1837: On February 21, a group of people linked to the 14 Battalion of Barcelona’s National Militia gathered in the rooms of Commander Manuel Gibert i Sans seeking funds for Battalion uniforms. They suggested to “give a public dance at the house of La Lonja the way he has conceded to other Battalions” to raise money.
On April 24th, the first Dramatic Amateur Society Project was presented. Its main purpose was “that young enthusiasts exercise the declamatory art, devoting themselves to those amusements of an enlightened society. The Society will be divided into three sectors: the first will be the Board of Directors, the second one –directly linked to the first one– will be composed of enthusiasts who wish to dedicate themselves to declamation, and the third one will contribute to support this very Society… “
Nine months after the first meeting, on November 14, the first Regulation of the Philharmonic and Dramatic Lyceum of Montesión was approved, considering it a society of friends gathered to contribute “with their brilliance or fortunes” to the development of dramatic and musical art and whose purpose is the creation of “academies of declamation and singing”.
1838: On April 27, the solemn ceremony for the inauguration of the Liceu classes was celebrated in the Saló de Cent of Barcelona’s City Council, which “was adorned with rich hangings”. This date coincided with the anniversary of H.M. Isabel II, and by Royal Order, on June 29, the Queen regent Maria Cristina, allowed to add the name of her daughter to the Liceu, which became the Philharmonic and Dramatic Lyceum of H.M. Queen Isabel II. A few months later, on August 10, the president of the Liceu, Manuel Gibert, received the news that “His Majesty, the Queen Governor, has deigned to grant the former convent of Montesión to the Philharmonic Lyceum. Being understood that this assignment is limited while the classes of public and free education remain”.
1844: Soon, the number of students grew, and the General Board of the Liceu began the procedures to get a wider building. By Royal Order of April 2, 1844, the Liceu obtained the exchange of the Montesión convent with the former Trinitarians convent located in La Rambla of Barcelona, “temporarily understanding this grace, and not at all domain, and lasting only while the public utility objectives –present in the primitive concession to the referred Lyceum– last.” Once the place was secured, it was necessary to start building. The construction of the new Liceu had to do “all the proper works so in that place there will be not only rooms for all the classes together, and the rest of the areas of the building, but also a theater”. The Construction Society and the Auxiliary Construction Society were constituted to finance the works, and the Board gave powers to the partner Joaquim Gispert i d’Anglí to start the construction works.
1845: On April 11, 1845, the first stone of the new building was laid“At half-past eleven in the morning, the first stone of the new Lyceum building was laid in the North part or wall of San Pablo street in front of the no. 100 house, property of Mr. Manuel de Larretea, a public notary of the Provincial Court of this Region”. The deadline for the works was two years and included rooms for the classes, a space for the Board and its offices and a theater with a minimum capacity of 3,500 spectators. It also specified the need to acquire sites and annexed houses that would be owned by the Liceu. The contract also agreed that 400,000 pesetas, from the incomes of the future theater, would be destined to its maintenance and 180,000 pesetas, to the classes.
1846: In a short time, the partner Mr. Joaquín de Gispert stated in his memorandum that the initial objectives of the Liceu Society had been fulfilled: “Therefore, I believe the objects proposed by this society are finished. On the one hand, the old shares have been struck down, or rather the debt of the Lyceum. On the other hand, it will have a space for classes and offices, it will pay the music professors, and it will also have an annual rent for the other classes and services. Finally, the Lyceum owns the property of the Theater, so it will get a name that will not easily disappear.”
1847: Two years after the laying of the first stone, on April 4, 1847, the Gran Teatre del Liceu was inaugurated. On that occasion, the play Fernando de Antequera was performed. As well as La Rondeña by Joan Camprubí, a symphony by Josep Melcior Gomis, and Il Regio Imene, a composition written specifically for the occasion by the Director of the Philharmonic Lyceum, Marià Obiols, who was simultaneously the Music Director of the Theater. The construction costed 1,827,760 pesetas. The building was financed with 1,040,000 pesetas from the Construction Company; 375,000 pesetas from the auxiliary company; 10,000 pesetas from the sales of the warehouse, and 402,760 pesetas that Mr. Gispert put from his own pocket to cover the debt.
In exchange for their contributions, the Construction Company obtained theater boxes and lunettes. The Auxiliary Construction Company got the unused areas –neither for classes nor the Theater– where the Cercle del Liceu was going to be born.
1854: The economic difficulties and the differences of objectives between the Liceu Society and the Shareholders Society, make them start to work separately. On this year, the Owners Society, in charge of running the theater, was born. The Liceu Society continued to manage the classes, and the Shareholders Society collaborated in its maintenance with a contribution of 150,000 pesetas in gold and silver coins.
