100 Years

Eastman School of Music

We all have a voice.

A sound.

A beautiful note.

100 Years

Eastman School of Music

We all have a voice.

A sound.

A beautiful note.

It rises from deep inside us. It cannot be contained. It never settles. It will not rest until it is heard. We have no choice but to follow our path. To let the notes flow out from within. The Eastman School of Music has nurtured this journey, the voices, the sounds, the notes for 100 years.

Eastman is home to talented musicians who never stop believing. Who are as intense as they are inspiring. Who balance raw ambition with a genuine sense of care. Who want to share the spotlight as much as they want to stand inside it. To be a part of Eastman is to be a part of improving life. Because music is life ever better.

Eastman: A Century in Photographs

Eastman Centennial Timeline Display Board

Centennial timeline

September 19, 1921

Eastman theatre under construction

Opening of the Eastman School of Music.

March 4, 1922

black and white image of empty interior Kilbourn Hall

Kilbourn Hall dedication and first concert.

June 19, 1922

Roslyn Weisberg

Marion Eccleston and Roslyn Weisberg are the first persons to be conferred with the Bachelor of Music degree.

September 2, 1922

eastman theatre stage in 1922

Eastman Theatre (Kodak Hall) opens.

November 20, 1924

cast of first opera gathers on stage in costume

First Eastman opera performance (scenes from Boris Godunov and Pagliacci).

May 1, 1925

black and white image of full audience at concert in Eastman Hall

First American Composers’ Concert.

September 1925

black and white photo of exterior of first residence halls

Opening of the first residence halls for Eastman students.

December 23, 1925

black and white photo of skyline, with radio tower in background

First live music broadcast from the Eastman School via station WHAM. The school was a pioneer in the broadcasting of live classical music.


black and white image of five students in original graduate program

Establishment of the graduate department. Eight postgraduates were enrolled in 1927-28. Five of them sat for this photograph which was published in the 1928 yearbook.


black and white photo of construction on unfinished Annex

Opening of the Annex on Swan Street to provide additional classrooms and practice rooms.


adult women and children all practicing on various instruments

Formal organization of Eastman’s preparatory department in recognition of the growing numbers of children and adults coming to the school for non-degree study.


Eastman School Symphony Orchestra becomes the first student orchestra to give a series of nationally broadcast concerts over the National Broadcasting Company network.

May 19 – 22, 1931

black and white image of marquee listing dates for festival of american music

First Festival of American Music.

June 20, 1932

group of masters students sitting for photo

Black composer R. Nathaniel Dett is awarded a master’s degree.


man sits at recording table surrounded by equipment

Establishment of the Eastman School recording department, one of the earliest such endeavors in any school of music.

February 10, 1938

black and white image of students at tables in the library

Opening of the Swan Street Sibley Library building, the first building specifically constructed to house a music collection.

November 1, 1939

record by RCA Victor

Release by RCA Victor of the first recording of American music by Howard Hanson and the Eastman-Rochester Orchestra. For more than twenty years American music continued to be recorded at the Eastman School.

April 16, 1946

jazz ensemble playing on stage

First public jazz performance in Kilbourn Hall, when alumnus and faculty member, Jack End and his student ensemble took the stage to offer a “Program of Concert Music in the Jazz Idiom” in that year’s Festival of American Music.

February 8, 1953

Eastman Wind Ensemble performing in 1952

Debut performance of the Eastman Wind Ensemble under the direction of Frederick Fennell.


cover of album of American Concert Band Masterpieces

Release of “American Concert Band Masterpieces,” the first of more than forty recordings for Mercury Records made by the Eastman Wind Ensemble, conducted by Frederick Fennell. First recording made on May 14; release in early Fall 1953.

June 12, 1955

Image of Will Gay Bottje on bike with small child

Conferral of the first Doctor of Musical Arts degree to Will Gay Bottje (Composition).

September 1955

Black and white photo of exterior of Monroe Hall

Opening of the first residence hall for Eastman male students (Monroe Hall on Prince Street).

October 24, 1958

program details for debut concert of Eastman Phillharmonia

Debut concert by the Eastman Philharmonia, with Howard Hanson conducting.


Establishment of Eastman’s Collegium Musicum Ensemble.

August 1, 1960

headshot of duke ellington

Eastman hosts first Arrangers’ Holiday concert, in conjunction with the annual Arrangers’ Jazz Workshop (launched July 1959).

October 17, 1961

Announcement that members of the Eastman School of Music faculty would receive academic rank similar to the other colleges and schools of the university.

November 24, 1961

Eastman Philharmonia getting off of a plane from 1961

Eastman Philharmonia leaves for a three-month tour of thirty-four cities in Europe and the Middle East, performing forty-nine concerts in ninety-three days.

March 7, 1966

Igor Stravinsky conducting

Igor Stravinsky begins a week-long residency at the Eastman School.

November 18, 1966

Musica Nova, Eastman’s first performing group exclusively concerned with contemporary music, gives its first concert, directed by Richard Pittman.


man sits at switchboard, plugging cable in

Opening of the Eastman School electronic music studio, established by Wayne Barlow.


black and white image of orchestra on stage, playing trumpets

Rayburn Wright joins the faculty to chair a new department in Jazz and Contemporary Media.


program listing concerts for 50th anniversary concerts

Festivities begin in the fall to celebrate the school’s fiftieth anniversary, including recitals by violinist Henryk Szeryng (December 7, 1971), pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy (January 14, 1972),  pianist Rudolf Serkin (March 15, 1972), and violinist Isaac Stern (May 3, 1972).


ornate wall in Eastman Theater, from Mezzanine

Gala re-opening of the Eastman Theatre following the first major renovation since the theater had opened fifty years earlier.


man standing at piano on stage

Beginnings of a three-year renovation of the school’s facilities, which also involved the creation of new rehearsal and recital facilities (including Howard Hanson Hall and Schmitt Organ Recital Hall).


Yo-Yo Ma

Twenty-year-old cellist Yo-Yo Ma makes his Eastman Theatre debut.


Instagram post of Johnathan Rhodes, recipient of the William Warfield Scholarship

Claron McFadden is awarded the first William Warfield scholarship, established to provide financial assistance to talented Black voice students at Eastman.


blue and white image of an orchestra used on the front of the program

Far Eastern tour of the Eastman Wind Ensemble under the direction of Donald Hunsberger presenting concerts in Japan, Korea, and other countries over a period of forty-nine days.


image of outside concert, full orchestra, in front of historical building

The Eastman Philharmonia is selected to annually be the resident orchestra at the summer Heidelberg Castle Festival in Germany.


The school’s preparatory department is renamed “The Community Education Division” to reflect the growing numbers of people of all ages who were seeking instruction for personal enrichment.

September 1982

Seth McCoy, the first Black musician to hold a full-time teaching position at Eastman, joins the voice faculty.

October 30, 1986

black and white image of orchestra with conductor

Departure of the Eastman Philharmonia for a two-week tour of concerts in Germany (November 1-14) with Shura Cherkassky as soloist.

March 1987

Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis appears as soloist with the Eastman Wind Ensemble on a tour of the Eastern U.S. cities and Canada. The tour coincided with the release that month of the recording Carnaval! (CBS Masterworks), featuring Wynton Marsalis as guest soloist with the EWE. In September, 1987, Billboard Magazine reported that the Carnaval! recording had reached the top of the chart in the classical category.

May 15, 1989

interior of newly remodeled Sibley Library

Formal opening on May 15 of the new Sibley Library in the newly constructed Eastman Place (later renamed Miller Center).

May 28, 1990

Departure of the Eastman Wind Ensemble under the direction of Donald Hunsberger for the first of seven annual concert tours of Japan.

January 1991

eastman student living center building

Opening of the new Student Living Center at 100 Gibbs Street.


Ellen Koskoff becomes director of the new Ethnomusicology program and founds Gamelan Lila Muni.


group of young students holding various instruments

Establishment of the Eastman Pathways program to provide scholarships to students in the Rochester city school system to enable them to take lessons in the school’s Community Education Division (soon to be renamed the Eastman Community Music School).


woman leading conference

Establishment of the Institute for Music Leadership.


Two people holding pipe from organ

Establishment of EROI (Eastman-Rochester Organ Initiative).


image of sheet music with unreadable notes

Celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Sibley Music Library, founded at the University of Rochester as a community resource and later incorporated into the Eastman School.