Robert Harth, Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall Since 2001, Dead at 47

Obituaries   Robert Harth, Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall Since 2001, Dead at 47 Robert Harth, executive and artistic director of Carnegie Hall, died suddenly of a heart attack Jan. 30, the famed arts institution announced.

Mr. Harth, 47, died at his Manhattan home Friday evening. Plans for Carnegie Hall to commemorate Mr. Harth's life and legacy will be announced at a later date.

Sanford I. Weill, chairman of Carnegie Hall's board of trustees, said, "The tragic death of Robert Harth is a great loss for Carnegie Hall as well as for me personally. During the time that Robert was at Carnegie Hall, he quickly became a force that symbolized and embodied the spirit of this great institution. He was a sensitive leader, dearly beloved by the staff and the entire Carnegie Hall family. He constructed a compelling vision for Carnegie Hall's future, and it is tragic that he will not be able to see his dreams carried forward. Today marks a time of profound grief for the Carnegie Hall board of trustees, the staff, artists, and for me personally."

Mr. Harth was named executive and artistic director of Carnegie Hall in March 2001 and assumed that position in September 2001. He oversaw the management of all aspects of the world-renowned concert venue, including strategic and artistic planning, resource development, education, finance, and administration. He was also responsible for developing the artistic concept and the management of Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall's new 644-seat performance space, as well as overseeing the new Weill Music Institute for education.

Mr. Harth was the son of conductor-violinist Sidney Harth and violinist Teresa Testa Harth. He was a trained violinist, flutist, and composer and graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor's degree in English literature. He began his career at the Ravinia Festival in 1975 as production manager and was later named associate manager, a post he held until 1979.

For the next 10 years, Mr. 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. He became president and CEO of the Aspen Music Festival and School in 1989 and during his 12-year tenure was credited with successfully mounting and completing two capital campaigns, executing two five-year plans, and overseeing the building of the Benedict Music Tent and Harris Concert Hall, one of the most highly acclaimed new concert halls built in the past 10 years.

Mr. Harth's additional accomplishments at Aspen included the appointment of David Zinman as music director and, with Zinman, the creation of the American Academy of Conducting, a training program for conductors. In 1999, Mr. Harth spearheaded Aspen's 50th anniversary celebration, which generated international attention and resulted in the return of numerous notable alumni.

Mr. Harth was a board member of the American Symphony Orchestra League and an honorary trustee of the Aspen Music Festival and School. He was a member of the European Concert Hall Organization (ECHO), the advisory board of Carnegie Mellon's School of Music, and the Board of Overseers of The Curtis Institute of Music. He also served on the visiting committee for the University of Texas at Austin School of Music.

In May 2003, Mr. Harth was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music.

He is survived by his parents Sidney Harth and Teresa Testa Harth; sister Laura Harth Rodriguez, brother-in-law Francisco Rodriguez, and nephew Alexander H. Rodriguez; companion Stacey Buck; and son Jeffrey Curtis and former wife Melanie Harth.

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