Skip to main content

Jacobs At 100: Celebrating A Century Of Beautiful Music

Photograph of a pipe organ built into the wall on a stage in an intimate theater setting.
The Maidee H. and Jackson A. Seward Organ, located in Auer Hall on the second floor of the Simon Music Center. Photo: James Brosher, Indiana University

When Barzille Winfred Merrill accepted the position as head of the IU Department of Music in 1919, he hoped to create a music school that would serve as both a “solace for the soul” and a sophisticated conservatory—all in rural Indiana.

As the IU Jacobs School of Music celebrates its centennial in 2021, let’s reflect on some of the accomplishments that helped make Merrill’s vision a reality.

1921: Department of Music becomes School of Music

1942: Metropolitan Opera Company visits IU for the first time, performs Aida

1950: The Singing Hoosiers, IU’s Grammy-nominated choral ensemble, forms

1968: David N. Baker founds the Jazz Studies Department

1975: Change survey ranks IU’s School of Music first in the nation

1982: Leonard Bernstein spends six weeks at the school working on his final opera, A Quiet Place

1994: U.S. News & World Report ranks IU’s Master of Music program first in the nation (alongside Eastman and Juilliard)

2003: Steinway company says IU Bloomington has the single largest gathering of Steinway pianos in the world

2006: School of Music takes on its new identity as the IU Jacobs School of Music, in recognition of a $40.6 million gift received in honor of Barbara B. and David H. Jacobs

2018: Jacobs School of Music celebrates 70 years of Opera and Ballet Theater

You can join the centennial celebration by naming a seat in the newly renovated Musical Arts Center, or by contributing to the IU Jacobs School of Music Dean’s Fund, which provides unrestricted support for students, faculty, and programmatic initiatives.

Give Now

To learn more, contact Daniel Morris, senior director of development, at 812-855-1850 or

This article was originally published in the 2021 issue of Imagine magazine.

Written By

Ryan Millbern

Related stories

Father Kappa

In 1916, Elder Watson Diggs, founder of Kappa Alpha Psi, became the first Black graduate of the IU School of Education.

Stephen Hofer standing in front of the Indiana Memorial Union

Alum Stephen Hofer: More than an ‘Aviation Attorney to the Stars’

Game show contestant. Genealogical curator of Dunn Cemetery. Aviation attorney. Stephen Hofer, BA'76, walks readers through his life.

Sketches of Antonia Wilson Bluher, Karen Schuster Webb, and Brian T. Shockney

IU Presents Its Highest Honor for Alumni

Antonia Wilson Bluher, Karen Schuster Webb, and Brian T. Shockney were named the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Service Award recipients.

A gift wrapped in IU-themed wrapping paper

Holiday Gift Guide for the IU Alum in Your Life

Gift ideas sourced from IU alum-owned businesses and the IU Alumni Association’s trusted corporate partners.