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100 Years of Music
Capital’s formal music instruction began with vocal music, taught early in the term of 1889 by Mr. Herman Schmidt. A desire to grow the program emerged to foster robust study, appreciation and performance of music as an important aspect of liberal culture, serving all students and meeting the demands of a capital city growing in sophistication, influence and appreciation for the arts, culture and education.
Capital’s School of Music was formally established in 1918, offering its first theoretical and applied courses when fall classes began on Friday, September 13, from a studio equipped with a single piano in Lehmann Hall Dormitory room 24. The school was championed by Otto Mees, eighth president of Capital University, whose tenure was described by students of that era as progressive, energetic and zealous — one who infused a spirit of progress into the life and activity of the full university. Within the first five years of his presidency, the School of Music, science hall, library and a history chair had been established, symbolic of Capital’s belief in the essentiality of fully integrating the arts, and in particular the musical arts, with other essential components of a burgeoning university in the heart of Ohio.
The intention and potential to grow the program into a Conservatory of Music was clear from the outset. Using space and equipment donated by nearby churches, the School of Music became the Conservatory of Music in fewer than 10 years. Named for the progressive pioneer of musical arts whose vision brought it into existence, Capital’s beloved Mees Hall opened in 1928.