History

Old Black and White image of the orchestra from 1930

SJSU Orchestra and Glee Club in Morris Dailey Auditorium c. 1931 

 

About Our School

The School of Music and Dance has enjoyed a long and prestigious history in the development and growth of SJSU. The university originally was founded in 1857 as the San José Normal School and held its first musical session in 1871 under the direction of the sole teacher of the school, Mr. Parker. The first full-time music teacher was Mr. Z.M. Parvin. In 1884, the music program evolved into a four-year course of study.

In 1915, the music program became a full-fledged department with five staff members and seventeen courses. Two years later, the Music Department began offering two types of special diplomas: Elementary and Secondary. Miss Ruth Esther Cornell received the first Secondary Diploma in June of that year. It was not until 1948, however, that the School developed degrees similar to those seen today: theory and composition, history and musicology, performance, and conducting.

The School expanded its orchestral offerings in 1922 when violin and other string instruments were added to the instrumental instruction. The first Spartan Marching Band was formed in 1947 under the direction of Mr. Towner, and that same year graduate course work also was first offered. By 1951, there were ten different musical ensembles. Today, there are nineteen.