This month, we chatted with Carol Hauptfuhrer, who has remained actively involved with the School since her time here as a student. Carol graciously shared her experience as a pre-arts Walnut Hill student, as well as her subsequent life journey. For the full interview, click here.
What originally brought you to Walnut Hill, and what was your experience like as a student here? Do you have a favorite memory from those years?
In 1962, my father and I visited several boarding schools, after which he asked me to write a short summary of my feelings and impressions about each one: Walnut Hill was my first choice, by far. I responded immediately to the friendliness of the girls and the overall warm hospitality that I felt on campus. The classes were small and smart and non-intimidating, and the performing arts were very important in the curriculum. Walnut Hill was truly a second home for me, with all the support and stability I needed, coming as I did from a fairly chaotic family background.
I entered as a sophomore and felt completely at home from the first day, after I settled into my room in Highland. My roommate (Laurie Huggins) and I became fast friends, and we continued to room together for our remaining three years. Music was the center of my life at the Hill: I accompanied (piano) and sang in the Glee Club, was a Mischord, and served as president of the student government my senior year. Laurie and I used to play four-hand arrangements of Broadway musicals on the grand piano in Eliot as everyone waited for the doors to open to the Dining Room—it was great fun!
Tell us about your post–high school journey. Did you end up in the field or career you thought you would? What path or steps led you to where you are now?
I did not have a specific goal or ambition to fulfill when I graduated in 1965. Music was still my anchor in my studies at Wilson College (a small liberal arts college for women), which I loved. I majored in music and minored in French. After graduating, I went to Paris to continue my piano studies privately and do graduate work at the Institut de Musicologie (University of Paris), returning to the United States after two years because of a death in my family. I worked for a year at the Columbus Boychoir School in Princeton, New Jersey, teaching French, before moving to New York City, where I lived for almost 30 years. There I met my husband Henry Grossman, and we raised two children who are professional musicians (David Grossman, bass player in the New York Philharmonic; Christine Grossman, principal viola in the Kansas City Symphony).
As a young mother, I taught piano at home and volunteered as office manager at the National Music Theatre Network (NMTN), where I discovered my success and satisfaction as an arts administrator. In the early 1990s, I worked for Frank Salomon in his small artist management office in New York, and later was assistant director of the Fairfield Orchestra in Norwalk, Connecticut, before moving to Philadelphia.
With my continuing love of music, my learned skills in classical music management, and my exposure to the professional music world, I was recruited to be the assistant to the president of the Curtis Institute of Music in 2001, retiring from that position in December 2013. I am now a guide at the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (since 2013)—and am having lots of fun in my retirement!
Do you have any lessons or advice for our recently graduated Walnuts who are entering the world?
Yes. I would say:
- Always do your best and seek to love what you do.
- In the end, "success" may not fulfill your initial "ambition"—so be open to, and prepared for, the opportunities that present themselves, because your ambition may not really be what you are meant to do. Be open to the possibilities . . .
- And always be respectful and kind to others.