A BRIEF HISTORY
The Conservatorium High School is the secondary arm of the Conservatorium of Music in Sydney, NSW and the State’s only specialist music high school. Established at the behest of Henri Verbrugghen, foundation director of the NSW State Conservatorium of Music, the school enrolled its first students in 1918. The inaugural principal, Mr Alfred Steel, was seconded from Sydney Boys’ High; he taught in both the secondary and tertiary programmes of the Conservatorium.
Located in the Royal Botanic Gardens overlooking Farm Cove, the Conservatorium of Music is one of Sydney’s best-known heritage sites. The heart of ‘The Con’ is the turreted sandstone structure that was designed by the convict architect, Francis Greenway, to serve as vice-regal stables for Government House which is located across the gardens to the north. Extensive redevelopment in the late 1990s transformed The Con into a superb teaching, research and music performance complex with expanded accommodation for up to 180 Conservatorium High students.
From the school’s inception, Conservatorium High students constituted an elite core of the State’s premiere music institution. This was Henri Verbrugghen’s vision. Not surprisingly, the school numbers amongst its alumni some of Australia’s most acclaimed performers, teachers and composers, musicians who have made their mark in all facets of the music profession.
As the centenary of the Conservatorium High draws near, the School remains true to its founder’s vision: to provide the State’s brightest and most musically gifted teenagers with the very best musical training while ensuring they received an excellent, broadly-based secondary education. Through its school-based programmes and its special relationship with Sydney University which administers The Con’s tertiary arm, the Conservatorium High School continues to provide its students with music-educational opportunities unsurpassed in this country.