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Augustus Juilliard Dies (1919); Juilliard Dance Theater Debuts (1955); Arthur Miller Visits Juilliard (1979); Menotti Stages Operas (1987)

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The following events in Juilliard’s history occurred in April:

Lola Huth

Lola Huth in the Juilliard Dance Theater’s revival of Doris Humphrey’s Life of the Bee, 1955

(Photo by W.H. Stephan)

Original members of the Juilliard Dance Theater in the premiere of Doris Humphrey’s The Rock and the Spring, 1955.

(Photo by W.H. Stephan)

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1919 April 25, textile manufacturer Augustus D. Juilliard died at the age of 83. His will left approximately $15 million for the advancement of music in the United States; at the time, the bequest was the largest of its kind.

1955 April 19-20, the Juilliard Dance Theater, a modern-dance repertory company led by artistic director and chief choreographer Doris Humphrey, made its professional debut with the premiere of Humphrey’s The Rock and the Spring, set to Frank Martin’s Petite Symphonie Concertante,  and a revival of her 1929 Life of the Bee, in a new musical setting of Paul Hindemith’s Kammermusik No. 1. Guest choreographer Anna Sokolow also created Primavera, set to Arthur Benjamin’s Concerto for Oboe and Strings, for the company’s first performances. Frederick Prausnitz led the Juilliard Orchestra; soloists included oboist Melvin Kaplan, harpist Sonya Kahn, harpsichordist Stoddard Lincoln, and pianist Ruth Mense. The Juilliard Dance Theater was established in the fall of 1954 with the aim of producing repertory and new works, and offering training, daily rehearsals, and performance experience to gifted young dancers. Of this first company, seven dancers were Juilliard undergraduates and nine were invited or chosen by competitive auditions.

1979 April 20, playwright Arthur Miller visited Juilliard and held a discussion with drama students.

1987 April 24, 26, and 28, the Juilliard American Opera Center presented a double bill of operas by Gian Carlo Menotti in honor of his 75th birthday: the New York premiere of Tamu-Tamu and the composer’s first opera, Amelia al Ballo. Mr. Menotti staged his operas at Juilliard with Mark Stringer conducting. Among the cast members were Stephen Biggers, Peiwen Chao, Renée Fleming, Jane Gilbert, Keith Heimann, Ning Liang, Jeffrey Morrissey, Mi-Hae Park, Francis Porretta, Michelle Shayne, Young Ok Shin, Korliss Uecker, Kewei Wang, and Jianyi Zhang.

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