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CCM: About

CCM: About

History of CCM

In 1867 Clara Baur founded the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music in Miss Nourse's School for Young Ladies, offering classes in voice and piano. The Conservatory, conceived and nurtured as an entrepreneurial venture, catered overwhelmingly to well-bred young women. Miss Baur strove to create a musically serious establishment on par with European institutions, but the Conservatory's enrollment and curriculum was predominantly feminine, including courses in music as well as social graces, languages and posture.

Conservatory of Music Alma Mater - 1938

Cincinnati Conservatory of Music

The College of Music of Cincinnati, founded in 1878, opened with 500 day and evening students and classes were held in Dexter Hall, which was adjacent to the new Music Hall. Theodore Thomas, famed conductor and one of America's premier musical influences, was hired for $10,000 a year as the College's first director. He recruited some of the most talented faculty from around the world. The College prospered and by 1884 it moved into its first permanent building, The Odeon. It had a 1,500-seat theater with a pipe organ and 24 practice rooms, and was one of the first American schools of music with its own concert hall.

College of Music Prospectus from 1878
First College of Music Concert Program, Thanksgiving 1878

The College of Music of Cincinnati

The opening of the College was devastating to the Conservatory. On the brink of bankruptcy, John Trevor of the John Church Music Company gave the school financial support and Miss Baur traveled to Europe to recruit first-rate faculty as a competitive measure. The Conservatory began to flourish and by 1881, she had opened a branch at 139 West Eighth Street. In 1885 the faculty grew to twenty-three and by the late 1880s another move to a larger location was required. Miss Baur also established a relationship with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) by guaranteeing a teaching post to the current concertmaster of the CSO as well as posts for many symphony musicians.

Through the 1880s and '90s, the College of Music continued to expand, buying more real estate for ever-growing needs, like housing. But its reputation as a serious academic institution also grew. When the College opened, it granted certificates after five terms (one year) of study, diplomas after two years of study and post-graduate diplomas for another two years of study. Adolph Hahn, who was a founder of the Cincinnati institution Matinee Musicale, played in the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and would become director of the College, earned the first post-graduate diploma.

In the 1900s, the College weathered economic hardships by establishing relationships with prominent musical groups such as the CSO and continued to increase enrollment numbers. The College also expanded its curriculum, adding a preparatory department, a complete course of study of church music and a partnership with the University of Cincinnati's College of Education. The College affiliated with UC to award bachelor's and master's of education degrees in public school music.

Clara Baur died in 1912 and her niece Bertha Baur took over the reins at the Conservatory, leading it in a new direction. She turned the Conservatory over to the Cincinnati Institute of Fine Arts in 1930, making it a non-profit organization. Miss Bertha served as president emeritus until her death in 1940.

In the 1930s, radio broadcasting was sweeping the nation and the College of Music was at the forefront of broadcasting education. The Radio Extension of the College of Music opened and was the first collegiate broadcast department in the country. Uberto Neeley, a staff musician at WLW, was the named head of the department. During the first year, the College produced 51 half-hour broadcasts on WLW and WSAI, a 15-minute program for NBC, 30 half-hour broadcasts of "Music of the Masters" and 10 half-hour "Odeon Radio Workshops" for WSAI.

The rapidly expanding radio business blossomed at the College. New broadcast studios were opened in 1941 and by 1946 the College granted the degree of bachelor of fine arts in radio broadcasting. This department continued to expand with the addition of television and became the Radio-Television Arts Department in 1950. It is now the Electronic Media Division at CCM and was one of many unique qualities the College of Music brought to the imminent merge with the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.

By the early 1950s, enrollment was dropping at the Conservatory and the school was struggling. New classes were added to try to increase attendance, including music therapy and a cooperative system of work-study. WKRC Radio equipped a radio studio on campus, which later expanded to include a television studio. It soon became clear that bringing these two powerful schools together would benefit all parties involved.

The College of Music and the Conservatory merged in August 1955 to become the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Two of the most prominent music institutions in the country brought stellar reputations, faculty and facilities together to form one of the premier music colleges in the country.

On August 1, 1962 the College-Conservatory of Music became the fourteenth college at the University of Cincinnati. Under the leadership of former Dean Jack Watson, construction began on a $5 million CCM complex on UC's campus and was complete with the opening of the Patricia Corbett Pavilion in 1972. CCM continued to grow and flourish as part of the university. With the ever increasing enrollment and demand for appropriate space, CCM grew once more in 1999 with a $93 million renovation and creation of the state of the art CCM Village.

CCM Village Today

Links to historical documents are provided by UC Libraries Archives and Rare Books Library.