(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The song that didn't die : a history of Peoria Symphony Orchestra, 1898-1958"

universtv of 
^^ 'llino.5l;,~iary 



XLLiirois MiatomcAjL bvbvbt 



THE SONG 
THAT DIDN'T DIE 



THE SONG 
THAT DIDN'T DIE 



A HISTORY OF 

Peoria Symphony Orchestra 

1898-1958 



By 
MARIESTA DODGE HOWLAND BLOOM 



Published February, 1959 

at 

The Parthenon Press 



^^'7 3 f^JL ./ , 



^ X?y /ly 



Foreword 

The history of a man; of a school of painting; of the 
Greek sculptors; or of an ancient building can be dealt 
with visually — by means of pictures. But for music there 
is only recorded memory to recapture the symphonic 
song of sixty years. 

If this were a biography, the first test of its validity 
would be: how has the protagonist affected the culture 
of his period and place? Although this is the story of a 
symphony orchestra and the people who struggled to 
keep it alive and to bring it to maturity, the question 
which we strive to answer here is much the same: what 
has Peoria Symphony accomplished for the city of 
Peoria, and what is it still accomplishing? And if this 
story of a valiant and stubborn and persuasive sym- 
phonic "song" should succeed in revealing to Peorians 
a source of pride in their city, then, because this is a 
truly American saga, perhaps it will also prove a source 
of pride to Americans everywhere. 

Mariesta Dodge Howland Bloom 



Acknowledgments 

In the pages which follow, I have drawn upon faded 
newspaper clippings; reminiscences of "old-timers"; 
yellowed programs; old photographs, bills, receipts, 
lists, letters, memoranda; the official Minutes of the 
Symphony Board, and my own personal souvenirs in 
order to evoke many a vanished chord. It is all part of 
the cultural history of our City. 

But in the preparation of this book special acknowl- 
edgment is due Mr. George Landon, business manager 
of Peoria Symphony, and to his wife, Ruth Landon, for 
invaluable groundwork in collating, filing and anno- 
tating the material in the Symphony files as well as 
many other key materials. 

The author is also indebted to Mrs. Margaret Plowe 
Crumbaker; Mrs. Dorothy Plowe Archibald; Mrs, W. 
Clayton Burgy, Mrs. Bennett M. Hollowell; Mrs. Fred 
Putnam; Mrs. T. D. Wilson; and Messieurs Frederick 
Huber, Forrest J. Woodman, Julian Mills, Fred Brown 
and the late Howard Kellogg, Sr., Herman Schwab and 
Harry Biehl for information offered and scrapbooks 
loaned. 



Contents 
Chapter I. THE SONG BEGINS 1898-1925 . .11 

"Begin at the beginning," the King said, 
very gravely, "and go on till you come to the 
end; then stop." — Alice In Wonderland. 

Section 1. Prelude 1898-1916 

2. Andante 1917 

3. Adagio 1920 



Chapter II. THE SONG FADES 1926-1935 . . 21 

"Is it not part of our cultural education, 
something that touches the soul?" 
— Floyd Blair, President of New York Phil- 
harmonic, pleading before the Eighty-Second 
Congress. 

Section 1. Diminuendo 1926 

2. "Pavane pour une Infante 
Difunte" 1931 



Chapter III. THE SONG SWELLS 1936-1950 . 27 

"Nor pity these who passionately wear 
A flaming riband on their ragged rein. 
Out of their thousand battles they shall dare 
To thunder toward the luring goal again." 

— Mariesta Dodge Rowland 
(Anthology) 

Section 1. Rallentando 1936-1945 
2. Scherzo 1946-1951 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

Chapter IV. THE SONG SOARS 1951-1958 . . 41 

"I'm trampin', I'm trampin', I'm tryin' to 
make Heaven my home." 

— Negro Spiritual 

Section 1. Crescendo 1951-1957 
2. Forte 1958 



10 



Chapter I 
The Song Begins 

"Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, 
"and go on till you come to the end; then stop." 

— Alice In Wonderland 

Prelude: 1898-1916 

Forty-odd years after he had founded the orchestra 
which today is known as Peoria Symphony Orchestra, 
Harold Plowe, who had "weathered the storm" as 
founder, conductor and conductor emeritus, said with 
unflagging optimism to his sustaining Committee: 
"Two things can happen: either we die out or grow 
into a first-class Symphony. Neither has happened, yet, 
but I still hope for the latter." 

Plowe's faith in his city and his musicians bears fruit 
today, for the song didn't die and Peoria Symphony 
in 1958 is on the threshold of that era when it will 
indeed become a "first-class Symphony." 

This Symphony — now celebrating its sixtieth an- 
niversary — like nations and like people, presents a 
fascinating history (some ^vould call it "a chequered 
career"!) of struggle and recession; of growth and 
triumph — and currently, of steady progress. Hundreds 
of dedicated human beings who loved music, from 
Harold Plowe and the early pioneers of the Orchestra, 
through wars and depressions and epidemics and civic 
lethargy, through two re-organizations and four dif- 

11 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

ferent orchestral identities, "kept the music going." 
The musicians came to rehearsal from factories and 
shops and kitchens and nurseries and busy doctors' 
offices. One year they came to rehearsals when no con- 
certs could be given! PloAve mounted the podium Avhen 
he was seriously ill. Officers and board members of 
every era placed Symphony needs above their own per- 
sonal ones. Women produced fantastic sums from little, 
"social" projects — as women always do. And in every 
one of the four epochs to be covered here, the bulk of 
the dollars came from the modest purses of the clerk, 
the teacher, the housewife, the musician and the small- 
business man! 



The Peoria Star carried the first news of a civic 
orchestra on Nov. 24, 1898, when it announced the 
formation of a "Bradley Symphony Orchestra," Harold 
Plowe, founder and Director (co-owner of the Peoria 
Conservatory of Music) , under the auspices of Bradley 
Polytechnic Institute and the specific supervision of 
Dr. C. T. Wyckoff, then Acting President of the Insti- 
tute. 

Many a familiar name recurs among those listed as 
rehearsing from 1898 to 1909 at the Brown, Page and 
Hillman Music Store for the infant orchestra, ^\ith 
Anna Bird as concertmistress, a post which she held at 
varying intervals in the next thirty-two years — her 
longest incumbency extending from 1923 to 1930 — 
when Isabelle Lloyd took over the first chair. The 
concerts themselves ^s^ere performed at Bradley Poly- 
technic Institute, now Bradley University. 

Of the early instrumentalists, Fred Bro"^vn, Sr. played 
violin and viola from 1900 until 1941; Martha 

12 



THE SONG BEGINS 

Mackemer Brown served the Symphony throughout all 
its early stages, from 1898 till 1945, in the violin sec- 
tion, on the executive Board, and later as the Sym- 
phony's first woman President. Howard Kellogg, Sr., 
best known as the dedicated conductor of Orpheus 
(Choral) Club, an early violin-pupil of Plowe, changed 
to viola at Plowe's request and for some ten years was 
the group's only violist; Josephine Putnam was another 
of the earliest violins; Julian Mills, the French horn 
player, joined the Orchestra in the pre- World War era 
at a time when the group rehearsed on the third floor 
of the Peoria Star Building on Madison Street and when 
they valiantly stayed "in rehearsal" even though no 
concerts were given. 

Harold Plowe, destined to be the persistent genius 
of Peoria Symphony under its many "identities" for 
forty-odd years, deserves, ^vith his two brothers, a special 
chapter in any history of Peoria music-making. Certain- 
ly the "song" of our city was vitally orchestrated by the 
Plowe family. Born in Wadsworth, Ohio — Eugene in 
1853, Harold in 1862 and Jay in 1867— the sons of 
Augusta Pardee and Henry Plowe, the family turned 
westward to Eureka, 111. when Harold ^vas ten, and 
thence (in 1880) to nearby Peoria. That three brothers 
should all have manifested the same traits of musical 
talent, courtliness, humor, inventiveness and unflagging 
industry is astonishing in itself. 

Eugene Henry Plowe and Harold founded the Peoria 
Conservatory of Music in 1890, and young Jay taught 
flute and cello there. Eugene, who had studied at Hiram 
College in Ohio, and later in New York under Carlo 
Bassini, the first teacher of world-famous Emma Abbott 
(who grew to girlhood in Peoria) , had headed the 

13 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

Music department of Eureka College and is best re- 
called — although he too ^vorked industriously to keep 
alive the early Peoria Symphony — as director of the 
Peoria Choral Union of two hundred voices whose 
festivals were assisted by the Theodore Thomas Orches- 
tra (later re-named the Chicago Symphony) and also as 
director for t^venty-five years of the St. Paul's Episcopal 
Choir "ivith its memorable boys' group of twenty-five 
piercingly sweet, unchanged voices. 

