Conservatorium of Music - Administrative History

In 1912, the Minister for Education appointed a Committee of Advice to draw up a general plan for the establishment of a Conservatorium of Music. The location for the Conservatorium was the Old Government Stables in Macquarie Street - a Francis Greenway designed building.

In 1914 the position of Director was advertised world-wide and by May 1915 Mr Henri Verbrugghen occupied the position as the first Director. Also in May 1915 an inaugural concert was held to officially open the Conservatorium. By the end of 1915 teaching appointments were completed and classes commenced in March 1916 with an enrolment of 320 students.
The objectives of the Conservatorium were to:
* provide a place where students could study under the best teachers available
* provide a local and reputable examining body
* provide training for first-class instrumentalists
* through the State Orchestra, provide opportunities for citizens to hear the best music.

The orchestra was established through a subsidy from the State Government - it replaced the first Sydney Symphony Orchestra which was founded in 1908. In 1919 the Conservatorium High School was established to provide general education at secondary school level. The first diplomas were awarded in 1920.

By 1929 the Conservatorium Orchestra had undertaken overseas tours and broadcast concerts. In 1935 the Opera School was opened; opera classes had been introduced in 1931. Through the next 30 years the Conservatorium expanded the number of courses available, organised more tours and concerts as well as undertaking building works. Branches were established at Newcastle in 1952 and Wollongong in 1972, activities in regional centres were also undertaken.

In 1962 a Committee was appointed to consider the future management and control of the Conservatorium and in 1965 administration was vested in a Board of Governors through the NSW State Conservatorium of Music Act. The Board of Governors introduced permanent teaching staff, measures to standardise the granting of scholarships as well as increasing the amounts awarded.

In 1970 the Board appealed to the Government for further changes to the Act in order for the Conservatorium to be recognised as a College of Advanced Education. In 1973 the administrative structure of the Conservatorium underwent a re-organisation and a number of Schools and Departments were established. In the following year the administration was transferred to the Ministry of Education and an agreement was made to maintain its status as an educational institution within a government department. In 1975 the NSW State Conservatorium of Music (Amendment) Act was passed, amendments to the Board of Governors included an expansion to include staff and student representation.

With the changes to higher education policy during the 1980s the Board decided to amalgamate with the University of Sydney as a means of maintaining the identity and title of the Conservatorium and to enable it to operate on a semi-autonomous basis. The merger took effect on 1 January 1990.