Donald Harris (composer)

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Donald Harris
Born(1931-04-07)April 7, 1931
DiedMarch 29, 2016(2016-03-29) (aged 84)
  • Classical composer
  • Academic teacher
OrganizationOhio State University

Donald Harris (April 7, 1931, in St. Paul, Minnesota  – March 29, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio)[1] was an American composer who taught music at Ohio State University for 22 years. He was Dean of the College of the Arts from 1988 to 1997.[2]

Harris earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in Music from the University of Michigan. He completed further studies at the Tanglewood Music Center and the Centre Français d'Humanisme Musical in Aix-en-Provence. He studied with Ross Lee Finney, Max Deutsch, Nadia Boulanger, Boris Blacher, Lukas Foss, and André Jolivet. He founded the Contemporary Music Festival at Ohio State in 2000.[3] Prior to joining the faculty at Ohio State, he served on the faculties and as an administrator of the New England Conservatory of Music[4] and the Hartt School of Music.[5] From 1954 to 1968, Harris lived in Paris, where he served as music consultant to the United States Information Agency and produced the city's first postwar Festival of Contemporary American Music.[6] A documentary about Harris entitled Sonata 1957 was produced by Daniel Beliavsky through opus1films in 2011.[7] It explores Harris's development in mid-20th-century Paris, when pre-war musical thought bridged with post-war experimentation.


Stage Works[edit]

  • The Legend Of John Henry (1954) ballet for orchestra
  • The Golden Deer (1955) ballet for orchestra
  • Intervals (1959) dance work for chamber ensemble


  • Piano Sonata (1957) [8]
  • Fantasy For Violin & Piano (1957) [9]
  • Symphony In Two Movements (1958–1961) [10]
  • String Quartet (1965) [11]
  • Ludus (1966) for ten instruments [12]
  • Ludus II (1973) for five instruments [13]
  • On Variations (1976) for chamber orchestra [14]
  • Charmes (1971–1980; unfinished) for soprano and orchestra; after the poems of Paul Valéry
  • For The Night To Wear (1978) for mezzo-soprano and chamber ensemble; after the Hortense Flexner poem [15]
  • Balladen (1979) for solo piano [16]
  • Of Hartford In A Purple Light (1979) for soprano with piano accompaniment; after the Wallace Stevens poem [17]
  • Prelude To A Concert In Connecticut (1981) for orchestra
  • Les Mains (1983) for mezzo-soprano with piano accompaniment; after the Marguerite Yourcenar poem [18]
  • Meditations (1984) for solo organ [19]
  • Three Fanfares For Four Horns (1984) [20]
  • Canzona & Carol (1986) for double brass quintet and timpani [21]
  • Pierrot Lieder (1988) for soprano and chamber ensemble; after the Albert Giraud poem[22]
  • Mermaid Variations (1992) for chamber orchestra [23]
  • String Quartet #2 (2002)
  • A Lyric Fanfare (2003) for orchestra [24]
  • Five Tempi (Ludus III) (2004) for chamber ensemble [24]
  • Symphony No. 2 (2006–11) for large orchestra; co-commissioned by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation and Columbus Symphony Orchestra[25]
  • Kaleidoscope (2007) for orchestra

Awards and honors[edit]

Harris was awarded a Fulbright Award in 1956, the Prince Rainier III of Monaco Composition Award in 1962 (deuxieme mention), a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1966, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grant in Composition in 1974, the A.C. Fuller Award of the Julius Hartt Musical Foundation in 1988, and the ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award in 1989 (for co-editing The Berg Schoenberg Correspondence [26]). He received commissions with the Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation (Library of Congress), Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation (Library of Congress), St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Radio France, Cleveland Orchestra, Goethe Institute (Boston), Boston Musica Viva, Connecticut Public Radio, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Arnold Schoenberg Institute, and Festival of Contemporary American Music at Tanglewood.[6] In 1991, he received an award in composition from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which led to a retrospective recording of his work on the CRI label in 1994.[6] In 2011, he was the featured composer of the Ohio State University Contemporary Music Festival, a festival which he founded. The King Arts Complex honored him with a Legends & Legacies award in October 2011.[27] He received an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Ohio State in June 2012.[28]

Further reading[edit]

  • Organization of American States, Composers of the Americas, Vol. 18, 1972
  • Contemporary American Composers Based or Affiliated with Colleges and Universities, 1975
  • Contemporary American Composers: A Biographical Dictionary, 1976
  • Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, New York, 1978
  • Introduction to Contemporary Music (Joseph Machlis), second edition, W. W. Norton, 1979
  • ASCAP Biographical Dictionary, Fourth Edition, 1980
  • American Music Recordings, A Dictionary of 20th Century U.S. Composers, 1982
  • American Composers, A Biographical Dictionary, by David Ewen, 1982
  • Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music, Harvard University Press, 1996


  1. ^ "In memoriam: Donald Harris, 1931-2016".
  2. ^ "Donald Harris". Ohio State University. Archived from the original on July 29, 2010.
  3. ^ "School of Music".
  4. ^ "Donald Harris". New England Conservatory.
  5. ^ "Donald Harris". Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2011-07-13.
  6. ^ a b c The Ohio State University Archives, Donald Harris Collection (RG: 40/292)
  7. ^ "Sonata 1957 (2011)". IMDb. 28 April 2011.
  8. ^ publication: Société des Editions Jobert, Paris, 1965; recordings: Geneviève Joy, piano, Recording for the French Radio, 1961; Veronica Jochum von Moltke, piano, New England Conservatory Recording Series, Vol. 7: Schumann, Harris, and Porter Golden Crest NEC-107, 1971; Daniel Beliavsky, piano, recorded at the City College of New York, 2010
  9. ^ publication: Jobert, Paris, 1965; recordings: Paul Zukovsky, violinist, Gilbert Kalish, pianist, CRI¬ S-307, 1973; reissued as CRI CD-666, 1994; Hasse Borup, violinist, Mary Kathleen Ernst, pianist, Centaur 2918, 2008
  10. ^ publication: Jobert, Paris, 1965
  11. ^ publication: Jobert, Paris, 1965; recording: Composers String Quartet, CRI-274, 1972; reissued as CRI CD-666, 1994
  12. ^ publication: Jobert, Paris, 1968; recording: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Hodkinson, cond., CRI S-274, 1972; reissued as CRI-CD 666, 1994
  13. ^ publication: Jobert, Paris, 1974; recording: Boston Musica Viva, Richard Pittman, conductor, DELOS 25406, 1975; reissued as CD 1011, 1987
  14. ^ publication: Jobert, Paris, 1979
  15. ^ publication: Theodore Presser, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, 1983; recording: Janice Meyerson, Boston Musica Viva, Richard, Pittman, cond., CRI CD-666, 1994
  16. ^ publication: Theodore Presser, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, 1983; recording: Veronica Jochum, CRI CD-666, 1994
  17. ^ publication: Theodore Presser, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, 1979; recording: Susan Davenny Wyner, soprano, Yehudi Wyner, piano, CRI CD-666, 1994
  18. ^ publication: Theodore Presser, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, 1986; recording: Janice Meyerson, mezzo-soprano, Hugh Hinton, piano, CRI CD-666, 1994
  19. ^ publication: Gunmar Music Inc, 1990
  20. ^ publication: Gunmar Music Inc.1990
  21. ^ publication: Gunmar Music, Inc.1990
  22. ^ publication: Gunmar Music Inc. 1990; recording: Lucy Shelton, OSU Faculty Ensemble, Craig Kirchhoff, cond., CRI CD-666, 1994
  23. ^ publication: Theodore Presser, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, 1996; recording: Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Edwin London, cond., CRI CD-666, 1994
  24. ^ a b publication: Theodore Presser, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, 2002
  25. ^ publication: Theodore Presser, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, 2012
  26. ^ In collaboration with Christopher Hailey and Juliane Brand, W. W. Norton & Co., New York, 1987
  27. ^ Michael Grossberg. "Annual King honorees chosen close to home". The Columbus Dispatch.
  28. ^ "Donald Harris to Receive Honorary Doctorate - Arts and Sciences". 29 May 2012.

External links[edit]