The Fontainebleau Schools started in 1921 with the involvement of the United States in the First World War. At the instigation of General Pershing—who wished to improve the quality of US military band music—Walter Damrosch, then conductor of the New York Philharmonic, was asked to organize a school in Chaumont (where US troops were headquartered) led by composer and teacher Francis Casadesus.
The American Conservatory
After the war, Walter Damrosch and Francis Casadesus decided to continue this successful operation. With the full support of French authorities, as well as that of composer and organist Charles-Marie Widor (who became its first director), the American Conservatory—as it was called—was granted permission to open in the Louis XV wing of the Chateau of Fontainebleau. The American Conservatory (Conservatoire américain de Fontainebleau) intended to offer the best of French musical education to young, promising musicians.
Since 1921, the teaching staff has included renowned faculty such as: the trio Pasquier, Maurice Ravel, Camille Saint-Saëns, Marcel Dupré, Robert and Gaby Casadesus, Charles-Marie Widor, Henri Dutilleux, Gilbert Amy, Betsy Jolas, André Boucourechliev, Pierre Amoyal, Sviatoslav Richter, Mstislav Rostropovitch, Igor Stravinsky, Arthur Rubinstein, Tristan Murail and Leonard Bernstein. Nadia Boulanger, a young composition/harmony professor, was among this distinguished faculty from the beginning. Her energy, knowledge, and her spirit guided the school until 1979. The current director presiding over the school is Philippe Entremont.
Under such renowned guidance, the American Conservatory influenced many of the best American musicians such as: Aaron Copland, Roy Harris. Virgil Thomson, Louise Talma, Samuel Dushkin, Elliott Carter, Beveridge Webster, Kenton Coe, Kenneth Lampl and many others.
For a full history of the school, see Leonard, Kendra. The Conservatoire Americain: a History, Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press, 2007 
École des Beaux-Arts at Fontainebleau
The École des Beaux-Arts at Fontainebleau, founded in 1923, adopted the same mission as the music conservatory in the spheres of painting, architecture, and sculpture. Over time, the program has focused its development exclusively to architecture, taking advantage of its location and the rich history of architectural education in France. Inspired by setting of the Chateau and its magnificent formal gardens, its faculty has included prestigious international names in architecture, including F. Candela, A. Cuny, B. Doshi, Sheila Hicks, L. Kroll, R. Licata, R. Péchére, B. Rasica, Paolo Soleri, J. Soltan, A. Van Eyck, Y. Wohlert, and I. García. Past directors of the school are Jacques Carlu, A. Remondet, P. Devinoy, Bernard de la Tour d'Auvergne, Marion Tournon-Branly, and J.L. Nouvian.
- Official Website
- Website dedicated to the academic study of the Conservatoire
- The Conservatoire Americain at Fontainebleau