Industrialist and philanthropist George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak Company, established the Eastman School of Music in 1921 as the first professional school of the University of Rochester. Through the efforts of Eastman, Howard Hanson (Eastman Director from 1924-1964), and University President Rush Rhees, the Eastman School became an innovator in American music education. The trio’s original vision is still alive and vital through the Eastman School’s numerous creative endeavors– to create a music school dedicated to the highest levels of musical artistry and scholarship, to the broad education of young musicians within the context of a university, the musical enrichment and education of the greater community, and preparing Eastman students to be leaders in their chosen professions.
In 1921, George Eastman articulated his belief in the importance of music education in America:
“The life of our communities in the future needs what our schools of music and of other fine arts can give them. It is necessary for people to have an interest in life outside their occupations … I am interested in music personally, and I am led thereby to want to share my pleasure with others. It is impossible to buy an appreciation of music. Yet, without appreciation, without the presence of a large body of people who understand music and get enjoyment out of it, any attempt to develop the musical resources of any city is doomed to failure. Because in Rochester we realize this, we have undertaken a scheme for building musical capacity on a large scale from childhood.”