image of Founder, Winnie Davis Long Crane

Founder, Winnie Davis Long Crane

The Berkshire Music School was founded in December 1940 by Winnie Davis Long Crane, a leader in the Berkshire cultural community.

On several occasions she was piano soloist with the former Pittsfield Symphony Orchestra and she was an incorporator of the Berkshire Symphonic Festival (now Tanglewood). But the effort most dear to Mrs. Crane was the founding of the Pittsfield Community Music School (now the Berkshire Music School). It is no mere coincidence that BMS was established at the same time as the Tanglewood Music Center (Tanglewood’s summer training institute).

In 2015-2016, as the School celebrated its seventy-five years of existence; we continue our mission of providing quality education in music, and musical opportunities to people in the greater Berkshire community, regardless of race, sex, religion, ethnic origin, age, or disability. We honor our founder’s legacy by continuing to grow and prosper, while turning no one away on account of inability to pay. Berkshire Music School is a member of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts. The School is an equal opportunity employer and is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

History of BMS

The Pittsfield Community Music School opened its doors to 40 students in 1940, thanks to the philanthropy of Winnie Davis Long Crane, with the original mission “…to provide quality education in music and musical opportunities to people in the greater Berkshire community regardless of race, religion, ethnic origin, disability, age, or ability to pay”. In 2002, the name evolved into the more inclusive Berkshire Music School.

The School moved to its 1870 historic Pittsfield home in 1943. A carriage barn on this Wendell Avenue property was restored in 1996 to create a 90-seat recital hall and additional teaching studios. Mrs. Crane guided and served the Music School for 37 years. She and her husband, Bruce Crane, faithfully filled the annual gap between tuition income and operating expenses. Upon her death, Mrs. Crane generously bequeathed an endowment which continues to support the vision of the School today. Proceeds of this endowment do not meet current needs of BMS, nor provide for any depreciation and capital needs. Thus, Berkshire Music School depends upon the generosity of its local community, grants and fundraising activities to provide the necessary funds.