Codarts can trace its origins to the Rotterdam Conservatorium voor Muziek (Rotterdam Conservatory of Music), popularly known as the Conservatorium Holthaus after its director, Jos Holthaus (1879-1943). In 1886 the German violinist Willy Hess took up a professorship in the Rotterdam Conservatorium voor Muziek which he held for two years.
In 1930 the alternative Rotterdamsch Toonkunst Conservatorium (Rotterdam Musical Arts Conservatory) was founded with the composer Willem Pijper as director. The Rotterdamse Dansschool (Rotterdam Dance School) was established in 1931 by Corrie Hartong as director and the German dancer Gertrud Leistikow as a teacher. At first the dance school was part of the Conservatorium Holthaus. In 1935 the dance school transferred to Pijper’s conservatory. Hartong remained as director. She was to stay in this position until 1961, and continued to teach until 1967.
World War II broke out in 1939 and the Netherlands were invaded in May 1940. On 14 May 1940 the buildings of the dance school and the main building of Pijper’s conservatory were destroyed by bombs. It was decided to merge Pijper’s and Holthaus’s conservatories into one building on Mathenesserlaan, where Holthaus had a branch. Soon they moved again to a big old house that had somehow been spared, totally surrounded by rubble, and managed to continue day classes and early evening classes before curfew throughout the remainder of the war. Until Holthaus died in 1943 the combined conservatory had two directors.
The Rotterdamse Dansschool was renamed the Rotterdamse Dansacademie (Rotterdam Dance Academy) in 1954. In 1986 the Conservatory and Dance Academy became the Hogeschool voor Muziek en Theater Rotterdam (Rotterdam University of Music and Theatre).