Cosponsored by Gallery East and the West End Museum, this reception celebrates The Legacy of Lawrence Berk, an exhibit celebrating Berklee's founder that will be on display from April 21 until June 20.
Berk grew up in Boston's West End and is best known as the founder of Berklee College of Music. He played piano as a youth in the Boston English High School band and at age 13 began moonlighting professionally. He pursued a “legitimate” career, earning a degree in architectural engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After graduating, with few engineering jobs available, Berk moved to New York City. There he gained more professional music experience and studied under Joseph Schillinger, who taught such jazz greats as George Gershwin, Gerry Mulligan, Benny Goodman, and Tommy Dorsey.
Berk returned to Boston during World War II to work for Raytheon but continued his musical pursuits. In 1945, he opened Schillinger House on Newbury Street to offer music education beyond the classical realm, embracing jazz and commercial music. The school became one of only five colleges to offer jazz for credit in the late 1940s. By the 1950s, the number of students had ballooned from fewer than 50 to more than 500. In 1954, Berk changed the name to Berklee School of Music to reflect the growth and expanded curriculum (and for his eldest son, Lee). In 1970, the name changed to Berklee College of Music. From 1974 to 2004, Lee Eliot Berk served as Berklee’s president and continued to evolve his father’s vision, establishing the college as one of the most respected music schools in the world.
The West End Museum is dedicated to the collection, preservation, and interpretation of the history and culture of the West End neighborhood.