The Juilliard School's graduate-level historical performance programme has been endowed to the tune of $20m with a gift from the school's board chairman, Bruce Kovner.

The programme, which began in 2009 and focuses on music from the 17th and 18th centuries, offers tuition-free training for student violinists, cellists, double bassists and other instrumentalists. Viola da gamba teaching will be added in the next academic year, when the number of students enrolling on the programme is set to rise to 27. The programme is headed by violinist Monica Huggett, and includes cellist Phoebe Carrai and double bassist Robert Nairn among its faculty.

Kovner, a former hedge fund chairman, has financially supported the historical performance programme from its inception, giving between $500,000 and $1m a year, according to the New York Times. In 2006 he donated his collection of 139 autograph manuscripts and sketchbooks to the Juilliard School to create the Juilliard Manuscript Collection.