Part V. Mannes’ 100th Year of Existence, and What Has Made It a Special Place
There is a very special occasion coming up for Mannes. Mannes is celebrating 100 years, a centennial, as a music institution. What does it mean to the Mannes community that this school has been around for 100 years, and what has made Mannes special for the last 100 years?
The Mannes community is very proud of this, as it should be. They want to see us celebrate us in appropriate ways.
Mannes is a miracle.
Mannes has thrived and survived without a big endowment, without availing itself to the scale of other conservatories, in terms of growth,
Mannes went against the grain.
Mannes is one of the last places for students to sing solfege in seven clefs.
Now, that is probably going to change.
Mannes was able to honor tradition and not go out of business – while other schools felt that some tradition had to be forgone, Mannes was able to maintain its identity in deep Schenkerian work.
Mannes was created in some ways for the most altruistic and idealistic ways of thinking.
David Mannes didn’t want Mannes to be a professional training school. He only wanted it to exist for the love of music. It was a community school initially, but eventually turned into a professional training program when his son made it big.
His son, who created kodachrome (the first color film for pictures and cinematography), helped fund Mannes for many years off the proceeds of his invention, providing the foundation to make Mannes a professional training school.
So you had a school trying to adhere to the idea of small, of intimate, of deep, and to continue to be there for the love of music.
These things often run in conflict with cold hard business issues.
So in some ways Mannes is an outlier. The fact that it survived and thrived speaks well to the resiliency of classical music and tradition.
At the same time, I think everyone in the Mannes community needs to be more mindful of the actual changes that took place.
What we are proposing here today, while they may be more changes at once than before, is indicative of our true nature – Mannes has always been changing.
In fact, this is the fourth move. It went from being a community music school to becoming a professional training school.
There is something to be said about looking at the resilience of the school. I think more about David Mannes, more than anyone else, about his love for music, and how he wanted to instill that.
Mannes always in a way was a place that was smaller than Juilliard, smaller than the Manhattan School of Music, it was always a little engine that could.
With this new plan, we want to connect Mannes to the New School and enable it do things that will leapfrog beyond the smaller, intimate ideal of the conservatory without losing it.
I’m not as worried about the size issue, I’m worried about these kind of questions:
“Do you believe in people?
“Are you about people?
“Do you care about the students intensely?”
I don’t think the scale determines that.
I think that’s about how you feel about people, about having heart, about your commitment to honor the fact that students are investing their lives and money into you.
In the last part of our interview on the next page, Richard and I discuss what he hopes his legacy at Mannes will be.