Jay Plo^ve, quoted by critics of the day as "second 
only to Barrere as a flautist" had a really distinguished 
career after leaving the faculty of the Peoria Conserva- 
tory, for he concertized throughout this country and 
Europe; studied there with Joachim Andersen and 
Robert Strauss; became first flute of the Royal Berlin 
Opera under Karl Muck (who later came to direct 
Boston Symphony) during the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm. 
and after^vards, in this country became first flute of the 
Los Angeles Symphony as Avell as of the Hollywood 
Bowl orchestra. 

Harold Plo^ve, "father" of Peoria Symphony, if per- 
haps surpassed by Eugene as a trained musician and 
by Jay as a gifted executant, nevertheless excelled in 
versatility and in persistence. He played and taught 
violin, cello, piano and organ. He was a church organ- 
ist. He revelled in the painstaking restoration and re- 
pair of stringed instruments. He also insisted on mak- 
ing his own tools for instrument repairs! He built a 
telescope and a microscope. He literally introduced 
archery to Peoria (Jay shared this skill also) and 
constructed exquisitely balanced bo^s^s and arrows. He 
invented and manufactured fire^vorks and rockets and 
was, according to printed authorities in 1940, the only 
amateur firew^orks-inventor in the United States! 

14 



THE SONG BEGINS 

And although fcAv Peorians realized it, Plowe, even 
as he met the adversities and fluctuations suffered by 
his symphony orchestra, ^vas, during the last ten years 
of his teaching and directing, the victim of partial 
blindness. What a trio! — Eugene, the perfectionist, 
Harold, the eclectic and tireless; Jay, the young genius. 

The brothers had built their Conservatory building 
at Fifth and Franklin Streets; later they moved to the 
old Y.M.CA. Building on Jefferson Street which was 
destroyed by fire in 1916, and where Peoria Symphony 
Avas then rehearsing; and finally to the easily recalled 
quarters at the corner of Main and Madison Streets. 

In 1916 the Orchestra went through its first period of 
reorganization, and was incorporated as the PEORIA 
SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, with Mr. George F. 
Carson serving as President, Mr. Plowe as Director, 
and the whole sum of $570 in the treasury! Concerts 
were given in the old Shrine Temple on Dec. 5, 1916 
and in the Majestic Theatre on Feb. 20, 1917. Mr. 
Plowe's salary for the season was $250. The Shrine 
rental in those days was $100. But despite the small 
budget, the Orchestra underwent a "trial by fire" when 
all its instruments save the tympani were burned up 
when the Y.M.CA. Building, used for storage and re- 
hearsals, went up in flame. 

However, the concerts must have marked a milestone 
of progress, for on Dec. 12, 1916, James B. Wilton, 
President of Wilton Bros. Mortuary, subscribing as a 
Patron, wrote Mr. Carson: "The Orchestra in many 
^vays shows a marked improvement over former years. . . . 
Peoria has never fully realized just what they have had 
in their midst." And there came along too a cheerful 

15 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

letter from Theodore Kuhl, President of Block & 
Kuhl Co., requesting membership for himself, Mr. 
Hajo Block and Mr. Carl Block, remarking wryly: "I 
think, however, it ^vill be best to put us in the Con- 
tributing Membership, as the music we might make, 
were we Active Members, might not suit the audience." 

Andante: 1917 

In the season of 1917-1918, the officers of the new 
Board of Directors were: W. S. Miles, Vice-President; 
W. T. Wheeler, Treasurer; Mrs. L. B. Bird (Anna Bird, 
concertmistress) , Secretary; B. T. Sweeney, Business 
Manager, Miss Elizabeth Riesz, Publicity Manager, 
Miss Louise Gillig, Librarian and Lewis Brown, Cus- 
todian. Subscriptions and seat sales had produced eleven 
hundred dollars during the year, although in true 
"symphony-on-a-shoestring" fashion, April 11, 1917 
found the Orchestra, after all bills were paid, in pos- 
session of one dollar and seventy cents! 

In 1917 the deadly assault of the flu epidemic, and in 
1918-1919 the loss of young musicians to the draft and 
enlistments for W^orld War One brought the orchestral 
"Andante" almost to full stop. But the Orchestra re- 
mained organized and still occasionally functioning. 

By the advent of 1920, when Herman Schwab, long- 
time Symphony musician and supporter, became Presi- 
dent, Professor PloAve had "demoted" himself to a 
salary of $200, and the Symphony's two concerts were 
budgeted to cost $600. A deficit of $384 had to be dealt 
with, and of course the sum left outstanding consisted 
mostly of Plowe's salary and the modest $25 owing to 
faithful Elizabeth Riesz, ticket- worker! The programs 
of that precarious season show among the violins, Mrs. 
Anna Bird, Martha Mackemer Brown (rounding out 

16 




< 




■.J 


^ 




"52 


H 




O 


c/^ 




^; 


M 






K 




< 

Q 


u 




p^ 




o 


n 




>H 


< 


^ 


^ 




C/l 


O 


^ 




K 


fTl 


OS 


0^ 







^ 


CN 


Q 






< 


<^ 




^ 


l-H 




O 


O 




n 


M 




_] 


&. 






OS 
< 




GEORGE LANDON 

Business Manager, Peoria 

Symphony Orchestra 

Since 1946 

Also Orchestra Member Since 1927 

and First Clarinet Since 1937 



THE SONG BEGINS 

her twenty-second year of violin work, fund-raising and 
Board service) and Herman Schwab, of whose de- 
votion we shall speak later. Ginevra Chivington, better 
known as a gifted choral director and the "discoverer" 
of many of Peoria's finest feminine voices, was playing 
bass viol in the Orchestra. Fred Bro^vn, Lewis Deyo, and 
that impeccable oboist, Jerome Edie, were also on the 
rolls. 

Adagio: 1920 

The musicians were certainly "doubling in brass" 
during the Tempestuous Twenties, for members of the 
Orchestra itself bore most of the executive burden, 
providing officers, directors, committees and financing- 
plans. Rehearsals were held in the Board of Education 
Building — which had once been Peoria's early high 
school and is now a vanished site, erased by the new 
Murray Baker Bridge. 

It was in 1920 also that committee letters, seeking to 
win support for the hard-hit Orchestra and mend its 
deficit, speak of the adversities of the two previous years, 
when World War One decimated the roster of lead 
players; the "Black Flu" of 1918 attacked both Orchestra 
and audiences; and coal shortages interfered with re- 
hearsals and concerts. At this time Mr. Plowe himself 
suffered a long, serious illness and the Shrine was unable 
to cut the rental fee for concerts despite the Orchestra 
deficit. Instead, the rental ^vas raised 50 per cent! 
Courage indeed was needed to keep the "song" soaring 
in the years between 1917 and 1930, — the year in which 
the Amateur Musical Club consented to sponsor the 
Symphony. 

In May 1920, under the vigorous and devoted lead- 

17 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

ership of the late Herman Schwab, whose gentle de- 
meanor and quiet smile masked an inner dynamo, the 
Symphony set out to solve its deficit. Wrote Mr. Schwab 
to a long list of public-spirited citizens: "April 27th the 
Peoria Symphony Orchestra gave what by many was 
pronounced its finest concert .... it was only by diligent 
work and faithful attendance that we were able to 
score such a musical success without the addition of a 
single outside musician to the Orchestra." (This points 
up a particular Peoria pride: for years the Symphony 
never had "imports" and even today, the Orchestra 
imports fewer musicians than any comparable orchestra 
in the United States! Reason: Peoria is singularly rich 
in gifted professional and amateur musicians.) 

Mr. Schwab and his hard-working Committee (and 
the then sixty-piece Orchestra too) solved the problem 
by eliciting a multitude of ten-dollar donations from 
music lovers and businessmen. So warm and outgoing 
Avas the response that Mr. Schwab himself said it could 
have been collected from a very few had he not pre- 
ferred the more "civic" approach, for he wrote Mr. 
Plowe on May 6, 1920: "The entire deficit could have 
been taken care of by the fourteen loyal people present 
at the committee meeting if I would have permitted 
it ... . certainly the Orchestra cannot be counted a 
failure when it has so many thoroughly loyal sup- 
porters." (Indeed, Mr. James P. Lacey, then head of 
the Special Committee, offered to contribute $50 him- 
self and was disappointed to have only $10 accepted!) 
How happily must Mr. Plowe have written his gracious 
address to the players at the opening of the next sea- 
son's first rehearsal: "We hope for the pleasure of 
working with you in the cause of good music!" 

Revived, the struggling Orchestra gathered its forces 

18 



THE SONG BEGINS 

and opened the '20-'21 season at the Board of Educa- 
tion building. But the War and its aftermath had taken 
toll and by the season of 1924-25, the symphonic group, 
now a stubborn nucleus of players, had become the 
"Arcadia Little Symphony" and, stimulated by an 
influx from the Arcadia Sunday School Orchestra, gave 
under Plowe's direction only one concert Jan. 30, 1925 
at the Arcadia Ave. Presbyterian Church. 



19 



Chapter II 
The Song Fades 

"Is it not part of our cultural education, something that 
touches the soul?" — Floyd G. Blair, President of New York 
Philharmonic Society, pleading before the 82nd Congress. 

Diminuendo: 1926 

In 1926 the ensemble shortened its name to "Little 
Symphony," but that same year, heartened by a loan 
from W. T. Wheeler and leadership from W. S. Miles, 
President George Carson and Treasurer Herman 
Schwab, as well as by the entrance of new players, the 
"Peoria Symphony" name was revived; and on Nov. 1st, 
1926, the tireless Mr. Schwab wrote to Theo Marsters, 
friendly newspaper critic of Peoria Journal: "We hope 
to be able to put on three concerts between now and 
next summer." 

But it was back to the label, "Peoria Civic Orchestra" 
for the season of 1927-28, when G. Calvin Ringgen- 
berg, a gifted conductor then resident in the city, di- 
rected two concerts in Bradley Chapel and Shrine 
Mosque. The same name was used next season when 
Mr. Ringgenberg again trained the Orchestra for a 
single concert March 31, 1929 in the old Majestic 
Theatre, and again in 1930 when Orchestra and chorus 
performed December 28 at the Shrine under Ringgen- 
berg's baton. 

The winter of 1930-31 saw a complete re-organiza- 
tion of the Orchestra with a return to the name, 

21 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

"Peoria Symphony." Dapper, energetic little Mr. 
Schwab was President again; Forrest J. Woodman con- 
ducted (Mr. Plowe, now in failing health, was desig- 
nated Honorary Conductor) and Mahlon Saxton, for 
years a "tower of strength" among the professional 
violins, was Assistant Conductor. Still only two con- 
certs evolved, under the sponsorship of the Amateur 
Musical Club. 

"Pavane Pour une Infante Difunte": 1931 

In July of 1931 Mr. Schwab had set up plans for a 
concert in Pekin, 111. to be given under the auspices 
of the Pekin Woman's Club, with an orchestral fee of 
$200. (Mr. Woodman as Conductor, was receiving a 
mere $125!) But the 55-piece Orchestra found their 
$200 fee cut down to a mere $50 when the Pekin club 
found itself in financial difficulties because of the 
closing of a bank in that dire depression year. Thus 
the economic crisis in the country dealt another blow 
to the Orchestra. A $100 sixty-day loan from an Avery- 
ville bank (Peoria banks remained sound throughout 
the crisis) kept the group afloat. On March 18, 1932 
the Pekin concert was finally given, with Mr. Wood- 
man directing, and his beautiful, bubbling ("old" 
Peorians have never forgotten her) wife, Jane Kimball 
Woodman, as soprano soloist. Mahlon Saxton was con- 
certmaster and Adelaide Ihrig White, an artist in her 
own right, accompanied. It must have been a concert 
full of color and stirring melody, for the orchestra 
presented Beethoven's Fifth and Jane Woodman's 
luscious, haunting voice was ideally suited to the newly 
discovered Spanish song, "Estrellita." 

The Amateur Musical Club, through the kind of- 

22 



THE SONG FADES 

fices of its secretary, Martha Mackemer Brown, veteran 
Symphony worker, had again interested itself in Peoria 
Symphony and had made a formal offer of sponsorship 
(in the summer of 1931) promising to furnish music 
folios and to underwrite the concerts, providing every 
musician joined the AMC membership. Thus, after 
the Pekin concert, on March 29 and March 30 of 1932 
the Symphony appeared in joint performance with the 
Philharmonic Choral, another protege group of the 
AMC, for two concerts at the old Majestic Theatre, 
with Mr. Woodman contributing his services as Con- 
ductor. 

Walt Whitman's stirring "I Hear America Singing" 
was sung by the Philharmonic on that program, with 
Anna Lucy Smiley as soloist. Mr. Plowe, now Honorary 
Conductor, directed the Saint Saens' "Danse Macabre"; 
it thereafter became an affectionate tradition of the 
Orchestra that Mr. Plowe should conduct one number 
at each concert. Many of the names on the rolls of that 
beset but busy year still appear on the rolls today: 
Helen Hill, Marion Johnson, George Landon, Howard 
Teeter, Jerome Edie, Roy Frye (now librarian) , Ben- 
ny Carrels, Fred Hoklas, Fred Bourland, Fred Huber, 
Lewis Deyo, Rudolph Jungst. And in that same year 
Anna Bird, Martha Brown, young Mrs. Forrest Cockrell 
and music-loving May V. Ulrich were strong supports 
in the violin section. Irene Bunche, best known as a 
gifted teacher of languages, played among the second 
violins. As for the indefatigable Herman Schwab, who 
was always "here, there and everywhere," he stood bliss- 
fully thumping the tympani! 

Indeed, in the era of the dwindling dollar, Music 
still held her own, and the song echoed everywhere, 
insistent on being heard. The area was blessed with 

23 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

musicians and music-lovers who were willing and able 
to perform small miracles. Harry Lloyd in nearby Tou- 
lon, a cousin of Harold Lloyd, movie comedian, and a 
banker (Peoria Symphony owes much to bankers and 
doctors!) , when applying for a chair in the orchestra, 
wrote Mr. Schwab blithely: "I believe I can qualify in 
these sections: bass, violin, flute, piccolo, trumpet, 
clarinet; percussion, trombone and horn." He was ac- 
cepted! 

The Symphony — again, and mysteriously, for a brief 
period described as the "Peoria Civic Orchestra," gave 
a concert-with-chorus December 28, 1932 in the old 
Shrine Mosque, a performance of Handel's "Messiah." 
And yet on December 6, just three weeks before, the 
Orchestra had appeared (poor changeling child!) billed 
as "Peoria Symphony" in an AMC-sponsored "musical 
activity" in a "popular concert" at the Shrine. However, 
the label "Peoria Symphony" seemed firmly established 
by March 28, 1933 when the Orchestra appeared, under 
AMC sponsorship, in joint concert with the Philhar- 
monic Choral, and there took place on April 26, 1933 
another revision of the by-laws. During this interval Mr. 
Edward Bloom, flutist, was President. 

In the season of '33-'34 Mr. Schwab again took the 
President's chair and under Mr. Woodman's direction 
two concerts were given, the usual AMC one with 
Philharmonic Choral and a May Festival — also spon- 
sored by AMC — with Lois Baptiste Harsch as piano 
soloist and Mr. Blackman, tenor. 

June '34 found Mr. Schwab obliged to give up the 
Presidency because of business affairs — although, char- 
acteristically he wrote to the incoming President, Mr. 
Harry Biehl, a veteran Symphony player: "If I ever can 
be of any help to you, do not hesitate to call upon me." 

24 



THE SONG FADES 

Mr. Woodman, too, felt obliged to resign his conductor- 
ship that summer and aging Mr. Plowe returned to the 
podium, determined that the "song should not die." 
Mr. Biehl rallied the forces of the music-loving, and 
on May 13, 1935 the Orchestra managed its one annual 
concert, with Isabelle Lloyd, violinist, and Franz 
Trefzger, tenor, as guest artists. Youthful Franz Trefz- 
ger, then concertizing under the Copley Concert Man- 
agement in Stein way Hall, N. Y., who sang the aria 
at that concert (Walther's Prize-Song from "Die 
Meistersinger") added special color to the program 
for he came from one of the old, music-loving 
German families of Peoria, and was a nephew of the 
late Miss Anna Trefzger. Among the violas on the 
rolls for 1935 we find the name of young Fred Bour- 
land, Jr. just as it stands today, for Mr. Bourland, after 
twenty-three years, still "sandwiches in" Symphony 
rehearsals with Board of Education meetings. 

Although the Amateur Musical Club was still spon- 
soring the Orchestra, the Intercivic Club Council (con- 
sisting of the Kiwanis, Lions, Rotary, Progress, Ex- 
change, Altrusa and American Business Clubs) voted, 
on the plea of Harry Fulks, one of Peoria's most de- 
voted music-lovers, and upon the motion of Attorney 
O. P. Westervelt to support the Spring Concert. Indeed 
new friends were beginning to spring up everywhere. 
President Edgar L. Bill of Radio Station WMBD of- 
fered radio promotion that year. 

With Mr. Plowe directing and the Inter-civic Club 
Council sponsoring, the Orchestra also performed Jan- 
uary 14, '36 at the Majestic Theatre. Lovely, buxom 
Julia Beoletto, soprano soloist, sang the dramatic, "Pace, 
pace, mio Dio" that night. 



