Julia Amanda Perry was a renowned composer of neoclassical music during her relatively brief life.
Perry was born on March 25, 1924, in Lexington, Kentucky but spent most of her childhood growing up in Akron, Ohio.
Her father, Dr. Abe Perry, was a doctor and amateur pianist, who once accompanied the tenor Roland Hayes on tour. Her mother, America Perry, encouraged her children to pursue music. Julia and her sisters studied violin from a young age, Julia later switching to the piano after two years of violin.
After graduating from Akron High School, Perry attended Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey from 1943 to 1948, where she graduated with a bachelors and masters in music. She went on to continue
her musical training at the Julliard School of Music and she also spent summers at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood, Massachusetts. Her first major composition, the Stabat Mater, appeared in 1951. Three years later in 1954 her opera, The Cask of Amontillado, was first staged at Columbia University. She also wrote Homage to Vivaldi for performance by symphony orchestras.
Perry received two Guggenheim fellowships to study in Florence, Italy under the tutelage of Lugia Dallapiccola and in Paris, France with Nadia Boulanger in 1952 and 1954. After spending nearly a decade in Europe studying with several prominent composers, she returned to the United States in 1959 to become part of the music faculty at Florida A & M College (now University) and later took a teaching position at Atlanta University.
By the late 1960s, her works had received wide acclaim and were performed by the New York Philharmonic and other major orchestras. During her life, Perry completed 12 symphonies, two concertos, and three operas, in addition to several smaller pieces. Julia Amanda Perry died on April 29, 1979, in Akron, Ohio at the age of 55.