Baxter Academy of Music


Early Flier:


    A very unusual school for a small town in the early days was the Baxter Academy of Music.  It was known throughout the United States and was described as "the most extensive and complete School of Music in the world".  It was founded by a musical genius, James Baxter, who came to Friendship as a baby in 1820.  His love of music influenced his entire life.  He learned to play almost every available musical instrument and also wrote music.  In 1853 he opened a studio on Main Street on the site of the modern-day Compton and Heary Furniture Store.  It was called Baxter Music Room and from the first was a success.  Five years later a new building was built and later two additions were made.  The name changed with each addition and in 1870 it was known as the Baxter University of Music.

    Professor Baxter believed that a music school should be equal in educational value to one devoted to the study of literature, science and art.  It was this ideal that he set out to achieve.  The school consisted of four divisions -- church, parlor, orchestral and band.  Each division comprised three degrees.  The instruction consisted of graded studies, never before used in a school devoted exclusively to music.

    The physical properties consisted of 35 pianos and organs; 24 find orchestral instruments and a library of 200 volumes.  There was a musical publishing house connected with the school with outlets in eight large cities including New York, Chicago and Boston.  The school trained students for the operatic stage and held classes in acting.

    It is said that as many as one hundred and fifty pupils were enrolled at one time from sixteen states, two territories and Canada.  As most of the students came from wealthy homes, they were of great economic value to a small town.  Many of Professor Baxter's musical scores can be seen at the David A. Howe Library in Wellsville,NY where they have been catalogued.

(Story credit to "The History of Friendship,NY; Sesqui-Centennial Publication-July 1965)


More on James Baxter, founder of the Baxter Academy of Music