I feel very fortunate to live in a city with the opportunity to experience world-class artistry in music. A trip to Music Hall to enjoy the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra or Cincinnati Opera, or to the Aronoff Center for the Arts to see a theater production is never a disappointment. Between the Cincinnati Childrens Theater, many art museums, Shakespeare productions, Playhouse in the Park, and more, the opportunities for the educating family to expose children to the arts are endless in the Queen City. In addition, Cincinnati, Ohio is also home to one of the finest music conservatories in the nation, the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of music. This year marks the 150th anniversary of CCM's founding.
At my daughter's recent Cincinnati Children's Choir concert I found a true source of inspiration in the program book: the story of Clara Baur. This talented young woman was born in Germany, but traveled to the U.S. in 1849 at age 13. After going back to her homeland and other portions of Europe to study voice and piano, she returned to the United States, determined to start a conservatory that would be on par with those in Europe. In 1867, 31-year old Baur, out of devotion and love for the arts, rented one room in a school for young ladies, and thereby established the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, one of the first in the United States. This was three years before the city of Cincinnati established UC.
Clara's standards of complete musical excellence and her community outreach led the school to grow, and she was granted a teaching position by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. She passed away in 1912, though her legacy pressed on through her niece. Eventually, in 1955 the conservatory expanded and merged with the College of Music of Cincinnati, creating the College-Conservatory of Music. In 1962, CCM became the 14th college added to the University of Cincinnati. Since then it has a history of turning out some of the best musicians in the nation.
Why does Clara's story inspire me? Maybe it is because I am also a woman in my 30's, a homeschool mom, a piano teacher, a voice teacher, and Classical Christian educator with a vision to see the Classical Christian education movement permeate Cincinnati. If she can start CCM in one room, what can others with vision and God's help accomplish? I see a little of myself in Clara Baur, and she makes me proud to be a Cincinnatian.