25 



Chapter III 
The Song Swells 

"Nor pity these who passionately wear 
A flaming riband on their ragged rein. 
Out of their thousand battles they shall dare 
To thunder toward the luring goal again." 
— Mariesta Dodge Howland (Anthology) 

Rallentando: 1936-1945 

Now the song's mood seemed to veer toward Rallen- 
tando, for the year of '36-'37 saw a reviving and cheer- 
ful spirit pervading the symphonic group. Two con- 
cert performances were arranged — the annual one 
under AMC sponsorship and one given at Eureka 
College in neighboring Eureka, 111. ("The Pumpkin 
City.") February 24, 1937. The AMC concert, in the 
Majestic Theatre, conducted by Plowe and young 
Assistant Conductor Frederick Huber (whose ardent 
viola still sings in the Orchestra) presented an outside 
artist, Mark Garner, Chicago tenor, and Peoria's own 
clarinetist, George Landon, as soloists. 

This was the young Landon's first appearance in 
Peoria after several years of touring the country with 
Bohumir Kryl's famous Symphonic Band, although he 
had previously brought laurels to Peoria when, as a 
high school student, he won the Clarinet Soloist Na- 
tional Championship. It is not hard to evoke again, 
since Landon is still Peoria Symphony's first clarinet, 
the purity and brilliance with which he invested Rim- 
sky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" that evening 

27 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

— a favorite in the violin library, but exhibiting a new 
tonality on the clarinet. The Journal critic spoke of the 
"velvety smoothness" of the young soloist's rendition 
of Mozart's "Clarinet Concerto Opus 107." Saint-Saens, 
Goldmark and Rimsky-Korsakov ^s-ere represented in 
the symphonic fare. Musically, things were "looking 
up"! 

Still under the devoted combination of Plowe, Huber, 
Biehl, and the AMC, the season of '37-'38 found the 
Orchestra employing its talents in four different per- 
formances — December 8, '37, the Association of Com- 
merce engaged the Symphony to play a program for its 
annual Banquet; December 14 the AMC presentation 
featured Isabelle Lloyd (no^v concertmistress) in a 
Mendelssohn violin concerto and Robert Co^van, flutist, 
in Doppler's "Fantaisie Pastorale Hongroise." The or- 
chestra was joyfully playing Mozart's superb "Jupiter" 
Symphony in C major, in which the French horn of 
Julian Mills, that master of many instruments, sang out 
with authority. 

March 8, 1938, the Orchestra played an entirely dif- 
ferent program in the Majestic Theatre, presenting 
Marion Johnson, pianist (in 1958, the Orchestra's 
permanent performer on piano and celeste) in Cesar 
Franck's exquisite Variations Symphoniques. Listed too 
are Gounod, Liszt, Verdi; a Beethoven overture; Han- 
del's Largo, a snatch of Tchaikowsky's Fourth — a pro- 
gram designed to entertain both the trained and the 
untutored ear! Five weeks later, on April 19, the Orches- 
tra, under its own auspices, performed a still different 
program in a concert which presented gifted Jeannette 
Powers Block, violinist, "^\dth that impeccable accom- 
panist, Adelaide Ihrig White, at the piano. 

Jeannette Block is not likely to be soon forgotten in 

28 



THE SONG SWELLS 

her adopted city. A Decatur, 111. girl who early showed 
violinistic talent of the same stature as Maud Powell's, 
she elected to follow in Powell's footsteps by touring 
the United States and Europe as soloist with John 
Philip Sousa's Band. Sousa's famous aggregation seemed 
to attract girls of beauty and talent — all of whom left 
to marry felicitously! — and Mr. Sousa, when this author 
re-wrote with him his autobiography, "Marching 
Along," for book publication, said affectionately : "Little 
Jeannette, blonde and round of face! She left us to marry 
Carl Block of Peoria," 

After her marriage Jeannette Block acquired the su- 
perb Stradivarius which was her greatest treasure, and 
it was this instrument which she played on that mem- 
orable April evening during her varied program of 
Ries, Schumann and Hubay. Young Landon was on 
the program again too, with his Landon Trio, composed 
of Walter Kennedy, flutist, Jerome Edie, oboist and 
Landon's clarinet in Gennaro's spirited, "Trio in G 
Major." The Orchestra was playing Tchaikowsky again, 
but Grieg, Gounod, Bizet and Dvorak also were repre- 
sented. It had been a season of truly rewarding music. 

In 1938-'39, under Irving Bradley as President, the 
Orchestra first welcomed as guest conductor Edward 
Meltzer of Chicago, the dynamic personality who ap- 
pears later in these annals as the main protagonist in 
the 1946 renascence of Peoria Symphony. Meltzer had 
a distinguished reputation as a guest conductor, having 
recently "guested" for the Pittsburgh Symphony, the 
Commonwealth Women's Orchestra of Boston and the 
Bushnell Park Orchestra in Chicago. 

The Orchestra now had a library of one hundred 
twenty-two orchestrations. Mr. Plowe had retreated to 
the position of Conductor Emeritus but was still ac- 

29 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

corded the honor of being asked to conduct one number 
at each concert. And in the season of 1939-1940, under 
the presidency of Frederick Huber (for faithful Huber, 
like Landon, shirked no Peoria Symphony task, whether 
as executive or executant) and the guest conductorship 
of Marcel Ackerman of Chicago, the Orchestra per- 
formed December 5, 1939, a program which ranged from 
Mozart to Strauss to Sibelius. Mr. Ackerman, violinist 
and trombonist Avith the Chicago Civic Orchestra, was 
Conductor of the Wurlitzer Symphonic Band. 

But the high point of that evening was the moment 
when sixteen-year-old Jeanne Mitchell — who has since 
joined the roster of national violin virtuosi — performed 
the Bruch "Violin Concerto in G Minor," under the 
familiar beat of Mr. Plowe himself, who had been her 
earliest teacher. 

Young Jeanne, daughter of a former Peorian, Hazel 
Langenberg (also a violinist and ex-member of Peoria 
Symphony) was then a pupil of Chester La Follette in 
violin and of Vittorio Giannini in harmony and counter- 
point. Hers was a ringing and echoing success that night, 
both in the exacting concerto and the many encores, 
for which Ruth Dixon Black provided the accompani- 
ment. 

Dr. Leo J. Dvorak was guest conductor for the AMC 
Symphony concert of December 10, 1940 when Jeanne 
Mitchell returned again to Peoria as the Symphony's solo 
artist. The date could be "marked with a white stone" 
for Jeanne by now had won the enthusiastic acclaim 
of the New York critics. Plowe conducted theMendels- 
sohn Concerto in E minor for the young artist. Jeanne 
had written enthusiastically before the 1940 concert 
that she would like Ruth Dixon Black — to whom music 
in Peoria owes much, as it does also to her violinist 

30 



THE SONG SWELLS 

husband, the late Robert ("Bob") Black — again to be 
her accompanist because "she is so capable and so 
sympathetic." And so Jeanne stood again among the 
Symphony musicians, with her wing of bronze hair 
falling over one cheek as she bent to the spirited bowing 
which we all remember. The Orchestra presented the 
complete Beethoven Symphony No. 1 in C major, a 
Schubert number and Tchaikowsky's rousing "Marche 
Slave." 

Another re-organization of the Orchestra took place 
in 1941 and Sol Cohen, one of those brilliant and in- 
dividualistic musical personalities who star this city's 
history, was invited to conduct during the '41 -'42 sea- 
son. Still under AMC auspices and the presidency of 
Mr. Harold Jeter, the annual concert was given February 
24, 1942 in Woodruff High Auditorium. The enthusi- 
asm was still there, but the Orchestra was at a low point 
and it showed in ragged playing. 

However the seeking, grooving spirit of Symphony was 
determined to go on experimenting toward a permanent 
and satisfactory structure. One of the gifted young 
violinists of the city who had studied conducting and 
^s-as interested in trying his hand at it appeared on the 
podium. Elmer Szpessy, engaged by a Board headed by 
fellow- violinist David Nicoll at a salary of $210 and 
working from a tiny $800 budget, took over the reins 
of an orchestra in constant flux. 

In 1945-1946 three concerts were presented, but 
musical problems ^vere ceaseless because of the 
fluctuation in personnel occasioned by World War II 
and resultant drafts or enlistments and in the calibre 
of musicians. Another problem was the increasing dif- 
ficulty of providing challenge and discipline under 
local conductors, always and inevitably so closely identi- 

31 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

fied with the daily life of the musicians. The Symphony 
had "growing pains"! 

New needs arose. A librarian and custodian were ap- 
pointed. The Board appointed a committee to judge the 
musical calibre of the players, in an attempt to confine 
the level of musicians to professionals, semi-professionals 
and outstanding amateurs. 

Scherzo: 1946-1951 

On July 2, 1946, it was recorded in the Minutes by 
Mrs. Bennett M. Hollowell, secretary: "It was the opin- 
ion of all directors that it would be for the best interests 
of the Orchestra if the business of the Board were vested 
in a civic or community body, separate from the per- 
sonnel of the Orchestra itself; secondly, to select a 
recognized orchestral conductor outside the city, who 
would not have the disadvantages which handicap a 
local conductor in the choosing of personnel, such con- 
ductor to be employed for the coming full season (1946- 
1947) ." 

