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History of The Hartt School

Celebrating over 90 years of world-class performing arts education, The Hartt School remains committed to providing students with the exceptional education, training, and performance experiences that truly define the “Hartt Experience.” Founded in 1920 by Julius Hartt, Moshe Paranov and associated teachers The Hartt School quickly became one of the premier music schools in the area.  In 1957, Hartt was one of the three founding institutions that formed the University of Hartford and since then The Hartt School has continued to flourish.  Today, The Hartt School is a comprehensive performing arts conservatory that offers innovative degree programs in music, dance, and theatre. With more than 400 concerts, recitals, plays, master classes, dance performances, and musical theatre productions a year, performance is central to Hartt’s curriculum.  To explore and learn more about the influential people, inspiring events, and the progressive changes throughout the years click on the links below.

The 1920s

  • 1920: Julius Hartt School of Music is founded on Collins Street by Julius Hartt, Pauline Hartt, Moshe Paranov, and Samuel Berkman.
  • 1927: The College Department is inaugurated and the first college courses are offered.

The 1930s

  • 1932: Harold Bauer, distinguished pianist, founder of the Beethoven Association in New York, and Moshe’s teacher, gives the first of many master classes at the Julius Hartt School of Music, 222 Collins Street.
  • 1934: The Hartford Musical Foundation, a non-profit corporation which assumed ownership and operation of the Julius Hartt School of Music, is incorporated under a charter granted by the State of Connecticut.
  • Through the uniting efforts of Martha Blake (Walcott), talented pupil of Moshe Paranov, the first Board of Trustees in formed. Temporary officers are Julius Hartt, Chairman; Moshe Paravov, Treasurer; and Stephen Langton, Secretary. Temporary trustees are Julius Hartt, Moshe Paranov, Samuel Berkman, Stephen Langton, Helen Hubbard, Rose Lischner, and Rubin Segal.
  • 1935: The first formal meeting of the Board of Trustees is held. Temporary trustees are eliminated and new officers are elected: Chairman, Viggo E. Bird; President, Hartford Electric Light and Secretary, Mrs. Ross Harden. Trustees include Viggo E. Bird, Martha A. Blake, Robert F. Butler, Mrs. Bruce Crane, Mr. Frank F. Furlong, Mrs. Ross Harden, George R. H. Nicholson, Dr. Robins E. Barstow, Rabbi Abraham Feldman, Mrs. Arthur W. Frank, Mrs. Percy W. Kammerer, Dr. Douglas J. Roberts, Mrs. Richard M. Bissell, Mrs. F. Spencer Goodwin, Mrs. Henry S. Robinson, and Mrs. John C. Wilson.
  • 1936: Julius Hartt retires as director and the Hartford Musical Foundation name is changed to Julius Hartt Musical Foundation in his honor.
  • 1937: Alfred C. Fuller becomes a member of the Board of Trustees.
  • 1938: The Board purchases 187 Broad Street property from the Hartford Seminary. Dedication exercises are held and feature Harold Bauer, world renowned pianist, who performs with the Hartt School Chorus and Orchestra. Samuel Berkman is appointed Dean of the Julius Hartt School of Music. Hartt’s Music Library was founded.
  • 1939: Irene Kahn, accomplished ensemble player and accompanist, joins Moshe in the first of many highly acclaimed duo-piano recitals at the new Broad Street location.

The 1940s

  • 1940: By a vote of the Connecticut State Board of Education, Hartt becomes the first independent institution in the state with the right to confer the Bachelor of Music degree.
  • Alfred Einstein, preeminent German musicologist and critic, joins the Hartt faculty.
  • 1942: Dr. Elmer Nagy joins the Hartt Faculty. The first Hartt opera production, a double bill was presented. Approval is granted by the State Board of Education for Music Education courses.
  • 1943: Hartt presents the first, complete opera on television, Hansel and Gretel, (General Electric TV Station, WRGB in Schenectady, New York,) directed by Moshe Paranov.
  • 1945: Hartt Opera Guild in formed.
  • 1947: Alfred C. Fuller is elected President of the Julius Hartt Musical Foundation.
  • 1948: Hartt becomes the first independent music school in Connecticut to be granted approval to award the Master of Music degree.
  • Composer Isadore Freed establishes the Institute of Contemporary American Music (ICAM) at Hartt.
  • 1949: Moshe conducts the first concert of the rejuvenated Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

