Much like Themes and Variations, on view now through May 17 in gallery 101, explores music’s representations in art from the fifteenth century through the twentieth, the Performing Arts, Music & Film Department of the museum has long explored musical styles from around the world and throughout history.
For most of the last century, musical programming has been a part of the museum’s mission. The museum's first director, Frederic Allen Whiting, persuaded the Board on the merits of having music in the museum early in his tenure; and in 1921 the McMyler Family endowed the Department of Musical Arts.
Programming spanned from local to international, with recitals by Fairmount Junior High Special Art Class to performances by well-known musicians like Albert Schweitzer. Mirroring the May Show was an annual program of music by Cleveland composers. Concerts did not solely focus on the classical masters but embraced contemporary music as well. In 1929 Aaron Copland gave a lecture-recital on his contemporary composers. Collaborations, such as with the Cleveland Institute of Music, have their roots in the early years of the museum and continue to this day.
The spirit continues as the Performing Arts, Music & Film Department brings performers from around the world to perform here in Cleveland, whether at the museum, at the Transformer Station, or throughout the city.