George and Julia Katz: Formative Experiences at Juilliard Inspire a Generous Gift
It is always a great pleasure to meet Juilliard alumni when they visit the School, particularly when they are as charming as alumnus George Katz and his wife Julia. George, who studied at Juilliard in the 50s, received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in piano.
Considering the many schools that students apply to today, he remembers with amazement, "I applied nowhere else but Juilliard and was awarded a scholarship to help with tuition - in 1950 it was only $500 per year!"
During his final year of study at Juilliard, George won the Walter Naumburg Competition, which provided for his debut recital at the Town Hall in New York. He also received a Fulbright grant for study in Paris, where he worked with legendary French pianist Alfred Cortot, among others. Since then he has performed widely, presenting two recitals at Carnegie Hall and touring in Japan, Europe, and Latin America, as well as in the United States.
While continuing his active performing career, George held teaching posts at Drake University and Ohio University, where he helped to launch the careers of many talented pianists. Among his former students are Bruce Brubaker, chair of the piano faculty at the New England Conservatory, Mark Lawson, a pianist and coach at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, and composer and pianist Shawn Kirchner, who was recently appointed as Composer in Residence of the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
Equally talented, Julia Katz studied ballet at the Boston Conservatory and the National Academy of Dance in Rome. She pursued graduate studies in opera scenic design at Indiana University and taught design at Ohio State and at Drake University, where she and George met. Today, Julia's artistry is expressed through her painting, which has won several local awards and has been exhibited nationally.
In addition to their shared love for music and the arts, Julia and George discovered a love of sailing, which prompted their move to San Diego, where George taught at San Diego State for seven years before retiring to explore the inside passage to Alaska on their sailboat. "Among our fondest memories," George recalls "are the summers we spent attending master classes and concerts at the Academy of the West while living on our sailboat in Santa Barbara harbor."
As devoted as ever to the piano and to his students, George continues to teach privately in San Diego, serves on the board of two foundations in the area and is treasurer of The Musical Merit Foundation of Greater San Diego.
He and Julia continue to visit Juilliard, often during trips to the East Coast to see family. It was recalling the experiences George had as a student that led them to create the George and Julia Katz Trust, which will one day support visiting artists at Juilliard. "I think it is important to expose students to varying points of view," says George. "In recent years the interchange of ideas between faculty and students at Juilliard has become much freer than when I was a student. Teachers encourage their students to obtain and weigh different points of view for themselves."
This positive feeling about the present and the future at Juilliard, and its students and faculty, led them to make this generous provision in their trust, a provision that will benefit Juilliard's future tremendously. We are deeply grateful for their longtime support and salute them for their foresight in providing generously for Juilliard's future.