1855 Music instruction starts at Northwestern Female College, which is later incorporated into the Evanston College for Ladies and eventually becomes the Woman's College of Northwestern University.
1871 Cornerstone is laid on July 4 for the Evanston College for Ladies (Woman's College of Northwestern University), now the Music Administration Building.
1873 Music Department incorporates into Northwestern University, housed on the fourth floor of Woman's Hall (now the Music Administration Building). Instruction offered in organ, piano, voice, and orchestral instruments.
1880 Orchestral course expands to include band instruments.
1891 Peter Christian Lutkin becomes director of music department.
1895 School of Music becomes a distinct school within the University, offering two courses of study: two-year program for teachers and four-year program for performers.
1897 Old Music Hall (now Human Resources) is built as new home for School of Music.
1902 Students Charles John Haake and Winifred Hull are the school's first graduates.
1904 Beta chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota music sorority is formed at Northwestern.
1905 One-year music education major is instituted.
1906 A Cappella Choir is founded, one of the first in the United States.
1909 Carl Beecher, later the School of Music's second dean, is awarded first bachelor's degree in music.
Lutkin founds North Shore Music Festival.
1910 Iota chapter of Phi Mu Alpha music fraternity forms at Northwestern.
1911 First University-supported band performs at football games.
1915 Music Practice Building ("Beehive") is built and equipped with unique soundproof doors.
1916 The school's second bachelor degree in music is awarded to composer Howard Hanson, later director of the Eastman School of Music.
1917 Graduate music program is instituted.
1918 National music honor society Pi Kappa Lambda is founded at Northwestern; name comprises Greek equivalents of the initials of Peter Christian Lutkin.
1920 First two master of music degrees are awarded to Carl Beecher and Mark Ernest Wessel.
1922 School of Music adds courses in public school and community music, which lead to the degrees Graduate in School Music and Bachelor of Music Education (5-year program). Symphony Orchestra becomes "the Evanston Symphony Orchestra under the auspices of Northwestern University." Members include Northwestern University students and players from the community.
1924 Separate graduate division is established with composer and pianist Arne Oldberg as director.
1925 University hires firm of Granger, Lowe, and Bollenbacher to move Beehive to its present location.
Howard Hanson awarded honorary doctor of music degree.
1926 University band becomes part of School of Music under the direction of Glenn Cliffe Bainum.
1928 Carl Beecher is named Lutkin's successor as "administrative director," using title of dean after Lutkin's death in 1931.
1933 Northwestern hosts Choral Music Institute in conjunction with convention of National Association of Choir Directors.
1935 School inaugurates education program directed by Traugott Rohner to give children private lessons on band and orchestral instruments, using advanced School of Music students as instructors.
1936-37 A Cappella Choir performs at Orchestra Hall in Chicago and Carnegie Hall in New York.
1937 John W. Beattie is appointed third dean.
1940 Willard Hall, a women's residence (formerly the Woman's College) is remodeled and renamed the Music Administration Building, housing the music library, all offices and classrooms, and some teachers' studios.
1941 Cornerstone for Lutkin Hall is laid June 12.
1946 Opera Workshop forms.
1949 School of Music awards honorary degrees to violinist Jascha Heifetz, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, pianist Artur Rubinstein.
1949-50 Chamber music program is founded.
1951 George Howerton, a faculty member for 20 years and 1950 recipient of a doctor of philosophy degree from the school, is named fourth dean.
1952 John P. Paynter is appointed director of bands.
1952-53 Fine Arts Quartet of Chicago (violinists Leonard Sorkin and Joseph Stepansky, violist Sheppard Lehnhoff and cellist George Sopkin) are in residence at Northwestern.
1953 School establishes a doctor of music degree, offered in performance (organ, piano, violin, and voice), composition and church music.
1955 Soprano Lotte Lehman presents six lecture-demonstrations in first of her many campus visits.
1957 Boris Goldovsky, commentator for Metropolitan Opera's intermission feature "Opera News on the Air" and head of the opera department of Tanglewood's Berkshire Music Center, produces Le nozze di Figaro with the Opera Workshop. The production incorporates new techniques in acting and stage design, including use of fiberglass and aluminum in place of conventional canvas and wood.
1958 Composer Aaron Copland visits in February and delivers lectures on contemporary music, conducts a performance of his opera The Tender Land, and meets with students and faculty members.
1959 Jazz course is added to roster of course offerings.
1960s Contemporary Music Ensemble is founded to perform 20th-century music, particularly electronic and avant-garde works and pieces using new notation systems.
1961 Master of Sacred Music degree is offered jointly with Garrett Theological Seminary.
1966 The Northwestern University Saxophone Quartet, directed by Frederick Hemke, tours 11 Far Eastern countries for the U.S. State Department.
