Julia Perry: Neoclassicism at its Best

We’ve featured American composer Julia Perry (1924-1979) on this blog before, but the excellence of her music—and the neglect it still faces—bears more mention.

Born in Ohio, Perry received support from her parents for her musical endeavors from an early age.  A graduate of Westminster Choir College, Perry went on to study with Nadia Boulanger and become an important voice in the neoclassic community.  She wrote several works for voice and orchestra, won many awards and accolades, including two Guggenheim Fellowships, and in 1959 was a faculty member at Florida A&M University.  During her lifetime her works were widely performed, including at such exclusive institutions as the New York Philharmonic.  She was prolific: 12 symphonies, 2 concerti, 3 operas.

Her compositions slowed after suffering a stroke.  But she persisted, even teaching herself to write with her left hand so she could continue to work.  She died at age 55.  Her papers are held at Rider University.

Here is an example of her orchestral writing:


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