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Our History

Our History: A Brief Chronology of David Hochstein and the Hochstein School

For a more detailed history and an interactive timeline with photos, please visit hochstein.org/Our-100th.

With special thanks to Grace Kraut for her research and publication on the life of "David Hochstein, An Unfinished Symphony".
Feb 16, 1892
David Hochstein is born in Rochester, New York to Russian Jewish immigrants, Helena and Jacob Hochstein, who met in this country after fleeing Czarist Russia.


Jacob, an educated man who could read, write, and speak six languages fluently, presents David with a violin for his fifth birthday and becomes his first teacher.

David begins studying with one of the City’s most respected musicians, Herr Ludwig Schenck.


David graduates with high honors from School No. 9 and the following fall enters East High School.

Circa 1906

Rochester patron Emily Sibley Watson hears young David practicing violin at her neighbor’s home. She is instrumental in furthering David’s musical career, becoming his benefactor and ensuring that he receives the finest training available.


David studies under Ottakar Sevcik in Vienna, with the support of Mrs. Watson, and graduates from the Meisterschule with highest honors. (Hochstein was the first American to win triple prizes offered by this institution, and the first student ever to win both the One Thousand Crown and First State Prize.)


David continues his studies in St. Petersburg, Russia, with Leopold Auer, considered to be the finest violinist of the time. His stay in Russia is financed by George Eastman, friend of Mrs. Watson and founder of Kodak. Eastman later purchases two violins "for the use of David Hochstein," a 1735 Carlo Landolphi and a 1715 Stradivarius, both of which are returned to Eastman upon Hochstein’s death.

Hochstein makes his Carnegie Hall debut and performs as soloist with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and Metropolitan Opera. Also performs in Boston, Chicago and throughout the U.S., as well as in London, Berlin, Dresden, and other European cities, all to rave reviews.

Hochstein composes four pieces published by noted New York publisher Carl Fisher. He also transcribes two works by Brahms, "Waltz in A minor" and "Waltz in A major."

October 1917 

David Hochstein joins the army and is assigned to the Infantry Division.

October 1918 

Second Lieutenant David Hochstein is killed in the Battle of Argonne.

April 5, 1919 

Rochester musicians rally together for a Hochstein Memorial Concert attended by an audience of thousands. Funds raised from the concert become the nucleus of support for a proposed Memorial Music School. Additional monies are contributed by Emily Sibley Watson, George Eastman, and other Rochester patrons.


The David Hochstein Music School Settlement is granted a Provisional Charter by the State of New York and opens in the Hochstein family home on Joseph Avenue to 250 eager students. Graduated fees for lessons range between 10¢ and 75¢ per hour. Harold Gleason is named the first Executive Director.

Quickly outgrowing the modest Hochstein home, several interested citizens raise funds and select a site for construction of a new Hochstein School on 12 Hoeltzer Street, where the school thrived for nearly 50 years. (The Hoeltzer Street site was destroyed by fire in 2004.)

Samuel Belov replaces Harold Gleason as Executive Director.

Emanuel Balaban is named Executive Director, followed in 1944 by Charles Riker.

Ralph Bigelow is named Executive Director.

Paul Freeman is named Executive Director.

Hochstein joins the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts. Now the National Guild for Community Arts Education.

Hochstein becomes a member agency of the Community Chest, now the United Way of Greater Rochester. United Way funds are specifically designated to support financial assistance for both our Music & Dance and Music Therapy Programs.

Alice Conway is named Executive Director, followed by Interim Director Allen McHose (1968-70) and Paul Burgett (1970-71).

Helen Tuntland Jackson is named Executive Director.

Hochstein becomes the first non-degree granting community school in the country to be awarded accreditation by the prestigious National Association of Schools of Music. The School is now one of only a handful of accredited institutional members of NASM.

Again, bursting at the seams, Hochstein moves to its current location in the former Central Presbyterian Church on Plymouth Avenue.

Dr. Carl Atkins is named President & Executive Director.

Dr. Margaret Quackenbush is named President & Executive Director.

The renovated "Performance Hall at Hochstein" opens, the final phase of a 9-year plan to renovate the entire facility.

Hochstein at Canandaigua extension program, a partnership with the Canandaigua City School District, served the Finger Lakes region.
Central Presbyterian Church
Established in 1836 as the Bethel Church, the Central Presbyterian Church took on its new name with its move to the corner of Church Street and Sophia Street (now Plymouth Avenue N.). The church was built on the site of the home of Quaker abolitionists, Isaac and Amy Post, who used their home as a station on the Underground Railroad, providing a safe haven for slaves passing on their way to freedom.
The church prospered, and in 1890 it was necessary to expand its facilities to accommodate its growing Bible school. The design of that expansion marked a change in traditional church architecture which reflected a new focus on "the community of God." In keeping with this new style, Central Presbyterian’s "auditorium" was built in the round so that everyone could gather, greet, and sing together. Subsequently, a church school wing was also added.
As the largest auditorium in Rochester at the time, the church was host to traveling preachers, lecturers, and visiting choirs and soloists. In 1895, it was the site of a massive funeral service for Frederick Douglass, and in following years it was the scene of citywide memorial services for President William McKinley and Susan B. Anthony.
However, as the years passed, an increasing number of people moved from the city to the suburbs, and membership in downtown churches began to dwindle. Other groups then gathered to fill the pews. During the 1960’s, angry African American Rochesterians, led by Franklin Florence and Bernard Gifford, rallied there to challenge Eastman Kodak and the Rochester School Board, and later it was the site of Vietnam War protests.
In 1974, three of the City’s Presbyterian churches, including Central Presbyterian, merged to form the congregation of the Downtown United Presbyterian Church (also called Brick Church and located on North Fitzhugh Street). Soon thereafter, Hochstein School became the major tenant of the Central Presbyterian Church. With help from the Presbyterian Church, the United Way, and the Rochester Department of Community Development, $180,000 was contributed to repair the exterior of the building. An additional community fund drive raised $35,000 for minor remodeling of the interior before the school moved in.
In 1978, Hochstein purchased the building for $1, considered to be an appropriate fee in light of the long tradition of the importance of music in that house of worship. Further renovations to the lower level studios were accomplished in the 1980’s, and major capital campaigns followed, the first to renovate the entire educational facility, the second to renovate the "auditorium," now known as the Performance Hall at Hochstein.