1967 Italian composer-conductor Luciano Berio visits campus.
1968 Opera Workshop and the 80-member Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra are featured in national telecasts of Verdi's Falstaff on Chicago's WTTW and other stations.
1970 Saxophone is approved as an instrumental major.
1971 Thomas Miller becomes fifth dean.
Music Library acquires the Moldenhauer collection of musical manuscripts, gathered in Europe by Hans Moldenhauer. Boris Goldovsky, director of the New England Opera Company, and Sherrill Milnes, Metropolitan Opera leading baritone and former Northwestern student, present special recital in recognition of the acquisition.
Northwestern hosts the 1971 festival of the American Liszt Society.
Electronic Music Studio is established with assistant professor of composition Stephen Syverud as director.
1972 Women are accepted into Marching Band for the first time.
Jazz Workshop enters the curriculum.
School of Music forms partnership with Ravinia Festival to offer joint master classes and courses.
1973 Northwestern hosts a national forum, cosponsored by Contemporary Music Project and the Center for the Teaching Professions, on the graduate education of the college music teacher.
Northwestern awards Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich an honorary doctorate of fine arts.
The Music Library moves from its home in MAB to 1810 Hinman Ave.
The first NUMBalums (Northwestern University Marching Band Alumni) reunion and march is held at Homecoming.
The Music Alumni Association is formed.
1974 Michael Tippett visits Northwestern for February 22 American premiere of his opera The Knot Garden, directed by Robert Gay and conducted by Bernard Rubenstein.
School awards Witold Lutoslawski an honorary doctorate of fine arts in June.
1975 John Cage spends three days in residence at Northwestern in conjunction with his gift to the Music Library of manuscripts by 277 twentieth-century composers.
The Bachelor of Arts in Music degree is established.
The 1,003-seat Pick-Staiger Concert Hall opens.
Construction for Regenstein Hall of Music begins.
1976 The Music Library moves from 1810 Hinman to present home on second floor of Deering Library.
Northwestern's first Computer Music Studio is established at Vogelback Computing Center.
1977 Carlo Maria Giulini conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra before a standing-room-only audience at Pick-Staiger.
Regenstein Hall of Music, housing the band department, practice rooms, and wind and percussion faculty studios, is dedicated in November. The School of Music vacates Music Hall.
Madame Serge Prokofiev meets with students in a discussion moderated by Arrand Parsons during her December trip to attend her husband's opera The Love for Three Oranges at Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Thomas Willis leaves the Chicago Tribune after 20 years to become Pick-Staiger's first concert hall director.
1978 Olivier Messiaen visits School of Music for series of events honoring his 70th birthday.
The Northwestern University Chamber Orchestra is selected as one of 14 college ensembles featured in a new National Public Radio series, Campus Musica.
1979 Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by Lorin Maazel, performs in Pick-Staiger.
Northwestern hosts Sixth World Saxophone Congress, coordinated by Frederick Hemke.
Northwestern Opera Workshop's 1977 television production of Hansel and Gretel, directed by Robert Gay and produced in conjunction with WTTW, is broadcast nationally by PBS.
1980 A joint Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music degree program is established with College of Arts and Sciences.
A dozen musical events at Northwestern are videotaped and broadcast on cable TV in suburban Chicago and New York.
Guitar is approved as an instrumental major.
1982 A joint Bachelor of Science in engineering and Bachelor of Music degree program is established.
1983 Symphonic Wind Ensemble tours the East Coast, with performances in New York, Washington, and Boston.
1984 Victor Yampolsky is named director of the Symphony Orchestra.
Certificate in Performance program is inaugurated.
1985 Philip Glass and his ensemble present a lecture and concert.
1986 The Ganelin Trio, the first Soviet jazz group ever to perform in the U.S., appears at Pick-Staiger as part of a 15-city summer tour.
Northwestern hosts the International Conference on Music Bibliography.
1986-87 The Music Library acquires four significant collections: the holographs of former Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Jean Martinon, composition manuscripts of Benjamin Johnston, 16 cartons of Fritz Reiner's correspondence, and 235 reels of taped Cleveland Orchestra performances.
1987 Italian composer-conductor Luciano Berio visits campus.
1988 The Jazz Ensemble tours the east coast, performing in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington.
Composer Milton Babbitt is awarded an honorary doctorate at commencement and addresses graduates at the music school convocation.
Nine Northwestern students and alumni are selected for the first-ever American-Soviet Youth Orchestra. After an August 5 debut under Zubin Mehta at the Kennedy Center, the group embarks on a six-week tour of the two countries.
1989 Five interdisciplinary undergraduate certificate programs are implemented.
Bernard J. Dobroski, an alumnus and former faculty member and assistant dean, becomes sixth dean.
1990 The School of Music launches Kids Fare, a series of Saturday morning children's concerts.
Marilyn Horne performs with the Symphony Orchestra in a concert culminating the Alumnae of Northwestern's 75th anniversary celebration.
