University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dept. of Music.

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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of Music was established in 1919 with the appointment of Paul John Weaver as Professor of Music. Prior to that time the study and performance of music in the University had been sporadic. Before 1900, according to L. R. Wilson, there had been an occasional glee club, a University quartet, and late in the 1890s a choral group directed by Dr. Karl P. Harrington, Professor of Latin. For music at events such as commencements, the University had to rely on guest bands. Dissatisfied with this state of affairs, President Venable asked his secretary, Charles T. Woollen, who had come to the campus in 1901, to promote musical activities. By 1903 Woollen was directing the first University Band. He also was instrumental in the formation of the Guitar and Mandolin Club, the Glee Club, the Orchestra, and the University Musical Association. Plans for the formal establishment of a music department were being developed when the advent of World War I forced the University to put them on hold. The war also caused the temporary disbanding of the musical organizations that Woollen had fostered.

When President Chase took office in 1919, he made the establishment of a music department a priority and promptly hired Paul John Weaver. The department's initial course offerings included Appreciation of Music, History of Music, Sight Singing and Ear Training, and Harmony, all taught by Professor Weaver. Weaver reorganized the Band, the Orchestra, and the Glee Club and inaugurated a series of concerts by noted guest artists. Under his direction the Glee Club became quite accomplished and toured extensively in 1925, 1926, and 1927; the 1927 tour included concerts in London and Paris. In addition to his other duties, Weaver also was in charge of the Bureau of Community Music in the Extension Division. The Bureau, in cooperation with the Department of Music, sought to stimulate the formation of local choruses and instrumental ensembles and to foster the public appreciation of music. Later it provided administrative assistance to the Institute of Folk Music (est. 1931), the North Carolina Symphony Society (1932), and the Carolina Opera School (1951).

Professor Weaver left the University in 1929 to become head of the School of Music at Cornell University. He was succeeded by Harold S. Dyer of Kansas. Between 1919 and 1929 the department's faculty had increased to four, and its course offerings had more than doubled. In 1929, just prior to Professor Weaver's departure, two milestones were reached: the department began offering the A.B. degree in music; and the University made the decision to convert the Carnegie Library, which was vacated when library staff and collections moved to the newly completed Wilson Library, to space for the Department of Music. John Sprunt Hill, University trustee and benefactor, facilitated the conversion of the Carnegie Library by offering to add $40,000 to the $30,000 he had pledged earlier for the purchase of a pipe organ for the University if the Board of Trustees would allow him to add an auditorium to the building. The Trustees enthusiastically agreed and voted to allocate $44,000 for the renovation of the main portion of the building. Other conditions of Hill's gift were, in L. R. Wilson's words, that the building should be used almost exclusively for musical purposes and that concerts and recitals would be given frequently for the benefit of all the students. The new auditorium with its Reuter organ was dedicated on November 14, 1930. The enlarged and refurbished building was later named Hill Music Hall.

Though the department now had adequate space, Professor Dyer complained of a lack of equipment. Writing to President Graham in 1931, he said that the department had lost registrations due to inadequate piano practice equipment. However, the University soon began to lose faith in Dyer's leadership. In the spring of 1933, on behalf of the College Music Study of the Association of American Colleges, Randall Thompson visited the University. President Graham subsequently wrote to him asking for his assessment of the Department of Music. Thompson replied candidly, telling Graham that the department's students were exceptionally intelligent and eager to learn but that the quality of the instruction did not match the caliber of the students; he found Dyer poorly equipped for his job. Thompson added that he did not intend anything he had written as a criticism of the University of North Carolina. Rather it is a criticism of the state of musical education in this country and of those of its purveyors who, through a lack of knowledge or interest or integrity or a combination of these qualities, fail to produce the goods. Dyer resigned later that summer, and University administrators began a search for someone who could take the Department of Music to a higher level. After nearly a year, they hired Glen Haydon, who assumed the duties of Director of Music in September 1934.

Haydon was a musicologist and clarinetist. He had studied at the University of California and had received his Ph.D. from the University of Vienna. From 1920 to 1934 he had been on the faculty of the University of California. He remained head of the Department of Music at UNC for nearly 32 years, overseeing steady growth in the department's enrollment, curriculum, and faculty and building its reputation for strength in musicology.

During Haydon's first year, the department undertook a revision of its A.B. curriculum, aiming to combine the study of music with a good liberal arts education. Henceforth students majoring in music would complete the same general requirements as all other students in the College of Liberal Arts. In the fall of 1935 the department began offering the M.A. degree in music with a major in musicology. The department awarded its first Ph.D. in musicology in 1939. In 1946 the B.M. was instituted and, in 1949, the M.M. with a major in composition. To receive the B.M. degree, students completed the requirements for the A.B. and then spent a fifth year in the further study of applied music. During the 1951-1952 academic year the department introduced a basic course for students planning to teach elementary school music; these students chose to pursue either the A.B. in music or the A.B. in education, the latter requiring fewer music courses. Throughout the 1950s the department worked with the School of Education to develop a more rigorous program in music education, and in 1964 the B.M.Ed. degree was approved.

