Julia Amanda Perry

Another one of Nadia Boulanger’s Paris students,  Julia Perry (1924-1979)  was born in Kentucky.  Her father was a doctor and amateur pianist, who once accompanied the tenor Roland Hayes on tour (unclear in what role).  Julia started off on the violin but switched to the piano after 2 years. She did her musical training at Westminster Choir College and Juilliard, before receiving two Guggenheim fellowships to study first in Florence, with Lugia Dallapiccola and then in Paris with Boulanger. She returned to the United States in 1959 to become part of the music faculty at Florida A & M College (now University) and later took a teaching position at Atlanta University.  Throughout the 1960s she organized and conducted concerts around the world for the U.S. Information Service (USIS). By the late 1960s her works had received wide acclaim and were performed by the New York Philharmonic and other major orchestras. Perry won awards and accolades from the National Association of Negro Musicians, the Boulanger Grand Prix for her viola sonata, and the National Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1971, however, Perry suffered the first of two strokes which left her hospitalized for several years.  She taught herself to write with her left hand so she could continue to compose. During her life, Perry completed 12 symphonies, two concertos, and three operas, in addition to numerous smaller pieces. Julia Amanda Perry died at age 55 on April 29, 1979 in Akron, Ohio. Her music is characterized by extensive use of percussion, and interesting neoclassical harmonies. #Blackcomposers 


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