Julia Perry

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Julia Amanda Perry (25 March 1924 – 12 October 1979) was an African-American composer of classical music.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born in Lexington, Kentucky, Perry studied voice, piano and composition at the Westminster Choir College 1943–48 and came to prominence as a result of a scholarship to the Berkshire Music Center where she was a student of Luigi Dallapiccola. She later traveled to Florence to continue her music studies with Dallapiccola and afterwards to France to study under Nadia Boulanger. Whilst in Europe, Perry lectured for the United States Information Service and planned as well as conducted a series of critically acclaimed concerts. She was named a Guggenheim fellow in 1954.[2]

Musical style[edit]

Perry's musical style was primarily neoclassical and she wrote a great deal of music during her relatively short life and career. Her works include the Stabat Mater of 1951 for contralto and string orchestra or string quartet,[3] Homunculus C.F., a piece scored for four timpani, a small and large suspended cymbal, two medium cymbals, snare drum, bass drum, small and large wood blocks, xylophone, celesta/piano, vibraphone, and harp (1960),[4] several symphonies and the opera The Cask of Amontillado, her 1959 Requiem for Orchestra, or Homage to Vivaldi,based on themes by the composer; several shorter orchestral works; chamber music; a violin concerto; twelve symphonies; and two piano concertos. . In addition to instrumental works, she composed a three-act opera titled, The Symplegades, based on the seventeenth century Salem Witch Trials, an opera-ballet based on Oscar Wilde’s fable, The Selfish Giant, Five Quixotic Songs (1976) for bass-baritone solo, two clarinets, baritone horn, and piano; and Bicentennial Reflections (1977) for tenor solo and six instruments. [5]


  1. ^ Zick, William (December 14, 2007), "Julia Amanda Perry (1924–1979), African American Composer", Africalassical, retrieved November 12, 2012 
  2. ^ "Julia (Amanda) Perry", Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, January 1, 2001, retrieved November 12, 2012 
  3. ^ Briscoe, James. R. Historical Anthology of Music by Women. Indiana University Press. Bloomington: 1987.
  4. ^ Perry, Julia. "Homunculus C.F." Musical Score. Southern Music Publishing Company. 1966.
  5. ^ Ammer, Christine. Unsung: A History of Women in American Music. Amadeus Press. Hong Kong: 2001.