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Composer Wally Harper dead at 63

Composer Wally Harper dead at 63

Composer and arranger Wally Harper, best known for being Barbara Cook's musical director for 30 years, died October 8 in New York City at the age of 63. Harper's partner, Allan Gruet, told The New York Times that the cause of death was cardiac arrest. Harper's Broadway credits as a musical director and arranger included such shows as A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, Irene, The Grand Tour, My One and Only, The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public, and the original 1982 production of Nine, which won a Best Musical Tony. Reviewing Cook's comeback concert at Carnegie Hall in 1975, the Times wrote, "Miss Cook's program was not simply a display of vocal virtuosity--an element that was often implied more than it was exhibited. 'The Man I Love,' which offers opportunities for a bravura performance, was, under the direction of Wally Harper, kept simple, clear, and direct, but with the excitement of a possibly stronger projection bubbling underneath." Harper was born in Akron, Ohio, and attended the New England Conservatory and the Juilliard School of Music. Gruet is his sole survivor.

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