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The Juilliard School: when it was founded, who it’s named after and some of its most famous alumni

A quick guide to the history of the famous Juilliard School in New York and its illustrious past students

The Juilliard School, New York: when it was founded, who it's named after and some of its most famous alumni

Who founded the Juilliard School?

The Juilliard School, dates back to 1905. It was originally founded as the Institute of Musical Art by Liszt’s godson Frank Damrosch, who wanted to offer talented musicians a chance to study to the highest level without having to travel abroad. From the outset, there was strong competition for places and within five years the Institute had moved away from its Fifth Avenue home to allow it to expand.


Who is the Juilliard School named after?

A major bequest in the will of the wealthy textile merchant Augustus Juilliard in 1919 led to the institute’s change of name – first as the Juilliard Graduate School, then the Juilliard School of Music and, from 1968, simply the Juilliard School.

Where is the Juilliard School based?

Since 1969, the Juilliard School has been based in Manhatten at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the distinctive sharp corners of its Alice Tully Hall an instantly recognisable feature. There are around 800 students at the School, studying undergraduate and post-graduate degrees not just in music but also drama and dance.

Which famous people went to Juilliard School?

Its list of former pupils is impressive, including composers Rautavaara, Philip Glass and Steve Reich, violinists Pinchas Zukerman, Nigel Kennedy and Sarah Chang, and sopranos Leontyne Price and Renée Fleming. Jazz legends Miles Davis (one of the greatest jazz trumpet players ever), Nina Simone and Chick Corea (one of the best jazz pianists ever) also studied here, as did actors including Robin Williams, Kelsey Grammer and Kelly McGillis.

The Juilliard School has been named the best music college  and conservatoire in the world

Read more about the history in the book Juilliard: A History 


Top image shows the Juilliard School in the  1920s. (Photo by MCNY/Gottscho-Schleisner/Getty Images)