Georges Longy, Charles Martin Leoffler, and a Franco-American Musical Revolution, 1915
by Roy Rudolph, Library Director, and Libor Dudas, Chair of Theoretical and Historical Studies, Longy School of Music of Bard College
“Mr. Longy probably influenced the musical life of Boston more than any other one man.”
Music Critic, New York Times,
Nov 4, 1930
We continue to offer the elite and rigorous training that has been at the heart of our conservatory since Georges Longy founded the School in 1915.
Today, we prepare our students to meet the challenges of a changing global landscape head-on, giving them the skills to reach new audiences and engage new communities through music.
Longy and its students stand at the vanguard of a movement to advance the future of music and music education in this country. Just as Georges Longy broke new ground over 100 years ago, we continue to be an exciting and distinctive educational leader today—and in the decades ahead.
A Timeline of Longy
Georges Longy, the eminent principal oboist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, founded the Longy School in Boston to provide comprehensive training in musicianship and performance in the Paris Conservatoire model. The curriculum emphasized individual attention to each student, as well as solfège and theory as the basis of sound musical understanding—traditions still central to the school’s programs 100 years later.
Renée Longy-Miquelle succeeded her father as Director, confirming the school’s future character as a small, intimate institution dedicated to high performance standards and rigorous musicianship training. An advocate for twentieth-century music, and later a beloved teacher at the Curtis Institute and Juilliard School, Madame Longy-Miquelle filled out the faculty with Georges Longy’s Boston Symphony colleagues and established Dalcroze Eurhythmics as an important component of the school’s curriculum.
Moving to Cambridge in 1930, the Longy School acquired in 1937 the stone house built by railroad baron Edwin Abbot in 1889, on the edge of the Cambridge Common, and established its close relationship with Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges. In the following decades, many of Harvard’s most talented music students crossed the Common to study with Longy’s distinguished faculty that included Walter Piston, E. Power Biggs, Sarah Caldwell, and Olga Averino.
Nadia Boulanger joined the faculty and taught advanced courses in harmony, composition, and counterpoint. Remaining at the school until 1945, she also gave popular lectures on the Beethoven string quartets and the cantatas of J.S. Bach.
Organist and theorist Melville Smith became director and ushered in a “golden age” with a small core of gifted conservatory students working as junior colleagues with their faculty mentors. Later in the 1940s, the Stradivarius Quartet began its extended Longy residency, with violinist Wolfe Wolfinsohn and world-renowned violist Eugene Lehner, who coached chamber music at the school until his death in 1997.
Longy appointed as its new director the composer Nicholas Van Slyck, who spoke to that year’s graduating class about the school’s eminent past, and warned them of “commercialism, haste, and jealousy in music.”
The School’s award-winning Edward M. Pickman Concert Hall opened, rapidly earning a reputation as one of New England’s finest chamber music performance venues.
Violinist Roman Totenberg became director, an appointment marking the school’s renewed commitment to advanced musical study. Totenberg enlarged the faculty with an impressive roster of artist-performers, and founded the Young Performers Program, providing younger musicians with a full music curriculum. These efforts, along with reinvigorated programs in chamber music, Dalcroze Eurhythmics, early music, and jazz, brought the school renewed international attention.
Longy appointed concert pianist and chamber musician Victor Rosenbaum as its eighth Director. Under his leadership, the school’s conservatory gained increased prominence with the institution and accreditation of a Master of Music degree program.
In celebration of the school’s 75th anniversary, a major capital campaign made possible the renovation of Pickman Hall, the construction of the Bakalar Music Library, which opened in 1992, and additional practice and rehearsal rooms.
Longy kicked off a $15 million capital campaign to support scholarships, facility renovations, and faculty compensation with a gala event at Boston’s Symphony Hall in June 2000. In January 2001, Longy named pianist and educator Kwang-Wu Kim its new president, formally installing him at a ceremony in October. His inauguration remarks included these words: “The making of music remains a moral act and an act of courage. In the harsh light of today’s frightening reality, our work at Longy stands revealed for what it truly is: noble, necessary, and of infinite value.”
In February 2004, the Longy community rededicated the Abbot House at 27 Garden Street as the Zabriskie House, honoring the generosity of then-Board chair Dr. Adelaide W. Zabriskie and her husband, Dr. John Zabriskie. The summer of 2005 saw the renovation of the Rey-Waldstein Building, including the addition of state-of-the-art practice rooms, student lounge areas, and a percussion studio in the previously unfinished basement.
In February 2007, the Board of Trustees officially elected Karen Zorn to be the 10th head of the Longy School of Music. Zorn succeeded Anna Kuwabara, who had served as Interim President of the School since 2006, when Dr. Kwang-Wu Kim stepped down as Longy’s President. Zorn accepted the position saying, “Longy’s forward-thinking philosophy of ‘preparing musicians to make a difference in the world’ combined with its rigorous curriculum and community outreach programs, make it an essential institution in today’s world.”
On April 1, 2012, Longy merged with Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Bard, a leader in liberal arts education with a history of rich and innovative programming, opens Longy’s doors to a wider community of musicians, scholars, and world leaders. Together, the two institutions are creating an environment for bold intellectual and musical exchange.