Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

The celebrated composer Barbara Harbach now calls Las Cruces her home

The American composer and performer Barbara Harbach, who has written numerous symphonies, piano works, musicals, film scores, chamber music and much more, sees herself primarily as a “melodist” in her music. “People like melodies. They like it when they are combined, taken apart and put back together, ”she said intermezzo presenter Leora Zeitlin in this Zoom interview.

Harbarch found much of her inspiration in literary works, historical figures, films, and the work and lives of women, including the novelist Willa Cather, Harriet Scott (who along with her husband Dred Scott in what later became on her freedom A landmark case sued the Supreme Court of Slavery), pioneers of Alaska and others. “When I find something that has a strong feeling, or portrays women particularly interesting or perhaps suppressed, or they need some kind of recognition in the world, I’m happy to help spread their story.” My music is their story, ”she said. Harbach is also an organist and harpsichordist and was a music publisher and editor.

In this interview she describes her “Heavenly Symphony”, music that was first written for a screening of the 1906 silent film “The Birth, Life and Death of Christ” by the early film pioneer Alice Guy-Blaché. She later developed the music into a symphony. Listen to the full interview here to learn more about Harbach, who moved to Las Cruces with her husband just before the pandemic.

An interview with the composer

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