American Academy of Arts and Letters
- John Shepard
Organization of American writers, artists, architects, and composers. The National Institute of Arts and Letters, founded in 1898 by the American Social Sciences Association, formed the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1904 to confer further distinction on 50 of its 250 members. In 1976 the two organizations merged under a single board of directors, although they continued to function as separate bodies. In 1993, the two organizations combined to form one organization of 250 members, called the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Its headquarters is in New York.
The Academy has encouraged the advancement of music in the United States by presenting concerts of American works and by giving financial assistance to composers through the administration of awards and prizes. Among the musicians elected to the academy have been John Adams, Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Cage, Elliott Carter, Copland, Henry Cowell, Ellington, Gideon, Charles Ives, Piston, Rochberg, Schuman, Sessions, Stravinsky, Thomson, Tower, and Zwilich. At an annual ceremony, new members are inducted, honorary membership is bestowed on foreign artists (such as Benjamin Britten and Pierre Boulez), and various awards are presented (...