Hirt, Charles C. (1911-2001) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Hirt, Charles C. (1911-2001)

Historical Note:

Charles C. Hirt (1911-2001) was born in Los Angeles, California to Adolph and Ella Belle (Mills) Hirt. Hirt's family discouraged him from pursuing a career in music, but he persisted, attending Glendale Community College in 1929 and joining the Los Angeles Oratorio Society. In his first semester, he was persuaded by John Smallman, director of the Los Angeles Oratorio Society, to sing during the national Smallman A Cappella Choir Tour. Hirt received his bachelor's degree in music education from Occidental College in 1934, studying with Walter E. Hartley. He then taught in the Glendale Secondary Schools before earning a masters of music at the University of Southern California. In May 1941, he was offered a teaching assignment at the Glendale Junior College. After accepting the position, he began working on his PhD in music at USC. During this time, he also served as director of music at the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood.

In 1942, while still a graduate student, Hirt became the director of choral activities at USC, completing his PhD in 1946. Hirt would serve in this role until his retirement in 1981. During his time at USC, he founded the USC Chamber Singers, an internationally renowned choral ensemble.

When Disneyland opened in 1956, Walt Disney asked Hirt to serve as the park's choral music advisor. Hirt directed the annual Christmas Candlelight Ceremony at Disneyland until 1981. In 1956, Walt Disney and Hirt served together on the international Olympic Committee for Pageants, an international committee that oversaw the opening ceremony for the summer games in Australia. Hirt co-produced the opening ceremonies, which was televised on CBS. When the Olympics were held in Los Angeles in 1984, Hirt was invited to direct an international choir for the opening ceremonies.

Hirt was one of the founding members of the ACDA, serving as national president from 1970-1972. Hirt died February 3, 2001 in Los Angeles.

Note Author: Nolan Vallier

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