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Sidney Harth (Violin, Conductor)

Born: October 5, 1925 - Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Died: February 15, 2011 - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

The American violinist, conductor, and music pedagogue, Sidney Harth, graduated with Bachelor of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music in 1947. His principal teachers were Joseph Knitzer and Mishel Piastro. He then took lessons with Joseph Fuchs and and George Enescu. He was a recepient of the prize in 1948, and made his debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1949. He made his European debut touring France with pianist Theodore Lettvin in 1951-1952 in a concert series organized by the National Music League and the Jeunesses Musicales International. In 1957, he won second prize (Laureate Prize) at the Wieniawski Violin Competition in Poland. It created something of a sensation because he was the first American to win one of the top prizes at that competition.

Sidney Harth is best known for being Concertmaster of several prominent American orchestras: the Louisville Symphony Orchestra (1953-1958 or 1952-1959, under Robert Whitney), Chicago Symphony Orchestra (1959-1962), Casals Festival Orchestra in San Juan (1959-1965; 1972), Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra (1973-1979), and New York Philharmonic Orchestra (interim Concertmaster, 1979-1980 or 1980-1981). On January 30, 1965, he soloed with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in Wieniawski’s second concerto. Harth was a familiar figure at the leading summer music festivals including the Aspen Music Festival, Banff Music Festival, Vancouver Summer Festival, Grands Interprets dans le Valle du Lot in France, and the popular festivals in Santa Barbara, Maine, Alaska, Texas, and Tennessee.

Sidney Harth later settled down to an orchestral career with frequent solo and conducting engagements thrown in. In fact, in Los Angeles, he was often criticized for his numerous absences from his orchestral duties. He performed as a soloist with major orchestras in North and South America, Europe, Russia, Israel, and China. He also enjoyed an active conducting career, with appointments as Assistant Conductor of the Louisville Symphony Orchestra; Career: Conductor of Evanston (Illinois) Orchestra (1960-1962), Associate Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra (1973-1979); Chief Guest Conductor of Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra (1975-1977), Music Director of Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra (1977-1979), Music Director of Northwest Chamber Orchestra of Seattle (1990-1993), and Principal Conductor of the Natal Symphony Orchestra in Durban, South Africa (1994-1999).

Sidney Harth held faculty positions at the Career: University of Louisville (Associate Professor: 1953-1958), DePaul University (1959-1962), University of Texas in Houston, State University of New York (SUNY) in Stony Brook (Professor of Violin: 1981-1982), Mannes College of Music in New York (Director of Orchestral Studies: 1981-1984), Yale School of Music (Professor of Violin for 17 years: 1982-1999), and Hartt College of Music at the University of Connecticut in Hartford (Director of Orchestral Activities: 1991-1993). He was the Head of the Music Department and the Andrew W. Mellon Permanent Professor of Music at Carnegie-Mellon University, where he also taught violin and chamber music (1963-1973). In 1989-1990 he was Director of Orchestral Studies in this institute. From 2001 to 2011 he was the Director of Orchestral Activities and Adjunct Professor of Violin at Duquesne University Mary Pappert School of Music in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was also a faculty member of Aspen Music Festival in Colorado from 1963 to 1974.

Sidney Harth's numerous recordings made an enormous contribution to classical discography. He made a number of recordings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Krakow Radio and Television Orchestra. His recording of the violin solos in Scheherazade with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Fritz Reiner is still much talked about. Harth’s first appearance with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra came on June 23, 1964. He played the Johannes Brahms's Double Concerto and the L.v. Beethoven's Triple Concerto on the same program (assisted by Leslie Parnas and Leonard Pennario.)

From 1957, Sidney Harth played a Domenico Montagnana violin from 1740 aptly named the Duchess of Cleaveland. He later played a Stradivari violin constructed in 1737 that bears a fancy French name. His prolific career as a performer and educator earned him countless honors and accolades. he received honorary doctorates from the Cleveland Institute of Music and Manhattan School of Music. He was initiated as an honorary member of the Zeta Kappa chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity, the national fraternity for men in music, in 1958 and was selected as a National Honorary member of the Fraternity in 1966.

Sidney Harth married his classmate Teresa Testa, who was likewise a musician. Both their children, Laura and Robert, also became professionals in music production and arts administration. Teresa Harth passed away in February 2010. Their son, Robert J. Harth, was CEO of Carnegie Hall; he passed away in January 2004. Sidney Harth died on February 15, 2011 in Pittsburgh. He was 85 years old. He is survived by his daughter, music producer Laura Harth Rodriguez, as well as his son-in-law and grandson.

Source: Wikipedia Website (September 2013); Obituary in Yale School of Music Website (February 16, 2011); Prone to Violins Blog; WoldCat Libraries; Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997); Bis & pieces from other surces
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (March 2014)

Sidney Harth: Short Biography | Recordings of Vocal Works | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Links to other Sites

In memoriam: Violinist and conductor Sidney Harth, former faculy member (Yale School of Music Website)
Magic Moments: Remembering Sidney Harth
Sidney Harth Obituary (
Sidney Harth, former Los Angeles Philharmonic concertmaster, dies at 85 (Los Angeles Times)
Sidney Harth (October 5, 1925 – February 15, 2011) (Lousville Orchesra)

Prone to Violins: Sidney Harth
Sidney Harth (Wikipedia)
Sidney Harth (Wieniawski)

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