A Lifetime at the Piano

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Harriet Wingreen at the piano. Harriet Wingreen at the piano. (Amy Pearl/WNYC)

When Harriet Wingreen first sat down at the piano, America was repealing Prohibition and Mao Zedong was beginning the Long March. Almost 80 years later, she is still at it. 

Wingreen attended the Third Street Music School Settlement and then Juilliard. In high school, other interests blossomed and piano took a back seat to boys. Thanks to a wise teacher who told her not to worry about practicing as long as she came to her lessons, Wingreen continued to play and decided to make piano her life.

She was attracted to chamber music and toured all over Europe. "I played for the Princess in Monaco." Wingreen remembers. "She was lovely and told us how much she enjoyed it. Prince Rainier didn't like it much." She also played in the Kennedy White House and finally joined the Philharmonic in 1965 with Leonard Bernstein.

Recently, the camera lingered on Wingreen's face and fingers as she played the celesta in the 2011 New Year's Eve Concert at the Philharmonic. She was quickly inundated with e-mails and letters complimenting her on her playing. Said Wingreen: "I'm becoming famous in my old age!"


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Comments [6]

judy Hanau from New York City

An amazing lady and an amzing pianist. I will always remember Loren Maazel turning pages for Harriet when she played Turn Of The Screw in Castleton.

Jan. 28 2011 12:00 PM
Eileen J from New York, NY

Ms. Wingreen,

YOU are amazing in every respect! I would love sit down with you and just talk about your life and listen to you play, anything.

Jan. 28 2011 10:47 AM
Michael Meltzer

I get the video portion but I don't hear a sound! This has never happened before.
Is my computer the only one?

Jan. 28 2011 09:58 AM
Michael Meltzer

Ms. Wingreen has been one of the best pianists in New York for a very long time.
We also recall her as pianist/collaborator with the late and memorable City Opera coloratura, Patricia Brooks.

Jan. 28 2011 09:47 AM
Scott Rose

I love Harriet Wingreen.

Jan. 28 2011 09:39 AM
Bernie Hughes from Bridgewater, NH

What a sweetheart.

Jan. 28 2011 07:52 AM

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