Biography of Juilliard Founder
Augustus D. Juilliard

Augustus D. Juilliard, Juilliard founder, was born at sea April 19, 1836 during his parent's three month voyage from France to America. Augustus Juilliard's father, Jean Nicolas Juilliard, was a shoemaker and both Jean Nicolas Juilliard and his wife, Anna (Burlette) Juilliard were Huguenots, or Protestants, from Burgundy. The Juilliard family emigrated to and settled in Ohio to work in the dry goods market. Augustus Juilliard often traveled to New York on buying trips and impressed textile merchants with his fluent French.

In 1866, the Juilliard founder settled in New York and worked for a manufacturing company of worsted fabrics. The company went bankrupt seven years later in 1873 and Augustus Juilliard created his own corporation, the Augustus D. Juilliard Company, in 1874 distributing textiles including wool, silk, and cotton. Augustus Juilliard became very wealthy through his business' success and remained the senior partner of his company until his death.

Juilliard Founder, Augustus Juilliard

Juilliard was a very genial and charming man and has been described as "possessing outstanding executive ability, high character, unusually keen business sense and a forceful, commanding personality." Augustus Juilliard had an extremely wide range of interests including a love of music and was greatly sought for his sound judgment and advice. Augustus Juilliard married Helen Marcelus Cositt in 1877, but they never had children. Together, Augustus and Helen built two houses in the city and he became a board member of the Metropolitan Opera, which he actively supported until his death. Juilliard loved the opera and was always expanding his knowledge by asking questions of trained musicians about opera.

Because of his prestige and varied interests, the Juilliard founder became involved in the political world. He was involved in a landmark Supreme Court case involving the government's right to issue paper money with legal-tender status. The Augustus Juilliard also spent much of his time in Washington DC testifying before the house Ways and Means Committee in favor of equalizing the tariff on woolens and worsteds. In 1893, the Juilliard Founder supported William McKinley in his successful presidential election, having met him when McKinley was on the Ways and Means Committee. Juilliard's wife died in 1916 and his own death was soon to follow.

Augustus D. Juilliard died on April 25, 1919 at the age of eighty-three and was buried in a mausoleum in Woodlawn Cemetery. On June 27, 1919, Augustus Juilliard's will was read and to the amazement of all, Juilliard had left millions in a bequest to set up a corporation that was to be known as the Juilliard Musical Foundation. Several million more were distributed to other recipients, but the primary beneficiary was Juilliard's nephew, Frederick Juilliard, who was also named one of three trustees of the Juilliard Musical Foundation (JMF). The Juilliard founder, however, had the great disadvantage of not being able to directly influence or specify how his money was to be used to run his own school. The JMF later joined with the Institute of Musical Art and formed the now world renowned performing arts institution, The Juilliard School.

Juilliard Founder, Augustus Juilliard


There have been discrepancies in the exact sum that was left in trust for the JMF. The amount was first reported to be $5 million dollars and was later exaggerated by the press and media to $20 million. The actual amount was somewhere in the vicinity of $12.5 to $13.5 million dollars, making this one of the largest single bequests ever for the development of music. Augustus D. Juilliard, Juilliard's founder, provided a great service through his generosity to the artistic community and through artists to humanity in general.

Part of Augustus Juilliard's legacy is our organization, Hire Conservatory Alumni, consisting of Juilliard graduates. We provide world class musicians for corporate events, commercial projects and recordings, weddings, and teaching, all at an affordable price. If you would like to learn more about our services, or how to make your event a memorable one, then browse through our site. Contact us through the form below or by phone at (630) 292-6182 if you have any questions or are interested in having the best trained musicians in the world perform for your event.

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