Anne & Burton Adams

2007

 

Anne Adams was introduced to the harp by New York harpist Anna Louis David at age 9, after having already studied piano, harmony, ear-training and solfege with her mother, concert pianist Phyllida Ashley.  Upon graduating from high school, Anne went to New York, where Salzedo invited her to study at Curtis after hearing her perform.  Instead, at her parents’ request, she attended colleges in California, studying with Marietta Bitter, who trained her in the Salzedo technique.  Convinced by her family to attend Marcel Grandjany’s Master Class at nearby Mills College, Anne soon accepted his invitation to join his first class at Juilliard, where she studied for three and a half years. When Grandjany became ill, Anne premiered his Aria in Classic Style for harp and organ.

Anne had briefly met her future husband the day before she left for New York, but it was during a visit home for Christmas years later that they became inseparable.  Dr. Adams arranged to be appointed to Bellevue Hospital to be near her when she went back to New York.  Soon Anne returned to California to audition for the second harp position in the San Francisco Symphony.  Within a month of Anne’s winning the audition, Burton Adams was “called up” at the start of World War II and ordered to report to California.  They were married before he headed overseas.

Between San Francisco Symphony obligations, Anne played on the radio for The Light and Mellow Beer Show and the Standard School Radio Broadcasts with Carman Dragon, moving with him to television, also performing with the Little Symphony Orchestra of San Francisco on weekly television concerts.  When Virginia Morgan retired from the San Francisco Symphony in 1951, Anne auditioned for and won the principal harp position.  In 1952, after Kajetan Attl, principal harp for the San Francisco Opera, was in a car accident, Anne took over for him as well.  Performing with the Symphony, Opera, visiting ballets, and Summer Pops, she played under the baton of every major conductor in the world. 

Anne has also performed, recorded and toured as a soloist and with chamber groups, including the Lyra ensemble.  A highly regarded teacher, she maintained a private studio and served on the faculty of Mills College in Oakland, and later the College of Holy Names.   Treasuring her husband and four daughters, Anne worked to create a gracious home for them despite her strenuous schedule.

Always generous, gracious, and supportive of other harpists, Anne served three terms on the Board of Directors of the AHS and acted for a number of years as custodian of the AHS Tape Library.  At National Conferences, she served on panels, often performed on chamber music concerts, and encouraged her students who participated in the AHS National Competitions.  From 1990 to 2003, as a tribute to his wife, Dr. Burton Adams funded the Anne Adams Awards with his generous donations. These scholarships have helped many, many harp students continue their studies.