From the founding of WKU in 1906, President Henry Cherry incorporated music in the curriculum. In 1910 Franz Strahm was hired as the director of Western's School of Music. A position he held until his death June 26, 1941.
Franz Joseph Strahm was born May 14, 1867 in Freiburg, Germany. He studied piano under Franz Liszt before coming to the United States in 1891 to play in a Nashville orchestra and teach at the Nashville Conservatory of Music.
During World War I Strahm published music under the pseudonym Franz J. Sadezky due to anti-German sentiment. Among his numerous compositions were the Kentucky State Normal March (1911) and the B.G.B.U. March (1919).
Under Strahm's direction the college hosted an annual music festival for many years, bringing in orchestras, operatic singers and renowned musicians to perform in Van Meter Hall. He was also the first director of what became the Big Red Marching Band
Strahm was the first of many instructors to write and perform music. In more recent years, the faculty both in and out of the School of Music have become recording artists in their own right. These include Michael Kallstrom, John Cipolla, Jack Montgomery and Sylvia Kersenbaum. Several faculty members collaborated to create A Centennial of Spirit CD a commemoration of WKU's centennial celebration in music.
Additionally, faculty and student musicians work jointly with the city of Bowling Green to form the Bowling Green-Western Symphony Orchestra.
Students as well have found the musical spotlight, the WKU Steelband, Government Cheese and Nappy Roots are some of the most well known. This particular section of the online exhibit stays closer to home highlighting traditional band / orchestra music and faculty talents.