At the time The Juilliard School was founded in 1905 (as the Institute of Musical Art), the idea of establishing a music academy in America to rival the European conservatories was a novel one. But Dr. Frank Damrosch, the godson of Franz Liszt and the head of music education for New York City's public schools, was convinced that American musicians should not have to go abroad for their training. Damrosch and his financial backer, James Loeb, modestly planned for 100 students, but found that they had greatly underestimated the demand for high-quality musical training. The School quickly outgrew its original home at Fifth Avenue and 12th Street, and, in 1910, moved to new quarters on Claremont Avenue.
But the Institute is only half the story of what is now The Juilliard School; Augustus D. Juilliard and the Juilliard Graduate School are the other half. When Mr. Juilliard, a wealthy textile merchant, died in 1919, his will contained the largest single bequest for the advancement of music at that time. In 1924, the trustees of that bequest founded the Juilliard Graduate School to help worthy music students complete their education. In 1926, the Graduate School and the Institute of Musical Art merged as the Juilliard School of Music under one president, the distinguished Columbia University professor John Erskine, but with separate deans and identities. Damrosch continued as the Institute's dean, and Ernest Hutcheson was appointed dean of the Graduate School. In 1937, Hutcheson succeeded Erskine as president of the combined institutions. (Juilliard's Evening Division — originally the Extension Division — was begun in 1933, offering continuing education for adults.)
Composer William Schuman, later to win the first Pulitzer Prize for music, became president of the combined schools in 1945. Under his administration, the merger process of the schools was completed. Schuman established the Dance Division in 1951 with Martha Hill (as its first director. He also established the Juilliard String Quartet in 1946, the School's teaching and performance quartet-in-residence. And in 1947 he created an innovative music theory curriculum, called Literature and Materials of Music (known as L&M), that changed the manner in which music was taught throughout the United States. He resigned in 1961 to become president of the newly constructed Lincoln Center.
Dr. Peter Mennin, another well-known composer, was Schuman's successor. In 1968 Mennin created a Drama Division — with John Houseman as its first director and Michel Saint-Denis as consultant — and oversaw the move of Juilliard to Lincoln Center in 1969. The School changed its name to The Juilliard School to reflect its broader artistic scope. With the move also came the creation of the current Pre-College Division, offering intensive musical instruction to talented youngsters from 8 to 18. (Music lessons for young students had been provided through Juilliard's Preparatory Division since 1916.)
After Mennin's death in 1983, Dr. Joseph W. Polisi became the School's sixth and current president, beginning with the 1984-85 academic year. Dr. Polisi's term at Juilliard has been a time of vitality for the School, with the establishment of new student services, alumni programs, a revised curriculum, a new emphasis on the humanities and liberal arts, and the realization of two major goals: the completion of its first residence hall - the Meredith Willson Residence Hall - which opened in 1990, and the establishment of a jazz program - the Institute for Jazz Studies (a collaboration of The Juilliard School and Jazz at Lincoln Center) - which began in September 2001. This period of growth also has seen enhanced student and faculty financial support; the creation of an exchange program with Columbia University and Barnard College; a new emphasis on community outreach; creation of a CD-ROM to teach music to children; and a schoolwide initiative to develop interdisciplinary programs involving actors, dancers, and musicians.
During Dr. Polisi's tenure, the Juilliard Orchestra has performed in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, France, and Bermuda, and participated, in 1992, as the Evian Festival's resident ensemble. In addition, Dr. Polisi has led the process of developing a comprehensive long-range plan for the School that has resulted in a $150 million capital campaign dedicated to enhancing student financial aid and faculty compensation, as well as the development of schoolwide programs that will prepare Juilliard students for the demands of the 21st century.
The Juilliard School is located in the Upper West Side neighborhood of Manhattan. The home of diverse cultural attractions, the Upper West side is sandwiched between Riverside Park to the west and Central Park to the east. Both parks are excellent leisurely green spaces to spend a day. Central Park is especially notable, as it is New York’s "flagship" park. With over 843 acres of land, it is home to 275 species of birds. It’s quite easy to spend an entire day there too, as the park has several restaurants on its perimeter, a Boathouse, a Carousel, ball fields, a running track, reservoir, sculptures of Alice in Wonderland and Shakespeare, and a nearly endless list of events and other attractions. In addition to being the most densely populated area of the United States, the Upper West Side is the home of several academic institutions and a litany of famous people too numerous to list here. The American Museum of Natural History is among the most notable museum in the neighborhood. This world-famous museum is comprised of several different Halls, each dedicated to a particular theme. The museum's exhibition-halls house a stunning array of artifacts and specimens from all corners of the world and all historical periods including some magnificent dinosaur fossils. Other nearby cultural institutions worth checking out include the New York Historical Society, and the new Rose Center for Earth and Space which houses the Hayden Planetarium; the most technologically advanced Space Theater in existence. The Upper West Side also contains some of the greatest venues to hear classical music. There is the Metropolitan Opera House —one of the world’s leading opera companies since its opening in 1883—as well asAvery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall and the renowned New York City Opera. Additionally both The Julliard School and Fordham University grace the area. You’re bound to get hungry while visiting the neighborhood, but fear not -there are plenty of famous places to nosh or grab some classic New York smoked salmon in the Upper West Side. There’s Zabar’s—a heavenly deli if there ever was one; Fairway Market which has a huge, gourmet selection of just about everything; Citarella, with fresh fish and much more; and Murray’s Sturgeon Shop—just to name a few. If you're looking for a more substantial meal, head to Prohibition, an upscale restaurant and bar. The interior, which invokes the glamour and romance of the Prohibition-Era style of the twenties and early thirties, helps create terrific ambience. All of this has made Prohibition a mainstay on the Upper West Side. There's also the takeout booth at Carmine's. Carmine's simple and very popular concept is to serve every meal in the style of an Italian American wedding feast - which means large portions of homestyle antipasti, pastas, seafood and meat entrees served on large platters designed for sharing. And when we say large, we mean large; an entree here could easily feed three to four average eaters. After your weekend mid-day meal, take a walk back through Riverside Park or stroll down Riverside Drive and admire the impressive monuments, grand apartment buildings, and views of the Hudson River, all while burning off a few calories of course. Given the number of attractions and cultural institutions in the neighborhood, the Upper West Side is an ideal location to spend your stay in New York. The charming Excelsior Hotel is located right near the Museum of Natural History and Central Park. Meanwhile, the cozy and reasonably priced Belnord Hotel is another conveniently located option for the budget conscious traveler, as is the Comfort Inn Central Park West.
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