Tag: opera (page 1 of 17)

Harvard Honors Jessye Norman

For this post we would like to celebrate honors received by Jessye Norman, who passed away in September 2019, starting with the honorary doctorate she received from Harvard in June, 1988. This was one of many honorary doctorates she received during her lifetime. At this time in Harvard-Radcliffe history, Radcliffe College was still awarding degrees to female students, as it was the female coordinate institution for the all-male Harvard College. Although an agreement was signed to combine admissions offices in 1977, a full absorption of Radcliffe College into Harvard University did not happen until 1999.

This photograph of Jessye Norman was taken during the convocation events.

Jessye Norman looking at the camera during convocation

Standing in the center of the following photograph is Oscar Arias Sánchez, President of Costa Rica, the recipient of the other honorary doctorate given that year.

Eight people psing for picture, including Jessye Norman

In 1997, Norman received the Radcliffe Medal, given annually to individuals whose lives and work have had a transformative impact on society. It was given to Norman at the Radcliffe Annual Alumnae Association Luncheon. An audiocassette of the luncheon is available by appointment only in the Schlesinger Library. Also bestowed the honor was musician Lena Horne, a recipient in 1987.  

Harvard wasn’t finished giving Norman awards. In 2016, she was awarded the W.E.B Dubois Medal honoring those who have made significant contributions to African and African American History and Culture. The award was presented at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research W.E.B. Du Bois Medal Ceremony at Harvard University, available on YouTube. As part of the ceremony, Ingrid Monson, Quincy Jones Professor of African-American Music at Harvard, read a passage about the power and necessity of music, from W.E.B. Du Bois “The Sorrow Songs” from his seminal work The Souls of Black Folk. Lana MC Lyte’ Moorer, an acclaimed female hip-hop musician, was also presented the award in the same year for her contribution to music.

These photos, along with photos of the luncheon, are held at the Radcliffe College Archives at the Schlesinger Library and are available upon request. Photographs used with permission from the Schlesinger Library.

Radcliffe Medal Recipients

Harvard Honorary Degree Recipients

W.E.B. Du Bois Medal Recipients

Farrar and Coudert in Loeb

As you enter the second floor from the staircase in the Loeb Library you will notice three photographs, each seemingly independent, yet tied in a very intimate way. Two photos are of Metropolitan Opera soprano Geraldine Farrar, the other of her friend and amateur singer Clarisse Coudert.

Geraldine Farrar

Geraldine Farrar, 1911

 

The first photo reads For Mrs. Nast –  In Cordial Remembrance Geraldine Farrar New York 1911. During this time Mrs. Nast was referring to Mrs. Condé Nast, whose full name was Jeanne Clarisse Coudert Nast. Clarisse was from a high-society family of considerable wealth. She was married to the Condé Nast, the founder of the mass media company and publisher of Vanity Fair, Vogue, and The New Yorker.

Geraldine Farrar

Geraldine Farrar, 1919

The third photo reads To Clarisse her affectionate friend Geraldine Farrar 1919, signed in pencil by the photographer “Alfred Cheney Johnston N.Y.” Johnston was known for his photographs of Ziegfeld Follies, actresses, and showgirls. Compared to many of his other works, this photograph is quite reserved. There is a change in demeanor toward Clarisse Coudert from “cordial remembrance” to “her affectionate friend” between 1911 and 1919.  

Clarisse Coudert Nast

Clarisse Coudert Nast, c. 1915

The middle photo ties the relationship of the photos together with an elegant capture of Clarisse Coudert. This photo is likely from 1915, as a similar photograph (same backdrop and dress) is found on page 9 in the October 23, 1915 issue of Musical America with the headline “Clarisse Coudert Enters Concert Field From Society.” The photographer is listed as Ira L. Hill Studio. In this same article, the final sentence mentions the close friendship of Geraldine Farrar and Coudert.

An initial gift was given in 1990 by Gerald Warburg, long-time friend of the Loeb Library, great-nephew of Eda Kuhn Loeb, and son-in-law to Condé Nast and Clarisse Coudert Nast. An additional gift of books, scores, and photographs was given by Jeremy Warburg Russo, granddaughter of Jeanne Clarisse Coudert Nast, in 2001. These photos were then framed and hung on our walls for our visitors to enjoy.

Bibliography

Seebohm, Caroline. The Man Who Was Vogue: The Life and Times of Condé Nast. New York: The Viking Press, 1982.

Johnston, Alfred Cheney. Alfred Cheney Johnston: Women of Talent and Beauty 1917-1930. Malvern, PA: Charles Isaacs Photographs, 1987.

“Clarisse Coudert Enters Concert Field From Society.” Musical America, October 23, 1915.

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