Music was one of many BU “firsts…”

Boston University was among the first colleges to be coeducational. Almost a century before the Ivy League, BU was a leader in smashing the barriers of gender discrimination. Unlike other universities that restricted entry on the basis of race or religion, Boston University embraced talented students of all backgrounds and complexions from its beginning. And 150 years ago, Boston University established a school of music. The new school was unlike all others in the United States. It was the first to center the study of music as worthy of a degree. Over the next century and a half, scores of universities and colleges would follow BU’s lead and, by doing so, would help establish a rich, dynamic culture of music in this country and beyond.

Boston University remains a leader. We are a proudly global university with nearly 400,000 living alumni around the world. Nearly every major symphony orchestra on this planet has counted BU School of Music alumni among its members. BU College of Fine Arts alumni are arts leaders, educators, music critics and more. The impact of BU School of Music has been profound. This year, with pride we mark 150 years of music-makers, educators, and game-changers at Boston University School of Music.

Signature Events

Thank you for joining us for these signature events commemorating the School of Music’s 150 years of music making! Check our lineup of future events on the CFA calendar.

Opening Event: Symphony Hall Concert and Reception • April 5, 2022
Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave, Boston

Boston University Tanglewood Institute special event featuring Ann Hobson Pilot and Valerie Coleman • July 17, 2022
Seiji Ozawa Hall, 297 West Street, Lenox, MA 01240

BUTI Young Artists Showcase in Celebration of Ann Hobson Pilot • July 24, 2022
Seiji Ozawa Hall, 297 West Street, Lenox, MA 01240

BU’s 45th Annual Day at Tanglewood • August 7, 2022
Tanglewood, 297 West Street, Lenox, MA 01240

Music Education – Drum Kit Conference • September 10, 2022
The Castle, 225 Bay State Rd, Boston
More details

BU Global Music Festival • September 17, 2022
BU Beach, 270 Bay State Road, Boston
More details

BU Bands Centennial Celebration • October 22, 2022
George Sherman Union Ballroom, 775 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston
More details

Castle of Our Skins Residency • October 3-7, 2022

  • Monday, October 3, 2:30pm – CFA Marshall Room, Lecture “Scored Blackness”
  • Wednesday, October 5, 2:30pm – CFA Marshall Room, Strings Masterclass of solo or chamber works by Black composers
  • Friday, October 7, 8pm – CFA Concert Hall, Concert program of George Walker sonatas, including a moderated post-concert panel about George Walker.

Gabriela Lena Frank Residency • February 20-24, 2023
More details

ICA/Boston New Music Event February 24, 2023
Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston • 25 Harbor Shore Dr, Boston

Musicology – International SymposiumMarch 8-9, 2023
BU’s London Academic Center – London, UK

Carnegie Hall Spotlight Concert • March 21, 2023, 7:30pm
Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall – 154 W 57th St, New York, NY

Closing Event: Symphony Hall Concert & Reception April 1, 2023, 7pm
Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave, Boston

SOM150 – Notable Events

In addition to a lineup of signature events, alumni, friends, students, faculty, and staff are invited to experience the array of the School of Music’s offerings throughout the year. Find more details on the additional SOM150 events below, and on the CFA calendar.

Fall 2022

  • Music Education – Concert & Open Mic  • August 12, 2022
  • Music Education – Conversations 2022 • August 13, 2022
  • Choral Department Commission – Emily Lau • September 14-17, 2022
  • Teach-In All-School “Day of Music” • September 21, 2022
  • Music Education – Professional Development Workshops • September 17, October 15, November 19, January 28, February 18, March 18 
  • Music Education – CNAfME Guest Speaker 
  • Music Education –CFAmily Jam & Open Mic Fall 2022 • December 9, 2022, 7 p.m., CFA Student Lounge
  • Music Composition – Thomas Weaver (CFA’13) special commission performance • November 12, 2022

Spring 2023

  • Music Education – Play On Festival April 28, 2023, Babcock Street 9-12:30 p.m.
  • Santur Musician Artist • April 22–23, 2023
  • 2023 Richmond Piano Competition Fixed Piece Commission • March 29, 2023

A (Very) Brief 150-Year History

What was known then as Boston University College of Music was created in 1872 as a part of a graduate theology program. In 1929 it experienced a revitalization as a part of the School of Education, refocusing on educating music teachers. By the time of the 1954 establishment of the unified College, the College of Music was located at 25 Blagden Street, behind the Boston Public Library. Along with the departments of theatre and visual arts, the units became known as “Divisions” within the collective School for the Fine and Applied Arts. The mid- to late-fifties saw Boston University’s acquisition of a significant amount of property along what has been the Commonwealth Avenue “auto mile,” west of BU’s flagship College of Liberal Arts and School of Theology, and in January 1958 the doors of the College’s new home at 855 Comm Ave opened.

In the 1970s, Music and the divisions of Theatre and Visual Arts became known as “Schools,” and the School of Fine and Applied Arts became the School for the Arts. That remained until 2001, when the institution was renamed “College of Fine Arts” (CFA). The world of music at Boston University is rich and layered, and has grown to include the lauded Opera Institute, established in 1985 to train singers for the operatic profession. And in 1966, across the state in Lenox, MA, but rooted in the vision and community of music at Boston University, then-Director of the School of Music Wilbur D. Fullbright (GRS’60) founded Boston University Tanglewood Institute, which has grown into one of today’s premier training programs for young musicians, many of whom go on to study at BU.

With internationally-recognized faculty-artists, access to world-class stages, and all collaborative opportunities of a top-tier research university, the School of Music continues to develop the minds, bodies, and voices of the next generation of artists, musicians, and scholars. A true beacon for musicians, educators, historians, and collaborators, Boston University School of Music has laid the groundwork for the next 150 years.