The Orchestra was about to "grow up"l And this 
revolution in policy, this difficult change involving the 
handing over of executive reins from musicians to lay- 
men, and the still more difficult one of turning to an im- 
ported "career conductor" had been arrived at through 
the courage and careful deliberations of a Board which 
included President David A. Nicoll (himself an orches- 
tra member) ; Vice-President Dr. Howard Teeter (first 
cellist) ; Mrs. Bennett Hollowell and Mrs. T. Drennan 
Wilson, former AMC Presidents; Attorney O. P. West- 
ervelt, Mr. George Byerly (of the Byerly Music Co.) 
and George Landon who was now not only first clarinet, 
but Publicity Chairman for the Orchestra. 

On September 18 of that year the Board engaged 

32 




HAROLD PLOWE 

Founder and First Conductor 

Peoria Symphony Orchestra 

Conductor, 1898-1927. Conductor 

Emeritus, 1930-1941. Also Co-Founder of 

Peoria Conservatory of Music, 1890 




WILLIAM J. McBRIAN 

President of Peoria Symphony 

1947-1949 

Head of the "Renascence" 

Period of the Orchestra 



THE SONG SWELLS 

Edward Meltzer, dynamic and well-seasoned Chicago 
conductor, to direct three concerts, November 26, 
January 17 and March 18 at a fee of $2,000! 

Now occurred the most dramatic "blood transfusion" 
and general renascence that the Symphony had yet seen 
— generated in part by the triumph of the amazing 
opening concert when every player seemed electrified, 
and also in part by the ceaseless activity of the Board 
headed by Dave NicoU and to which had been added 
the names of Miss Elizabeth Furst (teacher) ; Dr. C. E. 
Bollinger; Dr. Reid T. Milner, Dr. Charles M. Smith, 
Mr. Harold Harsch (banker-organist-composer) , and 
later. Miss Harriet Todd, Mr. Lee Reagan and Dr. Wil- 
liam Michael. There was an outburst of enthusiasm 
from citizens and music-lovers, who suddenly had heard 
a new and challenging note in the "song"! 

Indeed that November '46 concert justified the epoch- 
making decisions of the '45-'46 Board, for an audience 
jolted out of its old lethargies by the performance of a 
revitalized Orchestra under Meltzer's dynamic conduct- 
ing, went wild with delight; Evabeth Miller, music 
critic of the Peoria Star, wrote prophetically in her 
column of November 27, 1946: "From now on the Peoria 
Symphony will be the musical voice of this city." Sud- 
denly, added to the effort of the "Jaycees" and the 
Pilot Club under Lee Reagan's leadership, to help raise 
the projected $10,000 budget for the season's three 
concerts (five hundred Symphony "boosters" was the 
goal) came a spontaneous uprising of volunteer, music- 
loving "legworkers," among them Mrs. Charles Sneller, 
Mrs. Elmer Jacques Bloom and Mrs. Ernest C. Burhans. 
George Landon was officially appointed Business Man- 
ager of the re-organized Orchestra; Robert Black served 

33 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

as concertmaster. By January 28 the budget fund was 
swelling rapidly. 

Even more significantly, all this was the result of the 
personal faith of countless Peorians in their Orchestra, 
for Mr. Reagan in his financial report to the Board re- 
marked: "Individuals, in general, have been more re- 
ceptive to our effort than business and industrial con- 
cerns." The author uses the word, "significantly" be- 
cause no outpouring "angels" have ever contributed 
heavily to the support of Peoria Symphony as in the 
case of luckier aggregations such as the Fort Wayne, 
Ind. group and others; it is noteworthy that the modest 
budget has been maintained almost entirely by "small 
donors" determined to keep Symphony alive. 

The second concert January 17, 1947 continued the 
rising tide of achievement, with Mr. Meltzer and the 
Orchestra drawing the utmost from Goldmark's "Rustic 
Wedding": Bizet's "L'Arlesienne" and Sibelius' "Swan 
of Tuonela." The Sponsor list was tremendously aug- 
mented. The February and March concerts projected a 
gala atmosphere with their offerings of Haydn's famous 
Symphony No. 88, and Beethoven's "Eroica." The 
high point of February's performance was the unfor- 
gettable Grieg piano concerto performed by Rudolph 
Ganz as guest artist. Ganz was the Symphony's first 
"name artist." Swiss-born Ganz, one of the deans of 
American music, represented to the Peorian community 
a special bond with the midwest, not only because of 
his conductorship of the St. Louis Symphony for six 
seasons, but also because of his presidency of the Chica- 
go Musical College and his longtime coaching of Pe- 
orian pianists. 

With a phenomenal season behind them under the 
leadership of Meltzer, the Board of 1947 recognized a 

34 



THE SONG SWELLS 

"turn of the tide," and there ensued a re-evaluation of 
the whole Symphony structure. The day after the Ganz 
concert, President Nicoll called a meeting of the Board 
and Harold Harsch moved that the Constitution and 
by-laws be redrawn by Mr. Nicoll and Mr. Westervelt 
(lawyers both) "to meet present conditions." 

In October, 1947 the Board convened to lay plans 
for the engagement of a permanent conductor, and 
\lce-President Howard Teeter sent a letter setting forth 
a dispassionate estimate of the Orchestra's new necessi- 
ties, saying: "To obtain the necessary prestige and to 
secure impersonal and objective discipline of the orches- 
tra, an out-of-toAvn conductor is almost mandatory at our 
present stage of development." 

This farsighted Board, whose momentous decisions 
determined the whole future course of the rejuvenated 
Symphony, invited William J. McBrian, a genial, in- 
telligent and gifted executive of the Caterpillar Tractor 
Company to assume the Presidency of Peoria Symphony. 
George Landon was continued as Business Manager 
and given the special task of Concert Management. An 
effort was made to enlist the interest and financial suf>- 
port of Peoria industries. A pay scale was established 
for the musicians, with fees for both rehearsals and 
concerts set according to three categories: professionals, 
amateurs and apprentice students. Allen Cannon, 
spirited young violinist and Bradley University music 
professor took over the concertmaster's chair. 

The key post of Conductor was ofifered to Rudolph 
Reiners of Chicago, destined to be the developer of 
Peoria Symphony for the next decade of astonishing 
growth. Mr. Reiners rivalled the Orchestra's founder, 
Harold Plowe, in tireless industry, for during that year 
of '47-'48, besides occupying his violin chair in the 

35 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

Chicago Symphony Orchestra (where he was placed 
while still a youth by Conductor Frederick Stock) he 
was conducting the Gary, Ind. and Waukegan, 111. or- 
chestras; teaching at the Chicago Musical College (where 
Rudolph Ganz had appointed him to the faculty at the 
age of 18 years!) and playing engagements with the 
Chicago String Quartet. Reiners — slim, sensitive, but 
full of verve — brought top concert experience to the 
Peoria podium. Every string-man in the Orchestra re- 
sponded to the vibrant appeal, the sympathetic under- 
standing of this new conductor whose meticulous string 
training derives from the great German instructor, 
Carl Flesch. 

Let it not be supposed that a comic and chortling 
"Till Eulenspiegel" note is never injected into the 
serious procedures of a symphonic orchestral group. 
(Those who have heard the Boston Symphony backlog 
of Koussevitzky "yarns" or the NBC's repertoire of 
Toscanini anecdotes can attest to that.) In the years 
when Peoria Symphony, striving to stim^ulate "Pe- 
oriarea" interest in symphony, toured two neighboring 
communities, the first trumpeter was suddenly taken 
ill just before a concert in Eureka and a substitute from 
Chicago was hurriedly engaged. The substitute, playing 
the concert "cold," without rehearsal, attacked the 
opening overture, calling for "trumpet in A." The 
fanfare began with the substitute trumpeter playing 
his "A" part in "B flat"! The resultant harmonic clash 
bewildered audience and orchestra. 

But it is the playing of an unscheduled note on a rest 
which haunts the nig^htmares of all serious musicians, 
and it happens in the best-regulated symphony orches- 
tras. In Peoria Symphony any such unscheduled solo 

36 



THE SONG SWELLS 

performance costs the errant musician a spirituous 
libation for Conductor Reiner's metronome. Dr. 
Reiners, blessed like all good conductors with a dry 
sense of humor, has his own graphic methods of in- 
structing the ensemble in "color" and interpretation. 
It is his habit to admonish the players in "amoroso" 
solo passages to fix their thoughts upon absent spouses 
and sweethearts. To date, according to Assistant Con- 
ductor Huber such passages have improved with the 
suggestion. But, adds Mr. Huber, "Will there come a day 
when . . . ?" 

