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Nine years later, a wealthy textile merchant named Augustus Juilliard died and left in his will the largest single bequest for the advancement of music at that time. The trustees of the bequest founded the Juilliard Graduate School in 1924 to help worthy music students complete their education. In 1926, the Graduate School and the Institute of Musical Art merged to become the Juilliard School of Music under one president, the distinguished Columbia University professor John Erskine. Erskine was succeeded in 1937 by renowned concert pianist and composer Ernest Hutcheson, who served in the position until 1945.
Succeeding Hutcheson in 1945, composer William Schuman expanded Juilliard’s identity as a conservatory devoted exclusively to music study with the establishment of the Dance Division, under the direction of Martha Hill, in 1951. He also established the Juilliard String Quartet as the school's quartet in residence, and the Literature and Materials of Music program, a groundbreaking music theory curriculum.