Alan Fletcher: Guest Opinion
Aspen, CO, Colorado
A week ago, the Aspen Music Festival and School, and Aspen, lost one of its treasured icons. Gordon Alfred Hardy, who led the Festival and School for 28 years and, with his wife Lillian, continued as a concertgoer and generous supporter for almost 25 more years. He was 94.
Gordon was one of the great figures in the history of modern Aspen. His devotion to the mission of music in Aspen was unequalled. Throughout years of encouragement, inspiration and innovation, his focus was always on people: students, faculty, staff and the greater Aspen community. Together with Lillian, he shaped a festival and school that to this day inspires uncommon passion and loyalty, and they leave an important legacy in the transformational educational and artistic work that continues here in Aspen.
Aspen Music Festival and School Life Trustee and long-time Aspen resident Charlie Paterson remembers, “An indelible image is of Gordon standing at the entrance of the Bayer Tent during every performance, with his hands clasped behind his back, watching his house, his audience, and his musicians, while listening intently to the music. The quality and the consistency of the Festival was always his top priority. His passion was the excellence of the Festival and the musicians.”
Gordon came to the festival in 1962 from The Juilliard School, where he was a music theory faculty member. He started as assistant dean, became dean a week later, and took the reins additionally as president in 1977. Hardy is remembered especially for his deep devotion to the music students; the erection of the Bayer-Benedict Music Tent in 1965; the development of the first campus, also in 1965; the creation of the Friday Aspen Chamber Symphony in 1968 and the engagement of legendary violin pedagogue Dorothy DeLay in 1971. During his tenure, he solidified what is now a hallmark of AMFS: the combination of musical training with frequent performance opportunities. Those years also saw the expansion of the Festival with the launch of the Aspen Opera Theater Center, the Aspen Center for Advanced Quartet Studies and the Edgar Stanton Audio Recording Institute, among other programs.
There will be occasions and opportunities for the Music Festival and School community to come together and remember Gordon this summer. Meanwhile, we pay him tribute every day, every summer, with our own dedication to the music and music students about which he cared so much.
Gordon is survived by his wife Lillian, son Christopher Bartlett Hardy and daughter Susan Hardy Suechting. Sons Gordon Alfred Hardy Jr., Jeffrey Pike Hardy and John Studebaker Hardy predeceased their father. The Hardy Administrative Building on the Bucksbaum Campus is named in his honor.
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