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CU College of Music collection

Identifier: COU:2388

Scope and Contents

The CU College of Music Collection is not an archival holding per se. It is a composite collection of materials, mailings, and contributions sent to the Archives over time from various sources. There are no office files or record groups held in this collection. The collection is mostly made up of programmatic material in regards to past performances and concerts, brochures, class lists, photos of past productions, and a small amount of correspondence from the faculty. There is also an oversized box containing scrapbooks of old newspaper clippings regarding the CU Music School.


  • 1877 - [1940 - 1992]

Biographical / Historical

In December of 1882, the University of Colorado initiated its music program with the purchase of a new piano for Old Main. The piano was to be used to accompany the chapel choir. This first stage of the program was abortive, as the University hired R.L. Kent “on trial” in 1883, only to release him a year later for poor service. The program remained inactive until the hiring of Professor Charles H. Farnsworth in 1890. The University established a College of Music in 1895 with 33 students. Professor Farnsworth was aided by five teachers. The School sought to further its student’s relationship with music through lessons and theory classes, rather than through a curriculum aimed at the award of degrees. Farnsworth resigned in 1900, followed by a number of subsequent temporary directors until Professor George M. Chadwick was appointed from 1905 to 1919.

Immediately after World War I the University reorganized many of its colleges and departments, appointing new deans and chairs in 1920. On April 13th, 1920, the University appointed Frank W. Chace as a Professor of Music, and director of the College. He introduced the first Bachelors of Music degree for the University the next year. Chace taught most of the classes, with additional help from his wife as administrative assistant and local teachers from Denver. In the next six years, the School of Music had its own building (the Old Medical Building, where the University Memorial Center now stands). $50,000 was raised to put a pipe organ in Macky Auditorium and a Concert Grand Steinway piano for the new music building. Chace left the University in 1926 and Dean Horace Whitehouse was appointed his successor.

The University of Colorado appointed Rowland R. Dunham as Director in 1927. Dunham taught organ and theory, with two additional instructors for voice and piano instruction. By 1928, the school had an enrollment of 100 students, 53 being music majors. The resources for the School of Music continued to increase after WWII, allowing the college to add ten instructors, a near doubling of students, the creation of multiple ensembles, and the attraction of a growing list of visiting faculty and performers: Sergei Prokofiev, Percy Grainger, Albert Spaulding, among many others. Horace A. Jones, head of the violin department, directed the first band concert in 1933. The College hired Hugh E. McMillen in 1936 as director of the marching band, with the hopes of bringing the band to national recognition. While the College of Music held a ‘performance-forward’ mentality, the student body also desired degrees towards education. By the year 1937, the college offered a two-year certificate for public school teachers, a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education, and Master’s in Music Education. Progress continued with the addition of “Band Day” in 1938, in which marching bands all across the nation came together in Boulder to perform for each other. Student enrollment increased to 231 and the College received a permanent membership to the National Association of Schools of Music in 1941.

In 1951, the College of Music appointed Warner Imig as Dean after Dunham’s retirement in 1953. The administration grew from three to twenty, and the student enrollment doubled again. Due to the rustic and cramped nature of the College of Music’s current building, CU built a new building in 1954 at Eighteenth Street and Euclid Avenue, which featured a recital hall, practice rooms, faculty offices, and workshop areas. Dean Imig continued through his administration to add space to the new building, including a rehearsal room for opera and orchestra in the basement, and an additional third story for the College’s very own music library (which had previously been housed in Norlin Library).

Aside from expanding undergraduate education, enrollment and space, Dean Imig also developed the graduate program. The college began to offer doctorates after 1952: a Doctoral Degree in Musical Arts and a Doctor of Philosophy in 1953; a degree in sacred music ; a Doctorate in Music Education in 1964; and a Doctor of Musicology in 1966. The growth of the Graduate program led to the need for an Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in 1970. Dean Imig’s other major contribution involved expanding the music program and ensembles, including a percussion ensemble, Collegiums Musicum, New Music Ensemble, the Electronic Music Studio (which still functions to date) , a piano pedagogy program, and the Hungarian String Quartet as artists in residence. Giora Bernstein, founder of the Colorado Music Festival, became the Professor of Conducting in 1975. Upon Dean Imig’s retirement in 1978, both the music building and its library were named “Imig” in honor of his service.

Robert R. Fink became Dean for the College of Music after Imig. His first actions included creating a slightly larger staff, a Concerts Office to manage performances, the development of College control over Macky Auditorium and its Artists Series, and the hiring of an Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies. The College of Music would benefit during the 1980’s with a new Opera stage in Imig, a $3.5 million renovation for Macky Auditorium, a new graduate reading room, and a renovation of the recital hall through a gift by alumnus and musician Dave Grusin. The recital hall was named Grusin Music Hall in his honor. With many of the faculty retiring in the same period, new faculty and staff members were hired into new specialized positions including jazz, choral groups, theatrical production, and world music. Music major enrollment in the 1980’s reached to 300, and was limited in order to maintain high standards. The Takács String Quartet became the new Artists in Residence in 1983, its members have remained to this day. In the 1990’s, music theory professors were added to the faculty, allowing composition instructors to focus solely on composition. Additionally, a Director of Music Technology was also appointed. In 1988, Professor William Kearns and Librarian Karl Kroeger took the possession of the American Music Research Center collection from Sister Mary Dominic Ray from the Dominican College in San Rafael, California. The AMRC is a collection of 18th century material and onward of American music and its history, regarded today as a leading, national example of a music history project.

To help with raising financial costs on students, the College of Music created an Advisory Board to acquire assistance from other sources: alumni donations, endowments, scholarships, gift, grants, and other financial assistance. By 1993, outside support for the College had tripled.

The College appointed Daniel P. Sher dean in 1993. In his twenty years of work, he strived to expand the College physical plant and resources. With the help of funds from the Colorado State Legislature, Sher added a new section to the east side of the music building, which included a new band rehearsal room, a concert band and orchestra library, faculty offices, practice rooms, and storage areas. With help also from the Louis and Harold Price Association, the Entrepreneurship Center for Music was created in 1998, followed by a Musicians’ Wellness Initiative in 1999. Sher also raised money targeted towards his faculty, which resulted in multiple endowed chairs and fellowships.

In the past twenty years, the College of Music has continued to expand its programs and began to offer new degrees such as the Bachelor of Music in Jazz Piano Performance, the Master of Music in Jazz Performance and Pedagogy, the Master of Music in Collaborative Piano, a Master of Music in Music Theory, Doctorate of Music in Jazz Studies and Collaborative Piano, and certificates for Opera, Solo Vocal Performance, and String Quartet. In 2003, the Music Library renamed itself after the College’s longtime faculty member, Howard Waltz, and in 2004, the Board of Regents classified the band conductor of almost forty years, Alan McMurray, a “distinguished professor,” the first and currently only professor given that distinction in the College’s history. In the fall of 2005, the student body grew to 300 undergraduate students, 250 graduate students, over 60 full-time faculty members, 25 part time, and 30 full time staff members. Daniel Sher retired as of May of 2013. The new Dean will be announced prior to the 2013 fall semester.


5 linear feet : 7 boxes + 1 oversized

Language of Materials



The University of Colorado College of Music was established in 1895 and has continued and expanded for more than one hundred years. The University of Colorado Music Library gathered these materials together into this collection. The collection consists of music programs, class lists, photographs, some correspondence, and news paper clippings in relation to the College.

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States