CIM History: The Beginning

The dream of a conservatory in Cleveland, Ohio became a reality in April 1920 when a small group of founders contributed $1,000 each to establish a "school of music where every type of student could find opportunity for the best musical education." Temporary studios at the Hotel Statler sufficed until a facility was found.

The Cleveland Institute of Music opened its doors on December 8, 1920 at 3146 Euclid Avenue in a grand house with grand ideals. Ernest Bloch, the esteemed composer, was named the first musical director, and Martha Bell (Mrs. Franklyn B.) Sanders became executive director. The mission, proclaimed by Mr. Bloch, relayed the forethought that has guided the Institute throughout its history: "Musical education, in addition to the thorough study of technique, ought above all else, to develop qualities of appreciation, judgment and taste, and to stimulate understanding and love of music."

Willard M. Clapp was president of the board. Faculty were already in place. Nathan Fryer, a pupil of Leschetizky, taught piano and ensemble. Cleveland Orchestra members Louis Edlin, concertmaster, and Victor de Gomez, first cello, were hired. For a term of 24 weeks, at a cost ranging from $150 to $500, one could study an instrument, theory and composition, chorus singing or ensemble, and rhythm and ear training.

By the second calendar year, Beryl Rubinstein (later a director) and Ruth Edwards (future chair of the Preparatory piano department) had joined the piano faculty. The 20-person faculty included André de Ribaupierre, violin; Edwin Arthur Kraft, organ; Jean Binet, Dalcroze Eurhythmics and theory; and Roger Sessions, composer.

Moving to 2827 Euclid Avenue in November 1922, the Cleveland Institute of Music established a Preparatory Division "to awaken the feeling for rhythm and develop the sense of observation and discrimination." Dalcroze Eurhythmics took a central position at the Institute, having been taught for the past ten years throughout Europe. The two-year course in "the art of expressing musical ideas by means of bodily movements" was a requirement for all students at the Cleveland Institute of Music, as it still is today.

Next: The 1920s & 30s

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