- Howard Mayer Brown
- , revised by Iain Fenlon
At various times in musical history, the word ‘academy’ has meant diverse things, including (i) a formal association of people interested in mutually communicating their opinions on various philosophical, intellectual or cultural issues (most such academies sponsored theatrical events with music and some included discussions of musical questions on their regular agenda), or even, in some few cases, a formal association devoting itself primarily to the study of music; (ii) a more loosely formed circle of intellectuals interested in holding lively discussions on various topics; (iii) an official national society that serves as an arbiter of tastes and standards; (iv) a society formed specifically to sponsor musical performances (including opera); (v) a single concert, either public or private; or (vi) an institution for the training of musicians.
The first of these definitions must be considered the original and therefore the primary meaning. The word itself derives from the mythological character Akademos, after whom a garden or grove in Athens was named, where it is said that the Greek philosopher Plato met his students to discuss philosophy, although recent scholarship has shown that exclusive reference to Plato was never intended by users of the word (Chambers, ...