Paris is rising fast in world conservatoire rankings

Paris is rising fast in world conservatoire rankings


norman lebrecht

March 22, 2023

The authoritative QS 2023 world rankings for performing arts are out and there are quite a few surprises.

The outstanding Sibelius Academy comes in at number 25 and Berlin’s Hanns Eisler Hochschule figures even lower at 29, just below Yale.

How two Lonndon colleges dominate the world’s top three is another mystery, with Juilliard down at 5 annd Curtis at 8. The big winners are Paris and Oslo.

Here’s the complete ranking.


  • Peter San Diego says:

    Out of genuine curiosity: what makes the QS rankings authoritative?

  • Joseph says:

    The absence of the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, Texas and the Coburn School in Los Angeles is pretty perplexing. They are far better music schools than a number of other American schools that made the ranking.

  • Ludwig's Van says:

    The bias towards UK institutions is painfully obvious. Also, universities and conservatories don’t belong on the same list, as many of these universities (Harvard, Columbia, etc.) don’t offer applied music programs.

    • Carl says:

      The methodology listed on the site seems to lean heavily on published academic papers associated with the schools – relevant when it comes to musicology or theory, but less so in performance-related disciplines.

      Also, NYU is known for its commercial music studies but so is Berklee, which didn’t crack the top 25.

  • Mick the Knife says:

    Beyond laughable. Where music students choose to go tells a different story.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Interesting I suppose but … what criteria enter into these rankings? I cannot speak to music schools but I do remember that some law school rankings would look at things like “number of books in the law library,” regardless of how old or useless or redundant or never used or looked at those books might have been. In other words, a preference for things easy to quantify in a mechanical sense without engaging in any analysis or evaluation. I do of course realize that subjective standards are themselves open to challenge if not ridicule.

  • Player says:

    In the old days, the only conservatoires of any note were Paris, Moscow and Brussels!

  • Matt says:

    Completely absent are 3 big US conservatives: MSM, NEC, CIM

  • martin says:

    No Manhattan School of Music?

  • Gerry Feinsteen says:

    While I’m delighted to see Paris getting much deserved recognition.

    But let’s not kid ourselves. Music students arrive at tertiary levels, already advanced to a high degree.
    A music degree is not like a degree in biology or economics. Before university matriculation nearly 10-13 years of dedicated study has already gone underway. The teachers and institutions of the primary and secondary level are really responsible—if music schools are to be so selective.

    It is not the faculty. In NYC, many faculty are at every school under the sun.

  • Russell Wheeler says:


  • Ich bin Ereignis says:

    Yale better than Hanns Eisler in Berlin? That’s rather ridiculous. The very idea of ranking schools is just silly anyway. What is one to do with such rankings — just strive to go to the highest ranked school? What truly matters is whom one studies with. You can find incredible teachers in unknown schools and, conversely, mediocre teachers in prestigious schools. There are scores of teachers whose reputation is based mostly on hype and/or on having allegedly produced students who went on to have great careers. But such students probably didn’t need these teachers to begin with and probably didn’t learn much from them. Not sure how these rankings are done, but as far as I’m concerned they should be taken with an enormous grain of salt. Prospective students need to do their homework in finding someone who can really help them and not blindly make decisions based on a school’s reputation, which can turn out to be incredibly misleading. Prospective students should strive to find someone who can both help with the fundamentals, the nitty-gritty, as well as help them develop into who they are.

    • Ludwig's Van says:

      In my days at Juilliard, at least half of the piano students studied concurrently with a teacher outside the school – but remained enrolled just to say they “went to Juilliard” – What a farce!

  • Of course says:

    Ah yes, UCSI (Malaysia) equalling Oxford and outranking Cambridge, Harvard, Sibelius, Hanns Eisner … makes sense

  • E Rand says:

    Clearly, then, they have the greatest diversity and inclusion. Nothing. Matters. More. #deiforever

  • William Osborne says:

    Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) is a British company. That probably explains something about the rankings.

  • Sceptic says:

    Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and several other places missing… How can their research and findings be “authoritative” if they don’t bother to include all the major music institutions? Pin the tail on the donkey anyone?

  • Singeril says:

    It’s truly incredible how many incredible and world-leading artists I can come up with, off the top of my head, that never went to any of these schools. How in the world did they do it? It must be a mirage! The opera world, alone, is full of Neanderthal type “State School” graduates (gasp). It’s an abomination.

  • Mark Mortimer says:

    Very pleased to see my old alma Mater- Royal Holloway so highly ranked, a very underrated institution. By contrast- my other one- which is lower down- Indiana University School of Music. Highly overrated- taking on far too many young music students with little chance of making it in the wider professional musical world. A truly ghastly place.

    • Ludwig's Van says:

      Indiana University has always had stellar faculty members – and in music it’s your teacher that either makes you or breaks you. And nobody should go to a music school with the sole goal of “making it”. You go to music school to learn – because otherwise chances of making a decent living off of music are limited.

      • Mark Mortimer says:

        Ludwig van- I quite agree with your final point- the purpose of music education is personal & not financial enrichment- well put. The point I’m making about IU- is that- there were indeed ‘stellar’ teachers but they creamed off the top talent- but the mediocre majority were left with ‘crappy’ & uninspiring ones who would do little to move them to the next level. So the institution merely became a money making factory to support the potential stars- a gruesome place.

  • Larry says:

    How on earth could New York University be listed?

  • Tom says:

    “Authoritative” is sarcasm, right?

  • Doxology says:

    This list seems to mix up performance with entirely academic programs.

    Harvard—which does not have a degree granting program for orchestral instruments—is ranked above Yale which has a whole graduate school of music. Strange.