Ruth French shares pictures, newspaper clips, memories, and an original Louisville Orchestra program from 1953. She was a violinist in the Louisville Orchestra from 1949-1970 during the Orchestra’s commissioning project and First Edition recordings. She was 17 when she joined, the youngest member at that time.
The myth that surrounds the person of Roy Harris is indicative of the effectiveness of modern publicity methods and the American desire for perpetuation of the age- old “rags to riches” story. In Harris’ case it is the rise from truck driver to “America’s Composer no. 1.”
Roy Harris had a special relationship with Robert Whitney and the Louisville Orchestra during the 1950s and 1960s, its most innovative period. Not only did the LO record his first symphony, 1933 (also recorded earlier by Serge Koussevitsky and the BSO as the very first American symphony to be commercially recorded), but it commissioned several works from Harris, including the tone poem Kentucky Spring (1949) and his Second Piano Concerto (1953) (see the original concert program here). The former — a tribute (or dig) at Copland? — is perhaps the most succinct summation of Harris’s bright orchestral style.
Harris’s Louisville connection goes even further than the orchestra. Robert French, the founder of the Louisville Academy of Music (now run by his wife, former LO violinist Ruth French), studied with Harris in Nashville, and for three years worked as Harris’s assistant. Robert French copied all of Harris’s symphonies — including the individual orchestral parts — by hand (according to Ruth, “he drew every single stem with a ruler!”). French experienced Harris’s legendary disorganization firsthand; Ruth tells the story of how her husband, on a trip with Harris from Iowa, “stopped for gas, and [Robert] went in to use the restroom, and when he came back out, Roy had forgotten him and drove off without him!”
Sign the whole family up for a wonderful month of music and celebration this July! Go to wuol.org/summerlistening for details on this year’s 4 FREE FAMILY EVENTS and broadcast times for our SUMMER LISTENING RADIO SHOW.
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Classical 90.5’s Young Artist Competition showcases our region’s top musical talent. Every fall kids ages 8-18 compete for a spot in our live on-air studio recital.
But where do our winners go from there?
I caught up with Anne Richardson, a previous Young Artist Competition Winner who has performed at Classical 90.5 over the years. Hear about her current studies at The Juilliard School of Music, why she plays music, and why you should never give up.
And what was Anne’s favorite moment in her recital?
Hear her full in-studio performance at Classical 90.5 below
We give a voice to young classical musicians in our community. Philip Morgan interviews 4 local teens on our March edition of Take Note. Hear what piece hooked Katelyn, Max, Sara, and Tre on classical music below. Produced by Anita Streeter and engineered by Robert Johnson. Visit wuol.org/takenote for more.