1873: The Liceu received very high recognition at the Austrian Universal Exposition in Vienna, which awarded it the gold medal. The motto of the Exposition was Culture and Education, and 35 countries participated on it.
1885: The failure of the Theater to help the free training of the musical instruments’ students and the lack of punctuality in the agreed payments, pushed the Liceu Conservatory to request a subsidy to the Barcelona mayor. The Conservatory presented him the following questions: “What if, due to the theatrical businesses, the Society has lost somehow its free professors? And, on the other hand, what if, due to the extra number of students, the needs have been increased resulting in a bigger demand for more classes and more teachers? If the way to get resources to get a non-limited benefit from Training is unknown, to who we should go other than to City Hall, who is the born protective of the beneficial training?”
The local administration granted a subsidy that represented approximately 10% of the budget. Despite this, the Liceu Conservatory was, for the first time, forced to request the payment for enrollment of 3 pesetas –per student and course– to get funds. It was a significantly lower amount compared to those stipulated by the Conservatory of Madrid and other European centers funded by State ownership. The institution continued to offer scholarships and 10% of free enrollments. Among these scholarship holders was the Singing student, and later the lyric legend, Francesc Viñas.
That same year the new specializations of Composition, Counterpoint and Fugue were created, and prestigious European teachers, such as the German composer Engelbert Humperdink were contracted.
From this moment the use of the name “Liceu Conservatory” began to be used generically.
1886: The Liceu Conservatory was the birthplace of musical training in Catalonia, covering for many years the need for a music school in Barcelona, as the City Hall did not start to do it until 1886 with the opening of the Municipal Music School. Its first director was Josep Rodoreda, who had been a teacher at the Liceu Conservatory of Music Theory and Piano from 1875 to 1883 when he asked for the resignation to lead the new Municipal School.
1888: For the second time, the Liceu Conservatory participated at the International Exposition, held in Barcelona that year. The participation achieved great success thanks to the teachers of the Conservatory, Pedro Tintorer and Francisco de Paula Sánchez y Gavagnach, who won the gold medal for their methods and textbooks. “The faculty of this Training Center has achieved a high-level distinction in the great international competition giving a lot of glory to the City of Barcelona. Two of his meritorious teachers have just been awarded a gold medal. One granted to Mr. Pedro Tintorero for his methods of piano training and the services rendered to the art in his long artistic career. And another one to Mr. Francisco de Paula Sánchez y Gavagnach. His work was approved as a play for the students of this Conservatory in the February 20 session of the current year. These two teachers have also been appointed to form a classifying jury for the Biographical Dictionary of 19th century remarkable Catalans.”
1892: The Liceu Conservatory established free lessons. “The President presented the Music Commission dated July 1, 1892, in which he proposed the way and manner to stablish free education in the Conservatory.” The conditions for these students to carry out their studies, exams and payments were set in a similar way than the rest of the official students of the Liceu Conservatory.
1894: The Liceu participated at the Antwerp World’s Fair expanding its recognition and prestige, which led the interest of other international schools in their studies. “The merit and perfection of our teachings have been recognized at the Antwerp World’s Fair, in which the Jury has awarded a Golden Medal to our Conservatory. This honor we have earned is giving its results since the Music Department has received communications asking for information about our organization and instructions to establish new Music Schools in several countries.”
1913: Under the direction of the great playwright Adrià Gual –lecturer at the Liceu Conservatory– and in collaboration with the Provincial Council of Barcelona, the Catalan School of Dramatic Arts was created at the Liceu Conservatory. “The Hon. Provincial Council of Barcelona […] believing it is time to take the first step in favor of Arts –as transcendental and desirous as possible– taking advantage of the existing organizations and according to the Philharmonic and Dramatic Lyceum of Barcelona of H.M. Isabel II, has resolved to create and subsidize the first Catalan School of Dramatic Arts. Adrià Gual.”
1915: Two years later, the Catalan School of Dramatic Arts depended exclusively on the Provincial Government, and it was the origin of today’s Theater Institute of Barcelona.
1928: Continuing with its international vocation and being attentive to the activities carried out at the European reference centers, the studies of Musicology were created for the first time in Spain, under the direction of Father Higini Anglés, a former student of the Liceu Conservatory.
1929: The following year, the Provincial Government got a proposal regarding “the central idea of every great projected extension is the opening of a “Provincial University of Music”, following European models.
