
Two further points about degree aspirants must be inserted. First, men students had risen from about one seventh to a third of all, and second, geographical distribution had steadily widened, with better than two of five in 1929 from outside of New York State, many from distant parts of the country and others from foreign lands. Within a surprisingly short time, that is to say, the Eastman School had grown into a nationally known and an authentic national institution of musical learning. In May of 1931 a gala Festival of American Music, lasting four days, celebrated the tenth anniversary of the School. 15
Together with the newness of the School, the concentration of the full-time students on their musical education, requiring long daily practice, militated against the development of extracurricular activities save those having professional implications. True enough, a Students Association came into existence in the autumn of 1921, and an elaborate constitution, undated, reposes in the School archives. The document restricted membership in the Association to "regular degree students;" it provided for a Student Council, made up of the officers of the Association and representatives of the four classes, and also for an Executive Board composed of the Association officers. Standing committees would arrange to hold elections, plan social functions, oversee the publication of a School newspaper and a yearbook, and carry on special tasks such as bringing to the School speakers on musical and cultural subjects and disseminating information about the School.
The Association convened monthly, but very few students attended and not many paid the modest dues. Excellent speakers were obtained for weekly assemblies, initiated in 1924, but not many students cared to appear, and the innovation soon petered out. A School Dramatics Society, launched in 1923, sailed briefly, and soon submerged. On their own initiative, it would appear, undergraduates drew up an honor constitution (1924) applicable to examinations, with a council to hear and rule on code violations. The honor system seems never to have had more than marginal significance and survived for only a limited time.
"Students! Is there a genuine School spirit at Eastman?" rhetorically inquired two undergraduates in a communication to the student newspaper, The Notebook of December 21, 1922. "We think not!" And they proceeded to document the "utter indifference" of many undergraduates to organizations, parties, sports, and publications. The School is as "dead as a morgue, it was stated, and in consequence students were missing much of value in their educational experience.
Responding to appeals for School songs, a student song contest was planned, but nothing apparently resulted. On the other hand, Professor Penny (1923) wrote "The Eastman Hymn."
We love thy noble walls, Eastman, our home--
We love thy marble halls, Eastman, our home.
We love sweet music's calls, classrooms, and Kilbourn Hall,
We love thee, all in all, Eastman, our home.
We all belong to thee, Great U. of R.
Queen of the Genesee, Fair Rochester,
For thee our voices raise
Throughout the length of days,
We'll ever sing thy praise,
Eastman, our home.
Organizations of the four undergraduate classes were formed, and meetings were confined mainly to musicales and dancing, but only a handful of students took part. Not many students chose to indulge in lakeside frolics, picnics; and sleigh ride parties arranged by the individual classes. An exuberant Sophomore, however, turned out a robust class yell:
Rockety zack, zip coon gate!
Watch this class of '28!
Always smiling, full of pep,
That's the way we won our rep
Now and then upperclassmen entertained Freshmen at parties, while Sophomores obliged the greenlings to wear outlandish costumes as initiation to the School. A short-lived Traditions Committee formulated (1923) and endeavored to enforce rules for Freshmen behavior. Beginning in 1926, newcomers were acquainted with the facilities of the School and its opportunities during a Freshman orientation week.
Clubs having significance for the professional careers of students attracted general support. Under faculty guidance, undergraduates organized a symphony orchestra (1922), which quickly expanded into an ensemble of one hundred pieces; it occasionally combined with the Glee Club of the Men's College in giving concerts. An Organ Club, perhaps the most lively of the extracurricular societies, with Professor Gleason as the guiding spirit, met informally to listen to talks about organs, followed by games and dancing, and a strong sense of camaraderie grew up. The high point of the year for the "organ grinders" was a visit to the Eastman residence, where Gleason played the organ. Professor Edward Royce presided over (1928) an informal Composition Club.
For a short time, a Harp Club possessed sufficient vitality to present public concerts. The Eastman School chorus (known later as the Choir), organized in 1925 by advanced voice students, sang serious choral works in public with Hanson conducting a School orchestra. A Senior Orchestra made up of superior performers likewise (1928) offered concerts.
In November of 1924 a branch of the College Y. W. C. A. was established at the School. Members met fortnightly for religious devotions, discussion of the Student Volunteer movement, and took part in the social welfare services and the yearly Kaleidoscope spectacle of the Women's College "Y." (For purely social ends, it seems, undergraduates from seven states below the Mason and Dixon line set up (1926) a Southern Club.)
Professional sororities and a fraternity were founded in the first period of the School's existence and contributed importantly to undergraduate life. When the local groups became affiliated with national societies, if not before, emphasis in selecting members was placed on personal character, superior academic achievement, and professional competence; customarily, the selection process, or "pledging," took place in the Sophomore year. Besides cultivating friendships, the sisterhoods frequently gave musicales either in the homes of Rochester patrons and patronesses or in Kilbourn Hall. Annual formal dances were held and food baskets were distributed to poor families in the city at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Each sorority, in time, organized vigorous alumnae clubs.
Beta Gamma Mu, dating from the fall of 1921, joined the Mu Phi Epsilon national sorority in February of 1925. Eleven young women established Alpha Phi Alpha--interpreted as "appreciation of the fine arts"--in April, 1922; during the academic year 1924-1925, with the reluctant sanction of the School authorities, this society and Beta Gamma Mu maintained houses of their own. On January 16, 1925, Alpha Phi Alpha was inducted into the national Sigma Alpha Iota sorority, which was especially commuted to foster music by American composers. That interest likewise distinguished the international sorority, Delta Omicron, which was installed November 7, 1925. It grew out of a local society, Kappa Sigma Phi, organized earlier that year; of the eighteen initiates, eight performed at an installation musicale in Kilbourn Hall. Unlike its older sisters, Delta Omicron folded up (1948), though its alumnae club remained active. To regulate "rushing" and smooth out disputes between the three groups, a Sorority Council was created in March, 1923. In that year, too, women students without sorority ties were welcomed into the Phiddist Society at the Women's College.
Male undergraduates organized a fellowship called Mu Zeta Gamma in 1922, which quickly disintegrated, but was revived the following year. Apparently the club was the forerunner of a chapter of the Phi Mu Alpha national fraternity of twenty five members, chartered January 24, 1925. Commonly known as "Sinfonia," the fraternity boasted its own Little Symphony and was obligated to present at least one program of American music each year. Its members occasionally appeared in concert with the U. of R. Glee Club, and in 1928 a string trio from the Sinfonia accompanied the Glee Club on its spring tour. When able to finance it, Phi Mu Alpha maintained a chapter house for its personnel. 16
Soon after the opening of the School a paper called The Notebook made its appearance. A small four-page publication, it was put out initially by the faculty, but students presently took charge. When student management faltered, teachers again assumed control until they felt that undergraduates could handle the paper properly. Throughout its six-year existence The Notebook (not all of whose issues have been found) came out weekly or biweekly or--simply--now and then. At the outset this indispensable source of information about the School in many aspects was distributed gratis, then a charge of a nickel was levied, and eventually a rate of one dollar a year was fixed, with free copies to every student, who solicited ten subscriptions.
The initial issue, September 27, 1921, disclosed that the students had already settled into regular routine, despite a "battery of riveteers" at work on the unfinished building. Undergraduates commented appreciatively on the excellent facilities for instruction and everyone was invited to submit newsworthy items or criticisms. At times during its chequered career, The Notebook contained sections on "University News," "In the Theatres," and a humor column, "Heard in the Corridor." Faculty men contributed short essays, Trotter writing on "The Golden Age of English Music: the Elizabethan Era" and on his "Rhythmic Method," Gleason on "Studies in Organ Registration," and Guy Fraser Harrison, on "Scoring a Feature Film." Articles by students dealt with the Memorial Art Gallery, the University medical center, varsity basketball, and the Rochester American Opera Company. Several issues carried crisp biographical sketches of eminent teachers at the School.
It was difficult to find an editor and staff writers for The Notebook who were willing to devote an adequate amount of time to the paper. Changes in personnel and shortage of funds frequently interfered with publication, which degenerated into a hit or miss affair. The editorial board informed (1924) President Rhees that it planned to print sixteen numbers during the next academic year and requested permission to solicit subscriptions from friends of music unconnected with the School. The last issue came out on June 2, 1925; a faculty committee deliberated on ways to keep the paper going, without, however, generating anything practicable.
About 1926 an ephemeral sheet, The Bird, fluttered for two flights and then was apparently banned by the School officers. A single page printed on both sides, The Bird was critical of the administration of the School, and it was edited anonymously because "the time is not ripe for cooperation of students and faculty." It asserted that there was "uniform discontent among intelligent, talented students"--a minority. 17
Enterprising members of the class of 1925--the first to complete the four-year degree course--published a School yearbook under the title "Senior Annual;" it was renamed The Keynote in 1926 and thereafter was called The Score. Similar in format to the Interpres or the Croceus, the avowed purposes of the yearbook were to encourage a spirit of loyalty and solidarity, in the School and to preserve "the treasure-trove of memories."
