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Meyer, Sylvia (Harpist)



  • Existence: 1907 - 2005

Biographical History

Sylvia Meyer (1907-2005) was a prominent harpist of the 20th century. She studied under Carlos Salzedo and was the first female member of the National Symphony Orchestra.

Sylvia Meyer was born in Madison, Wisconsin, November 23, 1907. Shortly thereafter, she moved to Washington because of her father's job. Sylvia got her start on the harp when her mother, an antique collector, brought home a $2.50 harp that was rusting and was missing the base and pedals. Her parents thought it was important to play an instrument, and she started playing at age seven. She then began studying at a local conservatory in Washington and eventually went on to graduate from the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. She was also a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, where she majored in geology. She studied with Carlos Salzedo at his summer school in Camden, Maine. Salzedo then recommended her to the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) where she became the first female member in 1933. Sylvia played with the orchestra for decades before losing a fingertip in a gardening accident with pruning shears. Because of the extended medical leave caused by this accident, she was replaced by Ann Hobson-Pilot and was forced into retirement in 1966. Sylvia was married to Oliver Gasch, a former judge on the U.S. District Court, until he died in 1999. Six years later, she died of pneumonia at Suburban Hospital, March 26, 2005. She was ninety-seven years old.

Harp Column, website viewed Feb. 7, 2011 (b. Nov. 23, 1907 in Madison, Wisconsin; moved to Washington; started harp at age seven; studied at Peabody Institute of John Hopkins University; graduated from University of Wisconsin in geology; studied with Salzedo; first woman in the National Symphony Orchestra in 1933; retired after pruning shears accident; husband died in 1999; died of pneumonia at age 97, March 26, 2005)

Found in 7 Collections and/or Records:

American Harp Society records, 1956-1996

 Series — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 7764 Series 2
Scope and Contents

The series contains records of the American Harp Society. Materials include concert programs, awards, notes, member directories, and certificates, 1956-1996.

Dates: 1956-1996

Sylvia Meyer papers

Identifier: MSS 7764
Scope and Contents

The collection contains letters, newspaper clippings, photographs, books, articles, concert programs, correspondence, and World Harp Congress harp publications collected by Sylvia Meyer throughout her career as a harpist. Approximate dates range from 1930 to 2001. The items are associated with the American Harp Society. It also contains directories, notes, and certificates regarding members of the American Harp Society.

Dates: approximately 1930-2001

Sylvia Meyer harp journals, 1976-1998

 Series — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 7764 Series 6
Scope and Contents

Series includes multiple harp journals by The Triangle of Mu Phi Epsilon. Other journals include The Harp Column, Lyon & Healy, The American Harp Journal, and Harpa, 1976-1998.

Dates: 1976-1998

Sylvia Meyer papers on Salzedo Centennial, 1985-1998

 Series — Box 9: Series 4
Identifier: MSS 7764 Series 4
Scope and Contents

Series contains reports, letters, and other materials relating to the American Harp Journal's publishing of the Salzedo Centennial anniversary in 1985.

Dates: 1985-1998

Sylvia Meyer papers on the Ginastera Concerto, 1967-1968

 Sub-Series — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 7764 Sub-Series 5
Scope and Contents

Series contains correspondence, concert programs, newspaper clippings, and other material related to the Ginastera Concerto, 1967-1968.

Dates: 1967-1968

Sylvia Meyer personal papers, 1916-1997

 Series — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 7764 Series 1
Scope and Contents

This series contains letters, newspaper clippings, photographs, books, articles, concert programs, correspondence, and other materials relating to Sylvia Meyer's personal life and career as a harpist, 1916-1997.

Dates: 1916-1997

World Harp Congress publications, 1974-1997

 Series — Box 6: Series 3
Identifier: MSS 7764 Series 3
Scope and Contents

The series contains publications from the World Harp Congress. Materials include letters and correspondence, membership applications, and conference programs, 1974-1997.

Dates: 1974-1997

Additional filters:

Archival Object 6
Collection 1
Letters 4
Publications 3
Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.) 2
Photographs 2
Programs 2