The Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music is one of the oldest degree-granting music schools in the United States. Its beginning stretches back to 1873, when the Northwestern Female College and the Evanston College for Ladies incorporated into the Northwestern University Women's College. This new institution established the Conservatory of Music, and in 1891 Peter Christian Lutkin was named its director. In 1892, the division was renamed the Department of Music and three years later become the School of Music, with Lutkin as its first dean.
Lutkin's tenure was a period of substantial growth. A new music building was opened adjacent to the Women's Hall, the "Beehive" practice facility was constructed, and the first honorary Doctor of Music degree was awarded in 1915 to Frederick A. Stock, conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Pi Kappa Lambda, the national music honorary society, was founded in 1918, its name derived from the Greek equivalents of Lutkin's initials.
Lutkin was succeeded in 1928 by Carl Beecher who had earned the school's first bachelor's degree. (The second was awarded to Howard Hanson who went on to become the director of the Eastman School of Music.) John W. Beattie, professor of music education and a member of the faculty since 1925, was appointed the School's third dean in 1936 and during his administration the graduate program was expanded and the 400-seat Lutkin Hall built.
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