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Peabody Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

The Deal-Thomas Endowed Fund at the Peabody Institute will be in Honor of Steven Scott Howard, Teacher and Carol Jean Thomas, Teacher. This fund will be held in perpetuity for the Early Music Program of the Peabody Conservatory. Only the spendable income earned by this fund shall be used to support the students, faculty, and performances of the Early Music Program at the Peabody Conservatory. All distributions from this fund shall be appropriately recognized.

 
 
 


George Peabody and the Peabody Institute

George Peabody was born in Massachusetts, in 1795 in a town now named after him into a family of limited means. He received a minimal formal education and began his career as an apprentice in a grocery store. He briefly worked  with his brother in a draper's shop in Newburyport, He later moved on to the south to join his merchant uncle in Georgetown, D.C.

Peabody enlisted in the army during the War of 1812, and met Baltimore merchant Elisha Riggs. After the war, Riggs and Peabody moved to Baltimore and started a dry goods wholesale business in 1815 under the firm name of Riggs, Peabody and Company. The company flourished, in large part because of Peabody's energy and fine business sense, and opened branch offices in Philadelphia and New York. In 1829, the firm name changed to Peabody, Riggs and Co., and in 1830s, when Riggs retired and Peabody became senior partner, the firm was one of the largest and most prosperous mercantile firms in the country.

Peabody built the base of his fortune in Baltimore. By the late 1830s, however, he had moved beyond mercantile interests to become a financier, and in 1836 he decided to move to London, then the center of the financial world. Later, when he began to dispense his great wealth worldwide in numerous philanthropic gifts during the 1850s, he remembered with fondness his 20 years in Baltimore and the many lasting friendships he had made in the city.

In February 1857, Peabody wrote to his friends and other leading citizens in Baltimore with a startling proposal:

...I have determined, without further delay, to establish and endow an Institute in this city, which I hope, may become useful towards the improvement of the moral and intellectual culture of the inhabitants of Baltimore, and collaterally to those of the State; and also, towards the enlargement and diffusion of a taste for the Fine Arts.

In his letter, Peabody outlined the elements of the institute he proposed--a library, a scholarly lecture series, an academy of music and an art gallery--and eventually gave $1.4 million to endow it. The Baltimore of 1857 was a thriving commercial center but at the same time culturally bereft, and Peabody sought to remedy this sad situation with one stroke.

The institute opened its doors in 1866, and the new library was dedicated in 1878. The lecture series was initially well received, but ceased when Johns Hopkins University became well established; the art gallery was eventually superseded by the magnificent Walters collection. The conservatory of music, however, became one of the leading conservatories in the country, and the library, although surpassed in size by the libraries of Johns Hopkins and Enoch Pratt, remained a scholar's treasure. It was also, undoubtedly, Peabody's tremendous gift that inspired those who came after him--notably, Enoch Pratt, Johns Hopkins and Henry Walters--to give generously to the city and people of Baltimore.

Today the Peabody Conservatory of Music and Library are departments of the Johns Hopkins University. Conservatory graduates hold positions of prominence throughout this country and the world as teachers, vocalists and instrumentalists with the foremost institutions and professional musical organizations. Faculty and graduates perform regularly with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Baltimore Opera Company, as well as many other musical organizations in the area.

 
 
 

Director's Office

A Message from the Director

Welcome to Peabody, one of America's first and most prestigious conservatories of music. Peabody aims to educate the finest musicians from around the world. Our faculty are among the most distinguished, our curriculum is among the most rigorous and our environment is among the most supportive of any music conservatory.

Peabody has had tremendous success training leading performers, composers and teachers throughout its 150 years.  We work constantly to update our curriculum to ensure today's graduates have the skills they need to achieve success in the music profession.

Peabody's Preparatory Division is its anchor in the Baltimore community, offering the finest curriculum in music and dance. Countless students, children and adults, have had their lives enriched through their studies at Peabody.

However you have come upon us, as a potential student in the Conservatory or Preparatory, as a participant in our Elderhostel program, as an audience member or as a visitor to Baltimore, we hope you will find all you need to know about us from this website. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

Jeffrey Sharkey
Director

 
 
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