The only school of music <br />
in the UC system
The only school of music
in the UC system

At its founding in 1919, UCLA (then called the Southern Branch) demonstrated its commitment to the music and the arts. The campus started with an art gallery and a music department that focused on music education. By 1960, there were departments of art, dance, music, and theater arts, operating under what was then known as the College of Fine Arts. At that time, ethnomusicology and musicology were disciplines within the music department, which had expanded to include many areas of music, including performance, composition, and music education.

By the 1980s, academic programs in the arts begin to reorganize. Ethnomusicology and musicology were evolving into full-fledged programs and in 1988 each separated from the music department, while design and art history also formed separate departments from art. Two of the four (art history and musicology) transferred to the Humanities Division in the College of Letters and Science, while design and ethnomusicology remained in the College of Fine Arts.

In 1991, the College of Fine Arts was disestablished, and two schools were created – the School of the Arts and the School of Theater, Film and Television. In 1994, UCLA’s Professional School Restructuring Initiative resulted in the relocation of architecture to the arts, which became the School of the Arts and Architecture.

In 2014, UCLA proposed to create a school of music, designed to be part of a comprehensive trio of independent but complementary arts-centered schools by 2016: the current School of Theater, Film and Television, a redefined School of the Arts and Architecture, and a new school of music.  All three schools were to be similar in size and scope, each promoting education, scholarship, and creativity in their specific domains.

Herb Alpert
Herb Alpert

The new school of music was to retain the name established in 2007, The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, which was created with a generous $30 million gift from the Herb Alpert Foundation. The gift obligated UCLA to enhance collaborations among UCLA’s three music-related departments – Ethnomusicology, Music, and Musicology. On campus, the unit became known as the virtual school, and it was charged with facilitating innovative academic collaborations among the three departments.

At their meeting on January 21, 2016, UC Board of Regents voted to formally establish The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, and UCLA’s Chancellor named Judith L. Smith, dean and vice provost emerita of the UCLA College, as interim dean. The Regents’ approval formally established the school of music as UCLA’s 12th professional school and cleared the way to conduct a search for a founding dean and structuring of an academic unit.

Today, the school is grounded in the disciplines of its three founding departments, each devoted to its unique expertise and methodologies. Only UCLA has departments of ethnomusicology and musicology, affording powerful synergies available at no other UC campus. Musicology boasts some of the most sophisticated and cutting-edge cultural theorists and music thinkers active today. Ethnomusicology, the nation’s oldest and most distinguished department of its kind, serves as home to major scholars and highly skilled performance ensembles in African and Afro-American traditions, as well as the music of Bali, the Balkans, China, Korea, Mexico, India, Ireland, and the Middle East, among others. Music’s world-class performance faculty directs the department’s major programs in chamber, orchestral, operatic, and choral performance, complementing its renowned programs in composition, conducting, and music education.

With 50 ladder faculty, half devoted to scholarship in composition, ethnomusicology, and musicology and half focusing on music performance and music education, the new school is able to honor all musical traditions and maintain a balanced emphasis on scholarship and practice. The school also pioneers new models for integrated musical studies by embracing innovative degree programs, including a new interdisciplinary Global Jazz Studies major and a Minor in Music Industry, open to all UCLA undergraduates.

Drawing on the superb resources of UCLA’s Music Library, Ethnomusicology Archive, western and world musical instrument collections, and state-of-the-art recording/production facilities, as well as Southern California’s rich history of professional music-making and powerful creative community, the Herb Alpert School of Music provides students with the practical skills, confidence, and critical judgment they will need to succeed as music educators, scholars, practitioners, administrators, and advocates.