Probably the most untoward incident within the 
immediate memory of present-day orchestra members 
took place a few years ago when Tchaikowsky's "1812 
Overture" was programmed. The Symphony brass sec- 
tion conceived a novel idea for achieving the bom- 
bardment climax. Several twelve-gauge shotguns were 
fired into barrels. The resultant reverberation caused 
grit, dust, dirt and feathers long accrued in the upper 
regions of the Shrine Temple "flies" to descend upon the 
musicians seated upon the stage. Many a musician must 
have hurried home to a shampoo that Sunday evening! 

The first concert presented under Reiners' baton 
January 4, 1948 (and the first program to bear the con- 
tinuing motif of a giant lyre on its front page) was a 
critical succes jou, from the Beethoven Seventh to 
Massenet's sparkling "Le Cid." Follo^ved by a second 
concert February 29, '49, when a graceful young pianist, 
Sylvia Olin, made her debut in Gershwin's electrifying 
"Rhapsody in Blue." and a third concert April third 
with Prokofieff's "Peter and the Wolf," narrated by 
George Kuyper of the Chicago Symphony as its feature, 
it was proved once and for all that Peoria Symphony 

37 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

had taken a new lease on life. The new conductor had 
prepared three concerts of high calibre in the time 
previously allotted to one! 

When the season of 1948-49 was planned the new 
Symphony structure had begun to take root and to 
solidify itself. Mr. McBrian was re-elected President. 
Other officers ^vere Ted Fleming, Vice-President; David 
Nicoll, Secretary; Mrs. Elmer Jacques Bloom, Record- 
ing Secretary; Harold Harsch, Treasurer. New names 
were won to the directors' list — E. C. Heidrich, Jr., 
longtime music lover; dynamic young Robert Leu, 
who spear-headed the first all-out Membership Drive; 
publisher Henry Slane; John F. Snider, who was to 
provide unfailing inspiration and financial support for 
increasingly effective brochures and pamphlets — and 
of course, the loyal \vomen who had campaigned for 
memberships and sponsors: tireless Mrs. C. G. A. 
Rosen; Mrs. Samuel Rothberg ("Jeanie of the Light 
Brown Hair" to her fellow-violinists in the Orchestra 
and top "dollar-getter" to her fellow Board members!) 
and Mrs. Charles (Gertrude) Sneller, who for twenty 
years had personified "music in Peoria" whether as 
concert pianist, accompanist, teacher or worker in 
every key musical group of the city. 

A season of five concerts was announced, the first pic- 
torial brochure issued, and a ne^v efifort for membership 
and publicity Avas planned. Four guest artists were 
engaged — Joyce Renee, violinist; Irene Schneidemann, 
Viennese pianist; Ennio Bolognini, internationally cele- 
brated cellist; and Erno Balogh, Hungarian pianist, 
who engaged to perform at the April 17, 1949 concert 
a "world premiere" of a new piano concerto by Burrill 
Phillips, Eastman School of Music composer. Two 
"extra" concerts were played, one at Bradley University 

38 



THE SONG SWELLS 

and one at the Peoria Association of Commerce Ban- 
quet. The "renascence" had begun! 

With the advent of 1949, John Snider was elected 
President of the Board; Mrs. Sneller, Vice-President, 
Mrs. Bloom, Secretary, Mr. Harsch, Treasurer; and 
permanent committees were set up under new titles: 
Concert Performance, Finance, Sustaining Patrons, 
and Public Relations. A new landmark in Symphony 
history was achieved when President Snider and his 
business colleague, Mr. Fred Landis, presented to the 
Board the first comprehensive and truly handsome pic- 
torial brochure ever to be issued for a Symphony season 
— a six-page folder in turquoise and black inks, using 
for the first time the Symphony slogan which has since 
become so familiar to Peorians, "Hours of Pleasure — 
Ours to Enjoy." Designed, executed and donated by 
President Snider and Mr. Landis, the brochure an- 
nounced a season of five concerts, with Percy Grainger, 
pianist-composer, as guest artist, and local artists, Lois 
Baptiste Harsch, pianist; Sonya Kahn, gifted sixteen- 
year-old harpist (later a Juillard student and now a 
member of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra) ; 
and the Symphony violins, Allen Cannon and Robert 
Black, in Bach's Concerto for Two Violins. 

Suddenly a "social" note crept in, as the broadened 
base of activity permitted Board and Orchestra to 
think beyond the mere effort for survival. Directors, 
Sponsors and Orchestra met at a "get-together" party 
to open the '49 season in Pabst's new "Thirty-Three 
Room" where Mrs. Sneller and Walter Puterbaugh had 
devised an old-time German music-fest of spontaneous 
"music, beer and pretzels." And after the unique Grain- 
ger concert, when the pianist and his wife had duly 

39 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

tucked away the Swiss bells used with his compositions, 
artist, conductor and directors were entertained by 
Mrs. Jacques Bloom at a festive supper-party at which 
"Country Gardens" had to be played all over again! 

In 1950 an expansion of the Board of Directors to 
the number of t^venty-seven was approved, and at this 
time there came to the board table new faces destined 
to perform key services for the Symphony — Mrs. C. R. 
Schad, and Mrs. F. M. Bourland, inspired Membership 
Drive workers; Mrs. J. Russell Coulter, who subse- 
quently developed the "blueprint" for the Women's 
Symphony Guild organization; Mr. Edward Keefer, Mr. 
James O'Dea, Dr. J. D. Kahn, Mr. Robert Clark. 

That autumn saw W. MacDowell Frederick installed 
in the presidency. Conductor Reiners announced that 
the Orchestra would now have eight cellos and eight 
bass viols and that only three "imports" per concert 
would be needed! For a semi-professional orchestra to 
be able to draw nearly all its musicians from resident 
players was an enviable and unusual situation and this 
has been, of course, a major reason for Peoria Sym- 
phony's thrifty budget. The Symphony, however, was 
now spending $2,500 per concert — a far cry from the 
previous "shoestring" decade. 

The five-concert 1950-51 season presented a return of 
fascinating Ennio Bolognini, cellist; Jay Hatton, a mem- 
ber violist; Lillian Morgan Miller, pianist, and a mon- 
umental closing concert which featured Percy Grainger 
as pianist, composer and conductor, ^^ith the Orpheus 
Club directed by Howard Kellogg, Sr. The final con- 
cert, presented in Bradley Fieldhouse was enlivened by 
the strongly massed effects in Grainger's as yet un- 
published "Lads of Waumphray" which the Orchestra 
played from manuscript. 

40 



Chapter IV 
The Song Soars 

"I'm trampin', I'm trampin', I'm tryin' to make Heaven 

my home." _^ „ . . , 

' — Negro Spiritual 

Crescendo: 1951-1957 

After the ambitious 1950-51 season, that bugbear 
of all symphonies, The Deficit, reared its ugly head, and 
to the tune of $2,250, but the hovering — even though 
fitful — guardian angel who seemed always to step in 
and revive the struggling orchestra in every epoch must 
have been standing by. In April, 1951, the Board 
received its first major gift toward a Sustaining Fund! 
Mrs. Ray O. Becker presented a packet of Allied Mills 
stock to the Orchestra of a value between $2,000 and 
$2,500 as a memorial to her late husband. The Board 
voted to hold it intact and use only the income. 

With the accession of music-loving and "go-getting" 
James T, O'Dea, President of the P and PU Railroad 
to the presidency, came the first exploration — in June, 
1951 — of the long-discussed plan to form a women's 
symphony auxiliary in the hope of providing eventually 
a "strong right arm" to Symphony finances and audience 
interest. With Mrs. J. Russel Coulter heading the com- 
mittee, the first skeleton scheme for such an auxiliary 
was formed by Mrs. Coulter, Mrs. Elmer J. Bloom, Mrs. 
George Luthy, Mrs. C. R. Schad and Mrs. John Bontjes 
in a meeting at the home of Mrs. Edward Connor. Later 
in the summer, Mrs. Coulter called a meeting of music- 

41 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

loving women of the city and Mrs. Arnold Fernsted 
was chosen to serve as first president and initiator of the 
women's auxiliary which was within two short years to 
prove so vital a force in sustaining Symphony. 

Thus, in August, 1951 Women's Symphony Guild of 
Peoria was born. Even in its first season the long-dis- 
cussed movement grew rapidly — a hundred member- 
ships were easily sold; projects for money making were 
developed, and the Guild instituted the custom — so 
successful in other cities — of presenting "Musical 
Mornings" the Tuesday before each concert, to be held 
in large private homes of the city, at which symphony 
musicians would offer demonstration and discussion of 
the forthcoming Symphony concert themes. The first 
of these (and overwhelmingly attended) Musical Morn- 
ings was held Oct. 2, 1951, at the home of Mrs. Mahler 
Wilson, and Conductor Reiners himself opened the 
series, assisted at the piano by Norman Fettkether. The 
succeeding programs were held November 20 at the 
home of Mrs. Frank T. Miller, with Dr. Kenneth 
Kincheloe, head of the Bradley School of Music, dis- 
coursing and the January concert was discussed at the 
home of Mrs. Elmer Jacques Bloom, with Dr. Allen 
Cannon, concertmaster, presenting the concert motifs. 

