Tully, Alice (1902–1993)

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Tully, Alice (1902–1993)

American opera singer and philanthropist. Born on September 11, 1902; died on December 10, 1993, in New York City; the daughter of a Corning heiress and a state senator; studied in Paris with Jean Perier and Miguel Fontecha.

Alice Tully was the maternal granddaughter of Amory Houghton, who founded the Corning Glass Works, and inherited his accumulated wealth. A trained singer, she was fairly successful as a mezzo-soprano and later as a dramatic soprano in opera and recitals from the late 1920s to the 1940s; she was also a specialist in French repertory. In the 1940s, Tully became interested in philanthropy: she contributed to museums, libraries, and the arts and was a patron, friend, and supporter of other singers, pianists, and composers. In 1958, she received her inheritance on the death of her mother and expanded her philanthropic interests accordingly. She founded the Maya Corporation, which made anonymous gifts to the arts, until friends urged her to drop the anonymity. In the late 1960s, she was the main donor of finances for the $4.5 million Alice Tully Hall, a visually and acoustically impressive chamber-music concert hall that opened at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in 1969. She was particularly interested in what she called the hall's "creature comforts," and made sure it was luxuriously appointed. In addition to providing money for the hall, Tully also subsidized the formation of the hall's resident ensemble, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. She was a member of the boards of the Juilliard School of Music, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera, and many other educational and arts institutions. She died at her Manhattan home in 1993.

Kelly Winters , freelance writer

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