While there are thousands of schools in the world for studying music, many top players, composers and conductors set their sights on the most prestigious or historical schools. Some universities, such as the Conservatoire de Paris, have been around since the late 18th century. Others, such as Juilliard School, boast esteemed alumni like jazz great Miles Davis and composer Philip Glass. A school’s reputation, faculty and record of respected and successful alumni contributes to its ranking as one of the best music schools in the world.
The Juilliard School, located in New York City, is a performing arts conservatory that trains young professionals in dance, drama and music at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The school requires advanced training before applying for the music program, and entrance is highly competitive, with only about eight percent of applicants accepted. As part of the application process, you must complete an audition, which is judged by faculty from the entire music department. Famous alumni include cellist Yo-Yo Ma and film composers Bernard Hermann and Mark Snow.
Conservatoire de Paris
The Conservatoire de Paris was established in 1795 and offers undergraduate and graduate study in music, drama and dance. Foreign-language students must speak French fluently. This conservatory offers six divisions within the music department, including Classical and Contemporary Instrumental Disciplines; Early Music; Jazz and Improvised Music; Vocal Disciplines; Composition, Compositional Aesthetics and Conducting; and Musicology and Analysis. The school also offers a sound recording and acoustics degree. Notable alumni include renowned teacher Nadia Boulanger and composers Pierre Boulez and Maurice Ravel.
Mozarteum University Salzburg
The Mozarteum University in Salzburg, Austria, was founded in 1841 and recognized as a conservatory in 1914. Austria was at the center of the classical movement, and 18th- and 19th-century composers, including Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven, flourished there. The Mozarteum obtains its name from Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The school offers degrees in music education, conducting, composition, music theory, vocal and instrumental studies, musicology and musical theatre.
Royal College of Music
Conservatoire de Paris alumna Nadia Boulanger taught at the Royal College of Music in London, and notable graduates include flutist James Galway and composer Benjamin Britten. The school, founded in 1882, is a conservatory that prepares students for international careers in music performance, composition and conducting. Students receive individual lessons from players in London’s orchestras, which perform regularly on Hollywood films, including the score to John Williams’ Star Wars movies.
Seoul Institute of the Arts
The Seoul Institute of the Arts offers bachelors of fine arts degrees in the performing arts. Fundamental studies include both contemporary and traditional Korean art. The school pushes students of all disciplines to interact with each other. According to the Hollywood Reporter, president Yoo Duk-hyung compares the school to medical school, saying “Education meets actual professional production.” The school instructs about 2400 students across two campuses. International students may apply, but proficiency in the Korean language is required.
- Juilliard School: Frequently Asked Questions
- The Hollywood Reporter: The Hollywood Reporter Unveils the Top 25 Music Schools 2014
- Conservatoire de Paris: Courses of Study
- Mozarteum University Salzburg: The University Mozarteum Salzburg
- Royal College of Music: History of the RCM
- Seoul Institute of the Arts: School of Performance
Cara Batema is a musician, teacher and writer who specializes in early childhood, special needs and psychology. Since 2010, Batema has been an active writer in the fields of education, parenting, science and health. She holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and creative writing.