IN MEMORIUM: James Stanley Harrison

James Stanley Harrison died on May 24 at the age of 84. A debonair music professor who grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, he graduated from Harvard in 1957 with a bachelor of arts degree in music. His music training continued after college at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau, France. It was there that he met Marina Biaggi, a piano student in college, who was also studying under the renowned Nadia Boulanger. The couple married a year later and lived for a time in France and Switzerland, where James was an apprentice to German conductor Herrman Scherchen.

Jim returned to the States with his wife Marina, where he finished studies at Harvard. His original intent was to become an orchestra conductor, but fortunately for countless students at Hunter College who attended his classes for over three decades, he turned to teaching. During this time at Hunter he served as Chair of the music department and Dean of Arts and Humanities. Professor Harrison’s popular lectures were frequently conducted with his sitting at the piano playing musical excerpts to illuminate inner workings of harmony and counterpoint.

The couple and their family of two children moved to Palisades in 1973. A Steinway grand piano sat at the heart of the Harrisons’ Woods Road home. Over the years, Jim and Marina hosted lively musical gatherings for friends that included instrumentalists and singers.

After retiring from teaching, Jim became director of the Bogliasco Foundation, a residential fellowship program for the arts and humanities he co-founded in 1991. It is situated on the expansive grounds of Marina’s family villa near Genoa, Italy.

James Harrison is survived by his wife Marina, daughter Laura who now heads up the Foundation, son Philip, sister Sue, three grandchildren and three cats.