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Johana Harris (1912 - 1995)


Johana Harris was born Beula Duffey in Ottawa, Canada on 31 December 1912. A child prodigy, she played in her first concert at the age of eight, performing concert repertoire and her own compositions. Her early studies were at Ottawa’s Canadian Conservatory of Music with Bertha Laverde Worden and Henry Puddicombe. After turning down a scholarship offered by the Hambourg Conservatory in Toronto, at 11 she travelled to New York to study privately with Ernest Hutcheson. In 1927 she won piano and composition scholarships at The Juilliard School of Music. She studied composition with Rubin Goldmark and became Hutcheson’s teaching assistant and was often heard with him on radio broadcasts on WABC. In 1933 she graduated from Juilliard with distinction. In 1936 she married American composer Roy Harris (1898–1979). Following his recommendation, Beula renamed herself Johana, after JS Bach. During her career Johana Harris made over 100 recordings, collaborated with Josef Gingold, Yehudi Menuhin, William Primrose and Tommy Dorsey, and the Juilliard School, Walden and Blair Quartets. Composer Alberto Ginastera dedicated his Piano Sonata to her. In 1937 she made the first recording of the Bach-Busoni Chaconne, which in 1939 was selected by RCA Victor for New York’s World’s Fair. In the 1950s, Harris’s weekly television broadcast, Master Keys, aired in the United States and Europe. She later performed for Hollywood film and television scores. She taught piano at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA)

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