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Metropolitan Opera mourns its angelic harp

Deborah Hoffman, principal harp at the Met from 1986, died today after suffering from a prolonged and rare lung condition. She was just 53.

deborah hoffman

Daughter of the founder-conductor of the Florida Orchestra, Irwin Hoffman, Deborah won first prize at the 1981 American Harp Society Competition and was a top prizewinner in the Seventh International Harp Competition in Israel. A Juilliard graduate, she taught at Verbier and Manhatan School of Music.

The violinist Cho-Liang Lin writes:

We lost Deborah Hoffman today. She fought valiantly against multiple illnesses and survived a lung transplant longer than anyone expected. What a great musician and enchanting person she was and will always be. I will miss her. I hope she is teaching angels how to play the harp right now.

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  1. My deepest condolences to her family and friends. So young….

  2. Trudy Kane says:

    She was a hero, inspiring us all with her enormous courage and stamina. And she only played more beautifully. We were all blessed to have time with her.

  3. Linore Brumley says:

    What a tremendous loss to us all
    She was loved by all of us at the Met
    What a priviledge to know her and work with her.
    How we will miss her talent and presence.

  4. Alan Fletcher says:

    A beautiful person and brilliant musician and teacher

  5. Hearing her play the opening of Saint-Saens Fantasie at every rehearsal and concert was like being in paradise.

  6. She was among the most brightly sparkling musicians and most inspiring persons! What a tremendous loss to us all!

  7. My deepest condolences to her family and friends.Sergio da Costa e Silva- Director of the RioHarpFestival- Rio de

  8. She was a great talent and gave so much to the orchestra…

  9. david alan miller says:

    Oh, I’m so sad. I remember what a radiant presence she was when we were students together at Juilliard.

  10. I first met Deborah when I first played under Irwin Hoffman with the Florida Gulf Coast Symphony that he founded. She was a brilliant harpist in her youth as all of her talented family was. She will be greatly missed. My prayers go out for healing to God for Maestro Hoffman and Family.

    John DiMura
    Double Bass
    The Florida Orchestra

  11. I had the pleasure of working with Deborah in a chamber orchestra version of the Ravel Septet with her father conducting. She also performed the Ginastera concerto with us on an earlier occasion and her playing was always magnificent and inspiring to all. She was the epitome of the greatest concert harp soloists. I send my deepest condolences to her family, colleagues and friends.

    Mark Friedman
    Principal Clarinet
    Symphony Orchestra of Venezurla

  12. Alice Giles says:

    A brave and beautiful soul and a beautful harpist – I am so sad to hear of Deborah’s too early passing, which is a loss to the harp community and to all musicians. My condolences to her family and all those who were close to her.

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