On April 25, 1912, the cornerstone was laid for a new building dedicated to the arts, a building with a magnificent Great Hall that would be soon boast a ceiling fresco, inlaid marble floor, and classic statuary. The School of Applied Design (as the precursor of the College of Fine Arts was known) took up residence and became the first institution in the United States to offer degrees in all major art forms.
The 1913 edition of The Thistle began with a letter from President Arthur A. Hamerschlag:
“The most notable event of the year was the opening of the School of Applied Design. This new building has fulfilled the expectations of us all. Its every part bears the imprint of the love and genius of its architect and patron, Mr. Hornbostel. “
The ensembles in the new Department of Music included the Carnegie Orchestra, which boasted a total of 16 pieces, (Signor Gregorio Scalzo, Director), and The Carnegie Band (17 pieces), with the first head of the Department of Music, James Vick O’Brien, directing. Professor O’Brien also taught composition. Also listed among the music faculty of the Department of Music in its first year were Arthur G. Burgoyne (music history) and Karl Malcherck (violin). Arthur Burgoyne came to Pittsburgh from Ireland and became a prominent writer for local newspapers. He was called the “town poet” in his obituary in March 1914.
Carnegie himself visited the Carnegie Institute of Technology campus a total of five times, attending a concert by a sixty-piece student orchestra on his final visit in November 1914.
The School of Music was founded in part to train future members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO). Begun in 1895, the Symphony suspended operations between 1910 and 1926. Former members of the PSO joined the faculty and faculty later joined the reconstructed orchestra. Pittsburgh Symphony musicians have taught in studios at Carnegie Mellon University since the School’s beginning.
The School of Music graduated its first student, Hazel Inez Smail Benecke, in 1917.
The first Spring Carnival was instituted in May 1920 with the idea of stimulating alumni interest in the Institute:
“Clean-Up day, School Exhibition night, a bonfire on the athletic field, fraternity “open house,” an open air play, a band concert, a circus on the athletic field, and a dance in the foyer of the Fine Arts building were all part of this celebration.”