Recording Industry Pioneer Passes On

In the past when someone told Harry Hirsch “You’re history,” he took it as a compliment to his role as Chair of the AES Historical Committee. At 6:05AM on, Thursday, February 14 this irreplaceable and occasionally irreverent musician, recording studio owner, engineer, producer, educator, and technology guru passed into history himself.

Beginning his career in 1942 as a 13-year-old drummer in The Catskills, Harry Hirsch was gifted with a natural ability to master new technology. His talents as a recording and mastering engineer inspired him to design, build and administer a number of world-class studios in NYC. As founder & past president of MediaSound and Soundmixers, and as a co-designer of GRP Records, and SoundTrack/NY studios, he hosted sessions for Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, Stevie Nicks, Stevie Wonder, The Who, The Bee Gees, Judy Collins, Meatloaf, and many other legendary stars.

An early proponent of digital technology, Harry served as re-issue producer for ten Duke Ellington CD’s, and collaborated with Mercer Ellington on ten more. In 1981 he was appointed Dean of the Audio Arts Program for NY’s Center for The Media Arts. That same year he was named an Adjunct Professor at NYU where he lectured for the Music Technology Program.

In 1994 Harry Hirsch created Digi-Rom Inc, an innovative NYC-based Audio CD, CD Rom, DVD production/replication firm and Vinyl Mastering house, which he sold in 2004. In 2005 he and renowned engineer, Irv Joel co-chaired the Audio Engineering Society’s 119th Convention Historical Committee. Harry went on to serve as AES Convention Historical Committee Chair in 2007 and 2009. In 2011 he was presented with the AES Fellowship Award in recognition of his over 50 years of pioneering work in the recording industry. He also served two terms as First Vice President of the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (The Grammy’s).

AES past president Jim Kaiser (left) presents Historical Committee Chair Harry Hirsch with the 2011 AES Fellowship Award at the 131st Convention at NY's Javits Center.

AES past president Jim Kaiser (left) presents Historical Committee Chair Harry Hirsch with the 2011 AES Fellowship Award at the 131st Convention at NY's Javits Center.

"The range and depth of AES Historical Events was impressive, but not surprising, considering Harry Hirsch's considerable expertise," remarked AES president and frequent Convention Co-Chair, Agnieszka Roginska. "A long-time AES member, Harry worked closely with elder statesmen Irv Joel, Bill Wray and John Chester on our indispensible AES Oral History Project. He edited nearly 100 hour-long DVD interviews, including in-depth Q&A’s with industry doyens, Les Paul and Phil Ramone. Harry Hirsch was an irreplaceable fixture at AES Conventions and he has made an indelible contribution to our organization,” Roginska said.

Meetings with Harry Hirsch often began with a warm handshake and his irreverent greeting, “Frieda’s boy from The Bronx!” A loving husband, father of sons Bruce and Marc, and grandfather of Paige and Garret he is survived by Doris Baran Hirsch, his partner at Digi-Rom, and wife of 64 years.

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