...a country (Hungary) whose population, even today, is barely over ten million has produced so many musicians and so much outstanding music. I am grateful for having been born and trained there.

Sir Georg Solti

College to university

After 1949, significant changes were implemented in the education system of the College of Music. Ede Zathureczky, the new principal who took over leadership of the artists' course, was of Hubay's rank, although he was mainly only a passive executor of the new reforms. At first, ministerial decrees only required formal conformity to the new social and political situation, but reform concepts at the beginning of the 1950s foreshadowed the total reform of the old education system. Just like in other higher education institutes, the teaching of Marxism-Leninism was introduced. For ideological reasons, the department of church music was shut down. Artists' training was pushed into the background and the focus increasingly shifted to popular education and teacher training; to this end, in 1949 a secondary school music teacher and chorus-master major was established. Interestingly, the number of students at the College was the highest in the 1948/49 academic year.

Music history education had been available for every student of the Academy since its establishment, but no opportunities were provided for the prospective new generation of researchers of either Hungarian music history or folk music. The question arose: where should the classes of the new department of musicology take place. Although in English- and German-speaking countries there had been musicology training at music academies, where students were able to study history, philology and general literature, at the Academy of Music in Hungary the focus was on having an indirect connection with practical music. A prominent representative of those who held this view was Zoltán Kodály. In 1951, the Department of Musicology was established at the College of Music. The head of department was Dénes Bartha between 1951 and 1953, and Bence Szabolcsi from 1953 until his death in 1973. Initially, two kinds of academics were educated at the department: music historians and folk music researchers. Music history was taught by Bence Szabolcsi, Dénes Bartha, Zoltán Gárdonyi and Rezső Kókai, music theory was taught by Lajos Bárdos, and folk music was taught by Zoltán Kodály and László Lajtha.

With the 1952 education reform, the old three-part system of preparatory, academic and artists' training course was replaced by an undivided five-year college course, at the end of which students were awarded an art teacher degree. The new organizational structure caused a drop in the number of students to 445, and it fell further each year.

Zathureczky was well-aware of the fact that the new education system caused most harm to those who were intended to be supported by him, that is, exceptionally talented artists. That was one of the main reasons why he gradually refrained from active leadership at the College. The administrative duties fell upon the secretary-general, Erzsébet Kozma; she also took up the battle against the higher authorities.

In spite of the forced restructuring, the standard of education did not fall because professors who were outstanding music experts in Hungary did not quit the institute. Composer Pál Kadosa was a pioneer in piano teaching, who taught piano as a major. Many respectable musicians were his students: in the 1950s, György Kurtág and Edit Hambalkó, in the 1960s, Gyula Kiss, and in the 1970s, Zoltán Kocsis, Dezső Ránki and András Schiff. Besides Kadosa, the following professors taught piano as a major: Lajos Hernádi, Mihály Bächer, István Antal, Zoltán Horusitzky, Katalin Nemes, Tibor Wehner, Imre Ungár and Péter Solymos. Famous artists and teachers among the professors of the strings department were György Garai, Pál Lukács, Miklós Zsámboki (one of the former students of Popper), Ede Banda, Dezső Rados, Tivadar Országh. Composition as a main subject was taught by János Viski, Endre Szervánszky and Ferenc Farkas; organ by Sebestyén Pécsi; orchestral conducting by László Somogyi; choral conducting by Zoltán Vásárhelyi; cimbalom (dulcimer) by Aladár Rácz; theoretical subjects by Antal Molnár, Dezső Legány, Rudolf Maros, György Ligeti, András Szőllősy, Rezső Kókai, Zoltán Gárdonyi and Jenő Ádám, among others. The professor of the opera directing major was Gusztáv Oláh, and there were renowned teachers of singing like Erzsébet Hoór Tempis, Oszkár Maleczky, Ferencné Révhegyi and Endre Rösler.

By the 1956/57 academic year, Zathureczky taught only one subject; no classes were held from 23 October, the first day of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. On 18 October 1956, he was invited to travel to Vienna and he never returned to Hungary. In June 1957, he wrote a letter to the Minister of Culture, in which he resigned his position as principal.

In May, the government appointed a ministerial commissioner as head of the College. After the Revolution of 1956, conductors László Somogyi and István Kertész, and pianist Iván Engel, all professors at the College, as well as many students, left the country, and in the 1957/58 academic year the number of students fell to 340. On 1 September 1957, the leadership of the College was taken over by a three-member Board of Directors with Bence Szabolcs as president. On 1 September 1958, composer Ferenc Szabó was appointed executive director. Besides being executive director, Ferenc Szabó continued his work as a teacher at the Department of Composition. Earlier he had been a student of Leó Weiner, Albert Siklós and Zoltán Kodály at the Academy of Music. He retired in 1967 and his successor as executive director was violinist Dénes Kovács.

In his first academic year as executive director, a special Preparatory Course was started at the College for exceptionally talented pianists, violinists and cellists, where students were accepted from the age of eight years. It was also the year when mid-year examinations were first held. The College Grand Prize was established "to introduce to a greater audience our students who are competent and mature enough for the stage and to help launch their careers". (Dénes Kovács at the school opening ceremony, September 1967.) In 1970, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Béla Bartók's death, Room No. XIV on the 2nd floor, where Bartók taught from 1907 to 1934, was named the Bartók Room. Similarly, rooms where Kodály, Hubay and Weiner had taught were also fitted with plaques and named after these masters.

In accordance with Decree-Law No 20 of 1971 of the Presidential Committee, the College became a university-level higher education institute – retaining the name Franz Liszt College of Music. Its school in Budapest and its six provincial schools of the Teachers' Training Institute of the College of Music continued to provide college-level education. The most significant event of the 1975/76 academic year was the hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the College. The anniversary was celebrated with many programmes: music competitions for the students, a series of ceremonies, and a memorial volume edited by József Ujfalussy.

The number of students in the 1976/77 academic year was 438 at the university level. One of the reasons for the increase was the growing number of foreign students at the Academy; regular courses were also organized for foreign groups. The lack of classrooms became a growing problem, and the idea of reacquiring the old building of the Academy of Music resurfaced. This was achieved only in the 1980s, under József Ujfalussy, music professor and president of the Academy between 1980 and 1988, when the college was able to repurchase its building at the corner of Andrássy Avenue and Vörösmarty Street. The celebratory opening ceremony was in 1986, commemorating the 175th anniversary of Liszt's birth and the 100th anniversary of his death.

From the 1988/89 academic year the president was composer József Soproni, and he held this post until 1994. In the 1989/90 academic year Répétiteur Training was started, and from 1990/91 the Church Music Department was relaunched, offering a 10-semester course, just like the other departments. From the 1991/92 academic year there was a one-time three-year course for music managers, and for radio and television music experts. Graduate musicians and students of other majors have been able to attend these latter courses and the church music course to obtain a complementary or second degree. At the beginning of the same academic year the Musical Instrument Making School was opened.

In the mid-1990s, there were further institutional changes in the teacher training faculties: the institute in Győr became a faculty of the local Széchenyi István University, and the institute in Debrecen integrated into the organization of Debrecen Universitas.

In 1995, a three-year Ph.D. programme was started at the Musicology Department, then a DLA programme at the Church Music Department, the Composition Department and the other instrumental departments.