Two US conservatoires discuss merger

Two US conservatoires discuss merger


norman lebrecht

June 26, 2015

Berklee College of Music and the Boston Conservatory have been pursuing the same goals – and student pool – for half a century. Now they want to create a ‘powerhouse’.

It’s getting tenured music teachers worried right across the USA. And beyond. One widely respected administrator calls it ‘enlightened’.



Read here.


  • Anon says:

    Berklee is a like a giant commercial Walmart buying up a mom-and-pop corner store. Berklee has money, power and its tenticles everywhere. They’ve bought up the entire Fenway neighborhood in Boston. It was just a matter of time and space before they’d get around to Boston Conservatory.

    Berklee feeds in many cases on music students who can pay the steep tuition but who aren’t good enough to get into other conservatories. Although they do have success with
    their commercial music grads., Berklee gives the appearance of a huge money making enterprise. If you can pay, you can get in.

    What a shame they’re trying to buy out BCM, a small, independent conservatory with strong ties the the Boston Symphony, with a distinguished tradition and history of excellence.

    • JBBaldwin says:

      The old saw about Berklee was that they didn’t offer a degree – if you were good enough, you’d get hired to tour with some big name and if you weren’t, you’d leave after a couple of years of not getting hired. They do give the appearance of being the near opposite of schools like B.C. — I’m not convinced this merger is a good idea.

  • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    There are only two real issues for the best music schools in the USA: the quality of the faculty and the power of the endowment to pay that faculty well, and to offer scholarships and financial aid to attract and keep the most talented students. With those two factors functioning at the highest level, the level of the student body becomes a third ingredient for success. The location, the buildings, and the equipment are important but ultimately of secondary interest.

    Lee Berk understood the Berklee model because he created it: accept lots of paying customers with a dream, most of whom stay one or two years then move on, the others who hang in there self-select, and have a good chance of developing their talent and making connections for a career as performers which the school offers. The early rate of failure is remedied by a higher percentage of success among graduates; at least that’s the theory.

    Boston Conservatory is one of the last 7 regionally-accredited, independent music conservatories in America (NEC, Manhattan, Juilliard, Curtis, Cleveland, and San Francisco are the others in geographical order). There is a strong potential for programmatic crossover between these two neighbor schools in several disciplines even though their apparent missions diverge. I would like to think that the folks in charge are thinking outside the box and hope to create a new model for the 21st century. It will not be easy, but the result could be exciting and beneficial for their students and an inspiration to post-secondary music education in America, assuming an eventual successful merger.

    Rather than sit back an take pot-shots at a noble effort, I prefer to encourage the schools.