McDonald, Susann , noted American harpist and pedagogue; b. Rock Island, Ill., May 26, 1935. She began harp study when she was 6, then took lessons with Marcel Grandjany in N.Y. (1948) and Marie Ludwig in Chicago (1948–52). She continued her training in Paris at the École Normale de Musique and privately with Henriette Renie (1952; 1953–55), and was also a scholarship student of Lily Laskine at the Paris Cons. (1954–55), graduating with the premier prix in 1955, the first American to attain that distinction for harp. She subsequently pursued an outstanding concert career, playing with most of the leading orchs. of the world and appearing as a recitalist in the major music centers. She was artist-in-residence (1963–70) and assoc. prof. (1970–81) at the Univ. of Ariz.; was also a lecturer at the Univ. of Southern Calif. in Los Angeles (1966–81) and head of the harp dept. at the Juilliard School in N.Y. (1975–85); was chairman of the harp dept. at the Ind. Univ. School of Music in Bloomington (from 1981); served as artistic director of the World Harp Congress (from 1981). She ed. a number of works for her instrument. A remarkable virtuoso, she maintains an extensive repertoire, which ranges from early works to contemporary scores.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire