Harry Hadley Schyde

1900-1988

Although Harry Hadley Schyde was born in Fresno, California, and taught at Walla Walla College, now University, from 1937 to 1940, he spent most of his life in the eastern U.S. and regarded New Haven, Connecticut, as his hometown. A gifted bass with an extended range, during his 55-year career he was a well-known radio personality, a music teacher at two Seventh-day Adventist colleges and the Chicago Conservatory of Music, and a school administrator for 25 years.

Schyde spent the summer of 1927 studying voice in Paris and Berlin after graduating with a B.Mus. from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Upon his return to the U.S. that fall, he won scholarships for study in voice at the Julliard School and the Damrosch Institute of Musical Art. During his study in New York City he was a featured singer on NBC radio and with the WEAF opera company program. He became an Adventist in September 1928.

In the spring of 1929, when Schyde gave a recital at Atlantic Union College, the administration, impressed by both his performance and outgoing personality, invited him to come and teach, starting that fall. During his time at AUC he and his choirs performed frequently to great acclaim. His deep resonant voice made him a popular soloist and he was often featured on a nearby radio station in Boston, where he became known as "The Messenger of Cheer."

While he was teaching at AUC, his mother became very ill and was nursed back to health by Eva Abernathy, a nurse. Schyde enjoyed his visits with Eva and eventually proposed to her. They married and would have two daughters, Carol (Perham) and Donna (Earl).

Schyde sang several times during a General Conference session held in California in the 1930's. The president of Walla Walla College, William Landeen, impressed by what he had heard and observed in visiting with him, invited him to come to WWC. Although he initially was not interested, the WWC business manager traveled to New England and convinced him to accept the invitation.

As Schyde arrived on campus in 1937, two extended interviews with Jack Abbey that were published in The Collegian, the WWC school paper, described his career and his interests. Schyde mentioned human nature as his first hobby and said that he also enjoyed oratory and loved "the platform, people, and concert and radio work." Abbey was allowed to examine a scrapbook that had over 2,000 articles and 250 photos of Schyde that had been published in newspapers, including the New York Times and others.

He was a popular teacher in his three years at the college, serving as choir director and  teaching as many as 65 voice lessons during some quarters. In spite of his successes and popularity on campus, however the college board under the leadership of George Bowers, new president of the college at the beginning of Schyde’s second year, had difficulty relating to his independent nature.

At that time it was expected as a condition of employment that once hired as a faculty member, one’s time and expertise were the school’s.  Although one could make arrangements with the college president for permission to perform for pay off campus, such requests were usually denied. In his first year, Schyde, with numerous opportunities to perform off campus, was allowed to do so by Landeen.  The president and his wife lived next door to the Schydes and were good friends.  Bowers, however, was uncomfortable in continuing that performing arrangement and when Schyde ignored his request to stop, went to the college board, which took the following action:

To ask Mr. Schyde to conform to the general policy in regard to outside activities and undertake nothing of the character unless by permission or by request of the administration. . . . In case Mr Schyde is permitted or requested to give some program outside of the college itself, he shall receive no remuneration for the same but that any money accruing from such programs shall be turned into the college.

Schyde ignored the action, which led to considerable discussion at a subsequent board meeting and a restatement of the earlier actions.  Schyde was still unwilling to yield and the board in frustration seriously talked about trading him for another teacher at Pacific Union College. In spite of Schyde’s lack of cooperation, at the end of that year the board decided to rehire him and in that same meeting promoted him to Assistant Professor in Voice. 

In 1940 Schyde left WWC to complete graduate study in Chicago on a master's degree in music at the American School of Music. Following completion of another master's degree in education at Northwestern University, he moved to New York City to continue graduate work at Columbia University.

Just as he began his study at CU, he was asked to be supervisor of the New Haven, Connecticut, public school system, a position he accepted and held for the next 25 years. During those years Schyde performed frequently for the Adventist church, singing in revival meetings and giving benefit concerts for churches. He recorded an album, Down Deep in the Sea, (LP1210) with Cathedral Records, later renamed Chapel Records, in the early 1950s. His travels would take him and his wife, Eva, around the world three times.

He also continued to sing in other venues. Following a performance at the Golden State Music School in Los Angeles, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in the presence of the mayor, other civic leaders, and educators in New Haven, Connecticut. He retired in 1967 and moved to Florida, where he taught voice at colleges in the Palm Beach area for two years. The Schydes were living in Lake Worth, Florida, when he died at age 87.

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Sources/Notes: Letters from Eva Schyde, 15 March 1995 and 9 April 1995. In the second letter she questioned the relating of the tension that developed between her husband and the board over his performances off campus, apparently not having been told by her husband about the board’s actions. Dan Shultz, A Great Tradition, Music at Walla Walla College, 1892-1992, 75-76. Eva Schyde’s second letter was received after the book was published and the account of what happened between Schyde and the school presented here is a little more detailed than in the book. Jack Abbey, “Local Maestro Enjoys Colorful Background in Preparation for Life Work,” 21 October 1937 and “Popular Basso Leads Busy Life in Concert-Radio Work,” 28 October 1937, WWC The Collegian; WWC Board meetings: 7 April 1938, 21 November 1938, 22 September 1939, 6 February 1940; “Schyde Joins Conservatory in Chicago,” The Collegian, 24 October 1940; Clara Nosworthy Wright, “Commuting with Mother’s Prayers,” The Youth’s Instructor, 15 October 1957, 10,11;  Obituaries: The Atlantic Union Gleaner, 5 January 1989, 21 and The Adventist Review, 8 September 1988,22. In The Atlantic Union Gleaner, 11 July 1955, 6,  note is made of Schyde being awarded a doctorate in New Haven, CT. His wife observes in one of her letters that it happened after a performance in California and that the GSMS later became part of the UCLA department of music. The latter observation could not be confirmed.