In recognition of George Barlow Penny's "unfailing friendliness and devoted interest in all the activities of the School," the pioneer yearbook was dedicated to him. For her "friendship and helpfulness," Miss Marion Weed was honored in the second issue; other annuals illustrated the evolution of music since the Renaissance, celebrated the centennial of Beethoven's death, and saluted Franz Schubert. Two of the early yearbooks were dedicated to Director Hanson.
Photographs abounded in the yearbooks, which Seniors edited: pictures of selected teachers (and summaries of the professional careers of others), photographs of Seniors (with commentaries on their future plans or jolly squibs about them), of the staffs of student publications, of members of prominent organizations, and of the Theatre ballet gaily congregated in the spacious garden of the Eastman mansion.
Adventures in poetry, literary pieces on musical topics or on some phase of School activity, and a "Howls" column, poking fun at all and sundry, were printed. Dorothy Pund Allen, 1928, fashioned "The School Directory:"
Now Mr. Hanson keeps us wondering
How he keeps so cool,
He wears out six pairs of shoes a week
Just trotting 'round the School...
If you like to hear funny stories
Like "The Hunting of the Snark, "
Go into Eddie Royce's class,
It's sure to be a lark?
For the tenth anniversary of the founding of the School, The Score of 1931 achieved unprecedented elaborateness. Quality art work throughout the book featured a baton motif, and Hanson in the lead article surveyed "Ten Years Development," a reasonably candid report of School progress.
Athletics occupied a small place in the weekly round of a limited number of undergraduates. Women formed a basketball club, which competed with teams from the Women's College and took part in some sports events at the College; clubs for hiking, swimming, and even baseball were organized. An occasional man played on the Freshman football eleven at the College and one of them nailed down a regular berth on the baseball team. After the provision of a gymnasium at the School and after physical education was made compulsory, interest in athletics moved modestly upward. Male undergraduates challenged college fraternities at basketball--and certain teachers indulged in volleyball, winning two out of three encounters with the College faculty.
Apart from dances arranged by sororities, classes, and clubs, a Hallowe'en masked ball, an "Annual Formal'' and a "Junior Prom" became standard fixtures on the Eastman School calendar. Big dances were gala affairs indeed, held in the promenade corridor of the School, and often preceded by supper. It was claimed that a musical show of 1925, featuring chorus girls dancing and singing, rivalled the extravaganzas of Flo Ziegfield. Seniors put on an original play in 1926, "Hot Cinders," which was thunderously applauded, but apparently it had no successor, unless one counts little skits at School assemblies. Entertainment of women students by their counterparts in the College was fairly frequent, but fraternization of the males with the men of the College was quite meager. "In its early years the Eastman School of Music was not really embraced by the University family," one of the first men students remembered. "I think it was regarded by the he-men of the Campus's faculty and students as a kind of, perhaps feminine, excrescence."18
For degree candidates, tuition charges, set at $200 in the beginning, were raised to $250 in 1929, with a supplementary fee in each case of $50 for voice training. Scholarships, both endowed and contributed annually, awarded on the basis of academic achievement and demonstrated need, steadily increased in number. By 1929, 115 scholarships were available, eleven of them for graduate students: honorary "George Eastman" Scholarships were handed out for exceptional competence and promise in musicianship. And the Juilliard Music School of New York City financed a very attractive fellowship which enabled an Eastman graduate, after an examination by the Juilliard faculty, to study for a year in that institution. To help needy students earn money, a Concert Bureau (1922) supplied performers to any interested society or group in the Rochester area; engagements yielded valuable experience and sometimes led to permanent employment. 19
Before the School opened for instruction, the wife of Director Klingenberg, The Notebook tells us, scurried about Rochester to find lodgings for out-of-town students. Some women were quartered in the abandoned home of the Institute of Musical Art, or in a dwelling on the edge of the Prince Street Campus, and for a year two sororities, as noted, had their own houses on the northern end of Oxford Street.
Growing numbers from outside of Rochester made better residence facilities an urgent necessity. Consequently, the decision was taken in 1924 by the University trustees to erect two dormitories on a tract of University property west of the Rhees residence, whose architectural style would harmonize in a measure with the Women's College complex across University Avenue. Each unit would provide living quarters for sixty residents, with twenty places set aside for undergraduates at the Women's College. Before the first occupants moved in (1925), the trustees authorized a third section, with rooms for eighty-seven students, giving the whole gray brick and stone structure a U-shaped appearance; plans for two more units were never carried out. House mothers of "culture and experience" were appointed and residents set up a self-governing Student Council, charged with defining and enforcing dormitory rules. For an academic year, room rental was fixed at $180 and meals at $264.
Names for the three wings of the residential, center provoked a spate of wrangling and debate in U. of R. circles. Eastman wanted "musicians of established preeminence" honored, while Hanson stoutly insisted that only American composers should be commemorated and in the end he won through. Remembered were Francis Hopkinson, the first American-born composer of distinction, Edward A. MacDowell, ranked at the top of American composers, and Stephen C. Foster, author of sentimental ballads and popular melodies like "My Old Kentucky Home."
As soon as the dormitories for women were ready, male undergraduates were lodged in the former Institute of Music--nicknamed Eta Beta Pi fraternity. Since it was quite inadequate to satisfy the demand, a few men lived either in the former Delta Upsilon chapter quarters or at the Phi Mu Alpha fraternity on Swan Street, and others took rooms in private homes. Not until 1955 did men students obtain good residential facilities. 20
While the School shared in the graduation exercises of the University, sending out its first class of bachelors in 1925 and its first masters five years later, it had other affairs peculiar to itself at the Commencement season. Seniors, for example, conducted class day ceremonies in Kilbourn Hall, followed by a picnic. At a baton ceremony, inaugurated in 1930, a Senior handed a baton, fetched from Richard Wagner's Bayreuth and symbolizing leadership, to a representative of the Junior Class. In a hotel near the School, graduates assembled during Commencement for luncheon, a business meeting, and usually an address on a musical theme. An alumni association was organized in 1925 and equipped with a formal constitution; an annual Hallowe'en party brought the graduates in metropolitan Rochester together.
With the graduate roster approaching the three hundred mark in 1929, an Alumni Directory was published that year and an Alumni Bulletin, to keep graduates posted on the doings of alumni and of developments at the School, was started. It came out quarterly and reported that already a gratifyingly large proportion of the graduates were teachers in educational institutions at various levels or players in important orchestras. A placement bureau at the School aided graduates in obtaining positions.
One of the first two winners of the bachelor's degree, Roslyn Weisberg Cominsky, 1922, transferred to the School from Syracuse University. She was also the first student to prove her fitness to graduate by a full piano recital, and the first to receive the Juilliard fellowship for more advanced training. Subsequently, she appeared as accompanist of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the Rochester American Opera Company.
Having earned a bachelor's degree at the U. of R., Charles A. Hedley, 1920, entered the opera department at the School and sang principal tenor roles with the Rochester American Opera Company and its successor, the American Opera Company; later he taught singing and speech in Hollywood. According to Mary Garden, he was "one of America's best singing actors." George McKay, 1923, professor of music at the University of Washington, gained recognition as a composer. Jerome Diamond, 1925, taught piano at the Eastman School of Music for over quarter of a century. Of the same class, composer Herbert Inch taught for a time at the School and won the Prix de Rome (1931), the most coveted award for younger musicians in the United States; two years later Hunter Johnson, 1929, captured the same prize. Among the early alumnae, pianist Henrietta Schumann, certificate 1927, and Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Helen Oelheim, certificate 1928, achieved note. 21
Back to: History of the University of Rochester Homepage
Footnotes to Chapter 19
- George Eastman to Rush Rhees, Feb. 14, 1919. Rhees Papers. Eastman to Albert Coates, April 13, 1925. Ibid. Olin Downes, "A New Way to Sustain an Orchestra--Mr. Eastman's Results at Rochester," New York Times, April, 60 1924. R D&C, Nov. 25, 1965
- Eugene Goosens, Overture and Beginners (London, 1951), pp. 202-288, 317. London Times, June 14, 1962. New York Times, June 14, 1962.
- R T-U, February 10, 1923. R D&C, June 15, July 18, 1923. New York Times, June 15, 1923. Notebook, III, Feb. 18, 1924. Charles Hedley to A. J. May, Oct. 23, 1965. Rhees Library Archives.
- Anon., "A School for Opera," Literary Digest, LXXVIII, Aug. 25, 1923, 27-28. New York Times, April 12, 27, 1925.
- New York Times, Nov. 10, 21, 1924, Oct. 31, 1926, Nov. 25, 1926. R D&C, Nov. 19, 1924, Jan. 5, 1967. Photographs of the opera group may be seen in the gravure section of the R D&C, Jan. 25, 1925. Paul Horgan, "How Dr. Faustus Came to Rochester," Harper's Magazine, CLXXII (1936), 506-515.
- New York Times, Jan. 14, April 5, 6, 7, 1927. Nation, CXXIV, April 27, 1927, 483.
- Rush Rhees to George W. Todd, July 23, 1924. Rhees Papers. A member of the Rochester company, Paul Horgan, in a novel, The Fault of Angels (New York, 1933), composed a gay account of the opera teachers, singers, and dancers, their bohemian unconventionalities, and the repercussions upon the Flower City community.
- New York Times, July 5, 1925. Rochester Herald, Oct. 2, 1925. R D&C, Oct. 9, 1966. "Announcement Bulletin of the Eastman School of the Dance and Dramatic Action, 1925-1926''
- New York Times, January 15, February 15, April 11, May 2, 10, November 26, 1925, April 18, 1926, January 5, November 22, 1927. Olin Downes, "Fair Play for Young America--Rochester's Experiment," Ibid, November 27, 1927. E.S.M. Alumni Bulletin, XII, no. 3, May, 1941. Daniel G. Mason, "The Rochester Experiment," American Mercury, XX (1930), 373-376, Howard Hanson to Editor, New York Times August 11, 1935.
- Rush Rhees to I. Friedlich, Nov. 7, 1919. Rhees Papers. Ibid. to Arthur M. Lowenthal, 1911, April 21, 1925. E.S.M. Alumni Bulletin, XI, Feb. 1940.
- New York Times, Aug. 6, 13, Oct. 1, 1922, April 6, 1924. Literary Digest, LXXIV, Aug. 26, 1922, 30-31. R D&C, Jan. 24, 1925.
- George Eastman to Rush Rhees, June 16, 1922. Rhees Papers. Rhees to Clarence A. Barbour, June 29, 1922. Ibid. William Fait, Jr. to Rhees , Nov. 16, 1923. Ibid.
- Executive Committee Minutes, IX, Dec. 14, 1928. New York Times, Dec. 16, 1928. R D&C, Jan. 16, 1929. Raymond N. Ball to Rush Rhees, May 8, 1929 Rhees Papers.
- George Eastman to Rush Rhees, Nov. 13, 1928. Rhees Papers. R D&C, Jan. 16, 1929. R T-U, March 5, 1930. New York Times, March 13, 1930. Rochester Civic Orchestra News, I (1929). Ernest A. Paviour, "Monroe County has Music in its Soul," Brighton-Pittsford Post, Oct. 7, 1965.
- Rush Rhees to Francis R. Welles, Dec. 22, 1922. Rhees Papers. E.S.M. Catalogue, 1929-1930 125. Howard Hanson to Rhees, "Ten Year Plan," 1932. E.S.M. Archives. Statistics on student enrollment vary slightly in different sources.
- This section is based principally upon materials in the School paper, The Notebook, and the undergraduate annual, The Score, as it was known from 1927 onward. Alice Smith Boone, 1929, to A. J. May, Jan. 25, 1967 (Delta Omicron). Rhees Library Archives.
- This, section is, based on the incomplete files of The Notebook. Editorial Board of The Notebook to Rush Rhees, April 29, 1924. Rhees Papers. The only known copies of The Bird are in Rhees Library Archives.
- This section is based mainly on materials in student publications, Charles Hedley to A. J. May, Oct. 23, 1965. Rhees Library Archives.
- E.S.M. Faculty Minutes, March 23, 1927. Eugene A. Noble to Rush Rhees, Jan. 23, 1923. Rhees Papers.
- Rush Rhees to Ray Ball, February 22, 1925. Rhees Papers. Rhees to George Eastman, July 15, November 25, 1926. Ibid. Rhees to Herbert J. Burgstahler, June 26 1928. Ibid. Executive Committee Minutes, October 20, 1925. E.S.M. Faculty Minutes, March 7, 1928. Tower Times, XII, May 27, 1938.
- The Score, 1928, 68. J. R. Cominsky, 1920, to A. J. May, December 22, 1966. Charles A. Hedley to A. J. May, October 25, 1965. E.S.M. Alumni Bulletin, I (1929), II (1930), passim.