Academic journal article Notes

The Genesis of a Music Library: SUNY at Buffalo

Academic journal article Notes

The Genesis of a Music Library: SUNY at Buffalo

Article excerpt




The University of Buffalo was chartered by the New York State Legislature on 11 May 1846. A medical school was the sole academic department until a school of pharmacy was added after forty years (1886), soon joined by law (1891) and dental (1892) schools. Changes in curricular standards for medicine prompted the university to begin arts and sciences courses in 1913. The first graduates of the full four-year baccalaureate program received their degrees in 1919. Gradually, other schools--business administration, education, social work, and a graduate school--were added. In 1918, the first lecturer in music was appointed: Buffalo-born pianist Harry Cumpson, who had studied in Paris, Berlin, and New York City. [1] From then until 1933 there is only sporadic data about musical instruction within the university.

In 1932, the Marion B. Lockwood Chair of Music was created by the last will and testament of Marion Birge Lockwood. [2] That chair permitted a few courses in a nondegree music program directed by Robert C. Hufstader, another western New York musician. Musical instruction proceeded through subsequent years, both as courses taken for credit and as noncredit participation in ensembles, to 1952, when Cameron Baird assumed chair of his newly established Music Department. Baird, retired president of the Buffalo Pipe and Foundry Company, was devoted to music; after his retirement in 1949 he became a full-time musician.

The physical site of Baird's new Music Department--in a residential street on the perimeter of the university campus--had been the home of a former assistant dean. In 1955, Baird selected architect Paul Schweikher to build the first in a complex of buildings planned as a Fine Arts Center. Severe cost overruns and a fatally flawed architectural design stalled the project, leaving an unfinished music building; the projected Fine Arts complex was terminated by both Baird and the university. [3] But the University of Buffalo's Music Department was launched.

An endowment from Frederick Caldecott Slee, another successful Buffalo businessman who was an amateur musician, provided for a "master-teacher of harmony, counterpoint and fugue, equal to a professor at the Paris Conservatory," [4] a Slee Professor. In addition, Slee endowed an annual concert cycle of the Beethoven string quartets, to be played in Slee's prescribed order. Both bequests survive to the present.

The first Beethoven cycle was performed by the Budapest Quartet in 1955; the first Slee Professor, Aaron Copland, occupied the chair from September 1957 to January 1958. Copland was succeeded by Carlos Chavez, Leon Kirchner, Ned Rorem, and nearly a score more on a visiting basis; in 1968, the professorship became a permanent position within the faculty of the Music Department. [5] Under that arrangement, Lejaren Hiller occupied the chair from 1968 to 1981; John Clough, since.

Somewhat paralleling the development of the Music Department was the creation of the New York State university system.

On March 12, 1948, the Legislature of New York State enacted three separate laws: The first bill established the State University of New York; the second provided for the creation of locally-initiated and state-aided community colleges; and the third bill embodied the fair educational practices legislation. [6]

The legislation created a SUNY Board of Trustees to

(1) pull together the existing thirty-two public colleges into a single, coordinated body;

(2) plan the development of two health and medical centers;

(3) revise the curricula of the teachers colleges;

(4) establish "such four-year liberal arts colleges, professional and graduate schools, research centers or other facilities, including an integrated university located on a single campus" as necessary; and

(5) draw a master plan for establishing and developing community colleges. …

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