The Guildhall School of Music & Drama first opened its doors
on 27 September 1880, housed in a disused warehouse in the City.
With 62 part-time students, it was the first municipal music college
in Great Britain. The School quickly outgrew its first home, however,
and in 1887 it moved to new complex of educational buildings built
by the Corporation of London to house it and the City’s two public
Initially, all tuition was on a part-time basis, but
full-time courses were introduced by public request in 1920. Departments
of Speech, Voice and Acting were added and by 1935 the School had
added «and Drama» to its title.
The School moved to its present premises in the heart
of the City of London’s Barbican in 1977 and continues to be owned,
funded and administered by the Corporation of London.
In 1993 the Corporation leased a nearby courtyard of
buildings that in the 18th century had been the centre of Samuel
Whitbread’s first brewery, and renovated and converted this to provide
the School with its Hall of Residence, Sundial Court. About three
minutes’ walk from the School, Sundial Court offers self-catering
single-room accommodation for 178 students.
The School now has a typical annual roll of some 690
full-time students. About 570 of these are undergraduate and postgraduate
music students, while the remaining are studying on the acting and
on the stage management and technical theatre courses. In any one
year, more than a third of the full-time students can be expected
to come from outside the UK and to represent over 40 nationalities.
The School is a member of the Federation of British Conservatoires,
of the Conference of Drama Schools and of the European Association