MacArthur Fellows Program

John Harbison

Composer and Conductor | Class of 1989

Composer and Conductor
Cambridge, Massachusetts
51 at time of award
Published August 1, 1989

John Harbison is a composer and a conductor whose music is distinguished by its exceptional resourcefulness and expressive range.

His work spans virtually every genre from solo to chamber to symphonic music.  Among his principal works are three string quartets, three symphonies, three operas, and a cantata, The Flight into Egypt.  Harbison has been composer-in-residence with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Tanglewood, Marlboro, and Santa Fe Chamber Music Festivals, and the American Academy in Rome. 

As a conductor, Harbison has led a number of orchestras and chamber groups, including the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the Handel and Haydn Society, and for many years he has been the principal guest conductor of Emmanuel Music in Boston.  Harbison is on the music faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where, in 1984, he was named the Class of 1949 Professor of Music, and, in 1995, he was named Institute Professor.  He has also taught at CalArts, Boston University, and Duke University.

Harbison received a B.A. (1960) from Harvard University, studied at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik (1960-61) and the Salzburg Sommerakademie (1961), and received an M.F.A. (1963) from Princeton University.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

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