Music Academy of the West, Hahn Hall
1070 Fairway Rd.,
Santa Barbara, CA
The Music Academy of the West was founded in 1947 by a group of visionary Southern California arts patrons and musicians, including the legendary soprano Lotte Lehmann and the famed conductor Otto Klemperer.
Initially serving 54 young artists, the Academy's first four summer sessions took place at Cate School in Carpinteria. To this day, Cate remains an integral part of the Music Academy, housing Fellows and the Academy's Voice Program.
Also contributing to the Academy's beginnings were Ernest Bloch, Richard Lert, Darius Milhaud, Gregor Piatigorsky, William Primrose, Arnold Schoenberg, Reginald Stewart, Lawrence Tibbett, and John Charles Thomas, who together with Roman Totenberg, Richard Bonelli, and England's Griller String Quartet, formed the faculty in the early years.
Four years after it opened, the Academy relocated to its current home, the former estate of John Percival Jefferson.
Madame Lehmann, who pioneered the concept of the masterclass, directed the Academy's Voice Program until 1962. She was joined by the celebrated conductor Maurice Abravanel (music director of the Utah Symphony, 1947-79), who served as Academy's music director for 25 years. Together they launched the tradition of presenting fully staged operas during each summer's Festival (a tradition that was revived in 1997 with the production of Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims).
Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne was appointed Voice Program director designate in 1995, and assumed the Voice Program directorship two years later.
The Academy has been a full-fellowship institution since 1998.