A Poet’s Love

CONTACT: Shelley Latham, Publicity Manager
(413) 585-3325 | slatham@smith.edu

NORTHAMPTON, MA – The Smith College Department of Music presents A Poet’s Love​​: The Music of Thomas de Hartmann and his Contemporaries on Saturday October 1 at 7:30 pm in Sweeney Concert Hall. Katherine Saik, soprano and Elan Sicroff, piano present the Ukrainian-born composer’s settings of Pushkin and P.B. Shelley poems. The lesser-known De Hartmann embraced many evolutions of his composition style, including Romanticism, Impressionism, and Modernism. This program will contextualize De Hartmann’s music with the inclusion of songs by Debussy, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.

While largely unknown today, Thomas de Hartmann’s music was widely acclaimed in Russia at the turn of the 20th century, and the composer enjoyed a successful career in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. However, by the time of his death in 1956, he had sunk into near obscurity. His compositions were often out of step with the accepted compositional norms as he refused to give up his Romantic roots, even when employing Modernist elements.

After his death, his widow Olga de Hartmann devoted herself to bringing the music back to public awareness. She released several recordings on a private label, including the violin and cello concerti and his opera Esther. She also searched for musicians who could perform her husband’s work. Pianist Elan Sicroff met her in 1975 and studied with her until her death in 1979, sparking a devotion to Hartmann’s work and eventually leading to the creation of The Thomas de Hartmann Project. The Project raises awareness of de Hartmann’s work through scholarship, lectures, workshops, and concerts.

While he was criticized for being too sentimental, Soprano, Katherine Saik admires de Hartmann’s range. “He really embraced the changing aesthetics throughout his life and was open to many different musical styles. He was influenced by jazz and wrote a number of film scores in addition to his classical work.” A Poet’s Love will place Thomas de Hartmann among his contemporaries with a program that includes Debussy’s Deux Romances, Tchaikovsky’s Op. 6, and Rachmaninoff’s Op. 4 along with de Hartmann’s Op. 52 and Op. 59.

A Poet’s Love: The Music of Thomas de Hartmann and his Contemporaries is free and open to the public in Sweeney Concert Hall. Masks and vaccination are required for entry to Smith events.


KATHERINE SAIK is a cross-genre vocalist and teacher who currently serves as a Core Lecturer in Music at Smith College. She holds a Bachelor of Music from UMass Amherst, and a Master of Music from the Manhattan School of Music where she focused on classical music and opera performance. While a graduate student, Katherine performed with the Manhattan School of Music Contemporary Opera Ensemble, and the Discover Opera outreach program which brought opera and cabaret to schools in greater Manhattan.

Since returning to the Pioneer Valley, Katherine has been active in local and regional performing arts. She has appeared in several operas, including La bohème (Mimi), Pagliacci (Nedda), Cavalleria Rusticana (Lola), Idomeneo (Idamante), Le Nozze di Figaro (Countess), Windows (Con Man) and Die Walküre (Siegrune). She has appeared as a concert soloist with the Windham Philharmonic, the Farmington Valley Symphony, Smith College, Panopera, the Keene Chorale, Bennington College and the South Hadley Chorale. Katherine was recently one of the artists who premiered a new song cycle by composer, Nico Gutierrez (Unsaid Prayers) at Clark University.

In addition to performing, Katherine has been active in recent years as a stage director, administrator and producer for schools and local arts organizations. She directed several musicals and ensembles for local school districts, served on the board of the Valley Light Opera, stage directed Sweeney Todd and produced two virtual concerts (Rhapsody and American Arias) for Panopera.

Pianist ELAN SICROFF has specialized in the music of Thomas de Hartmann since the early 1970s, when he first came across the composer at a school in the UK. From 1975–1979 he worked with Mme. Olga de Hartmann, widow of the composer, and gave numerous performances of de Hartmann’s music under her auspices. In 1982 he toured the US, with concerts in Chicago, L.A., New York City and elsewhere. In the following years he presented many recitals of chamber and vocal music, as well as programs for solo piano.

Elan Sicroff has given many performances and lecture recitals throughout Europe since 2016 (including Spain, Italy, the UK and the Netherlands), to bring awareness of de Hartmann’s music and the ideas that inform it, as well as his fascinating life story. For further information on the Thomas de Hartmann Project, please visit thomasdehartmannproject.com.