World War II had an enormous impact on every aspect of Carnegie Tech, and the Department of Music was not an exception. The flagship ensemble of the Department was the Kiltie Band, which during the war years was composed of civilians, soldiers, and women, but still decreased to almost half its former size. From the dedication to the 1944 edition of the Thistle:
“During this year just past, we who have been allowed to remain here at Tech could not help but notice that our nation is engaged in the most far-reaching conflict the world has yet known. It is true, the war has been going on for us since December 7, 1941; but not until now has it been brought to our attention so powerfully that life is not and cannot be what it has been. Enrollment has dropped to one half the former number; professors have answered the call to do whatever the government asks, and probably everyone has several friends in the service. It is to these brave friends and teachers, then, that we wish to dedicate this book; with the hope that some day not too far distant they may return again to the things they loved so well.”
The School of Music’s growth rekindled after the end of the war. By 1951 the Kiltie Band had recovered and was, according to the 1951 Thistle, “bigger and better than ever,” boasting 106 members. William A. Schaefer was the Band’s Director. The substantial presence of Oleta Benn, who joined the faculty in music education in 1945, helped provide a firm direction to the school in subsequent decades, especially where music education was concerned. Two students of Arthur Schnabel, Webster Aitken and Beveridge Webster, joined the piano faculty. The composer Nikolai Lopatnikoff, joining the faculty in 1945, expanded graduate offerings in composition.
Starting in 1946, the school hosted numerous musicians with the International Society for Contemporary Music. Aaron Copland, Paul Hindemith, Francis Poulenc and various famous ensembles visited in the following years. Eventually these activities became known as the Composers’ Forum, under whose auspices Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Boulez, and other internationally known composers came to campus.
The Cameron Choir was founded in 1951 and quickly became a campus favorite. Charles A. Pearson was the Head of the Department of Music in 1950 and at that time there were four courses of study available: music education, composition, vocal performance, and instrumental performance.
Robert E. Doherty served as President of Carnegie Tech from 1936 until his death in 1950, whereupon John C. Warner was installed. Warner came to Tech in 1926 as an instructor of chemistry, and spent the war years working on the Manhattan Project.
In 1950 the Carnegie Institute of Technology celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding.