Peabody’s Electronic Music Studios were founded in 1967 by Dr. Jean Eichelberger Ivey. Summer Workshops for school music teachers were offered first, and public electronic music programs took place from the beginning. In the fall of 1969, Peabody opened its year-round studio with regular courses for conservatory students. It was the first such studio in Maryland, and was one of the first anywhere to be located in a conservatory.
In that first full season, electronic works composed in the new studio by Dr. Ivey and her students were heard in public concerts here at Peabody, at New York’s Carnegie Recital Hall, and on radio and television. Annual concerts have continued since that time, often featuring collaborations with performing musicians, dance, film, and special visuals. Works from other studios and by many distinguished guest composers have also been presented.
Frequent public lectures and demonstrations have extended the studio’s educational role beyond its immediate students to a wider audience. A burgeoning expansion of musical resources came with the addition of computers. The affiliation of Peabody with the Johns Hopkins University in 1977 made extension into this field possible, initially utilizing computers, advanced technology, and expertise available through the university.
Geoffrey Wright established the Computer Music Studio, of which he is director, in 1982. In the same year he founded the Computer Music Consort as a professional performance group in residence at Peabody, to expand the already established tradition of presenting high-level musical performances including electronics and multimedia collaborations with diverse artists. McGregor Boyle is the technical director of the Computer Music Consort. The combined Electronic and Computer Music Studios serve as a working laboratory for music composition and research, and as a center for courses, demonstrations, and public programs.
In 1989 the Electronic and Computer Music Studios joined into a single department and inaugurated a new Master of Music degree in Computer Music with specialized tracks in composition, performance/concert production, and research/technology.
In 1993 the Sidney M. Friedberg Lecture Series in Music and Psychology was founded to bring distinguished musicians and psychologists to the Peabody Conservatory and Johns Hopkins University. The lecture, an annual event, is part of a program undertaken jointly by the Peabody Computer Music Department and the Psychology Department of the School of Arts and Sciences. The program focuses on education and research relating to musical composition and performance, psychoacoustics, and music perception and cognition.
The Prix d’Été competition, established by Walter Summer in 1994 and hosted annually by the Computer Music Department, encourages Peabody graduate and undergraduate composition students to create chamber music that explores new instrumental, vocal, computer and multimedia horizons.
Doctoral level (DMA) study in computer music was established in 1998. Students may emphasize Computer Music studies in conjunction with another department, such as Composition, Conducting, or Performance.