The Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts is the successor to Dr. Hoch’s Conservatory, founded in 1878 as a bequest of the Frankfurt citizen Dr. Joseph Hoch. The founding director Joachim Raff and his successors hired a number of internationally distinguished artistic personalities as faculty, among them the pianist Clara Schumann, the composer Engelbert Humperdinck, and the cellist Hugo Becker.
During the period leading up to World War I, aspiring musicians from all over the world came to Frankfurt to study. Among its better-known graduates were Edward McDowell, Percy Grainger, Ernst Toch, Otto Klemperer, Hans Rosbaud, and Paul Hindemith. After 1918, the Conservatory became known for its new, modern approach to music education, promoted by Bernhard Sekles, director from 1923 onwards. An opera school was established and courses in early musical education and musical education for adults as well as Germany’s first jazz class were initiated.
National Socialism and Destruction: 1933 to 1943
The coming to power of the Nazi regime led to the dismissal of all Jewish teachers, and the Conservatory became resigned to the inevitable decline in the quality of its musical education. It took many years for it to recover from this hemorrhaging of talent.
In 1938, a State Music Academy was founded after some degree programs split off from the Conservatory. From then on there were two separate institutions: an “academy” and a “music school.” Both of them, however, continued to use the traditional name “Dr. Hoch’s Conservatory.”
After war broke out in 1939, teaching continued more or less as normal until October 1943, when the teaching building burned down completely following heavy Allied bombing.
Reconstruction: 1947 to 1975
In fall 1947, on the initiative of the organist Helmut Walcha, the Church Music Department became the first to reopen. This was followed soon after by the School Music Department and in spring 1949, the course for private music teachers. The gradual resumption of teaching in instrumental and vocal disciplines began in the summer of 1950, after the violinist Walther Davisson became director of the academy.
In 1956, Hessian Radio moved into a new building and donated the 1930s radio building on Eschersheimer Landstrasse to the academy, now a university. Teaching still takes place there today.
The opera school, which had been established in 1954, was expanded in 1960 to include a Drama School and in 1961, a Dance School. The “Studio for New Music,” founded in the 1960s, launched a high-profile program of public performances and events for which it was able to engage personalities such as Theodor W. Adorno, György Ligeti, and Luigi Dallapiccola. A “Studio for Early Music” was founded as a counterpart to this.
The rector during this period, Philipp Mohler, appointed many prominent musicians, including Branka Musulin, Jiri Stárek, Edgar Krapp, Gerhard Mantel, Leonard Hokanson, and Helmuth Rilling, during his seventeen years in office.
… and Expansion: 1975 to 1995
Mohler’s successor, Hans-Dieter Resch, rector from 1975 to 1995, completed the expansion of the range of disciplines with the reestablishment of departments of jazz and popular music as well as musicology.
He also succeeded in appointing renowned artists such as Edith Peinemann, Hartmut Höll, Charles Spencer, Hans Zender, Bernhard Kontarsky, Raymund Havenith, Karl Berger, Isabel Mundry, and Tabea Zimmermann.
A Leading Educational Institution to This Day
The list of graduates from the university over the past four decades includes names like Werner Hoppstock, Aldo Baldin, Hans Drewanz, Rolf Riehm, Udo Samel, Michael Ponti, Maria Kliegel, Hans Jürgen von Bose, Wolfgang Schmidt, Robert Schunk, the Pekinel sisters, Ruth Ziesak, Christoph Prégardien, Gabriele Schnaut, and Christian Elsner and testifies to the revival of the university’s status as a leading educational institution of its kind.
For some years now, the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts has been undergoing a thorough process of reform designed to give it an international profile.
The Future: a University with an International Profile
Since 2002, the degree programs in performing arts have been able to benefit from the Hessian Theater Academy (HTA). Located at the university, the HTA comprises eight theater and opera houses as well as all drama degree programs offered by Hessian universities.