Birmingham Conservatory of Music

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The Birmingham Conservatory of Music, founded by Benjamin Guckenberger in 1895, was a notable music school with a full time faculty in several specialties.

William Gussen became the director in 1903, and was succeeded at his death in 1920 by his widow, Edna Gockel Gussen, who was also the conservatory's first graduate.

From 1912 to at least 1923 the school was located at in "Cable Hall" above the Cable-Shelby-Burton Piano Co. at 1816 2nd Avenue North. It later occupied a dedicated building opposite Phillips High School on 7th Avenue North. That building held 16 studios with offices, reception and waiting rooms, and a 300-seat recital hall.

Dorsey Whittington took over as director in 1930. In the mid-1930s the Conservatory also held some classes in a mansion on Highland Avenue. A branch of the conservatory operated in Florence (Lauderdale County).

In 1940 the conservatory moved into the ground floor of the Simpson Building on the campus of Birmingham-Southern College. A system of sharing facilities and transferring credits between the institutions was initiated immediately, and in 1953 the conservatory was fully merged into BSC's music department, as the Birmingham-Southern College Conservatory of Fine and Performing Arts.

Notable faculty

Notable students


  • Musical Alabama (1925) Montgomery: Alabama Federation of Music Clubs/Paragon Press
  • Musical Alabama Volume 2 (1936) Federated Music Clubs of Alabama. Tuscaloosa: Weatherford Printing Company