Dr. Barbara Harbach, Director of the School of Fine and Performing Arts in the College of Arts and Sciences, is the Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has a large catalog of works (compositions and performance recordings), including; symphonies, operas, string orchestra, musicals, works for chamber ensembles, film scores, modern ballet, pieces for organ, harpsichord and piano; choral anthems; and many arrangements for brass and organ of various Baroque works. She is also involved in the research, editing, publication and recording of manuscripts of eighteenth-century keyboard composers, as well as historical and contemporary women composers. Her work is available in both recorded and published form through MSR Classics, Naxos Records, Gasparo Records, Kingdom Records, Albany Records, Northeastern Records, Hester Park, Robert King Music, Elkan-Vogel, Augsburg Fortress, Encore Music Publishers, Art of Sound Music, Agape Music and Vivace Press. Harbach serves as editor of the WomenArts Quarterly Journal. “Harbach’s music astonished me for its heavy reliance on the lyric and the beautifully (and cogently) framed melodic line. I could listen to her music for hours” (American Record Guide). “Harbach has distinguished herself as one of the preeminent American composers of any generation. (All Music Guide).
In June, 2009, her musical, Booth!, was premiered at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York City where it won a competition at the Tisch School of the Arts. O Pioneers! – An American Opera was premiered in October 2009, at the University of Missouri-St. Louis in the Touhill Performing Arts Center. “O Pioneers! is an excellent opera that was admirably performed by the lead players and a fine chorus” (St. Louis Classical Music Examiner).
Harbach has toured extensively as both concert organist and harpsichordist throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Bosnia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Asia, Serbia and Russian Siberia. Her lively performances and recordings have captured the imagination of many American composers. The body of work written for and dedicated to Harbach is substantial. Musical America has called her “nothing short of brilliant,” and Gramophone has cited her as an “acknowledged interpreter – and, indeed, muse – of modern harpsichord music.” She was host of the weekly television music series Palouse Performance seen throughout the Inland Northwest.
Harbach holds academic degrees from Pennsylvania State University (B.A.), Yale University (M.M.A.), Musikhochschule (Konzertdiplom) in Frankfurt, Germany, and the Eastman School of Music (D.M.A.). In 2002, she received an honorary doctorate in music, Honoris Causa, from Wilmington College, Ohio for her lifetime achievement as a composer, performer, editor and publisher.
Barbara Harbach initiated Women in the Arts-St. Louis, a celebration of the achievements of women creators. Over 800 events in the inaugural year by various cultural organizations in the St. Louis region provided audiences with new and historical examples of the work of women writers, composers and artists. In 2006 for her work Women in the Arts-St. Louis, she was the recipient of the Arts Education Award from the Missouri Arts Council; the Missouri Citizen for the Arts Award; the Yellow Rose Award from the Zonta International Club of St. Louis; and the University of Missouri-St. Louis, College of Fine Arts and Communication, Faculty Excellence Award. In 2007 she was awarded the Hellenic Spirit Foundation Award, and in 2011 she was awarded the Grand Center Visionary Award for “Successful Working Artist,” the Argus Foundation Award, and the YWCA Leader of Distinction Award in the Arts. In 2014 Harbach was named a University of Missouri Curators’ Professor of Music as well as National Arts Associate Distinguished Member of SAI, Buffalo Chapter. In 2016, she was chosen as one of the 30 Most Innovative Women Professors Alive Today.