Los Angeles Junior College was established in 1929. The first Associate of Arts degrees were conferred in 1931. That same year, Leslie P. Clausen joined the music faculty. He remained in the department for the next 41 years. Clausen organized a weekly concert series which continues to this day as our Music 152. Clausen was a member of the famed Crescendo Club which provided opportunities for LACC students and brought Clausen into contact with
such luminaries as Edgar Varese, Aaron Copland, and Arnold Schoenberg.
The department has always had a reputation for developing young composers. This concert program from 1938 includes original works by the 19-year-old Leon Kirchner who later taught at the Juilliard School and Harvard University and won a Pulitzer prize, and the 18-year-old Korean-American Earl Kim who taught at Princeton and Harvard.
In 1946 LACC became the first college in the nation to offer a degree in jazz. Throughout the 1940s and 50s, many renowned jazz musicians studied at LACC including double bassist and band leader Charlie Mingus,
[Music] trumpeter Chet Baker,
multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy,
Lenny Niehaus who has collaborated with Clint Eastwood on most of his films,
and pianist Bob Florence.
The studio jazz band was formed in 1946. Since then it has been under the direction of Bob McDonald, Robert Wilkinson, Woody James, Don Simpson, Laszlo Cser, and Laurie Stunts. The band is currently directed by Barbara Laronga.
Jerry Goldsmith started his music studies at USC, but dropped out to pursue what he called a more practical music program at LACC. He of course went on to score hundreds of films, and win an Oscar.
“And the winner is Jerry Goldsmith for The Omen”
Another composer who attended LACC in the 1950s was John Williams, who since then has received 22 Grammy Awards, and 49 Academy Award nominations, and has written some of the most memorable music in movie history.
This concert program from 1949 included a young Marni Nixon who went on to fame as the voice behind Deborah Carr in The King And I, Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, and Natalie Wood in West Side Story.
Other famous alumni include Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame songwriters Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller,
singer and Grammy recipient Diane Reeves,
composer Lamont Young,
folk singer Odetta,
and electronic music DJ and producer DJ Irene.
Another important LACC alumnus is David Alpert shown here with brother Herb and LACC
Professor Dom Disarro. His David A. Albert Music Scholarship has been supporting incoming LACC music students for decades. In 1980 the music building officially became Clausen Hall
honoring the remarkable career of Leslie P Clausen, who served as department chair for the
final 26 years of his teaching career.
The last 10 years have seen remarkable changes in the music department, including a collaboration with Presidential Citizens Medal recipient Margaret Martin and the Harmony Project, an award-winning program that provides music lessons for at-risk youth.
A significant increase in donations to the foundation allowing the department to modernize and
the grow: The addition of three full-time faculty members in 2006. New talented adjunct faculty members. The approval of an Associate of Arts degree for Transfer, which guarantees students entry into a Cal State school. The awarding of hundreds of vocational certificates which prepare students for entry into the music industry. The tripling in size of the Applied Music Program thanks to a generous grant from the Herb Albert Foundation and the creation of the LACC
These changes have contributed to a significant increase in student transfers to all the Cal States and UCs, and schools such as USC, Mount Saint Mary's College, Azusa Pacific, and The San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Students have also transferred to out-of-state schools including the New England Conservatory in Boston, Columbia University in New York, and the
Royal College of Music in London.
And now in 2015 the opening of the modernized Clausen Hall music building, library and listening room, two electronic music labs, over 30 practice rooms, new instruments, recording
studio, and of course the spectacular 190 seat Recital Hall. The Los Angeles City College Music
Department: a tradition of excellence for over 80 years.