Granby’s connection to The Juilliard School

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Past locations of the Juilliard School of Music

Granby has an amazing connection with the famous Juilliard School in New York City.

Frederick and Catherine Andrus Cossitt had four children. The oldest was Helen Marcellus Cossitt who, on February 6, 1877, married Augustus D. Juilliard. Augustus was 41 and Helen was 30 years of age at the time of their marriage. They had no children but found themselves devoted to music and educational training in the arts. Augustus, like his father-in-law, was a self-made man who made immense wealth in the dry goods business as well as banking and insurance. By 1895 Augustus was one of New York City’s most prominent and wealthy citizens.

Augustus D. Juilliard

The son of immigrants from the Burgundy region of France, Juilliard was born at sea while his parents were on the journey to the United States. His parents were Jean Nicolas Juilliard, a shoemaker, and Anna Burlette, both Huguenots. Augustus was raised near Louisville, Ohio, and attended local schools.

In 1866, Juilliard moved to New York City, where he worked in the garment industry for a textile manufacturing company that produced worsted fabrics. When the company went bankrupt seven years later, Juilliard founded his own corporation, the Augustus D. Juilliard Company, in 1874. The corporation distributed textiles including wool, silk, and cotton.

He became a successful and wealthy merchant, who added to his fortune through investments and board appointments in banking, railroad and insurance. He and Helen resided in Tuxedo Park, N. Y., where they owned a grand mansion, and also had a flat on the West Side of Manhattan. At Helen’s passing in 1916, Augustus received millions from her personal fortune.

Juilliard was established in 1905 as the Institute of Musical Art by Dr. Frank Damrosch, the godson of Franz Liszt and the head of music education for New York City’s public schools. Damrosch was convinced that American musicians should not have to go abroad for advanced study, and created the Institute as an American music academy that would provide an educational experience comparable to that of the established European conservatories. At that time the United States did not have a premier music school and too many students were going to Europe to study music.

Julliard agreed and soon the Institute opened in the former Lenox Mansion, Fifth Avenue and 12th Street, on Oct. 11, 1905. Although they made a modest plan for just 100 students, the initial enrollment figures were nearly five times what was expected. It was found that they had greatly underestimated the demand for high-quality musical training. The Institute quickly outgrew its original home and moved in 1910 to 120 Claremont Avenue in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, formerly the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum.

A patron of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History, Juilliard served as President of the Metropolitan Opera for nearly three decades, from 1892 until his death. He made bequests to hospitals, museums and other charitable causes, but the vast majority of his estate, $5 million, was designated for the advancement of music in the United States. Juilliard died in 1919, aged 83, at his home in New York City.

Trustees of his estate set up the Juilliard Foundation in 1920 to accomplish his goals, and in 1924, the Foundation’s funds were used by its Trustees to establish the Juilliard Graduate School to assist excelling students with an advanced music education and as a graduate music conservatory. Gradually programs were added in dance and theater. The foundation purchased the Vanderbilt family guesthouse at 49 E. 52nd Street, and established it as the location for the new Graduate School.

In 1926, the Juilliard School of Music was created through a merger of the Institute of Musical Art and the Juilliard Graduate School. The two schools shared a common board of directors and president but retained their distinct identities. The conductor and music-educator Frank Damrosch continued as the Institute’s dean, and the Australian pianist and composer Ernest Hutcheson was appointed dean of the Graduate School.

In 1937, Hutcheson was named president of the two institutions, a job he held until 1945. In 1946, the Institute of Musical Art and the Juilliard Graduate School completely merged to form a single institution. The president of the school at that time was William Schuman, the first winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music. Schuman established the Juilliard String Quartet in 1946 and the Dance Division in 1951, under the direction of Martha Hill.

Today the Juilliard School is the professional educational arm of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The Juilliard School offers bachelor’s degrees in music, dance, and drama and postgraduate degrees in music. Throughout its history, The Juilliard School has maintained a commitment to providing the highest caliber of artistic and educational experience to exceptionally talented young performing artists from around the world.

The Juilliard School, today. Submitted photo