The day my conservatory died

The day my conservatory died


norman lebrecht

August 30, 2016

A memoir from Chicago Symphony principal timpani, David Herbert:

One of the most profound and devastating days in my musical life was in 1990, an otherwise beautiful Friday morning before a welcome “Spring Break” week at the St. Louis Conservatory of Music.  This day would anger and motivate me in ways that were previously unimaginable.  The newly-appointed President of the Conservatory called for a sudden school assembly meeting in our concert hall to inform the student body and faculty that there would no longer be a Conservatory of Music in St. Louis and that we would be allowed to finish out the rest of the academic year with our private teachers and remain in our regularly scheduled (and paid for) academic classes…. But that would be it.  He said that the Conservatory Model was “ECONOMICALLY UNFEASIBLE” and that the school was “LOSING MONEY AT AN ALARMING RATE.”  At that moment, I was heartbroken and devastated.  I loved my teachers and was planning to stay another year at The Conservatory.  I was just starting to gain employment as a substitute musician with the St. Louis Symphony under Maestro Leonard Slatkin’s direction, and I also had launched a small teaching job at a local music store to help make ends meet.  This was not too bad for a young musician trying to pay his own way through a very demanding undergraduate degree course! Things had just started to look up when the news hit all of us like a ton of bricks…

Read on here. There are lessons to be learned…


david herbert