In June 1947, the Music Academy offered financial assistance for students to attend its inaugural season. Scholarships were funded by Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, Jascha Heifetz, and Hollywood studio mogul Daryl F. Zanuck, among others.


Early faculty included music luminaries Lotte Lehmann, a co-founder along with Otto Klemperer, Roman Totenberg, Ernest Bloch, Darius Milhaud, Roy Harris, Rosalyn Tureck, Arnold Schoenberg (the Academy’s first composer in residence), and John Charles Thomas.


The Academy received a gift of the coastal property Miraflores, a Spanish revival style home built in 1915, and the surrounding property, for use as “a conservatory of music only and for no other purpose.”


Lotte Lehmann oversaw the Academy’s first opera productions and the Academy began to produce its first internationally successful alumni including Lucine Amara, Burt Bacharach, Grace Bumbry, Marilyn Horne, and Benita Valente.

Maurice Abravanel became Music Director, a post he held until 1980. Gregor Piatigorsky served on the faculty from 1950-53, and continued teaching at the Academy through 1975.


The Women’s Auxiliary formed, crucial ambassadors and fundraisers still active today.



Martial Singher became head of the Voice Department in 1962, remaining until 1981.

William Primrose joined the faculty.



Faculty member Jerome Lowenthal performed at the opening concert of the dedication of the newly dedicated Abravanel Hall in July, 1972.


Violist Donald McInnes and pianist Paul Schenly joined the faculty.



Marilyn Horne became Voice Program Director.

The Music Academy became a full-scholarship institution.


The 13 studio building Claeyssens Hall was added to campus.

The Compeer Program was launched.


Abravanel Hall was fully renovated both architecturally and acoustically, becoming Hahn Hall.




Luria Education Center opened, offering additional world-class facilities on campus. Main House renovated and dedicated to Marilyn Horne. 

Mosher Guest Artist Recital Series began, featuring international artists in the intimate space of Hahn Hall.


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New York Philharmonic Partnership initiated, bringing Academy fellows to perform in New York with the Philharmonic, and performances by the New York Philharmonic in Santa Barbara. The Philharmonic’s former Concertmaster, Glenn Dicterow, joined the faculty.


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Jeremy Denk and the Takács Quartet join the faculty. 


Hind Hall teaching studio building opens, adding eight state-of-the-art studios to the campus.



The Music Academy presented the largest classical music event in Santa Barbara's history for 7,500 attendees at La Playa Stadium featuring the New York Philharmonic.



The Music Academy becomes an All-Steinway Institution, and a Commissions & Premieres program is launched.