After Wednesday's email about Newbury Street, one of our subscribers told us about another local institution that originated there. His email to us is today's trivia — thanks, Danny!
"Ah, you missed one more major school that started on Newbury!
Joseph Schillinger was a music theorist and composer who moved to America in the 1920s or 1930s, I can't recall when. He was also one of the first to experiment with electronic music, but he is mostly known for his contributions to jazz and pop. He taught many famous musicians of the time, including Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, and George Gershwin (for example, bits of Schillinger's influence can be found in Porgy and Bess). The famous Glenn Miller ballad Moonlight Serenade is actually based on Schillinger's ideas that involve using fairly arbitrary patterns and, well, almost formulas, and bringing out musical ideas from them.
Anyway, Schillinger died in 1943 and one of his few students certified to teach his material was Lawrence Berk. In 1945, Berk started The Schillinger House at 284 Newbury Street, where he taught the Schillinger System in a more formal setting. Most of the students were working musicians, taking a few day classes during the week and gigging on nights and weekends. The Schillinger House was basically the first school in the world to primarily teach jazz, pop, rock, etc., instead of focusing on classical music. The school grew, as did Lawrence's family, and in 1954 he renamed the institution after his young son, Lee Berk. Thus, Berklee School of Music (which by 1970 had changed its name to Berklee College of Music) was founded on Newbury Street.
I myself went there from 2003-2007 and took the only class left that uses advanced Schillinger System methods and techniques. That class may not even be available anymore, but the roots at Newbury Street are still fascinating to me!
— Danny Fratina"
Right down the street from Berklee's current location, you can watch students and professionals playing 365 days a year.