Skip to main content


The particular location, environment and history of the Department of Music of Stellenbosch University have lead to a focus on art music in the most inclusive sense of the term (in large measure, but by no means exclusively, that of the Western tradition). This music is regarded as a “naturalised” form of musical expression. However, it is a focus on art music within a culturally diverse and socio-economically unequal society.

Therefore the Department’s activities are not only designed to strengthen and to shape the future development of this heritage but are consciously intended to do so within the present challenges and implications of cultural diversity and socio-economic inequality.

At the same time this local context and focus links the Department to art music as a (not necessarily homogeneous) international language and practice. It enables us to partake in the free flow of musical ideas, artefacts and practices that is a hallmark of contemporary academia. This bridge, in itself a powerful symbol of hope, provides for the pursuit of international interests to the same extent as it attracts interest in art music within a context of diversity particular to the Western Cape, thereby adding special value to what in all other respects strives to be the study of music on an internationally competitive level.

This particular context and focus is what makes us unique and, in turn, what makes us attractive to students, artists, educators, scholars and researchers alike, be they from within or from beyond our borders.


The University’s Department of Music is the oldest institution of its kind in South Africa and boasts a proud tradition that spans more than one hundred years of dedication to music education, the performing arts, creative work and research. Today this tradition continues in a dynamic and innovative fashion and the Department is recognised as a leading role player in the musical life of South Africa.

The “South African Conservatorium of Music”, as the Department was then known, was founded in 1905 by Friedrich Wilhelm Jannasch, Hans Endler and several other renowned musicians. Initially, the Conservatoire was run as a private institution and focused on the training of music teachers and church organists. In 1934 it was taken over by Stellenbosch University and from then on it became a fully-fledged university department with an ever widening scope of musical training, performance activities and research. In 1978 the department moved to its present premises, one of the best designed and well equipped music buildings to be found anywhere. It accommodates approximately 170 undergraduate and more than 70 postgraduate students, 100 certificate students as well as 21 full-time staff and 37 part-time teaching staff. Over the more than one hundred years of its existence many of the most prominent musicians in South Africa have been associated with the institution as teachers or students, composers, performers or researchers.

Prof Friedrich Wilhelm Jannasch

Director of the Conservatorium (1905-1921)

Prof Hans Endler

Director of the Conservatorium (1922-1937)

Prof Maria Fismer

Director of the Conservatorium (1938-1951)

The “South African Conservatorium of Music”, was founded in 1905 by Friedrich Wilhelm Jannasch, Hans Endler and several other renowned musicians.

The South African Conservatorium of Music was situated in Van Riebeeck Street, Stellenbosch. Initially the Conservatoire was run as a private institution until Prof Hans Endler sold it to the Stellenbosch University in 1934.

Prof Richard Behrens

Director of the Konservatorium (1961-1988)

The new Conservatoire​ building was completed in 1978. This ultra modern building with its exceptional acoustical qualities was designed by Colyn and Meiring.

Close Menu