Yurchenco, Henrietta 1916-2007 (Henrietta Weiss, Henrietta Weiss Yurchenco)

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Yurchenco, Henrietta 1916-2007 (Henrietta Weiss, Henrietta Weiss Yurchenco)


See index for CA sketch: Born March 22, 1916, in New Haven, CT; died of lung failure, December 10, 2007, in New York, NY. Ethnomusicologist, educator, radio personality and producer, and author. Yurchenco was responsible for almost single-handedly rescuing thousands of obscure ethnic songs and other melodies from impending extinction. Her quest to save endangered musical traditions began in 1941, when she first went to rural Mexico with recording equipment mounted on a mule. She made many subsequent field trips throughout Central and South America, often with financial support from the American Philosophical Society, the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities, various foreign governments, and other agencies. Yurchenco recorded more than 2,000 ancient and modern songs for the Library of Congress alone, songs that she once described to CA as "ritual songs …, songs celebrating the food gathering, hunting, and agricultural stages, children's songs, cult music, traditional love songs, pre-hispanic chants, music for the dance, various instrumental ensembles, etc." From Latin America she expanded her search to the Sephardic Jews of Morocco, then throughout Spain, North Africa, and home again, via the Caribbean and Puerto Rico. Yurchenco's qualifications for this epic journey of discovery came from her work in New York City in the 1930s as a radio producer and host of live programs featuring the music of American folk musicians such as Woody Guthrie. Though she commented that her field recordings were the highlight of her career, Yurchenco also taught music for many years at the New School for Social Research and at Queens College, Brooklyn College, and City College, all of the City University of New York. In addition to her memoir, Around the World in 80 Years: A Memoir, a Musical Odyssey (2002), Yurchenco also wrote A Fiesta of Folksongs from Spain and Latin America (1967), A Mighty Hard Road: The Woody Guthrie Story (1970), ¡Hablamos! Puerto Ricans Speak (1971), and In Their Own Voices: Judeo-Hispanic Song and Story (2006).



Yurchenco, Henrietta, Around the World in 80 Years: A Memoir, a Musical Odyssey, MRI Press (Point Richmond, CA), 2002.


New York Times, December 14, 2007, p. C17; December 19, 2007, p. A2.