(Looking Back, page 3)
Also in 1957, at the beginning of my first term as a music major, James McAuley and I organized the restoration of the University of Chicago's then-defunct orchestra; Joseph Kreines agreed to serve as its conductor. I knew that there had been a thriving orchestra on campus in the 1930s because my father had been a member of its violin section. It was only a matter of signing up a minimum of ten students for the orchestra to be recognized as a student activity and then of course finding out where the library of scores and parts had been stored, which was revealed to me by Dieter Kober, musical director of the Chicago Chamber Orchestra. It was quite ironic, when the Orchestra began holding weekly rehearsals on the stage in Mandel Hall, that my dad was seated once again in the violin section—a full quarter-century after his earlier participation in that same orchestra on that same stage, playing off of the same sheet music! During this same period I pursued my training on oboe with Ray Still and Earl Schuster of the Chicago Symphony. I was a member of various school and community orchestras—most notably the Civic Orchestra, the apprentice group to the Chicago Symphony. As an usher for the Chicago Symphony and then as a member of the Civic Orchestra, I was able to hear most if not all of the Chicago Symphony’s concerts for two years under Fritz Reiner. One work from my junior year that received some attention was the elegy I wrote on the untimely death of Clarke Kessler, contrabassoonist with the Chicago Symphony, former member of the University of Chicago Orchestra in the 1930s and an acquaintance of my dad. In Memoriam Clarke Kessler was written in the spring of 1958 and performed on the summer concert of the University Orchestra; it was given a reading in early 1959 by the Chicago Civic Orchestra under the baton of John Weicher. As a senior at the University of Chicago I can recall finishing a piano prelude in F# major at a piano in a lounge somewhere upstairs and to the west of the massive reading room in Harper Library, where I had initially spent many hours of study as an underclassman in English. That piano piece and the elegy for Clarke Kessler are the only two compositions I can recall having completed during my two years as a music major--in addition to the obligatory compositional studies and exercises, of course. Everything else got set aside after the opening measures were committed to paper. I now know, in retrospect, that my difficulty in finishing one composition before starting another one was due largely to technical deficiencies: I was usually working well over my head and well beyond my composition skills. Most representative of my predicament at this point in my career is the <--[BACK] [NEXT]-->
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<--Harper Library as seen from Midway Plaisance (photo released into public domain)
As a senior at the University of Chicago I can recall finishing a piano prelude in F# major at a piano in a lounge somewhere upstairs and to the west of the massive reading room in Harper Library, where I had initially spent many hours of study as
an underclassman in English.
Copyright © 2010 Donald M. Wilson. All rights reserved.