Harriet Katz

Composer • Cellist

Harriet Katz (b. 1944) grew up in New York, starting piano at 5 and switching to cello at 9. She has played the cello ever since, but didn’t make music her career till later in life. An English major (Harvard-Radcliffe ’66), she then moved to Los Angeles. In the early ’70s she wrote and edited American Civil Liberties Union publications. Gov. Jerry Brown appointed her in 1976 as a public (non-lawyer) member of the State Bar of California’s governing body. In 1986 Bantam published her novel “Ambitions” about classical musicians.

She started playing music professionally in the ’90s, teaching cello and founding Ladies Choice String Quartet, which performed at more than 1800 events over the years, including Oprah’s 50th birthday luncheon. She started composing in 2006, in the wake of the death of her husband, jazz musician and artist Joel O’Brien

Her opera “Ruth and Naomi” was presented concert-version by Los Angeles’ University Synagogue in 2011. “Ruth and Naomi” is a story about a story: a feminist, magical take on the Book of Ruth. It is above all an exploration of love and grief.  Video of the performance is at

Harriet retired from Ladies Choice String Quartet in 2012 and moved back east to be closer to family. She lives in Pikesville MD, plays in several community orchestras and ensembles, and is treasurer of the Baltimore Composers Forum.

Videos of several works performed in the Baltimore area since she moved here are at