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Soprano Janice Harsanyi Dies at 77

By Vivien Schweitzer
28 Mar 2007


Soprano Janice Harsanyi, who sang on the 1960 Eugene Ormandy/Philadelphia Orchestra recording of Orff's Carmina Burana, died at age 77 on March 21. The cause of death was heart failure, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

A retired Florida State University voice professor, Harsanyi was the "first lady" of the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, TSO executive director Lois Griffin told the paper. "She was a brilliant, brilliant woman. It's like an era has passed. She definitely produced a legacy with all the students she taught over the years."

She was married to Nicholas "Nikki" Harsanyi, the conductor who founded the TSO in 1979 and a violist who went to school with Bartók in Hungary and played chamber music with Alfred Einstein at Princeton. (He died in 1987.)

Janice Harsanyi was born in Arlington, Massachusetts. In 1958, she sang as soloist during the opening ceremonies for the United Nations and a year later made her Carnegie Hall debut singing Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust with the Philadelphia Orchestra. In 1964, she sang Beethoven at a peace rally in Philadelphia featuring Martin Luther King, Jr. According to the Democrat, she also sang for Einstein during a dinner party in Princeton, where she became the head of the voice department at Westminster Choir School in the early 1950s.

In concert and on recordings, Harsanyi championed works by American composers such as Harold Schiffman, John Harbison and Roger Sessions. "She was a real promoter of music and very much a promoter of American composers," FSU music professor and TSO violist Pamela Ryan told the paper.

The TSO's "Barber, Beethoven and Brahms" concert on March 17, four days before her death, was reportedly the only TSO concert Harsanyi had missed since the orchestra was founded.




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