Pius X School of Liturgical Music
A discussion of sacred music in the Archdiocese would not be complete without looking at the Pius X School of Liturgical Music. The school was founded by Justine Ward and Mother Georgia Stevens in 1916 after Justine Ward brought a group of girls to sing for the Society of Sacred Heart nuns at Manhattanville Academy. The Ward Method was to be immediately adopted at the Academy, and so begun music education at Manhattanville.
The school was named after Pope Pius X in response to his 1903 Moto Proprio, which called for a change in music practices throughout the Church. Summer school sessions began at Manhattanville in 1917. A choir was established through the school to sing locally at Sunday masses. The school attracted nuns, priests, seminarians, organists, choir directors, and others from all over the world interested in the reading, writing, singing, and playing of sacred music. The school began to offer diploma courses: a two year program in school or church music and a four year supervisor's program as it began to teach classes all year round. Eventually, students attending Manhattanville College could obtain a Bachelor of Music degree through the Pius X School.
Pius X School of Music moved to Westchester County in 1952 with the move of Manhattanville College to Purchase. Various musicians from all around the world would spend their summers at Pius X School to educate those eager to learn more about sacred music. In 1958, the school was visited by Richard Rodgers, famous American composer, who was researching for his upcoming musical, Sound of Music. The choir at Pius X School helped to inspire the singing nuns in Sound of Music.
As time went on and the Second Vatican Council was held, the Pius X School incorporated various changes in the curriculum an extracurriculars. School programs changed from addressing the Latin liturgy to the vernacular liturgy. In 1965, a music festival with the Westchester Orchestral Society was added to the School. In the same year, a federaly funded music project through the United States Office of Education began at the Manhattanville campus. This brought even more great musicians to lecture the students. Unfortunately, towards the end of the 1960s, the interest in the summer music program at Pius X declined. In 1969, after the departure of its director, Mother J. Morgan, the school was officially merged with music department at Manhattanville. It's legacy lives on today with its various alumni who have left their mark on sacred music throughout the world. Additionally, the music hall at Manhattanville is still named in honor of Pius X.