Sunday, July 15, 2012
The Hirts: Lucy and Charles
The publication of an article about one of my main mentors, Charles Hirt, in the recent Choral Journal got me to thinking and reminiscing a bit. I'm quoted twice in the article, both quotes from a presentation in 1996 where I was asked to introduce him. I got to know him well, finally, after coming to USC in 1992, twenty-three years after leaving grad school at USC. I went over to his home in Glendale many times and visited him before his death in 2001.
But the best part of seeing him again was to get to know his wife Lucy for the first time, really. After his death, I still went to see Lucy quite a bit; she was always dressed beautifully and I always mixed our drinks at the little bar in their little den: vodka tonic for her, scotch for me. She was a francophone and francophile of the first order, a superb musician, a wonderful conductor, a great organizer, and an extremely intelligent woman. She was also charming as could be in the Olde Worlde sense; charming, yes; stuffy, no.
She wanted so much for Charles' work to be more recognized than it was, and donated all of his papers to ACDA immediately after his death. That donation has finally borne fruit but far too late for her to see it. I am glad that some recognition has finally come and hope it continues: Believe me, compared with that man, many of today's current famous 'giants' are midgets in comparison. I'll be 70 in a month; I can say that now. (So, Shawna Stewart, finish that treatise and publish the sucker. OK?)
One of the things of which I am most proud is what Lucy thought of my book Chorus Confidential. Upon reading it, she wrote me this letter. It is my favorite 'review.' It is one of my most treasured possessions.
Charles Hirt Photos, Choral Journal, ACDA -- August 2012