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Composer, Paris, France

Berlin Prize Fellow - Class of Fall 2000

Betsy Jolas, a dual citizen of the United States and France, was born in Paris in 1926. She received her BA from Bennington College in 1946. At the same time, she sang in the Dessof Choir in New York, which she also accompanied as organist and as pianist, thus discovering the polyphonic repertory of the Renaissance which was to have a profound influence on her.


She returned to Paris in 1946 and studied under Messiaen and Milhaud at the Conservatoire National. Jolas was appointed professor of analysis at the Conservatoire de Paris in 1975 and professor of composition in 1978. She has also taught in the United States, at Yale, Harvard, University of California at Berkeley, Los Angeles and San Diego, as well as Mills College (the Darius Milhaud chair).


Jolas has been awarded prizes by the American Academy of Arts, the national music Grand Prix, the Maurice Ravel International Prize and the SACEM Prize for the best creation. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and she was made Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in 1985, “Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur” in 1997, and named “Personality of the Year” for France in 1992.

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