This too was the year that Dr. J. D. Kahn acceded to 
the Vice-Presidency and began, in his quiet but effective 
fashion, to bring in increased program advertising; that 
pixie-like and talented Ruth Johnson, cellist, a 
graduate of the New England Conservatory and a 
Tanglewood scholar, made her debut with the Orchestra 
in a Dvorak concerto, and Norman Fettkether, then 
Head of Piano at Bradley, played a brilliant version of 
the Rachmaninoff Second Concerto. 

Now the social aspects of symphony began to grow — 

42 



THE SONG SOARS 

Mrs. Coulter initiating the happy custom of Board-and- 
Conductor supper parties after each concert, and the 
incoming president of Women's Symphony Guild, Mrs. 
Russell F. Peters organizing a Musical Tea May seventh 
at the spacious home of Mrs. George Michell — worthy 
of historic note here because the proceeds from the 
function represented the Guild's first money-making 
project and were destined to figure in defraying the 
expenses of the '51 -'52 season. 

May 20, 1952, the Board had its first indication of 
financial benefits to come — "Ole Debbil Deficit" was 
only $916, and Mrs. Fernsted, president of the Guild, 
presented the Board with a check for $600, the Guild's 
first official donation to Symphony. 

A new impetus and new techniques characterized the 
1952-53 season. The pooling of ideas from board mem- 
bers and Guild board resulted in unprecedented 
stimulus. Claude White, the new Membership chair- 
man, instituted "block" ticket sales to students, business 
firms, altruistic groups, with his stated goal "to fill the 
Shrine Mosque." Eldred Byerly, veteran music vendor, 
lent generously of time, energy and his own special skill 
to publicity and financial efforts. Mrs. Peters, Guild 
president, initiated canteen service to the rehearsing 
Orchestra, ably carried out by Mrs. William Michael, 
and introduced also, aided by Mrs. Sneller and Mrs. 
Rothberg, parties for the orchestra musicians, the 
amiable "first" of which took place post-concert in the 
Shrine's lower regions and marked the unforgettable 
sight of genial Bob Clark and Dr. Michael attired in 
spotless chef's costumes as they carved countless hams! 
Other "firsts" were a public reception after the opening 
concert to acquaint Orchestra and audience, and ac- 
knowledgment dinners for guest artists. 

43 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

In a season when the Board chose to experiment by 
presenting only two guest artists — and those local — 
gifted Adelaide Ihrig White in a Schumann piano con- 
certo and Allen Cannon in Mendelssohn's violin con- 
certo — membership and box office continued to increase. 

The "song" saddened a little in September, 1952 with 
the death of Gertrude Sneller, so long a part of the very 
pulse of the Orchestra, whose long and valiant struggle 
with an incurable malady had not prevented her from 
"the making of music" until the very last month of her 
life. But Mrs. Sneller's memory was to be enshrined 
within the history of Symphony for all time, since 
President O'Dea appointed a committee including Mrs. 
Bloom, Mrs. Peters, Mrs. Bourland and Mrs. Schad to 
form the Gertrude Sneller Music Memorial Fund. 

In the second year of its existence the Guild produced 
the greatest single sum ever amassed for the benefit of 
Symphony. In the Spring of 1953 the city was plunged 
into a series of Symphony parties — titled "Symphony 
Soirees" — the like of which Peoria had never seen. For 
two solid weeks there were parties everywhere, lunch- 
eons, "brunches," coffees, teas, all raising money for 
Symphony! Evabeth Miller, feature Avriter for the 
Peoria Star, called it "a chain reaction resulting from 
the energy released from a nuclear group of representa- 
tive Peoria women" as the opening luncheon for twenty 
guests spread to parties given by the original t^\ enty to 
ten more guests each, and thus on and on, spreading out 
all over the city and its environs, with each participant 
donating two dollars to Symphony. The project, 
initiated by Mrs. Peters — ^vho, with Mrs. Sneller, had 
seen it work magically in Milwaukee — and chairmanned 
by Mrs. Ted Fleming, resulted, to use Mrs. Peters' own 

44 



THE SONG SOARS 

phrase, "in two thousand exhausted but triumphant 
women and over $4,000." 

The benefit to the Orchestra was represented by a 
check for $1,000; one hundred beautiful (and comfort- 
able!) pearl-grey chairs to seat the musicians; one 
hundred matching music-stands; a tympani; money for 
musical scores; and the lumber for new risers and 
podium. It is worth noting that the risers and podium 
were dealt with as "lumber and material" only because 
versatile Manager George Landon, artisan as well as 
musician and business agent, insisted on building risers 
and podium himself, in order that the size, color, stock 
and workmanship should be exactly "according to 
Hoyle!" It is this quality of personal genius which 
Peoria Symphony has always been so fortunate in 
evoking. 

May 1953 saw Dr. Kahn taking over the President's 
chair. He celebrated his accession by announcing a $500 
gift to the Symphony from George Sax, ex-Peorian. 
At last the community at large had begun to realize the 
financial costs of a symphony orchestra, and generous 
citizens had come forth to defray them. 

The time proved ripe too for the community to 
demonstrate its interest in symphony by accepting for 
the first time a membership drive by direct mail only. 
And like many a successful procedure this one was 
mothered by necessity and occurred by fluke! 

Because of the lack of a Membership Chairman, Mrs. 
Russell Peters stepped into the breach at the dangerous- 
ly late date of October 15th, marshalled twenty Board 
Members to "collate and stuff," and under the direction 
of Martha (Mrs. John) Radley as co-Chairman, a 
thousand brochures went out to former subscribers. An 
overwhelming response to this innovation resulted. Per- 

45 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

haps some of the success was due to that season's startling 
and effective orange-and-black brochures; perhaps some 
to Dr. Kahn's challenging presidential letter, quoting 
Serge Koussevitzky's famous words: "A city without a 
symphony is a city without a soul." And again, perhaps 
the brilliant program devised by the Concerts Commit- 
tee (Mrs. Bloom, Mrs. Vandalia Burgy, Mrs. Peters, 
lovely Martha Radley so sorely missed today, Mr. 
Snider, and Mr. Harsch) constituted a "high point," for 
the season offered six colorful attractions. The Decem- 
ber concert recapitulated Prokofieff's delightful "Peter 
and the Wolf," narrated this time by Eleanor Sikes 
Peters, and also marked the American debut of Nino 
Kirkman, young baritone-tenor, who had just returned 
from concertizing in Europe; the January concert of- 
fered Eugene List, stellar pianist; in March the Fine 
Arts Ballet Company appeared with the Orchestra in 
three enchanting groups; and in April talented little 
Sonya Kahn returned from New York to perform two 
harp concertos. 

Another memorable "first" — in 1954 the first Chil- 
dren's Concert was sponsored by the Guild, with the 
financial backing of the Peoria Junior League, under 
the expert guidance of Mrs. Frederick Oakley, third 
Guild president. The Guild, now in its third year of 
existence, two months later presented to the Orchestra 
a pair of new tympani and $450 to be used to start a 
permanent music library. 

Important policy decisions for the fast-expanding 
symphony organization were reached as Mr. Jack Szold 
took over the Board presidency in 1954. The Board 
determined a set of criteria to be applied as guides to the 
engagement of all local artists; inaugurated a policy 

46 



THE SONG SOARS 

regarding outside soloists which would ensure the 
"equal partnership" of the Orchestra with each famous 
soloist, since the philosophy underlying Peoria Sym- 
phony is "OUR Orchestra, forever growing," and never 
as a mere adjunct to a concert course. There was also 
provided a statement of a fluid attitude toward the 
"outside artist" policy, allowing for a re-evaluation of 
its desirability and scope to be made each successive 
year. 

Friends of the Orchestra were now grouped for pro- 
gram listing as "Contributors" (up to $25) ; "Sponsors" 
(up to $100) and "Patrons" ($100 or more.) The 
financial support of the Orchestra still stemmed largely 
— aside from ticket sales. Guild donations and Board 
contributions — not from any group of "angels" or any 
lavish contributions from industry, but from the faith- 
ful, long-time friends of music in terms of $5, $10 and 
$25 donations. 

In August, 1954, the sudden and tragic passing of 
Martha (Mrs. John) Radley, in the full bloom of a 
gifted and fruitful life marked as her pastor, Mr. 
Stubbs, put it, "an unfinished symphony" and saddened 
the city. A Martha Radley Memorial Fund was set up, 
from the contributions of Martha's friends, in the initial 
sum of about $500. 

