Musical Visions of America: The 1948–49 Residency of Roy and Johana Harris at USAC


Harris exhibit graphic

“There is much to do which is thoroughly worthwhile doing in that little empire of mountains and valleys.”

—Roy Harris

Drawing from correspondence, concert programs, newspaper clippings, and photographs in the Utah State University (USU) Special Collections & Archives, this exhibit celebrates a brief, but pivotal, moment for the arts in Logan—the 1948–49 residency of the American composer Roy Harris (1898–1979) and his concert pianist wife, Johana Harris (1912–95), at the Utah State Agricultural College (USAC, now USU).

Although the Harrises resided in Logan for just one academic year, their presence and activities put a spotlight on music in Cache Valley. A vivid picture of the cultural and musical contexts of the composition, performance, and reception of classical music in Logan in the mid-twentieth century emerges from the archival materials.

Of particular interest is the 1949 Logan Summer Music Festival, which saw USAC and the Logan community host four nationally prominent orchestral string players in the last months of the Harrises’ time in Utah. The Logan festival was the culmination of a year of musical activity and can be seen as a decisive articulation of Roy Harris’s views on the role of art music in American life.

Exhibition Credits:

  • Rachael Anderson (Co-Curator)
  • Rika Asai (Curator)
  • Alison Gardner (Digital Team)
  • Bryce Johnston (Student Scanning Technician)
  • Shay Larsen (Graphic Designer)
  • James Mullen (Student Scanning Technician)
  • Darcy Pumphrey (Project Manager and Digital Team)
  • Maren Stephens (Student Scanning Technician)
  • Becky Thoms (Digital Team)
  • Abby Thorne (Student Copy Editor)

The curator of the exhibit would like to thank Bob Parson (USU University Archivist), Daniel Davis (Photograph Curator for the USU Special Collections & Archives), and Christopher Scheer (USU Associate Professor of Musicology) for advice and assistance during the research process.