Music at BYU

Music has always been an important part of life at Brigham Young University. Shortly after the founding of Brigham Young Academy in 1875 a choir was organized to perform at school events and religious services. By 1886 Henry E. Giles had been hired as a professor of music and he quickly set to work establishing a Music Department within the Brigham Young Academy. Giles became the director of the band and choir in 1892.

Henry E. Giles, 1886

The Music Department quickly became an integral part of the growing academy. After Brigham Young University became Brigham Young Academy in 1903, the Music Department became part of the College. In 1925 Franklin S. Harris organized the first College of Fine Arts west of the Mississippi and the Music Department found a permanent home. The Music Department became the School of Music in 1998. Thousands of students have been educated in the department and thousands of visitors to the university have enjoyed the numerous musical performances sponsored by the department.

The University Archives is home to several collections that document the history of music at Brigham Young University. They include:

  • UA 1226 Dept. of Music records, 1931-1971. Collection contains files of the department chair, and general department and faculty records, including correspondence, minutes, procedures, publications, and a sampling of class outlines and examinations.
  • UA 761 Dept. of Music programs, 1948-2008. Collection contains annual compilations of programs distributed at music performances. Each volume contains programs for a given school year.
  • UA 1226 Dept. of Music records, 1973-1996. This collection contains documents outlining music classes given at BYU, different musical teaching opportunities, how to teach children music, and various files on primary and the music department.
  • UA 571 Florence Jepperson Madsen papers, 1901-1971. Collection includes personal correspondence, articles, programs, newsclippings, yearbooks, scrapbooks, poetry, resumes, tributes, journals, photographs, patriarchal blessings, and biographical materials. Also includes published, unpublished, and workcopy music manuscripts by the Madsens.

If you would like to learn more about the Department of Music at Brigham Young University, please contact the University Archivist at (801) 422-5821 and

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