Prof. Russell Hartenberger

Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts 2017
Field of Work: Percussion, Musicology, Ethnomusicology
Date: 8 November 2017
Place of Ceremony: Pieterskers Leiden
Host Institution: Leiden University
Host Country: Leiden, The Netherlands

The 2017 Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts will be granted to Professor Russell Hartenberger, Professor Emeritus of Ethnomusicology and Percussion, and former Dean of the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto, Canada.

This recognition is for his lifetime commitment to cultivating and shaping our understanding of music and performance across cultures and genres, respecting the diversity of world traditions, besides his visionary and seminal contributions to percussion and contemporary music.

It is a prize granted to Prof. Hartenberger for his achievements as a scholarly writer, as well as an extraordinarily talented percussionist, and for his commitment to teaching and inspiring new generations of young musicians and scholars. In the words of Evelyn Glennie:  “…his knowledge, constant curiosity and dedication to all he does and everyone he meets always means that you are a better person for having been in his presence.”


Prof. Russell Hartenberger is considered as a musical visionary and one of the most prominent figures in percussion history. He is a member of Nexus and has been a member of the Steve Reich and Musicians Ensemble since 1971.

He received his B.Mus. degree in 1966 from Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Fred D. Hinger; and his M. Mus. in 1969 from the Catholic University. He gained his PhD in 1974 in World Music from Wesleyan University, venturing into a range of instruments, including the mridangam with Ramnad Raghavan of South India, the tabla with Sharda Sahai of North India, Javanese Gamelan with Prawotosaputro, and West African drumming with Abraham Adzinyah.

Russell Hartenberger is a virtuoso soloist whose technical mastery encompasses virtually every percussion instrument imaginable. He has dedicated most of his performing and creative energies to collaborative participations with others, musicians and non-musicians, promoting world understanding among musicians and audiences alike.

He has focused especially on the dissemination of multiple world music styles, practices of improvisation and most famously, creation, performance and scholarship in the musical tradition of minimalism.

His name has become synonymous with brilliance in percussion playing, rigorous musical scholarship on percussion and musical minimalism, and the championing of musical stylistic diversity and intercultural exchange through musical performance.

Professor Hartenberger has performed throughout the world, including appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, London Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, Cologne Radio Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, BBC Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic, the Marlboro Music Festival under Pablo Casals and other leading orchestras in Europe, Asia and North America. He has appeared on over 70 recordings for various labels including Nonesuch, ECM, DGG, Sony, Phillips and Nexus.

Russell Hartenberger’s pledge to demonstrating and performing the fundamental human experience of time through collaborative, cross-cultural percussive performance and improvisation expresses a vision of human reaching audiences all over the world. His work has been an exceptional vehicle for fostering the kind of societal-cultural understanding and fraternity that contributes fundamentally to the betterment of the world and its human legacy.

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2024 Event Location

McGill University, Canada

Event Website

McGill University

You can find additional information about the event on the McGill University 2024 WCC Awards website