The Aaron Copland School of Music

The Aaron Copland School of Music is one of the oldest and most distinguished departments at Queens College. It was founded when the College opened in 1937. The department's curriculum was originally established by Edwin Stringham, It has ably served generations of Queens College students. An early mentor and stabilizing influence was the composer Karol Rathaus, who was a refugee from Nazi Germany. A later emphasis on the analytical system of Heinrich Schenker was initiated by Saul Novack.


Some of the students who enrolled in early classes of the college later became faculty members of the department. This included Sol Berkowitz, Gabriel Fontrier, Leo Kraft. They stayed at Queens 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 the Divison of Arts and Humanities; and Barry Brook, who with Saul Novack established the doctoral program in music at the Graduate Center of CUNY. Joseph Machlis, developed the teaching of music appreciation to a high art, and wrote 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.

The Aaron Copland School of Music 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 in 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. This provides 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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