The 1950s

  • 1950: Hartt is voted a full member of the National Association of Schools of Music.
  • 1951: The State Board approves the Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music Education degrees
  • The Connecticut State Legislature passes an act creating Hartt College of Music, while the Julius Hartt School of Music continues as a school of music on the non-professional level (eventually renamed the Hartt Community Division.)
  • Dame Myra Hess, distinguished English pianist, performs Beethoven’s Piano Concerto in C Minor, Op. 3 with the Hartt Symphony Orchestra at the Bushnell Memorial Hall, contributing her services for the support of the Hartt Building Fund.
  • 1953: William Schuman, President of The Juilliard School, selects Hartt to premiere his first opera The Mighty Casey.
  • 1955: Hartt College is approved for membership in the New England Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. It is the first independent school of music in Connecticut to be admitted to membership and the second in New England, the other being New England Conservatory of Music.
  • 1957: Governor Abraham A. Ribicoff signs a bill granting a charter to the University of Hartford- a consolidation of Hillyer College, the Julius Hartt Musical Foundation and the Hartford Art School, Inc.
  • Moshe Paranov receives an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Hillyer College, University of Hartford and is appointed Vice- Chancellor for Performing Arts.
  • Samuel Berkman is appointed Vice President for Educational Administration and Louis Pellettieri is named Director of the Julius Hartt School of Music.
  • 1959: Aaron Copland is awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree.

The 1960s

  • 1962: Groundbreaking ceremony for the Alfred C. Fuller Music Center, University of Hartford’s main campus.
  • 1963: Hartt relocates from 187 Broad Street to the University of Hartford campus.
  • The Dedication Exercises for the Alfred C. Fuller Music Center feature soprano Marian Anderson and main speaker Douglas Moore, Professor of Music, Emeritus, Columbia University. The concert celebrating the dedication of the Fuller Music Center features violinist Isaac Stern, cellist Leonard Rose, and the Hartt Symphony Orchestra.
  • The Hartt Music Library was dedicated as the Mildred P. Allen Memorial Library.
  • 1966: O’Connell Hall is built through the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. Maurice O’Connell.
  • Elizabeth Warner is appointed Dean, Hartt College of Music. Samuel Berkman assumes the post of Dean Emeritus in Residence and Nathan Gottschalk is named Executive Director.
  • 1969: The University of Hartford awards Moshe the University Medal for Distinguished Public Service.

The 1970s

  • 1970: Concert and reception celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Hartt College and 75th birthday of Moshe Paranov.
  • Martha Blake Walcott and Mary Primose Fuller are awarded honorary Doctor of Music degrees by the University of Hartford.
  • 1971: Donald Mattran is named Acting Head, Director, then Dean.
  • 1972: NASM approves Hartt’s Doctor of Musical Arts program, the first doctoral program at the University of Hartford.
  • 1974: The Alfred C. Fuller Memorial Concert featuring the Hartt Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah is presented at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford.
  • 1975: Cellist Mstislav Rostropovich performs with the Hartt Symphony Orchestra at the Bushnell in a benefit concert for the Hartt Scholarship Fund.
  • 1976: The Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in applied music, composition, and music education are approved.

The 1980s

  • 1980: Hartt College is renamed Hartt School of Music and the Julius Hartt School of Music becomes the Community Division.
  • Donald Harris is appointed Dean, Hartt School of Music.
  • The Emerson String Quartet was appointed Hartt’s first quartet-in-residence.
  • Jackie McLean founded the Department of African American Music
  • 1981: Rostropovich, conductor and cellist, together with violinists Philip Ruder ’62 and Daniel Kobialka ’66, the Hartt Symphony Orchestra and conductor Charles Bruck, present a gala celebration concert in honor of violinist and Hartt faculty member Raphael Bronstein.
  • 1982: University of Hartford presents an honorary Doctor of Music degree to “Dizzy” Gillespie.
  • 1986: Baritone Cornell MacNeil, Hartt alumnus and member if the Metropolitan Opera, is presented an honorary Doctor of Music degree by the University of Hartford.
  • 1987: Yehudi Mehuhin’s week-long residency at Hartt culminates in a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in New York’s Alice Tully Hall and the airing of the documentary Menuhin at Hartt over Connecticut Public Television.