Haydon's first annual report noted that the faculty had been strengthened by the addition of Benjamin F. Swalin and Jan Philip Schinhan. Like Haydon, both Schinhan and Swalin had earned the Ph.D. degree at the University of Vienna. Swalin would go on to found and direct the North Carolina Symphony. In 1946, while Swalin was on indefinite leave with the Symphony, the department hired William S. Newman, a prolific scholar known later for his work on the history of the sonata. As the department produced graduates in musicology, it also began to hire them for faculty positions. Two such graduates were Wilton Mason and Edgar Alden, both of whom joined the faculty in 1949 and later chaired the department.

In support of the department's curriculum, Haydon also promoted the development of the Music Library. One of his first actions as chair was to convince the Carnegie Corporation that the UNC Music Library should be one of the recipients of its College Music Set, which included some 128 books, 850 records, and 250 scores, together with the Capehart phonograph. Further careful collecting resulted in a library that has come to be widely considered the best music library in the Southeast. But, as the collection grew, the facilities in Hill Hall became increasingly inadequate. During the 1954-1955 year, a large part of the basement was excavated for additional library stacks. But stack areas in the basement had hardly any headroom and were prone to flooding during heavy rains. Overhead steam pipes posed an additional threat to the collections.

Beginning in the mid-1940s, Haydon reiterated yearly in his annual report the need for an addition to the building. In the forties and fifties surplus Army barracks were used to provide additional space, but it was not until 1963 that an addition to Hill Hall was completed and occupied. The addition, which included faculty offices, practice rooms, additional library space, and a large rehearsal hall, temporarily solved the department's space problem. However, it was poorly designed in several respects. Practice rooms were clustered in the basement, where ventilation was poor and where security became a concern. The acoustics of the recital hall were poor (as were those of the auditorium). The additional library space was quite small and did nothing to correct conditions in the stacks.

Between the early 1950s and mid-1960s the department expanded its performance programming and extension activities significantly. Wilton Mason became active in the production and direction of opera on campus and in 1955 directed a full-length production of The Marriage of Figaro that included faculty and student soloists. In 1961 he designed, produced, and directed a performance of La Traviata that starred Phyllis Curtin of the New York City Center Opera and the Vienna Opera. In the fall of 1963 he organized the Opera Workshop, an opera company that drew on regional talent as well as students. The course catalog listed it among the ensemble groups of the Department of Music, and students who participated in it received one hour of credit per semester. The Opera Workshop, later known as the Opera Theater, presented numerous fully-staged works including two sell-out performances of La Boheme during the 1965-1966 year. Other notable developments in the 1950s and 1960s included the department's hosting of the All-State High School Band Clinic and piano clinics for teachers; presentation by departmental faculty and students of a music appreciation course on WUNC-TV; and broadcast by WUNC-TV of the department's Tuesday Evening Concert Series.

Glen Haydon died on May 8, 1966, and Wilton Mason was named acting chair and later chair of the department. In his annual report for the year 1966-1967, Mason made this statement: Historically, the Department has been oriented toward the achievement of national eminence in the field of musicology, a goal which was fully realized under the long and wise guidance of the former chairman ... Its present goal may be defined as the achievement of equal excellence in the performing arts and in composition without in any way diminishing the extent or depth of its scholarly work. Indeed, it is hoped that the latter will enter a new period of expansion and achievement under the stimulus of an aggressive program of professional performance standards.

Mason's vision for the department was largely realized. Tracks in performance and choral arts were established in the M.M. program as was a track in composition in the B.M. The Opera Theater continued to flourish. The Jazz Lab Band was organized during the 1969-1970 year. The Carolina Choir, under the direction of Lara Hoggard, achieved greater excellence and was named the resident choir for the 1972 International Youth Music Festival in Graz, Austria. Departmental performances and other educational programs continued to be broadcast on WUNC-TV. In 1977-1978 the department sponsored an Electronic Music Plus Festival.

Enrollment in music increased dramatically. In 1963 there were 25 undergraduate music majors and 30 graduate students. By 1972 those numbers had risen to 104 and 68 respectively. During the same period registrations of non-music majors in music courses rose from 454 to 4450. In his 1972-1973 annual report Chair Edgar Alden wrote that the saturation point had been reached in terms of undergraduate majors and graduate performance majors; given its space and resources, the department simply could not accept more students. Yet enrollment continued to increase, reaching 145 undergraduate majors and 89 graduate students in 1978-1979. In 1977 the newly renovated Person Hall and the former Orange County Health Department building (the old DKE fraternity house) were assigned to the Department of Music, alleviating somewhat the overcrowding in Hill Hall. The former Health Department building was completely unsuitable for musical activities; officially it became known as Hill Hall Annex, but students and faculty referred to it as Splinter Hall. Nevertheless, Chair James Pruett ended the 1977-1978 annual report on a positive note, stating that the year had been very successful and the department's mission of combining performance and scholarship with service is being carried out to the benefit of the University community, the state, region, and beyond.

