|Private music school
|Johns Hopkins University
|385 (Fall 2022)
The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University is a private music and dance conservatory and preparatory school in Baltimore, Maryland. Founded in 1857 and affiliated with Johns Hopkins in 1977, Peabody is the oldest conservatory in the United States and one of the world's most highly-regarded performing arts schools.
Philanthropist and merchant George Peabody (1795–1869) founded the institute in 1857 and opened it in 1866 with a bequest of about $800,000. This sum, from his personal fortune, was amassed initially in Massachusetts and later augmented in Baltimore (where he lived and worked from 1815 to 1835). It vastly increased through banking and finance during following residences in New York City and London, where he became the wealthiest American of his time.
Completion of the white marble Grecian-Italianate west wing/original building housing the institute, designed by Edmund George Lind, was delayed by the Civil War. It was dedicated in 1866, with Peabody himself, traveling across the North Atlantic Ocean, speaking at the ceremonies on the front steps in front of landmark Washington Monument circle before a large audience of notaries and citizens including hundreds of assembled pupils from the Baltimore City Public Schools. Under the direction of well-known musicians, composers, conductors, and Peabody alumni, the conservatory, concerts, lecture series, library and art gallery, led by men of literary and intellectual lights along with an annual awarding of gold, silver and bronze medals with certificates and cash prizes to top graduates of the city, known as the "Peabody Prizes", attracted a considerable national attention to the Institute and the city's growing culture. Under strong academic leadership, the Peabody evolved into an internationally renowned cultural and literary center through the late 19th and the 20th centuries, especially after a major expansion in 1877–1878, with the completion of its eastern half housing the George Peabody Library with iconic five stacked tiers of wrought iron balconies holding book stacks/shelves, surmounted by a beveled glass skylight, one of the most beautiful and distinctive libraries in the U.S.
The institute building's 1878 east wing on East Mount Vernon Place, containing the affiliated George Peabody Library, joined the other rows of architecturally significant structures of townhouses, mansions, art gallery, clubs, hotels, and churches around the Washington Monument which developed into the Mount Vernon neighborhood on the former estate of Revolutionary War commander John Eager Howard. The institute grew from a local academy, with an art and sculpture gallery, public lecture series, and the extensive non-circulating reference library which predated the later first public library system in America. That library was created and endowed in 1882 by Peabody's friend Enoch Pratt. In turn, both Peabody and Pratt inspired the expansive philanthropic efforts of Scottish-American steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie.
In 1955, Peabody inaugurated a sacred music department led by Arthur Howes, which is now defunct. Its electronic music department, founded by composer Jean Eichelberger Ivey in 1967, was the first in any American conservatory, and remains the home of two historic Moog modular synthesizers from its first decade in operation.
In 1978, Peabody began working with Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University under an affiliation agreement. In 1985, the institute officially became a constituent school of Johns Hopkins.
Peabody is one of 156 schools in the United States that offers a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree. It houses two libraries: the historical George Peabody Library (originally the Peabody Institute Library) established when the Institute opened in 1866, renowned for its collection of 19th-century era and other rare books, and the Arthur Friedheim Library (named for Russian-born pianist/conductor Arthur Friedheim), a separate music reference academic library added to supplement the George Peabody Library that includes more than 100,000 books, scores, and recordings.
The conservatory was later supplemented by a preparatory school and an auditorium. Under instructions from Peabody's original 1857 bequest—an art and sculpture gallery, non-circulating public research library, with a public lecture series and a system of awards for top honor graduates of Baltimore's public secondary schools. "Peabody Prizes" are awarded to top high school graduates beginning the following year at commencement exercises and continued for 122 years as an honored annual tradition with public announcements to city media.
Additional structures along East Centre Street and Saint Paul Street, including a parking garage and two dormitory towers, were constructed in 1971. During the early 1990s, several remaining townhouses on East Mount Vernon Place to the east intersection with St. Paul were acquired and rebuilt, along with other townhouses to the south with distinctive iron scrollwork balconies facing North Charles Street. This enabled The Peabody to round out its tight campus of attached buildings to the entire city block bounded by Charles (Washington Place), Monument (Mount Vernon Place), St. Paul, and Centre Streets.
The Peabody campus is included in the Mount Vernon Place Historic District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1971.
The Peabody Institute's historic main building on Mount Vernon Place, built during 1857-1878, was designated a Baltimore City Landmark on October 14, 1975.
Peabody Preparatory offers instruction and enrichment programs for school-age children across various sites in Baltimore and its surrounding counties: "Downtown" (Baltimore, main campus), Towson, Annapolis (Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts) and Howard County (in cooperation with three schools).
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