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In Memory of
Ruth C. Friedberg


Beloved Founding Spirit of Art Song Center

Ruth C. Friedberg is the founding spirit behind the Art Song Center for Poets and Musicians.  A scholar, poet, concert pianist, university teacher, and author, Ruth passed away on September 15, 2021 at the age of 93 in her home in San Antonio, Texas.  We mourn the loss of our esteemed co-founder and beloved friend, and we cherish how her presence and wisdom have graced our organization’s path. 

Ruth’s deep knowledge of American Art Song continues to enlighten readers and listeners through her books and recorded performances.  Her lecture-recitals, which combined her performing and academic interests, still resonate in those who attended at various universities and community centers in the United States, and in Jerusalem, Hong Kong, and throughout Latin America. 


Ruth’s spiritual sensitivity, emotional honesty, and broad-ranging brilliance continue to breathe when readers read her poems aloud. Active today within the world are countless students to whom she has taught piano over the years, and scores of undergraduates influenced by her university-level teaching at various universities throughout her career, particularly as part of the Music Therapy Program she established at Incarnate Word College (now known as University of the Incarnate Word) in San Antonio while serving as Chair of the Department of Music.

Continuing Legacy


"When I write poetry... it seems, the words simply appear, like a gift I am receiving."
- Ruth C. Friedberg

Ruth's Publications


  • Coasts, Press at Camperdown Elm, 1990

  • Circle of Women (song cycle), music by Lawrence Weiner Southern Music Company, 1993. 

  • Awaken Memories (compilation of poems, music and her husband’s artwork), Word Design Press, 2021

Scholarly Works

  • American Art Song and American Poetry, Scarecrow Press, 1987

  • The Complete Pianist: Body, Mind, Synthesis, Scarecrow Press, 1992

  • Art Songs by American Women Composers, 15 volumes, Southern Music Company, 1994-2000 (Editor)

  • Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians (Contributor)

  • Songs by John Duke, Volume 4, Southern Music Company, 2001 (Editor)


"The impulse to write manifested with my first poem at the age of seven. A little later that same year, I started piano lessons. And so began my lifelong devotion to both words and music, which eventually led to a passion for art-song and a succession of articles and books on this subject. When I need a break from research and footnotes, I still write my own poetry; a volume of it was published in 1990. Although I have never set poetry to music, I have always been extremely appreciative of the sensitive musical response to text shown by our fine American art song composers.


"I have two different writing processes, one for research and one for poetry. The former involves observing my own positive response to the song, analyzing the precise musical elements that have contributed to this, and then examining the connecting threads between the composer and the poet he or she is setting. When I write poetry, it is entirely different. I usually go to a library, sit with pencil in hand over a yellow pad of paper, and put myself into the time and situation I wish to write about. Then, it seems, the words simply appear, like a gift I am receiving."

Words from Ruth

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