Ada Clement, Ernest Bloch, and the San Francisco Conservatory
The San Francisco Conservatory of Music owes its origin to a talented, determined, and energetic woman who, for a half decade in the 1920s, subjugated her own ambitions to those of a famous yet eccentric dreamer. Although she hardly knew him, Ada Clement found in this dreamer a mentor to whom she entrusted the artistic direction of a school she had nurtured for the previous eight years. The conservatory's story is also, in part, the story of that dreamer—who envisioned a world unified through music, religious differences nullified through art, and the country brought together under a national anthem that would celebrate peace rather than glorifying war. When he left the city after five years to return to the imposing solitude of his native Alps, Ernest Bloch left behind a legacy of students, a philosophy of teaching grounded in works rather than in theory, and a devotion to scholarship. One of his most enduring compositions arose from his dream of interfaith cooperation, with which he inspired his fellow San Franciscans during the late 1920s.
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