The participation of the Liceu, at the International Exposition held at the Expositions’ Palace in Barcelona, led to the acquisition of its third gold medal. “The work of the teachers who have occupied the Directorate of the Conservatory, the quality and reputation of most of the teachers during a century, and the relief and notoriety –obtained by many students in the field of musical art– has sought out a consideration and a worthy prestige to the Lyceum Conservatory, deserving precious distinctions in international competitions. At the Universal Expositions of Vienna (1873), Antwerp (1894) and Barcelona (1929), the Lyceum Conservatory obtained the Golden Medal, an award for its meritorious work regarding musical teaching. “
1932: The Liceu Conservatory grew unstoppable and, in 1932, the first subsidiaries were created stablishing the “basis through which the Liceu Conservatory of Barcelona will authorize the conservatories and the music schools established or being established in towns and important towns of Catalonia, so they can be called “Subsidiaries of the Liceu Conservatory of Barcelona”. The elementary conservatories of Tarragona, Lleida and Girona were subsidiaries of the Liceu. As well as the schools of cities with a great musical tradition, such as Sabadell, Olot, Badalona or Reus, among others.
1936: During the Second Republic, by decree of July 27, 1936, signed by the Minister of Culture Ventura and Gasol, and by President Lluís Companys, the Liceu Conservatory was nationalized and became the specialized center of higher education in music, dependent on the Generalitat de Catalunya. “The eagerness for renewal felt by Catalan educational institutions is also expressed in the old Liceu Conservatory, an institution so traditional in our city that will be celebrating its centenary within a few months.” During this period, the teachers of the Liceu Conservatory joined the civil service. With the arrival of the Second Republic, and according to the new political framework, the name of the entity became the Liceu Conservatory. At this same time, the Liceu Conservatory presided over the arts education commission created by the Generalitat to coordinate all the artistic centers of music, theater and painting.
1938: On July 1 it was proposed to create the specialization of Orchestra Conducting by Lamote de Grignon. Therefore, we can say that this discipline began its history at the Liceu Conservatory by the hand of one of the most significant directors born in Catalonia.
1939: After the Civil War, the new Board of Directors of the Liceu Conservatory reconstituted the academic faculty, lessened by the exile or the disqualification of some teachers. “The Liceu Conservatory was able to open its classes again at the beginning of March, and its life was gradually resumed.” The Board implemented the objective of expanding the entity and increasing the number of students and subsidiary schools.
1940: The direction of the Theater Institute and the Liceu Conservatory decided to coordinate their dramatic arts lessons. The Liceu Conservatory kept elementary courses, and their students went directly to study higher education at the Theater Institute.
1944: The decree of January 26 created the Higher Conservatory of Music and Declamation of Barcelona “To teach Music, through the Municipal School of Music and the Liceu Conservatory, and to teach Declamation and Dance, through the Theater Institute of the Honorable Provincial Government of Barcelona.”
1945: With the creation of the Higher Conservatory of Music and Declamation of Barcelona by the State, the center started to receive this denomination, but the insistence of the members of the Board caused that, in 1945, the use of “Liceu Conservatory” got authorized as a second name. “The old denomination «Higher Conservatory of Music and Declamation of Barcelona» must be put ahead, leaving the current one “Liceu Conservatory” as a sub-title.”
1952: After a long debate, the Liceu Conservatory brand was maintained, but adding Higher and of Music, to distinguish it from other levels of education. “After a broad change of impressions regarding the official denomination of the Conservatory, the ‘Liceu Higher Conservatory of Music’ one is approved as definitive, retaining precisely the traditional and characteristic name of “Liceu Conservatory.”
By the decree of March 14, 1952, the official studies of music and declamation were separated.
An extension of the quotes and information regarding the history of the Liceu Conservatory can be consulted in the publication:
SERRAT i MARTÍN, Maria. Orígen del Conservatori Liceu: 1837-1967. Collection: Música Viva, Number 5. Salamanca: University of Salamanca, 2018. ISBN: 978-84-9012-808-4.
1983: The Decree 307/1983 of the Department of Education of the Generalitat splits the Conservatory for Higher Education of Barcelona in two, so the Municipal Conservatory and the Liceu Conservatory become independent higher education entities for all purposes.
1990: The LOGSE, as a new educational system, enters into force.
1992: The project of subsidiary schools is expanded with the creation of the Network of Linked Schools to the Liceu Conservatory, spread throughout Catalonia and Andorra.
1997: The introduction of the LOGSE Elementary and Middle Degrees begins, although the Conservatory continues teaching the 1966 Curriculum studies.
