The High School of Music & Art
|The High School of Music & Art|
|443-465 West 135th Street
New York, New York
|Type||Public Magnet High school|
|Founder||Fiorello H. LaGuardia|
|Principal||Richard A. Klein (1969–1987)|
|Color(s)||purple & light blue|
|Merged with||High School of Performing Arts|
|To form||Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & the Arts|
The High School of Music & Art, informally known as "Music & Art", was a public 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 & the Arts.
Colloquially known as "The Castle on the Hill," the building that once housed 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.
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. As the mayor of New York City he wanted to establish a public school in which students could hone their talents in music, art and the performing arts. Music & Art was made up of three departments: Art, Instrumental Music, and Vocal Music. It was a "magnet" school, meant to draw talented students from all boroughs. In 1948, a sister school — the High School of Performing Arts — was created in an effort to harness students’ talents in dance.
Future Mad magazine contributors Al Jaffee, Will Elder, Harvey Kurtzman, John Severin, and Al Feldstein all attended Music & Art together in the 1930s. Comic book artists Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, did as well, though they were slightly younger than Jaffee and the rest.
R. O. Blechman, Milton Glaser, Ed Sorel, and Reynold Ruffins — three of the four co-founders of the renowned design firm Push Pin Studios — were M&A students in the 1940s. Other M&A graduates from the 1940s include Bess Myerson, Allan Kaprow, and Hal Linden.
Notable M&A graduates from the 1960s include Peter Hyams, Steven Bochco, Robbie Conal, Diane Noomin, Lesley Ann Warren, and Margot Adler; while notable graduates from the 1970s include musicians Paul Stanley and Kenny Washington.
Merger with Performing Arts
As per Mayor LaGuardia's vision, Music & Art and Performing Arts merged on paper in 1961 and were to be combined in one building. However, this took many years and it was not until 1984 that the sister schools were merged into a new school, the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, at a new building designed by Eduardo Catalano in the Lincoln Square area of Manhattan. The Board of Education posthumously honored Mayor LaGuardia by naming the new building after him.
The 1924 gothic revival 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 students and graduates often referred to the building as "The Castle on the hill," 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 gymnasium.
The building won status as a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1997. 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 [building] 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.
- Note: anyone who graduated after 1984 is considered a graduate of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, not Music & Art
- Margot Adler (1964), radio journalist
- Ross Andru (c. 1940), comic book artist
- Stanley Aronowitz, academic and activist
- R. O. Blechman (c. 1948), animator, illustrator, children's-book author, and cartoonist
- Steven Bochco (1961), TV producer & writer
- James Burrows (1958), director
- Diahann Carroll (1953), singer
- Robbie Conal (1961), artist
- Delores Chamblin (1974), designer
- Jerome Charyn (1955), novelist
- Gloria Davy (1951), operatic soprano
- Will Elder (1940), cartoonist
- Mike Esposito (c. 1940), comic book artist
- Al Feldstein, cartoonist
- Bela Fleck (1976) banjo player
- Milton Glaser (1947), designer
- Charles Gwathmey (1956), architect
- Peter Hyams (1960), director
- Al Jaffee (1940), cartoonist
- Erica Jong (1959), author
- Michael Kamen(1965), composer
- Allan Kaprow (1945), painter and performance artist
- Amy A. Kass, educator and anthologist
- James Howard Kunstler (1966), author, social critic
- Harvey Kurtzman (1941), cartoonist
- Jonathan Lethem (1982), author
- Shari Lewis (nee Sonia Phyllis Hurwitz) (c. 1951) actress, puppeteer
- Hal Linden (1948), actor
- Ray Marcano, medical reporter and music critic
- Bess Myerson (1941), actress and politician
- Diane Noomin (c. 1964), cartoonist
- Lynn Nottage (1982), playwright
- Laura Nyro (nee Nigro), (1965), singer/songwriter
- Slick Rick (1983), hip-hop musician
- Tony Roberts (1957), actor
- Reynold Ruffins (1948), designer
- Bernard Safran (1939), illustrator, artist
- Gerard Schwartz (1965), conductor
- John Severin (1940), cartoonist 
- Robert Siegel (1957), architect
- Joel Smirnoff (l967) violinist
- Ed Sorel (c. 1947), illustrator and cartoonist
- Susan Stamberg (1955), radio journalist
- Paul Stanley (1970), musician
- Steve Stiles (c. 1960), cartoonist
- Susan Strasberg (1956), actress
- Lesley Ann Warren (1963), actress
- Kenny Washington (1976), jazz musician
- Billy Dee Williams (1955), actor
- Peter Yarrow (1955), singer/songwriter
- Billy Cobham (1962), Jazz drummer
- Steigman, Benjamin: Accent on Talent -- New York's High School of Music & Art. Wayne State University Press, 1984 LCCN 64-13873.
- Mark Evanier, Mad Art, Watson-Guptill Publications, 2002, ISBN 0-8230-3080-6.
- Grimes, William. "Art; The Gripes of Wrath: 25 Years of Edward Sorel". The New York Times. (May 16, 1993).
- "LaGuardia Arts Alumni," LaGuardia High School official website. Accessed Dec. 26, 2014.
- "Obituary: Gloria Davy". Opera News. December 3, 2012.
- Noomin profile, UF Conference on Comics & Graphic Novels 2003: Underground(s)]. University of Florida. Retrieved on 2008-01-30.
- "Nicki Minaj Forbidden From Meeting Students at Her Old High School: "I Guess I'm Not Good Enough", E! Online, September 14, 2014.
- Reed Tucker, "Fame’s Honor Roll", New York Post, September 20, 2009.
- "LaGuardia Arts: The .Mission". LaGuardia High School website. Retrieved 18 December 2010.
- Landmark designation for the New York Training School for Teachers From www.nyc.gov. Retrieved November 5, 2012.
- Esposito, Mike, in Stroud, Bryan D. (2008). "Mike Esposito interview (part 1)". The Silver Age Sage. Archived from the original on June 10, 2011. Retrieved February 13, 2009.
I went to the High School of Music & Art ... in HarlemAdditional WebCitation archive, June 16, 2012.
- Biography at Stanley Aronowitz official website. Accessed March 16, 2016.
- Sorel, Edward. "1999 Hall of Fame: R.O Blechman, Advertising/Illustration". The Art Directors Club. Archived from the original on December 8, 2010. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
- BERNSTEIN, FRED A. "Charles Gwathmey, Architect Loyal to Aesthetics of High Modernism, Dies at 71," New York Times (AUG. 4, 2009).
- "Obituary: Amy A. Kass". Chicago Tribune. August 21, 2015.
- Hannah, Jim (20 November 2014). "A Bronx tale". Wright State University. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
- KILIAN, MICHAEL. "Playwright tells intimate tales: Lynn Nottage wrote 2 works simultaneously," Chicago Tribune (June 17, 2004).
- Website of the Alumni & Friends of LaGuardia High School of Music & the Arts
- 1977 New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission Report on the old High School of Music & Art Building that now houses the A. Phillip Randolph Campus High School (pdf-format file).
- Notable alumni