Jac Holzman

Founder, Elektra and Nonesuch Records
St. John’s College (MD),
Jac Holzman Headshot

​​I was told that I would be attending St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland—a liberal arts college; I was given no option.​

My personal choice had been Reed College in Portland, Oregon, also a liberal arts college, but blessedly some 2,700 miles away from my New York home. My dad, who was paying the bills, wanted to mute my inclination for mischief in the city where he was born, and thus I was sentenced to St. John’s, with no right of appeal.
St. Johnnies read and argued the actual books upon which western civilization had shaped its own evolution, the original texts. If the texts were by the Greeks, we read them in Greek, Attic Greek—the language of Plato and Aristotle.
I was thrown off the deep end without water wings or redress.
My class attendance was ragged. I spent long hours in the electronics hut, the machine shop, for three up-and-down years. Then I left St. John's with an unstoppable urgency to begin my personal journey.
Though I left St. John’s with a sense of the incomplete, my exposure to the college has guided my every step. It was the liberal arts, with its respect for truth, the felicitous use of language, and an appreciation for precision and logic in “process.” These seeped into who I was becoming and would become. Happily, there was no escape.
The liberal arts are not unlike a carom shot in billiards; they touch your head and your heart. The ball bounces off the cushion in your sight line, and then careens around the table, coming at you from odd angles. You instinctively integrate the multi-disciplines of the liberal arts, build upon them, and then bequeath those benefits to the generations that follow.

Jac Holzman founded Elektra and Nonesuch Records and has also worked as the chairman of Panavision, chief technologist of Warner Communications, Inc., director of Atari, and chairman of Cinema Products (builders of the Oscar-winning Steadicam camera stabilizer). He is currently senior advisor to the CEO of the Warner Music Group.