1999: The incorporation of Maria Serrat i Martín means the inclusion of a new figure in the management field at the Liceu Conservatory: the General Direction. The establishment of a pedagogical and business project means the professionalization of the institutional management. It also evidences the transformative goodwill of the Liceu Conservatory to adapt itself to the changes and events of the 21st century.
2002: The Liceu Conservatory celebrates its 165th anniversary with 5 large-scale concerts of all musical styles on the main stages of the city: a Lyric Gala at the Gran Teatre del Liceu, a Coronation Mass at the Palau de la Música Catalana, the Carmina Burana by Carl Orff at the Auditorium, the Night Musical with Kurt Weill at the Theatre Institute, a Flamenco Music Concert at the Winterthur Auditorium. Likewise, it is organized an exhibition at the National Museum of History of Catalonia gathering a sample of these 165 years of history. The Music Center for Higher Education also celebrates its 58th anniversary (1944 – 2002).
The center expands its studies by integrating jazz, modern music and flamenco courses, and on October 1 it begins the introduction of the LOGSE to the Higher Degree of Music, which equates to the Bachelor’s Degree.
2007: The Liceu Conservatory celebrates its 170th anniversary. On Saturday, April 14th, at 5 p.m., the first stone of the new building of the Liceu Conservatory is laid in the presence of the city mayor, Jordi Hereu i Boher, José Montilla, and Montserrat Caballé. On Sunday, April 15, at 11:30 in the morning, the Liceu Conservatory offers a concert at the Gran Teatre del Liceu.
2008: The academic year begins at the New Center for Higher Education with facilities and services that must face the educational challenge of the 21st century. The project of subsidiary schools –started in 1932– and Linked Schools during the last 15 years gets extended with the creation of the Network of Music Schools of the Liceu Conservatory. It includes our schools, the management of municipal schools and the private schools linked to our educational project, throughout the Catalan territory and Andorra.
2009: On 3 November, Her Majesty Queen Sofía inaugurates the new Liceu Conservatory. The Liceu Conservatory Auditorium, the Orchestra Hall and the Chamber Hall are set up.
2010: Implementation of the Artistic Higher Education in the European Higher Education Area (Bologna Process). In the academic year 2010/2011 begins the first Higher Education in Music degree in the specializations of Performance, Composition, Direction and Pedagogy
2012: The Liceu Conservatory, in commemoration of its 175 years of history, receives several awards and distinctions from many institutions wanting to recognize the path of this institution: the Cross of Sant Jordi by the Generalitat de Catalunya, the Gold Medal for Cultural Merit by the Barcelona City Council, the Commemorative plaque for businesses celebrating its 175th anniversary by the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, and the European Excellence Award by the European Development Foundation. Several concerts celebrating the 175th anniversary are organized: on February 21, the Concert tribute to Xavier Montsalvatge and Eduard Toldrà; on May 9, the 80 years Concert of Liceu Music Schools, to celebrate the creation of the first subsidiary schools, which were the origin of the current Network of Music Schools of the Liceu Conservatory; on May 24, the jazz seasons celebrate its 35th anniversary; on June 21, the opera La Cambiale di Matrimonio; and the following year the cycle ends, on February 21, 2013, with the 175th anniversary Closing Concert: a singing and piano recital.
2013: The Gran Teatre del Liceu Foundation awards the Gold Medal to the “Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu”. Thus, the Theater recognizes the educational activity of the Conservatory and the close professional relationship between both entities.
2015: The Liceu Conservatory begins, in the 2015/2016 academic year, the official master’s degree program in Artistic Higher Education according to the new European Higher Education Area (EHEA).
2017: The Conservatory celebrates its 180 years and agrees with the University of Salamanca to publish the book Orígen del Conservatori Liceu (1837-1967) by Maria Serrat i Martín, written the year in which, precisely, both institutions turn 800 and 180 years old respectively. This study wants to discover many unpublished aspects of the history of the Center, which should allow the beginning of new searches with differentiated visions.
2018: On May 2, the Liceu Conservatory commemorates the 180 years of the inauguration of its classes in a solemn ceremony at the Saló de Cent in the City Council of Barcelona. This is, precisely, the same space where the classes were inaugurated on April 27, 1838.
On October 8 the Liceu Conservatori expresses its sorrow for the loss of the former student Montserrat Caballé, who studied with Professor Eugenia Kemeny and who was the first person ever awarded with the center’s Gold Medal (in 2004, on the 50th anniversary of her graduation). In her prodigious career, Montserrat Caballé brought his incomparable voice to all the theaters around the world, and the names of Barcelona and the Liceu.