The Last Music Major at YU: A Legacy I Do Not Want

By: Yosef Rosenfield  |  May 11, 2021

By Yosef Rosenfield, Features Editor

I found out recently that, for the foreseeable future, I will likely be the last music major at Yeshiva University. I received the news that the music major will no longer be offered from Daniel Beliavsky, Chair of the Fine Art and Music Department. Hearing about this development saddened me, as my four years in the music department have been an overwhelmingly positive experience. Under the expert guidance and encouragement of Professor Beliavsky, I went from not knowing any theory or how to read sheet music to analyzing classical pieces (MUS 2112-2114, Music Theory) and composing my own material (MUS 2120, Intro to Composition), studying music’s role in film and exploring endless worlds of music philosophy (MUS 1018, Aesthetic Revolutions); I even performed live concerts in Schottenstein Theatre (MUS 3464, Performance: Chamber Ensemble), playing covers as well as original songs. I took courses with Professor Beliavsky a whopping 22 times — a testament to his extensive knowledge and highly effective teaching style.

At the Yeshiva University Awards Ceremony on May 10, I received the Departmental Award for Excellence in Musical Study. But even though I expect to graduate on May 26 with the last BA in Music that YU will be granting for a while, I need not be the last alumnus to have such a thrilling and rigorous college music career. As of the upcoming Fall 2021 semester, Yeshiva College students will still have the option of minoring in music and taking the more advanced courses as directed studies. “Diatonic I and II” and “Chromatic I and II” will instead be listed as “Music Theory 1-4” in order to attract more students who are musically inclined but not yet familiar with the jargon. “Ear Training 1-2” will remain co-requisites for Theory 1-2, which I find reassuring, as the ear training courses proved to be an integral part of my music education and were among my favorite classes in the department.

More imminently, Professor Beliavsky will be teaching Aesthetic Revolutions (MUS 1018) and Music Fundamentals (MUS 2105, a prerequisite to Music Theory 1) during the first and second summer sessions, respectively. I took both of these courses early on in my college career, and they provided me with a foundation in music history and theory that catalyzed further study. Professor Beliavsky will also be offering an exciting new keyboard course as early as Spring 2022, in addition to an “Introduction to Music Engineering” course shortly thereafter. Furthermore, the department is adding a digital art studio space with computers and electronic pianos that will be utilized in these new courses. I am full of hope seeing that all the musical equipment for which I fought so dearly as an undergraduate — new microphones, cables, amplifiers, a brand-new drum kit — will by no means go to waste. I urge all students who are still enrolled to take advantage of these resources and register for classes in the music department. And maybe, just maybe — if enough students demonstrate their interest in musical study — the music major will eventually be reinstated, and there will in fact be many more YU music majors who follow in my footsteps.