WorldView Episode 12: Barbara Harbach

Known for her lengthy career in composition and efforts to support underrepresented communities, Barbara Harbach has become a prominent figure in modern American classical music. She has written works for symphonies, musicals, film, ballet, solo artists and choirs, composing a symphony as recently as 2017. 

Barbara Harbach was born in Pennsylvania in 1946. She studied organ, harpsichord, and music at Penn State and Yale, and earned a doctorate in composition at the Eastman School of Music. Harbach also earned a degree from the Musikhochschule in Frankfurt, Germany, where she studied with Helmut Walcha; she said of the experience that “he did not believe that women belonged on the organ bench” and that this made it difficult to work with him. Harbach has since dedicated much of her career to uplifting and amplifying the works and lives of women and minorities in classical music, including through her creation of the St. Louis Women in the Arts program. She currently serves as Professor of Music at the University of Missouri-St.Louis. 

In addition to her experience with the Women in the Arts program, Harbach has founded and worked with several groups championing the works of women and minority artists. In 1989, she founded Vivace Press, which publishes music written by underrepresented composers. Harbach is also a co-founder and editor of Women of Note Quarterly, a journal focusing on modern and historical female composers. She has received several state and national awards for her work with these programs. 

This episode of WorldView features Harbach’s Frontier Fancies for Violin and Piano, published in 1996. It includes three short pieces, entitled Fiddleflirt, Twilight Dream, and Dancedevil. The work is performed by the University of Missouri-St. Louis Chamber Soloists. 

 

WorldView Episode Twelve Playlist:

Barbara HARBACH, “Frontier Fancies for Violin and Piano”, {UM-St.Louis Chamber Soloists} – MSR Classics

George WALKER, “Sonata for Violin & Piano”, {Eleisha Nelson (va), James Howsmon (pf)} – Sono Luminus

Alan HOVHANESS, “Symphony No. 2, Mysterious Mountain”, {Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Gerard Schwarz} – Telarc

Manuel PONCE, “Sonata Meridional”, {Franco Platino (gtr)} – Naxos

 

WorldView is a classical music radio show featuring composers from everywhere in the world – except Western Europe. Tune in to hear works by lesser-known artists such as Gabriela Montero  and Bright Sheng, and widen your knowledge of classical music. Hinke Younger hosts each week’s episode of WorldView on Mondays at 9AM and again at 6PM on Charlottesvilleclassical.org.

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