In June 1947, the Music Academy offered financial assistance for students to attend its inaugural season. Scholarships were funded by Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, Jascha Heifetz, and Hollywood studio mogul Daryl F. Zanuck, among others.

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Early faculty included music luminaries Lotte Lehmann, a co-founder along with Otto Klemperer, Roman Totenberg, Ernest Bloch, Darius Milhaud, Roy Harris, Rosalyn Tureck, Arnold Schoenberg (the Academy’s first composer in residence), and John Charles Thomas.