Northwestern hosts the annual convention of the National Opera Association.
1991 Music Theatre certificate program is jointly inaugurated by the School of Music and School of Communication.
1992 Composer John Cage attends a weeklong celebration of his 80th birthday.
James Levine, artistic director and principal conductor of the Metropolitan Opera and longtime music director of the Ravinia Festival, is awarded an honorary degree at commencement.
1993 Northwestern hosts the International Viola Congress, directed by Peter Slowik.
Music technology becomes an undergraduate and graduate degree program.
1994 Pianist Ursula Oppens and singers William Warfield and Mignon Dunn join the faculty.
The School of Music establishes an exchange program with Australia's Queensland Conservatorium of Music.
1995 Philharmonia, an orchestra for non-music majors, is established.
The school's first electronic classroom, complete with a projection system for both conventional videos and computer screens, opens in MAB.
School of Music begins celebrating its centennial in the fall with concerts, a visit by composer-conductor Gunther Schuller and an NU-Day program.
Northwestern hosts the International Tuba-Euphonium Conference.
1996 Continuing its centennial celebration, the school presents a Centennial Gala in Chicago's Orchestra Hall and a Birthday Bash in Pick-Staiger.
Evelyn Dunbar Memorial Early Music Festival debuts in April.
1997 First annual Winter Chamber Music Festival.
2000 School partners with Carnegie Hall on education program "Link-up!"
2002 A five-year, double degree program in music and journalism debuts.
2003 Toni-Marie Montgomery becomes seventh dean.
Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition is established.
New music listening center and computer lab opens in Deering Library.
2004 John Adams is named inaugural winner of the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition.
Annual instrumental spring festival debuts.
International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition hosted by School of Music.
A school-produced ten-week radio series heard on WFMT-FM.
Northwestern hosts the Society for Seventeenth Century Music conference.
2005 School of Music is invited to participate in the Conservatory Project of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Four students perform on the Millennium Stage.
The Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance is established.
2006 Richard Goode is named inaugural winner of the Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance.
Senior Paul Corona, bass, is named a Grand Winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Oliver Knussen is named 2006 winner of the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition. 
2007 School of Music hosts the second annual conference of the International Society for Improvised Music.
Beginning fall 2007, all entering doctor of music students receive full tuition scholarships.
2008 The School of Music is named for retiring NU President Henry Bienen and his wife Leigh through the generosity of the Board of Trustees and friends.
The University announces it will construct a new state-of-the-art building for the School of Music on the lakefront, replacing the Music Administration Building. 
Stephen Hough is named 2008 winner of the Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance. 
Kaija Saariaho becomes the 2008 winner of the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition.
The School hosts the simulcast of the Richard Tucker Gala, live from New York City, and offers eight other web broadcasts of concerts and master classes. 
2009 The Student Advisory Board sponsors the Music Marathon, a 16-hour event with proceeds benefitting the People's Music School. 
2010 John Luther Adams is named 2010 winner of the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition.
Yefim Bronfman is named 2010 winner of the Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance.
The School mounts festivals dedicated to the music of John Corigliano and Robert Schumann. The former includes the first performance at any school of a new edition of The Ghosts of Versailles.
The Center for the Study of Education and the Musical Experience celebrates its 25th anniversary. 
2011 The School collaborates with Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art and the International Contemporary Ensemble for two concerts of music of Nemmers Prize winner John Luther Adams.
The Bienen School unveils a new strategic plan, outlining the School's vision for the coming decade. 
2012 The European Union Youth Orchestra, under the baton of Vladimir Ashkenazy, concludes their spring tour with a performance at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, featuring pianist and Jean Gimbel Lane Prize winner Yefim Bronfman.
Aaron Jay Kernis is named 2012 winner of the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition.
Murray Perahia is named 2012 winner of the Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance.
Construction begins on the new music building.
The Bienen School establishes the Institute for New Music, a hub for 20th- and 21st-century art and popular music. The Institute's inaugural event is a festival commemorating the 100th birthday of John Cage. 
The Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble is established. 
2014 Esa-Pekka Salonen is named 2014 winner of the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition.
Garrick Ohlsson is named 2014 winner of the Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance.
The Robert M. and Maya L. Tichio Vocal Master Class series is established. Renée Fleming presents the inaugural class in October.


The Bienen School’s new music building is named in honor of Patrick and Shirley Ryan.
The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center for the Musical Arts is dedicated September 24.
A series of celebration events in honor of the new music building kicks off with the Midwest premiere of John Luther Adams' Sila: The Breath of the World.
The Dover Quartet begins a three-year term as Bienen School Quartet-in-Residence.
2016 Steve Reich is named 2016 winner of the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition.
Emanuel Ax is named 2016 winner of the Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance