February 16, 2004 by

Robert Harth


Categories: Musicians

rbruce.jpgWhen Robert Harth arrived in New York City on Sept. 8, 2001, he never expected his first decision as the new executive and artistic director of Carnegie Hall would be to plan a concert of remembrance. But then terrorists attacked America on Sept. 11, and former Carnegie Hall president and famed violinist Isaac Stern died.
After having metal detectors installed in the hall’s front entrance, Harth gave a musical voice to the city’s grief, then led America’s premier classical music venue into an adventurous era. He spearheaded an eclectic blend of programming at the new 644-seat Judy and Arthur Zankel Hall, adding jazz and rock bands and new classical compositions to the schedule. He also launched the Weill Music Institute, an ambitious music education program.
The son of conductor-violinist Sidney Harth and violinist Teresa Testa Harth, Robert was a trained violinist, flutist and composer who spent his youth playing guitar in the Indian Band, a folk/rock group. The Kentucky native graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor’s degree in English literature, and was only 19 when he became the production manager of the Chicago Symphony’s 1975 summer series.
For the next 10 years, Harth served as vice president and general manager of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he was also responsible for the management of the Hollywood Bowl. Before moving to New York, he was president and CEO of the Aspen Music Festival and School in Colorado.
Harth died on Jan. 30 from a heart attack. He was 47.

3 Responses to Robert Harth

  1. Jeremy Geffen

    Dear Robert;
    You have meant more to me than any human being I’ve ever meant. You were my best friend, my older brother, my mentor, and you played so many other roles as well. While life with you was always exciting it now feels painted in shades of gray and it just feels that such a huge part of me died with you. I will never forget the feeling of warmth, love, and humor that I got in your company and the interest you genuinely showed in everyone you ever met. I know that you are with me but I so wish to hear your voice and your laugh, and to feel your embrace. Yesterday would have been your 48th birthday and I think back to the dinner we had to celebrate your 47th. How odd that that was just a year ago. I will miss you forever.

  2. D

    Dear Robert-
    It seems so strange to me that I am even making this entry to someone who a barely knew. There is a picture of us together from a long time ago. I was probably 6 years years old and you must have been in your mid-twenties. I was feeding pidgeons at the Hollywood Bowl and you were smiling at me. My childhood is filled with memories of the LA Philharmonic and the Hollywood Bowl and I remember a wonderful, warm person who always made those around him feel important and special. And I remember being sad when you left to bigger and better things. The kindness and integrity you bestowed on everyone you encountered was recognizable even by the youngest and smallest of us. As I get older, I understand what passion and strength you must have had to become what you did and I only wish I could have spoken to you as an adult. Good mentors are terribly hard to find.

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