The Sydney Conservatorium of Music (formerly the New South Wales State Conservatorium of Music or ‘The Con’) is one of the oldest and most prestigious music schools in Australia. Located adjacent to the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens, the Conservatorium incorporates a faculty of the University of Sydney, the community-based Conservatorium Open Academy and the Conservatorium High School.Originally commissioned in 1815 as the stables for the proposed Government House of New South Wales, the oldest Conservatorium building was designed by the convict architect, Francis Greenway. A gothic structure with turrets, the building was described as a “palace for horses” and is a portrayal of the romantic vision of Governor Lachlan Macquarie and the British architectural trends of the time. The stables, located close to picturesque Sydney Harbour, reflect the building techniques and the range of materials and skills employed during the early settlement era.
By the time of the relocation, the historic Greenway building, Governor Macquarie’s stables, had housed music students for longer than it had housed horses. Nevertheless, heritage was a sensitive issue. The redevelopment has restored Greenway’s historic castellated building, removing newer additions to discreetly complement, enhance and enlarge the public green space of the Royal Botanic Gardens. For the city of Sydney it makes a major step towards the completion of the vision first enunciated by the then Conservatorium Director Eugene Goossens in 1947 when he lobbied Joe Cahill (Minister for Local Government, later Premier) for an Opera House on Bennelong Point to create a music precinct in the lower end of Macquarie Street. For the Conservatorium, it provides facilities of outstanding acoustic and architectural quality in which to serve the music and wider communities, and to educate future generations of performers, musicologists, composers and music educators.