Harl McDonald


Born: July 27, 1899; Boulder, CO   Died: March 30, 1955; Princeton, NJ  
The American pianist, composer, conductor, and teacher Harl McDonald was born in the Boulder area of Colorado in 1899, and began to study music in elementary school, where he showed promise as a pianist. He undertook his graduate study at U.S.C., where his professors included Vernon Spencer, Ernest Douglas, and Yaraslav de Zielinsky. McDonald earning his bachelor of music degree in 1921. He then traveled to Europe, where he spent a year studying Read more in Leipzig, gaining a further diploma from the conservatory there in 1922. He returned to the U.S. during 1923, embarking on a full-time career as a solo pianist and accompanist. In 1924, McDonald 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, McDonald held a number of academic posts, rising through the ranks to become senior professor and finally director.

McDonald also served as general manager of the Philadelphia Orchestra in from 1939 to 1955, also working 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. Harl McDonald left a small number of compositions, often of a programmatic nature. He died in 1955. Read less

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