The Aaron Copland School of Music

The Aaron Copland School of Music is one of the oldest and most distinguished departments at Queens College, founded when the College opened in 1937. The department's curriculum was originally developed by Edwin Stringham, and it has ably served generations of College students. An early mentor and stabilizing influence was the composer Karol Rathaus, who was a refugee from Nazi Germany. Some of the students who enrolled in early classes of the College (Sol Berkowitz, Gabriel Fontrier, Leo Kraft) later became faculty members of the department, where they stayed for the balance of their careers. Other distinguished faculty from the early years included John Castellini, who founded the Choral Society; Boris Schwarz, a refugee from his native Russia in 1917 and later from Nazi Germany in the 1930s; Saul Novack, who later became Dean of Faculty for the Arts and Humanities; and Joseph Machlis, who developed the teaching of music appreciation to a high art and has written the most successful series of music appreciation textbooks in history. Later distinguished faculty included Felix Salzer, a refugee from Austria who was a student of the theorist Heinrich Schenker and became the leading exponent of his ideas to generations of American students and scholars; and the distinguished composers Hugo Weisgall and George Perle. Current Distinguished Professors on the faculty include composer Thea Musgrave and theorist Carl Schachter. The ACSM not only offers a range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, but it also maintains a vital presence in the cultural life of Queens and Long Island as well as the greater New York City area. Students in the ACSM follow a curriculum designed to develop the interdependent skills of performing, listening to, and understanding music, thus providing the thorough training so necessary for graduate study and eventual professional careers. The School also forges strong links with the community, not only through public concerts and recitals, but through collaborations with the public schools, specialized programs and courses for senior citizens, and the Center for Preparatory Studies in Music, which serves up to 400 elementary and secondary students each year.

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