Augustus Julliard was born at sea as his parents were immigrating to America from France. His father was a cobbler and Augustus’ upbringing was like many of middle-class Americans. He never attended college.
Augustus began his career in the textile industry in New York City. Seven years of experience in manufacturing gave him the know-how to start his own company. His business was extremely successful, and Augustus used it to make other investments. His wealth continued to grow as America went through the boom times of the industrial revolution era.
While his own education was limited, he became a benefactor of the creative arts. He was a long-term President of the Metropolitan Opera. He also contributed to museums in New York City as well as hospitals and other charitable causes.
When he passed away at age 83, the bulk of his estate was dedicated to the advancement of musical talent. The Julliard Foundation created the Julliard Graduate School to support the development of talented music students. Later the Julliard School expanded its mission to other forms of performing arts including dance and drama.
The gift of Augustus Julliard, an immigrant to America, has given the talents of such gifted artists as Robin Williams, Aretha Franklin, Christopher Reeve, Viola Davis, John Williams, Miles Davis, Tyler Perry, Barry Manilow, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Henry Mancini, and Wynton Marsalis.
In a time when we doubt the value of higher education, it’s interesting to consider the success of those whose talents were developed by the gift provided by Augustus Julliard.
- 105 Grammy Awards
- 62 Tony Awards
- 47 Emmy Awards
- 24 Academy Awards
Two of the Julliard alumni have won an award in each of the above categories.
While the name Julliard is well known in the performing arts world, few people know the story behind the name. Hidden heroes’ names are often known, but their life stories are not.
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“I feel like I owe Julliard everything… coming from Kentucky at age 17, having a school like that giving me a chance. And if you can’t afford it, you can get a scholarship.” – Jess Weixler (actress)