When the doors of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (at that time known as the NSW State Conservatorium of Music) opened to students on 6 March, 1916 its stated aims were “providing tuition of a standard at least equal to that of the leading European Conservatoriums” and to “protect amateurs against the frequent waste of time and money arising from unsystematic tuition.”
It was during Rex Hobcroft’s directorship (1972-1982) that the Conservatorium took on the modern educational profile which can be recognised today, with the focus on tertiary students in degree programs and a flourishing visiting artists program (which brought, among others, Wolfram Christ in 1982). Hobcroft articulated and substantially realised a vision of the Conservatorium as a “Music University” in which a range of specialised musical disciplines – performance (both classical and jazz), music education, composition and musicology – enriched each other.
In May 1997, 180 years after Governor Lachlan Macquarie laid the foundation stone for the Greenway Building, the Premier of NSW, Hon Bob Carr MP, announced one of the most significant initiatives in the Conservatorium’s history – a major upgrade of the Conservatorium at its present site with the ultimate goal of creating a music education facility equal to or better than anything in the world. The redevelopment has restored Greenway’s historic castellated building. For the Conservatorium, it provides facilities of outstanding acoustic and architectural quality in which to serve the music and wider communities, and to educate future generations of performers, musicologists, composers and music educators.
Today, under the leadership of Kim Walker, Dean of the Conservatorium since 2004, new audiences are enjoying the most extensive programme of public performances ever mounted by the Conservatorium and a new generation of musicians is writing the next chapter in the institution’s illustrious history.