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Department of Music



  • Existence: 1895

Tufts Department of Music was established on August 7, 1895. The department is one of the most active on Tufts' campus; organizing concerts, recitals and events, and offering courses in musicology, ethnomusicology, theory, composition, and performance.

The Department of Music was established on August 7, 1895 when the Tufts College Board of Trustees voted to create a professorship in the History and Theory of Music. Professor Leo R. Lewis was appointed to the new position. Interest in music at Tufts was high from the onset. In 1896 President Capen's annual report counted 26 students enrolled in music courses - nearly 10% of Tufts' 270 students. By 1901, the Department of Music was declared "permanent" by President Capen, who lauded Professor Lewis for creating a department "likely to become one of the strongest of the College." Capen also praised Lewis for creating a chorus for the Sunday evening services in Goddard Chapel, organizing and instructing the Glee Club, preparing college songs, and "awakening an interest in music throughout the College." (Hersey, p. 32)

Tufts Music Department has always played a major role in organizing musical performances on campus. Historically, performance groups included the Glee Club, the Tufts Choir, the Banjo Club (which became the Mandolin and Guitar Club), the Jackson Glee Club, the Orchestra, the Chamber Singers, and the College Band. By 2007 Tufts Music Department had expanded its vocal and instrumental groups to include 19 performance ensembles including the Chamber Singers, Concert Choir, Tufts Jazz Orchestra (TJO), Tufts Symphony Orchestra (TSO), Wind Ensemble, and Pep Band. The Department organizes over 180 events and concerts annually.

In 1899, the Music Department found its first official home on the third floor of Goddard Gymnasium. This original space consisted of two rooms; one for general use and a second for the Music Library, which housed the collections of Rev. Thomas Wittemore, Albert Metcalf, and Frederic Louis Ritter. In 1930, the Old Chemistry Lab on Boston Avenue was converted to the "Music House." The department remained there until 1955, when it moved to the basement of the newly built Edward E. Cohen Arts Center (now Aidekman Arts Center). Outgrowing its basement facilities, the music department was relocated to 20 Professors Row, which had appropriately been home to Professor Lewis throughout his 50 year career at Tufts. In 2005 the Department found an interim home on 48 Professors Row, before making its final move to the $27 million Granoff Music Center in 2007. The Center houses the Distiler Performance Hall, the Lily Music Library, three classrooms, 20 faculty offices, and a rehearsal hall.

As of 2010, Music remains one of the largest and most active academic departments on Tufts campus, offering courses in musicology, ethnomusicology, theory, composition, and performance. Each year around 1,500 Tufts students enroll in department classes. Since 1973 a reciprocal agreement with the New England Conservatory of Music (NEC) has allowed students at both institutions to take courses at either school to be applied toward their respective degrees. Tufts also offers a five year dual-degree program with NEC, giving students the opportunity to earn their B.A. or B.S. from Tufts while earning a Bachelor of Music from NEC.

Found in 44 Collections and/or Records:

An evening band concert during Class Day activities, 1914

 Item — Volume: 1
Call Number: MS036.001.001.00001.03461
Scope and Contents: Munro Scrapbook: Vol. 1, Box No. 1, Pg. 54
Dates: 1914

An evening band concert during Class Day activities, 1914

 Item — Volume: 1
Call Number: MS036.001.001.00001.03462
Scope and Contents: Munro Scrapbook: Vol. 1, Box No. 1, Pg. 54
Dates: 1914

Classics and Music Professor Roslyn Brogue Henning, 1970

 Item — Box: Shared 20
Call Number: UA136.002.DO.04391
Scope and Contents: Photo from vertical file.
Dates: 1970

Department of Music Records

Call Number: UA017
Overview: This collection documents the activities and administration of the Music Department and the Music Library.
Dates: bulk 1889 -- 1986, circa 1830 -- 2017

Examining the Role of the Blue Seven in Jazz, 2006

 Item — Box: Volume 2
Call Number: UA005.034.002.00001
Scope and Contents: Undergraduate honors theses from the Department of Music.
Dates: 2006

Handel's Semele: Genre, Context, and Character, 2009

Call Number: UA005.034.004.00001
Overview: Beyond the uncertainty of what George F. Handel's work Semele should be labeled is the larger question of why it exists at all and what it means. Handel had been struggling in the years leading up to the creation of Semele. Professional failures led to personal attacks; poor health and changing political as well as societal tastes combined to present Handel with real challenges. After a journey to Dublin where the debut of his most popular work, Messiah, occurred, Handel returned with a new...
Dates: 2009