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The Fontainebleau Schools of music and fine arts

The Fontainebleau Schools (also known as Les Ecoles d’Art Américaines de Fontainebleau) are comprised of the Conservatoire Américain and the École des Beaux-Arts. For almost 100 years the schools have been offering international summer programs of the highest level for students in music and architecture.

The schools originally got their start with the involvement of the United States during the First World War: General Pershing wished to improve the quality of the United States military bands and so asked the conductor of the New York Philharmonic — Walter Damrosch — to organize a music school in Chaumont, France, where US troops were headquartered. The school was led by composer and teacher Francis Casadesus.

After the war, Damrosch and Casadesus decided to continue the school, and with the support of the French government, the American Conservatory (Conservatoire Américain) opened in the Louis XV wing of the Chateau of Fontainebleau in 1921. The American Conservatory — with composer and organist Charles-Marie Widor as its first director — intended to offer the best of French musical education to young, promising musicians.

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