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Julia Amanda Perry attended Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, where she completed her master's degree in 1948. She continued composition studies at the Juilliard School in New York and received Guggenheim Fellowships to study with Luigi Dallapiccola in Florence, Italy, and with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, returning to the United States in 1959. In 1971 she suffered a paralytic stroke. She taught herself to write with her left hand and was able to return to composing before her death. Perry's compositions include twelve symphonies, a violin concerto, two piano concertos, other instrumental and chamber works, and several operas.