Posted by: emanuelax1 | November 14, 2008

My Friend Robert

I met Robert Harth at the very beginning of my professional life. I was a young pianist who was called at the last minute to substitute for an ailing Alexis Weissenberg at the Ravinia Festival in 1975. When I arrived at the Chicago airport, nervous and wide-eyed, Robert, the newly hired driver for the Festival, met me at the gate. By the time we arrived at Ravinia, a half-hour later, I had fallen under his spell, as so many of us did.

Robert had a wonderful ability to include everyone he met in his enthusiasm and love of life. His work at Carnegie Hall was a culmination of major achievements all across the world of music – he was a linchpin at the Los Angeles Philharmonic for many years, and brought an energy and vision to the Aspen Music Festival that were unequaled – and everywhere he made lifelong friends. At the funeral on Tuesday, one could see the richness of Robert’s life just by looking around and seeing the loss written on everyone’s face.

The last time I spent time with Robert was simply a lucky coincidence – we found ourselves called on jury duty on the same day in January, and I spent two days in the jury room, waiting to be called, having lunch, talking to him about the exciting season that he was about to announce, and his happiness with the Carnegie Hall administration. He was really proud of the way that the administration and the board had come together to form a family devoted to each other and to the future of the Hall, and of the music world in general. Here was a man who had a mission, and looked forward to many years of important and fruitful work with good friends. Three weeks later, he was gone.

I feel very lucky to have had that time – Vietnamese food and all – and I will miss, most of all, coming to hear a concert at Carnegie and being greeted with a joke and a hug from my teddy-bear friend. Distraught as we are now, in time I know that our memories of Robert will be happy and inspiring ones, and that he will be a part of our lives always.



  1. I have been following your blog with great pleasure.Iwould be very grateful if you could help me with a proffessional problem. I am a proffesional pianist form and trained in Poland, by Halina Czerny-Stefanska (my website: lliving and teaching piano in Canada now. I send my students for RCM exams. RCM requires beginning all ornaments included in descending melody on the main note, what requiers to repeat the same note and it is more difficult to play.I have difficulty to accept that. I was growing up playing piano and teaching in Poland based on Paul Badura Skoda’s most famous book about Baroque ornaments, so all ornaments begin on the second up of the main note, however, ornaments included in descending melody ( in 2 nds) will begin on the main note – it’s the exception. How can I deal with this problem. I can’t teach something I believe is not right. Please help me;-)
    I admire your programs on CBC2. I hope we will hear them again. My best regards, Aldona Sankowska-Fowler

  2. Thanks for being in Venezuela, you, honors the home of Teresa Carreño, Gabriela Montero, Jose A. Abreu, Dudamel and Esteves and others. I would say that you were one of the most important pianists of our career and a whole generation with his recording of the Beethoven sonata op 53, thanks again for sharing your art, but this time we do not manage to have tickets, anyway thanks our friend.

  3. There’s good info here. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog. Keep up the good work mate!

    I’m Out! 🙂

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