Indiana University

Endowments & Scholarships

Margaret Harshaw Scholarship

When Margaret Harshaw passed away in November 1997 at the age of 88, America lost one of the greatest opera singers and pedagogues of voice in the 20th century. In the early 1960s, as she approached the end of her performing years at the Metropolitan Opera, she was asked to become a Professor of Voice at Indiana University School of Music. In 1962, Ms. Harshaw joined the IU faculty. Thus began a 35-year career of teaching voice that continued until the last week of her life. She became a Distinguished Professor of Voice at IU and, according to Dean Emeritus Charles H. Webb, "one of the most distinguished members ever appointed to the School of Music; one who taught the most outstanding vocal students who came here. Her knowledge of technique, of interpretation, and of depth of portrayal in characterization made her indispensable for students."

In March 1942, she won the Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air, and began a 22-year career at the Met that encompassed 379 performances of 39 roles in 25 works, and 40 of the Met's weekly live broadcasts. Her first eight years at the Met were in mezzo-soprano roles, and she moved into the dramatic soprano repertoire in 1950, where she remained. In addition to singing at the Met, she also sang at Covent Garden, Glyndebourne, San Francisco, the Paris Opera, and companies in Philadelphia, Cincinnati, New Orleans, San Antonio, Pittsburgh, and Houston.

In 1964, she officially closed out her Met career, and in that same year performed the role of Turandot with the IU Opera Theater on their trip to the New York World's Fair. She continued to perform with the IU Opera Theater until 1970, when she altogether retired from performing to devote all her time to teaching. Besides IU, she spent a number of years on the faculty of the Curtis Institute, was on the staff of the Santa Fe Opera in the 1960s as resident voice teacher during the summer seasons, and gave countless masterclasses throughout the United States at many educational institutions. Once asked how many voice students she had taught, she answered, "It's probably not possible to know," but estimated the number to be about 1,000.