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Harl McDonald conducts W.A. Mozart: Requiem (1938)
30.03.2016, 00:01

Harl McDonald

(July 27, 1899, Boulder, Colorado - March 30, 1955, Princeton, New Jersey)

The American pianist, composer, conductor, music adminstrator and teacher, Harl McDonald, began to study music in elementary school, where he showed promise as a pianist. He undertook his graduate study at University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where his professors included Vernon Spencer, Ernest Douglas, and Yaraslav de Zielinsky. McDonald earning his bachelor of music degree in 1921. He also studied at the University of Redlands, California. He then traveled to Europe, where he spent a year studying in Leipzig, gaining a further diploma from the conservatory there in 1922. Harl McDonald returned to the USA during 1923, embarking on a full-time career as a solo pianist and accompanist. In 1924, he also joined the faculty of the Philadelphia Musical Academy as a piano teacher, and remained at that until 1926, when he was hired by the University of Pennsylvania. At Pennsylvania, where he stayed for the next 20 years (1926-1946), McDonald held a number of academic posts (including Director of the University's Choral Society and the University of Pennsylvania Glee Club), rising through the ranks to become senior professor and finally Director of the Music Department. Harl McDonald also served as general manager of the Philadelphia Orchestra in from 1939 to 1955, and on the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association. He also worked as a researcher in the fields of acoustics and sound measurement for the Rockefeller Foundation. In 1955, he published his findings in collaboration with O.H. Schenck in the book New Methods of Measuring Sound. In recognition for this acclaimed book, McDonald was elected to the scientific society Sigma Xi. In addition to his administrative duties with the University, Harl McDonald composed numerous musical works, often of a programmatic nature.. His four symphonies are subtitled "The Santa Fe Trail" (#1 - 1933), "The Rhumba" (#2 - 1934), "Lamentations of Fu Hsuan" (#3 - 1935) and "Festival of the Workers" (#4 - 1937). His other works include a concerto for two pianos, two piano trios, and choral music. His 1938 Lament for the Stolen, for women's chorus and orchestra, was written in commemoration of the Lindbergh kidnapping.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Requiem Mass in D minor, K. 626

Donald Coker, tenor

Lester Englander, bass

Barbara Thorne, soprano

Elsie MacFarlane, contralto

University of Pennsylvania Choral Society

Philadelphia Orchestra

Harl McDonald



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