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October 11, 1964 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1964-10-11
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On North Campus: A House of Music

A New Building House s

the Music School

And Spurs Creativity in a Growing Art

From the Old


FINALLY, THE SCHOOL of Music has a
building of its own. Rising three stor-
ies above its setting on North Campus,
the Eero Saarinen-designed structure
unites under one roof the activities of a
school formerly housed in thirteen build-
ings on central campus. Because it was
meant for music and because it meets the
needs of music, the new building liber-
ates creativity in serving 745 students
and a faculty of 85.
Planning got under way for the new
structure in 1952 after it became obvious
that the school of music was not only
playing music from the Baroque age, it
was almost literally living in it. The
various buildings housing the school at
that time may have resembled the garrets
of Beethoven and Mozart, but, from an
unsentimental standpoint, they were an-
cient musical nightmares. Sound transfer
in the old buildings was tremendous; a
student practicing a Beethoven concerto
in one room often had an unwilling and
captive audience in the rest of the build-
ing. Humidity or temperature control,
essential when working with sons:ive in-
struments, was almost totally lacking.
Most of the old buildings had poor acous-
tical properties, and, most embarrassing
to administrators, the school was simply
running out of space. Dean James B.
Wallace, a witness to its growing pains,
since 1947, says, "A tangible compliment
to the school is that it could go on with
such inadequate facilities."
Construction on the North Campus site
began in the spring of 1962, and, by the
summer of this year, the building was
completed. University President Harlan
H. Hatcher and the music faculty and
administrators dedicated the project on
September 19.

FLANKED BY A steep hill on the north-
west and overlooking a tree-filled
valley, the new building presents an im-
pressive facade to the passerby. But more
important, it promises to liberate the
musical creativity of a progressive fac-
ulty and student body by virtue of its
modernity and special features. Thirteen
antiquated buildings scattered on central
campus could not, in total, approach this
One of the most apparent ways the new
building helps to unleash creativity is
that it effectively eliminates the major
shortcomings of the old structures. A new
method of room construction cuts sound
transfer significantly: walls and floors
are "clipped" together, making, in effect,
rooms within rooms. Floors and walls are
"insulated" against sound transfer, with
fiberglass and concrete in the floors, and
air ducts in the walls doing the trick. An
air conditioning system protects sensitive
instruments, and special sound rooms
and numerous practice rooms clean up
the old acoustics problem.
With its brick walls and linoleum floors,
the building has an air of dignified fru-
gality rather than of opulence. The fru-
gality, however, never degenerates to in-
adequacy. This is especially true of the
unique and varied facilities the structure
offers students-representing the latest
innovations in music education and per-
formance. While the best that money
can buy in concrete, steel and electronic
devices does not ensure musical creativity,
it may at least encourage it.
The educational features at the new
school of music building should at least
do that. An extensive music library,
listening room and two workshops are
designed to accommodate all the needs
of today's student of music. The research-
er will find facsimiles of original scores
dating back to the sixteenth century and
rare music books dating from the eight-
eenth century in the general library. The
library also offers a catalogue of over
10,000 recordings for use in the listening
room. An extensive microfilm department
rounds out its services.
Equally fine performance facilities--
though as yet incomplete-should also
do much towards furthering musical cre-
ativity. One hundred-thirty piano practice
rooms, 10 organ practice rooms and two
organ studios serve students in the new
building. (Piano and organ workshops,
filled with a battery of equipment ranging
from pliers to a lathe, allows the school to
do much of its own repair work.) The
southernmost part of the building has a
rehearsal hall, which the orchestra and
other groups have been using, and a small
auditorium seating under 250 people,
which will be used for lectures and re-
Unfortunately, a large 1000-seat audi-
torium had to be deleted from the plans
due to lack of funds, so most of the
school's two hundred-plus concerts must
be held in the same old overcrowded and
out-of-date facilities on central campus.
One faculty member characterized the
situation: "The school has everything
here but the operating room." However,
twenty-six television channels, now-
among the school's facilities, will make
possible closed circuit programming and
broadcasting of actual performances.

A SCHOOL rather than a center for the
performing arts, the school of music
has been notably successful in recent
years in avoiding a problem common to
many music institutions: "Those who can,
do; those who can't, teach." Its success
has come admirably in bridging what
Wallace calls "that tremendous gulf" be-
tween the teacher and the professional
by placing a remarkable number of per-
former-teachers in those studios and
classrooms. Joseph Knitzer, for example,
the former concertmaster of the Cleve-
land Orchestra and a teacher at the
Eastman School and at the National Mu-
sic Camp at Interlochen is now a profes-
sor here and will play the Beethoven vio-
lin concerto with the University Orches-
tra in November. Tenor John McCollum
and bass Ralph Herbert have been affili-
ated with numerous major opera com-
panies, and both have appeared as solo-
ists in recent May Festivals with the
Philadelphia Orchestra and Eugene Or-
mandy. Lewis Stout (French horn) and
Florian Meuller (flute) are both from the
Chicago Symphony, while Josef Blatt,
conductor of the University Orchestra
and director of the opera workshop, has
been guest conductor of the New York
Philharmonic and an associate conductor
with the Metropolitan Opera.
The abilities of the present faculty and
the improved facilities of the new build-
ing are making possible a new ideal
which the school is quietly following.
As Dean John Flower expressed it. fac-
ulty and students "serve both as teachers
and as emissaries of musical culture
to the public." Faculty groups-the Stan-
ley Quartet, the Baroque Trio, and the
Woodwind Quintet-perform frequently
in Ann Arbor and throughout the Mid-
west; the opera workshop, the orchestra,
the band and the Michigan Singers are
equally well-known student groups. The
opera workshop and the orchestra are
now at work on Alban Berg's "Wozzeck".
The orchestra will also perform several
more conventional, less formidable works
in Detroit in early November, and in Hill
Auditorium in late November. A large
number of faculty and student recitals,

To the New
and the professional appearances of men
like Sandor and McCollum complete the
No, the new music school building can
not ensure music creativiy. But its up-
to-date facilities and electronic devices
promise to inspire creativity and make
music a progressive, growing art wherever
possible. This is the most fascinating as-
pect of the school of music's program.
Not only has music quite appreciably
been effected in recent years by changes
in the use of such musical elements
as harmonics, rhythm and dissonances, it
has also seen a virtual revolution in mu-
sical instruments: The computer, the
tape machine, and similar electronic ap-
paratus are the instruments of the fu-
ture. Along with electronic teaching ma-
chines, whose qualities are being studied
thoroughly (hopefully, teachers can be
liberated from interminable hours of
theory instruction by giving the student
progressive drills on tape, similar to lan-
guage tapes), the school has $15,000 worth
of purely electronic equipment, and is
conducting an extensive program of ex-
oerimentation and research. Dean Wal-
lace hopes composers will be able to use
these machines "in creating new sounds
that do not only not attempt, but pur-
posely avoid, sounding like traditional
instruments." Into this eerie world of
Varese, Cage, and others, the novice is
likely to feel odd; but the possibilities
are endless and exciting.
jS MUSIC STATIC, after all? "Not
around here," remarked one of the
technicians in the school's electronics-

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For lectures and recitals: an audtoriun for 250

Musical modernity in electronics

Administration-under one roof

For the orchestra and ensembles: a rehearsal ha

Page Four


SUfiJDAY, OCT08ER 11 19f4

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