Not long after Pruett wrote these words, enrollment in the department began to decline. Undergraduate enrollment decreased gradually through the 1980s; but graduate enrollment, particularly in the M.M. program, dropped off precipitously. There were several reasons for this. Increasingly performance students were attending schools that specialized in performance. Within North Carolina, Appalachian State University, East Carolina University, the School of the Arts, and UNC-Greensboro all had music programs that emphasized performance. Moreover, the M.M. was no longer the terminal degree in music performance. The School of Music at UNC-Greensboro would begin offering the Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) degree in the early 1990s.

When Pruett's tenure as chair ended in 1986, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Gillian Cell, appointed a committee to search for a new leader for the department. Two external candidates were offered the position, and both declined it. The search process took two years, during which Tom Warburton served as acting chair. In September 1988 Ann Woodward, a member of the performance faculty, agreed to serve as chair. In her 1989-1990 annual report she noted that few, if any, schools besides UNC attempted to maintain equal strength in all areas of music. She also stressed that the M.M. program could become competitive only if it could provide its students with adequate financial assistance. But the 1990s began with a crisis in the state budget and a series of budget cuts that affected the availability of financial assistance for graduate students. Woodward's tenure was marked by difficult discussions on whether to maintain the M.M. program.

Meanwhile the Music Library was increasingly described as a disaster waiting to happen. Two incidents illustrate why. On July 16, 1989, the basement of Hill Hall flooded after a heavy rain. A few days later several sections of shelves holding records collapsed. In 1987 the University had submitted a capital improvement project request for a library addition to Hill Hall, but it was not until 1994 that the General Assembly appropriated funds to plan such a project. On the brighter side, the Arts and Sciences Foundation made the Music Library a priority in its Bicentennial fundraising, and a considerable sum was pledged for the construction of a new library. The Foundation also came to the library's aid when its book budget was cut in half because of the budget crisis. In January 1995 an inspector from the State Department of Insurance ordered the Music Library to submit a date by which it would vacate the basement. The Wilson Libray Space Planning Task Force had expressed willingness to have the Music Library relocate temporarily to Wilson, but the move would have to wait until the appropriate areas in Wilson were vacated by the department then occupying them. Planning for an addition to Hill Hall continued, but the project plan submitted to the General Assembly in the summer of 1997 was not funded.

The M.M. program was dealt a severe blow in February 1993 following the graduate program review of the Department of Music conducted by the Graduate School. The external review committee recommended the elimination of the M.M. program because of its small size, its duplication of other programs in the UNC system, and its non-competitiveness with D.M.A. programs. A study of low productivity degree programs conducted by the Board of Governors of the UNC system reached the same conclusion. It identified both the B.M. and M.M. programs at Chapel Hill for possible elimination. Ultimately the B.M. program, with tracks in performance, composition, and music education, was saved and strengthened, but the M.M. was eliminated in 1996. (The B.M.Ed. program had been discontinued in November 1994 and replaced by the five-year M.A.T. program.)

Following these difficult events, the department entered a new period of growth. Still renowned for its musicology curriculum and library collections, it expanded its offerings in jazz studies, popular music, rock music, and ethnomusicology while it continued to support a wide variety of performance activities, such as the annual Jazz Festival and the Opera Workshop. Its facilities needs are being addressed by the University's 2001 master plan, which calls for the creation of an Arts Common on the northwest corner of the campus. The Arts Common is planned to include a new building for the Department of Music, and Hill Hall is to be renovated for the Music Library.

Individuals who have chaired the Department of Music and their tenures are listed below.

  • 1919 - 1929 : Paul John Weaver
  • 1929 - 1933 : Harold S. Dyer
  • 1933 - 1934 : T. Smith McCorkle, Acting
  • 1934 - 1966 : Glen Haydon
  • 1966 - 1971 : Wilton Mason
  • 1971 - 1976 : Edgar H. Alden
  • 1976 - 1986 : James W. Pruett
  • 1986 - 1988 : Thomas A. Warburton, Acting
  • 1988 - 1996 : Ann M. Woodward
  • 1996 - 2001 : John L. Nadas
  • 2001 - 2004 : James E. Ketch
  • 2004 - 2009 : Tim Carter
  • 2009 - : Terry Rhodes

Sources used in compiling this historical note include The University of North Carolina, 1900-1930: The Making of a Modern University by Louis R. Wilson (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1957); The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Undergraduate Bulletin ; North Carolina Collection Clipping File; Culture Block by David E. Brown ( Carolina Alumni Review, November/December 2004, pp. 36-44); Records of the Office of the President: Frank Porter Graham Files, 1930-1932; Records of the Office of the President (UNC System): Frank Porter Graham Files, 1932-1949; Records of the Office of Chancellor: Robert Burton House Series, 1919-1957; Records of the Office of Chancellor: Michael Hooker Series, 1995-1999; and Records of the Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, 1917-1996.

From the guide to the Department of Music of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1937-1983, (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. University Archives.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Hannay, Roger. Roger Hannay papers, 1890s-2006. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
creatorOf Department of Music of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records, 1937-1983 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. University Archives.
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