International Harp Archives

Ruth Negri Armato Donation

Ruth Negri Armato was born in San Diego and began piano lessons at age four and a half. At age eleven when she was introduced to the harp…”the most beautiful sound I ever heard” influenced her study of the harp. In addition to harp lessons, she studied double bass because of the scarcity of orchestral harp parts. During high school, she played both harp and bass in the San Diego Symphony. At age sixteen, Ms. Negri was harp soloist with the Los Angeles NBC Orchestra as a finalist in the Hollywood Bowl Auditions of the Air.

Ruth was a scholarship pupil of Marcel Grandjany at the Juilliard School of Music and graduated with highest honnors as a winner of the prestigious Damrosch Scholarship. While still a student at Juilliard she performed with the New York City Opera, RCA and CBS Orchestras (Fritz Reiner, Leopold Stowkowski, Wilfred Pelletier, Pierre Monteux, Donald Voorhees, Andre Kostelanetz etc.) before beginning a nine year engagement as principle harp of the New York City Ballet Co. in 1950.

Ms. Negri joined the New York Philharmonicin 1969, retiring in June 1997. She has been a soloist with the New York Philharmonic Ensembles and remains active as a soloist and chamber music performer. In 1970-71 and 1986-87 she took sabbaticals from the New York Philharmonic when she was invited tto play principal harp with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. In 1987 she was soloist in a TV special of Donizetti’s “Lucia” with the Metropolitan Opera.

1950-to the present Ms. Negri has been active as a teacher, coach; Williamsburg Settlement House, Manhattan School of Music, Juilliard and Concert Artists Guild. She has played for many commercials, soap operas (General Hospital, 15 years), numerous TV specials and over 30 films (Miracle Worker, Indian in the Cupboard, etc.)

Ruth lives in Hartsdale, New York with her husband Ben Armato, retired Clarinetist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. They have three daughters, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

One of her greatest joys has been working with composers, share with them the “do’s and don’ts” of writing for harp…notably Ellen Taffe Zwilich, Dave Brubeck, Ray Sebesky and Derek Bermel. Ellen Zwilich dedicated her “4 Nocturnes for Harp” to Ruth and gave the first performance of them at Juilliard in 1974.

Ms. Negri has donated over 175 of her orchestral harp parts and 31 opera parts to the University of North Texas and these valuable parts are available to any harpist interested in studying them.