With a philanthropic gift of $1.4 million, George Peabody founded the Peabody Institute in Baltimore in 1857. From its beginnings as the first conservatory in the United States—founded alongside an art gallery, a library, and a lecture series—the Peabody Institute has brought together a community of artists, teachers, and scholars to hone their skills, with a keen understanding of what the arts can do to elevate the quality of human life. Through the years, the Peabody Institute has remained a leader at the intersection of art and education through its focus on excellence and innovation.

The first time Haydn’s The Creation and Handel’s Messiah were heard in Baltimore, it was at Peabody. As early as 1874, the Peabody Symphony Orchestra was performing entire programs of American music. The Peabody Preparatory was founded and incorporated as a part of the institute in the 1890s, opening up musical instruction to students of all ages and skill levels, and a joint degree program with the Johns Hopkins University established the Bachelor of Music in 1916. Early research into the psychological effects of music on learning, acoustical phenomena, and the physics of sound waves was conducted at Peabody in the 1920s.

In more recent history, the 1960s saw the authorization of the Doctor of Musical Arts degree—the highest professional accreditation in music, and the pioneering Young Conductor’s Project, which brought Leonard Bernstein and George Szell to Peabody to work with student conductors. Among the leading musicians who have served on the Peabody faculty are composers Henry Cowell, Elliott Carter, Peter Mennin, Ernst Krenek, Benjamin Lees, Earle Brown, and Hugo Weisgall; violinists William Kroll, Louis Persinger, Oscar Shumsky, and Roman Totenberg; cellists Aldo Parisot and Zara Nelsova; pianists Erno Balogh, Harold Bauer, Leon Fleisher, Ernest Hutcheson, Mieczyslaw Munz, Reginald Stewart, and George Walker; and scholars Nadia Boulanger, Otto Ortmann, and Nicolas Slonimsky. Composer Jean Eichelberger Ivey founded the Peabody Electronic Music Studio in 1969, the first electronic music studio in an American conservatory.

Even today, Peabody is leading the way in American conservatory training with its innovative Breakthrough Curriculum, a commitment to expanding the canon, industry-leading performing arts and health collaborations, and cutting-edge programs in Music Engineering and Technology.

The Conservatory’s current faculty includes Guggenheim and MacArthur fellows, Fulbright grantees, and Pulitzer Prize winners. Its notable alumni include renowned performers and composers; recording artists and recording engineers; creative entrepreneurs and leaders; and winners of Grammy and Emmy awards, Guggenheim and Carnegie Hall fellowships, and a wide range of important grants and competitions.

Today, the Conservatory is one of ten degree-granting schools of the Johns Hopkins University, having first affiliated with the university in 1977 and become a full division in 1986. As such, the Conservatory is uniquely positioned to offer the focused training one expects of a traditional performing arts conservatory within the larger network of the university’s world-famous centers of research and learning in the sciences, humanities, and medicine.

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