March 6, 1924
Sarah Caldwell was born in Maryville, Missouri. A child prodigy, Caldwell grew up in Fayetteville (Washington County). After graduating from high school at age fourteen, Caldwell briefly studied psychology at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville, where her father was a professor; went on to study violin at Hendrix College; and won scholarships to the New England Conservatory and the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood, Massachusetts. In 1976, Caldwell became the first woman conductor of the Metropolitan Opera. She founded the Opera Company of Boston and was the first recipient of the Kennedy Center Award for excellence. President Bill Clinton and the first lady presented to her the National Medal of Arts in 1996. Caldwell died in Maine in 2006.