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Classical Notes

R I P Betty Allen

Posted at 4:45 PM on June 26, 2009 by Rex Levang (2 Comments)

Betty Allen was a noted mezzo-soprano who worked with the likes of Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, and Virgil Thomson. She died at 82 earlier in the week.

Her obituary came out today--overshadowed, of course.

That was somewhat the story of her career--"I'm not a household name," as she admitted. But it was a fascinating career: from a grim childhood, to the inner circles of the Manhattan arts world. Check out this interview (unfortunately with mixed-up photos) and the New York Times obituary (registration required).



Comments (2)

I studied with Betty Allen at Manhattan School of Music, lived with her family in a spare apartment for 8 years, and worked with her as her assistant and operations/finance manager during her first six years at the Harlem School of the Arts. She was an extraordinary person in all ways. Funny, always. Serious, often. Intelligent, absolutely. She will be much missed, and I send my thoughts to Edd, Anthony and Juju...

Posted by Nancy Carmichael | June 27, 2009 2:35 PM


I was one of Miss Allen's first students when she started teaching in 1969. It was a privilege to have known and studied with her. She took me into her family and and opened up a whole new world to me. Her life had been so difficult and yet she was the most generous person I have ever met.
She had a wicked sense of humor and a great laugh and she taught me how to make a great rice pilaf that I make to this day. She will be missed.

Posted by Lorinda Klein | June 27, 2009 11:50 PM