Alice Chalifoux

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Alice Chalifoux (January 22, 1908 – July 31, 2008) was Principal Harpist with the Cleveland Orchestra from 1931 to 1974 and, for many years, was its only female member.[1]


She was the youngest of four children born to merchant and violinist Oliver Chalifoux and his wife, harpist Alice Hallé Chalifoux in Birmingham, Alabama. After learning to play from her mother and continuing as a music student in local schools, Alice was accepted as a student of Carlos Salzedo at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[2]


Through her work with the Cleveland Orchestra, under the direction of such legendary conductors as Erich Leinsdorf, Artur Rodziński, George Szell, Pierre Boulez, and Lorin Maazel, Chalifoux quickly became recognized as a specialist in orchestral technique. Her recording of the Debussy Danses sacrée et profane with the Cleveland Orchestra[3] received a Grammy Award in 1996. Chalifoux was known as a strong advocate of the method for the harp developed by Salzedo, and earned a reputation as a master teacher through many years of teaching at The Cleveland Institute of Music, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory of Music. Well known as an authoritative coach in the music of Carlos Salzedo, she also had strengths in helping solve fingering problems, and identifying and correcting physical problems in playing. Her editing of orchestra parts was invaluable to her profession. Chalifoux was the primary instructor at the Salzedo Summer Harp Colony, in Camden, Maine, after the death of Salzedo in 1961.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Chalifoux married John Gordon Rideout in 1937 and had a daughter, Alyce. Her husband died in 1951. Chalifoux died in 2008 at the age of 100.[1]


Her students continue to hold posts with major orchestras and important teaching positions.

  • Ann Hobson Pilot, Boston Symphony Orchestra, New England Conservatory, Boston University, Tanglewood
  • Yolanda Kondonassis, Oberlin Conservatory, Cleveland Institute of Music, major recording artist for Telarc
  • Jacquelyn Bartlett, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, North Carolina Symphony, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Fire Pink Trio
  • Anna Maria Mendieta, Sacramento Philharmonic
  • Alice Giles, International soloist, first prizewinner in the 8th Israel International Harp Competition
  • Mary Bircher, Omaha Symphony Orchestra, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Anastasia Pike, Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University, Christopher Newport University, and Teachers College, Columbia University


  1. ^ a b c Donald Rosenberg (2008-08-01). "Former Cleveland Orchestra harpist Alice Chalifoux dies at 100". Cleveland Plain Dealer. Archived from the original on 2012-10-06. Retrieved 2013-05-19.
  2. ^ Alice Chalifoux Archived 2008-05-11 at the Wayback Machine. Special Citation for Distinguished Service to the Arts. Cleveland Arts Prize, 1986
  3. ^ Boulez conducts Debussy (Sony) [1] Archived 2008-11-21 at the Wayback Machine Track: La Mer.

Further reading[edit]

  • Pike, Anastasia (2008). Alice Chalifoux: a Centenarian's Legacy. The American Harp Journal. Summer 2008.