The High School of Music & Art

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The High School of Music & Art
Established 1936
Type Public Alternative High school
Founder Fiorello H. LaGuardia
Location 443-465 West 135th Street,
New York, New York, USA
Campus urban
Closed 1984
Merged with High School of Performing Arts
To form Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts

The High School of Music & Art, informally known as "Music & Art", was a public alternative high school at 443-465 West 135th Street, New York, New York, USA that existed from 1936 until 1984, when it merged into the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts.


New York City Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia started the high school in 1936, an event he described as “the most hopeful accomplishment” of his administration.[1] The school was made up of three departments: Art, Instrumental Music, and Vocal Music. In 1984 Music & Art and its sister school, the NYC High School of Performing Arts, were merged into a new school, the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts at a new building in the Lincoln Center area of Manhattan.

The building that once housed the High School of Music & Art is located in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of Harlem near the campus of the City College of New York and St. Nicholas Park. The building now houses the A. Philip Randolph Campus High School, a "magnet school" of the New York City Department of Education.

Architectural significance[edit]

The 1924 gothic revival building won status as a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1997.[2] The building was designed by William H. Gompert, Architect & Superintendent of School Buildings for the New York City Board of Education, to house the New York Training School for Teachers. The Training School became the New York Teachers Training College from 1931 to 1933. That school was abolished during the Depression when there was a surplus of teachers for the city's school system, and Mayor LaGuardia used the opportunity to create the High School of Music & Art.

Architecturally, the building blends in with the older gothic revival buildings of the City College campus, designed by noted architect George B. Post around 1900 to create a setting that came to be known as “the poor man’s Harvard.”

Music & Art graduates often refer to the building as "The Castle," a reference to the design of its gothic towers, and the decorative gargoyles done in a quirky and playful style that the Landmarks Commission report describes as “finials in the shape of creatures bearing shields.” The tower rooms have dramatic acoustics, which Music & Art used as choral practice rooms. The large gymnasium features large Tudor-arch-shaped windows on two sides that at certain times during the day stream sunlight into the room. The auditorium has excellent acoustics, and features diamond-shaped amber windows that during daylight cast a warm glow on its dark wood interior. The iron ends of the auditorium seats have a casting with an image of the Tudor window arches in the gymasium.

According to the Landmark Commission report, this was not an expensive building for its time, and many of the structural components (like the staircase bracings in the stairwell) were left exposed to save money. Yet lots of thought went into humanizing the space and creating a good environment for learning, with plenty of natural light and air, expansive collaborative spaces, and lots of playful decoration thrown in for good measure:

“The five- and six-story (plus basement and central tower) L-shaped New York Training School for Teachers/New York Model School was designed in an abstracted contemporary Collegiate Gothic style and clad in limestone and mottled buff-to brown iron-spot brick, with large window bays filled with unusual folding-casement steel sash windows. Exterior articulation, divided vertically by pavilions, buttresses, and square towers, also differentiated the model school and training school portions, as well as a 'churchlike' wing housing an auditorium above which is a gymnasium.”

Notable alumni[edit]

Composers: Martin Bresnick, Cy Coleman*, Philip Corner, Robert Dick, Morton Feldman*, Charles Fox, Gerald Fried, Joel Hirschhorn, Michael Kamen*, Edward Kleban*, Meyer Kupferman, Ezra Laderman, Paul Lansky, Mitch Leigh, Frank J. Oteri, Charlemagne Palestine, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson*, Stu Phillips, Arthur Rubinstein, Mark Snow (Marty Fulterman), Paul Stanley, Douglas Townsend, Jonathan Tunick, James Yannatos.

Conductors: Leon Botstein, James Conlon, Paul Lustig Dunkel, Leslie Dunner, James Gaffigan, Eve Queler, Gerard Schwarz, David Zinman.

Classical musicians: Ik-Hwan Bae, Isidore Cohen, Stanley Drucker, Bernard Garfield, Richard Horowitz, David Krakauer, Rhoda Pinsley Levin, Steven Lubin, Braeden Silas O'Hara Murray Perahia, Joshua Rifkin, Bernard Shapiro, Marcus Thompson, Andor Toth, Roland Vamos, Allan Vogel, Arthur Weisberg, George Zukerman. David Finch

Classical singers: Patricia Brooks, Gloria Davy, Reri Grist, Catherine Malfitano, Julia Migenes, Maurice Stern, Marilyn Tyler.

Jazz musicians: Nat Adderley, Jr., Don Byron, Sterling Campbell, Lenny Castro, Bill Charlap, Ray Chew, Billy Cobham, Gil Coggins, Eddie Daniels, Kenny Drew*, Sue Evans, Sharon Freeman, Bernie Glow, Eddie Gomez, Jerry Gonzalez, Omar Hakim, Chuck Israels, Michael Leonhart, Ahmed Abdul-Malik, Marcus Miller, Charnett Moffett, Frank Owens, Jimmy Owens, Felix Pappalardi, Noel Pointer*, Shorty Rogers*, Jeremy Steig, Dave Valentin, Kenny Washington, Buddy Williams, Larry Willis, Bernard Wright.

Dancers and choreographers: Gregg Burge*, Michael Callen, Christopher Chadman*, Ruth Davidson, George De La Pena, Lola Falana, Eliot Feld, Darren Gibson, Baayork Lee, Bruce Marks, Arthur Mitchell, Tony Mordente, Scott Morrow, Eleo Pomare*, Michael Peters*, Desmond Richardson, Edward Villella. Gemze DeLappe

Directors and writers: Maurice Berger, Robert Brustein, James Burrows, Charles Busch, Martin Charnin, Graham Diamond Matthew Diamond, Herb Gardner*, Diana Gould, Peter Hyams, Erica Jong, Michael Kahn, Jonathan Lethem, Anisa Mehdi, Lynn Nottage, Lonny Price, Carl Hancock Rux, Esmeralda Santiago, Charles Van Doren, Art Wolff. Sherman Yellen

Producers: Norm Blumenthal, Steven Bochco, Sean Daniel, Robert Ellison, Robert Greenwald, Richard Landis[3] Lynne Littman, Daniel Melnick, Stuart Ostrow, Michael Pressman, Toshi Seeger,[4] David Simon, Frank von Zerneck.

Lyricists: Carole Bayer Sager, Marilyn Bergman,

Actors: Jennifer Aniston, Ellen Barkin, Richard Benjamin, Julie Bovasso*, Adrien Brody, Charles Busch, Thom Christopher, Victor Cook, Keith David, Michael DeLorenzo, Dom DeLuise*, Thom Christopher, Dagmara Dominczyk, Ron Eldard, Omar Epps, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Cliff Gorman*, Jackee Harry, Anna Maria Horsford, Paula Kelly, Hal Linden, Priscilla Lopez, Sonia Manzano, Janet Margolin*, James Moody, Keith Nobbs, Al Pacino, Sarah Paulson, Elizabeth Peña, Brock Peters*, Suzanne Pleshette*, Tony Roberts, Jennifer Salt, Helen Slater, Wesley Snipes, Susan Strasberg*, Glynn Turman, Jessica Walter, Marlon Wayans, Billy Dee Williams.

Entertainers: Northern Calloway*, Diahann Carroll, Dana Dane, Lisa Fischer, Ben Harney, Janice Ian, Jackee Harry, Eartha Kitt*, Shari Lewis*, Melissa Manchester, Liza Minnelli, Peter Nero, Laura Nyro*, Felix Pappalardi, Freddie Prinze*, Slick Rick, Paul Stanley, Elly Stone, Suzanne Vega, Ben Vereen, Eric Weissberg, Peter Yarrow.

Architects: Charles Gwathmey, Robert Siegel

Artists: James Bama, Charles Bragg, Cora Cohen, Harvey Dinnerstein, Will Elder, Al Feldstein, Audrey Flack, Mary Frank, Laurence Gartel, Milton Glaser, Grace Graupe Pillard, Al Jaffee, Wolf Kahn, Allan Kaprow, Joe Kubert, Harvey Kurtzman*, Whitfield Lovell, George Lois, Frank Mason, Reginald Pollack*, Jack Prelutsky, Susan Schwalb, Aaron Shikler, Burton Silverman, Arnold Skolnick, Edward Sorel, Fred Wilson, Jerome Witkin.

Designers: Isaac Mizrahi.

Photographers: Jim Cummins, Robert Riger

Media: Margot Adler, Andrew Barnes, Roberta Baskin, Alexis Christoforous, Max Frankel, Peter Frishauf, Michael Klare, Bess Myerson, Marcus Raskin,

Entrepreneurs: Gillian Muessig, Andre Taylor

Arts administrator: Laura Kaminsky


  1. ^ Steigman, Benjamin: Accent on Talent -- New York's High School of Music & Art. Wayne State University Press, 1984 LCCN 64-13873.
  2. ^ Landmark designation for the New York Training School for Teachers From Retrieved November 5, 2012.
  3. ^ Tree 52 class of 1962
  4. ^ Martin, Douglas (July 11, 2013). "Toshi Seeger, Wife of Folk-Singing Legend, Dies at 91". New York Times. Retrieved August 7, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°49′06″N 73°57′00″W / 40.818379°N 73.95005°W / 40.818379; -73.95005