Over 125 Years of Excellence
The Royal Conservatory was founded in 1886 as The Toronto Conservatory of Music. Its founder, Edward Fisher, was a young organist born in the United States. With the support of leading figures in Toronto society, The Conservatory officially opened in September 1887, located on two floors above a music store at the corner of Dundas Street and Yonge Street.
It was the first institution of its kind in Canada: a school dedicated to the training of singers and musicians, and also to instilling a love of music in young children.
The Conservatory grew at a rapid pace and in 1897 it purchased a new property at College Street and University Avenue to accommodate its expansion.
As The Conservatory's reputation for its professional training, national examination system, and faculty of distinguished musicians continued to grow, it became one of the dominant musical institutions in Canada.
Some of Canada's most famous musicians studied at The Royal Conservatory. Glenn Gould studied theory, organ, and piano, graduating at age 12 in 1946 with an ARCT diploma, with the highest honours. Teresa Stratas, Lois Marshall, and Jon Vickers were also Conservatory students.
In 1947, King George VI awarded The Conservatory its Royal Charter, in recognition of its status of one of the Commonwealth's greatest music schools. The Toronto Conservatory of Music became The Royal Conservatory of Music.
In 1962, the University of Toronto sold The Conservatory's College Street property to Ontario Hydro. The Conservatory relocated to 273 Bloor Street West in Toronto, the original site of McMaster University.
The concert and recital halls of the College Street site were only partially replaced in the move. The library, residence, and all three pipe organs were lost.
In 1991, The Royal Conservatory gained its independence from the University of Toronto and took full control of its building and its diverse programs. Dr. Peter Simon was appointed President of The Conservatory.
The Conservatory has continued to grow, expanding and strengthening its core programs: The Royal Conservatory School, The Glenn Gould School, the Young Artists Performance Academy, Learning Through the Arts®, The Frederick Harris Music Co., Limited, and Examinations.
Although The Royal Conservatory has seen many changes since it was founded, its mission remains the same: to develop human potential through music and the arts.
The Royal Conservatory has entered one of the most exciting periods in its history after undertaking a major capital campaign to restore its heritage building and build a new performance and learning centre.
The TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning features new academic and performance spaces: Koerner Hall, an acoustically excellent 1,135-seat concert hall fully wired for broadcast and recording, the finest practice and teaching studios, classrooms, a new-media centre, library, and rehearsal hall. The academic areas of the TELUS Centre opened in January 2008, and the concert hall opened in 2009.
For more detailed information on the early history of The Royal Conservatory, please visit the Canadian Encyclopedia entry.