The 1990s

  • 1990: Emerson String Quartet, quartet in residence at Hartt since 1980, receives two Grammy Awards for its Deutsche Grammophon recording of the Bartok String Quartets.
  • Larry Alan Smith is appointed Dean.
  • As a result of an $117,000 endowment from the Alfred C. Fuller Trust, Hartt establishes a new scholarship for talented students.
  • Hartt celebrates its 70th Anniversary.
  • 1993: The Hartt School of Music is renamed The Hartt School, with the addition of dance and theatre programs. The Dance Division is founded in 1994 and the Theatre Division is founded in 1996, joining the Instrumental Studies, Vocal Studies, Academic Studies, and Music Education Divisions.
  • 1997: Mary Primrose Fuller bequeaths $19 million to The Hartt School.
  • 1998: Malcolm Morrison is named Dean.
  • 1999: The van Rooy’s donate $500,000 to The Hartt School and create the van Rooy Competition for Musical Excellence to provide funds for undergraduate students, graduate students, or alumni who are studying piano or violin to compete in national and international music competitions. The competition expanded to other instruments during its ten year history.
  • The Hartt School Theatre Division presents the first annual New Plays Festival giving students the opportunity to work on several new plays and collaborate with the playwrights, helping give shape to new productions.

The 2000s

  • 2000: The Department of African-American Music is renamed the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz.
  • 2001: The Hartt School, in collaboration with the University of Hartford's Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies, becomes the first NASM- accredited School to offer a Bachelor of Music in pre-cantorial studies.
  • 2002: Hartt Dance Divisions became fully incorporated into The Hartt School and ended its collaboration with Dance Connecticut (formerly known as the Hartford Ballet.) 
  • The Miami String Quartet was appointed Hartt's quartet-in-residence in 2002, and remained in residence until 2009.
  • 2004: Hartt purchases the assets of the School of Dance Connecticut creating a dance department for students of all ages in its prestigious Hartt Community Division.
  • 2008: The glorious new Mort and Irma Handel Performing Arts Center is opened in September, providing state-of-the-art facilities for rehearsals and performances.
  • 2009: Dr. Aaron Flagg becomes Dean of The Hartt School.
  • A grant from The Richard P. Garmany Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public giving presents the Richard P. Garmany Chamber Music Series, which brings in world class performers including The American Brass Quintet, Bolcom and Morris, David Finckel and Wu Han, St. Lawrence String Quartet, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Bang on a Can All-Stars, the Brentano String Quartet, New York Woodwind Quintet.
  • The inaugural year for the newly-formed Music Production and Technology exchange program with Staffordshire University of Stafford U.K. Hartt students have the opportunity to focus on Staffordshire’s technical and engineering emphasis, while Staffordshire students benefit from Hartt’s music emphasis.
  • The Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz presented legendary pianist Hank Jones an honorary doctorate. Jones presented a concert and master class.
  • Hartt Alumna Marin Ireland nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in Reasons to be Pretty.

The 2010s

  • 2010: Composer Jennifer Higdon receives and honorary Doctorate from the University of Hartford
  • 2011: Peggy Lyman-Hayes is awarded and honorary doctorate from the University of Hartford; Music Education alumnus Javier Colon wins NBC’s singing show The Voice.
  • Music Theatre students perform with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra Pops for “Richard Rodgers Review featuring The Hartt School” a tribute to Richard Rodgers at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Thanks to the generosity of Mrs. Bobbi Elliott, wife of Hartt alumnus Jack Elliott, The Jack Elliott Collection now resides at the University of Hartford. The Collection includes performances and recordings of the finest contemporary jazz from around the world.
  • Over 20 practice rooms in the Alfred C. Fuller Music Center were renovated due to the generosity of donors, the Class of 2011, and the Parents Association of the University of Hartford.

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