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History of Music on Campus


Music has been part of the University of Calgary’s identity since the very beginning: a Department of Fine Arts was created at the Calgary branch of The University of Alberta in 1959, with Frank Churchley as chairman [1959-1964]. Founding members of the music area included A. Malcolm Brown (choral music and music education), Stanley G. Finn (clarinet and music theory), and Quenten Doolittle (strings and conducting) [1960-88].

When the University of Calgary was officially established in the mid-1960s, the Bachelor of Music degree was offered along with Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, and Bachelor of Science degrees.  The size of the music program grew as well, with a number of faculty members joining the program around this time, including Talmon Hertz, cello [1962-1988]; Zoltan Roman, musicology [1966-1991]; John W. Searchfield, organ and music theory [1967-1994]; Boris Roubakine, piano [1967-1974]; Lise Elson, violin [1967-1982], Luigi Zananelli, composition [1968-73]; Walter Buehning, music education [1968-1993]; Gerhard Wuench, theory and composition [1969-1973]; Gloria Saarinen, piano [1969-1975].

Graduate programs at the Master’s level were introduced in 1978, with MMus degrees in Composition, Music Education, and Performance and an MA in Musicology.  Doctoral programs in Composition, Music Education and Musicology were put in place in the mid 1990s.   Today our programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level continue to grow and flourish, attracting a large number of students from across Canada and beyond. 

Music at the University of Calgary is shaped by the conviction that the proper study of music is rooted in two core values: creativity and performance. This applies whether our students aspire to be performers, scholars, composers, teachers or all of the above and is a conviction that we share with our colleagues in the School of Creative and Performing Arts.


The University has contributed enormously to community music, maintaining strong relationships over decades with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Calgary Opera, the Conservatory at Mount Royal University, the Banff Centre, and both the public and separate school boards of Calgary. 

While concert presentations have always been important to the University, since the mid 1980s we have hosted some of Calgary’s finest subscription offerings in the concert music area.  The University’s own concerts—celebrations of concert repertoire, chamber music, choral and band music, music theatre and operetta—have been well subscribed for decades.  Over the last decade, the University has also become a go-to site for new music, world music and organ music. 

Fun Facts

Did you know that the Rozsa Centre is home to the Ronald B. Bond organ? Built in 2001, this instrument is one of only four in North America designed by Jurgen Ahrend, and is the only instrument of its kind in Canada.

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