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Robert Harmon (Tenor)

Born: July 13, 1913 - Chicago, Illinois, USA
Died: December 8, 1970 - Great Neck, New York, USA

The American tenor, Robert Harmon, graduated from the University of Chicago, earning a degree in political science. In 1938, he was awarded a graduate fellowship in vocal music at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. His performances included an acclaimed portrayal of Oedipus in Igor Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex and appearances at the Worcester Music Festival, where he sang in The Devil and Daniel Webster by Douglas Moore and L'heure Espagnole by Maurice Ravel. His studies were interrupted by a call to military service in 1942. During his four years stationed in the USA and Europe as an Air Force officer, trained in Chemical Warfare, he continued singing on radio and in concert.

Upon his return to New York in 1946, Robert Harmon joined the fledgling Bach Aria Group as tenor soloist and remained with the group for five years, performing at Town Hall, Carnegie Recital Hall, throughout the Northeast and in South America. The group recorded on MGM and Vox labels. Though perhaps the least renowned performer in the group, Harmon became recognized as a musician of excellence and depth. In 1949, while praising the artistry of the group as a whole, Irving Kolodin of The New York Sun wrote, "As in previous appearances, the most compelling performances were by Robert Harmon, tenor, whose sense of style and feeling for the musical nuance are a joy." In 1949, Harmon performed I. Stravinsky's Mavra at Town Hall, under the direction of Robert Craft, and appeared in the premiere recordings of both Mavra and I. Stravinsky's Renard.

Shortly thereafter, Robert Harmon enrolled in and graduated from the Cantorial School of the Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City. Having performed in synagogues throughout his career, he became one of the country's most beloved cantors, first at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue of New York, then at Union Temple of Brooklyn, Sherith Israel in San Francisco, and finally, at Temple Beth-El of Great Neck, where he is still remembered not only as a musician, but as a teacher, a leader and a friend.

Robert Harmon died in 1970, at the age of 57. He Bar and Bat-Mitzvah'd over a thousand young men and women and inspired countless others through his music, wit and devotion. He left behind his wife, Sara Fogel Harmon Koenig, and two daughters, Marcie Harmon Mackin of Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, and Diana Harmon Asher of Scarsdale, New York. His grandchildren are Becky Mackin, Robert Harmon Asher, Benjamin Asher and Adam Asher.

Source: Diana Harmon Asher (daughter of the artist, July 2005, January 2007)
Contributed by:
Diana Harmon Asher (July 2005, January 2007)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Bach Aria Group


Selections from BWV 66, BWV 97, BWV 101, BWV 113, BWV 205

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