For the first time (November, 1954) a "Symphony 
Week" was announced city wide, with a proclamation by 
the Mayor. Mr. Thomas Mills, with Mrs. Dean Stone as 
co-chairman, began the now fully established "direct 
mail" Membership Drive. The Guild — its membership 
now swollen to three hundred — presented a gong to the 
Orchestra. Mrs. Bloom asked for a committee to explore 
the possibility of an orchestra shell in the Shrine Mosque 
(a long-deferred-and-discussed need) and the commit- 

47 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

tee was appointed. Publicity burgeoned under the com- 
pulsive hand of Mrs. F. M. Bourland so widely that not 
a radio or TV knob could be twirled during Symphony 
week without encountering a Symphony speaker or 
Symphony music. And the Board celebrated the season 
by taking membership in the American Symphony 
Orchestra League. 

Another colorful brochure, with an inspiring message 
from President Jack Szold heralded the '54-'55 season, 
presenting Leonard Rose, cellist; Norman Fettkether, 
pianist; and Joseph Battista, brilliant young American 
pianist. The steadily improving Orchestra was now — 
thanks to Conductor Reiners' determined dedication — 
presenting a full symphony at each concert. 

With the season's budget risen to $19,000 and a need 
(as of January 20, 1955) for $7,300 to finish the season, 
the guardian angel of Peoria Symphony reappeared. 
Under the last will and testament of Delia Bennett 
Bloom, that gentle spinster so long a friend to every 
charitable and cultural agency in Peoria, the Symphony 
was cited to receive a bequest, and on that date Mrs. 
Elmer J. Bloom presented to President Szold on behalf 
of Delia's sister, Mrs. Seymour Roos of Chicago, a check 
for $1,116. This was invested and assigned to the 
permanent endowment fund of the Orchestra. 

Again the student concerts program, with full sym- 
phony orchestra, was devised and presented by the 
Guild, again backed financially by the Junior League. 
The concert attendance was so large that two perform- 
ances were scheduled, one for elementary schoolchildren 
and one for high school and junior high students. 

Policywise, the need for far-ranging plans grew more 
and more urgent and a "Committee to Investigate the 
Future Needs of Peoria Symphony" was appointed with 

48 




RUDOLPH REINERS 

Conductor of Peoria Symphony 

Orchestra Since 1948 

Former Violinist with Chicago Symphony 

Former Instructor Chicago Musical College 

Founder North Side Symphony, Chicago 

Conductor of Zion Passion Play 

Founder and Director of 

Chicago Symphony String Ensemble 



THE SONG SOARS 

Mr. Walter Puterbaugh as Chairman. Mr. Puterbaugh, 
a distinguished amateur musicologist, with a Music 
degree from Harvard and a lifetime passion for acous- 
tics, recording and symphonic experimentation, had 
been for five years an invaluable member of the Board, 
writing the Orchestra's program notes; serving often on 
Concerts committee; recording on tape every perform- 
ance of Peoria Symphony and evaluating by that means, 
in conference with Conductor Reiners and Manager 
Landon the progress, needs or faults of the Orchestra. 
The most ambitious (and by now "traditional") 
money-making project yet instituted for the benefit of 
Symphony now had its birth. For a long time the women 
of the Guild in studying the projects of other civic 
symphony orchestras had contemplated initiating an 
annual Grand Symphony Ball. The idea came to frui- 
tion in April, 1955, when a glittering Viennese Ball, 
under the auspices of Peoria Symphony Board, but 
executed by the Guild and chairmanned by Mrs. 
Russell F. Peters, was presented with overwhelming 
success in the two ballrooms and mezzanine of the Hotel 
Pere Marquette. The Musicians Union granted per- 
mission to members of the Orchestra to play at such a 
benefit ball yearly, and the Orchestra, after a Grand 
March and official "opening," played nostalgic Strauss 
and Lehar waltzes, with Conductor Reiners and Assistant 
Conductor Frederick Huber alternating in directing, 
until 11 p.m., when a dance-band took over. Amidst a 
stately and authentic Viennese decor, planned by the 
gifted Mrs. Lucian Jacquin and Mrs. Harley Potter and 
many a colorful facet devised by Mrs. Jackson Hei- 
berger, Mrs. F. M. Bourland and Mrs. Charles Cart- 
wright, the "Austrian Emperor and Empress," imper- 
sonated by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Ringel, opened the 

49 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

waltzing. The profit of the Ball resulted in the addition 
of $2,200 to the Permanent Endowment Fund of the 
Symphony and the Guild ^vas also able to announce the 
gift of a third tympani, a triangle, and cymbals to the 
Orchestra. 

Even in the summer the vital life-blood of Orchestra 
support continued to flow; the Peoria String Quartet 
contributed a concert which netted $175; an anonymous 
"well-wisher" presented President Szold with a gift of 
$500 to reduce the deficit of the Orchestra; and Mrs. 
Jackson Heiberger, new Guild president, announced a 
membership of five hundred women, with future meet- 
ings to be held at the Country Club of Peoria and the 
First Federated Church, for the group had no^v over- 
flo^ved the limits of even the largest private homes. 

With Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Joel Brodnax now con- 
ducting the tried-and-proven direct mail Membership 
Drive, Dr. Leonard Stone heading the Concerts Per- 
formance committee, and Mrs. John Mason directing 
publicity, Mr. Arthur Heidrich, Jr. took over the Spon- 
sor effort and Attorney John Radley began the revision 
of the Orchestra by-laws. 

The concert season itself was a rich one — Camilla 
Wicks, gifted young violinist, fresh from triumphs in 
Europe and Canada; Byron Janis, distinguished pianist, 
and Lois Baptiste Harsch, "Peoria's own," as guest 
artists. Of the epoch-making opening concert. President 
Szold wrote to Manager George Landon this message to 
be passed on to the Orchestra personnel: "From the 
Brahms to the Kodaly, the presentation could be favor- 
ably compared to the finest efforts of any major orchestra 
in the country ... no one can doubt that November 6, 
1955 was a red letter day in Peoria's musical history." 

At the close of this particular concert season, a mile- 

50 



THE SONG SOARS 

Stone was reached with the announcement that since 
Dr. Reiners had released himself from several of his 
many musical commitments he could now devote more 
time to the Orchestra and would be able — an important 
step forward, this — to direct sectional rehearsals him- 
self. In recognition of this the Board voted to increase 
his salary from $3,500 to $5,000 for the 1956-57 season. 
Shades of Harold Plowe! How Plowe would have re- 
joiced for his colleague — and for the increased pro- 
fessionalism of the orchestral approach. 

The Guild, bubbling with new ideas, presented a 
Symphony Style Show and tea at Block and Kuhl 
Company, with Block and Kuhl fashions and co-ordina- 
tion, and Mrs. Heiberger and Mrs. Brodnax reported an 
$800 profit therefrom; a "sell-out" for the youth concert; 
and plans for a second Annual Symphony Ball, Dr. 
Stone, chairman of the Concerts Performance committee 
closed his year with the presentation of as masterly an 
analysis of concert performance policies as Mr. Puter- 
baugh's analysis of "Future Needs." 

The Viennese Ball proved that it was taking root as a 
Peorian tradition when Mrs. Roger Clayton, chairman 
of the Ball and incoming Guild president, announced 
on May 17, 1956 that a net profit of $2,000 would 
accrue to the Endowment Fund of the Orchestra. 

"Milestones" were now occurring thick and fast — Mr. 
Harsch announced in August, 1956 that the Orchestra 
was now registered with the Bureau of Internal Revenue 
as a non-profit organization, with all contributions to 
the Orchestra recognized as deductible from income 
tax. The Orchestra joined the infant Peoria Arts and 
Science Center. Dr. Reiners' sectional rehearsal pro- 
cedure was resulting in superior orchestral perform- 

51 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

ance. "Symphony Week" (October 7) rolled round 
again to stimulate civic interest. 

The new slate of officers for '56-'57, President Thomas 
Mills; Vice-President Jack Szold; Recording Secretary, 
Mrs. Dean Stone; Corresponding Secretary, Mrs. Fred- 
erick Oakley and Treasurer Harsch were ready to open 
a season winningly set forth in one of John Snider's 
most effective brochures: a season presenting Wolfgang 
Schneiderhan, celebrated Viennese violinist who had 
just made his American debut with the Boston Sym- 
phony; Jorge Bolet, Cuba-born pianist, and Peoria's own 
Sylvia Olin Delicath, pianist (a Marion Johnson and 
Olga Samaroff student) . 

Mrs. Clayton now announced an ambitious Guild 
season, featuring a Christmas Candlelight concert 
Dec. 2, '56, at the Country Club, with Ruth Ray, 
American violinist, as guest artist; the usual youth con- 
cert for schoolchildren, a benefit Fashion Show and the 
annual Symphony Ball. At the December function the 
Guild presented a celeste to the Orchestra. 

And what a contrast to previous years is provided by 
a glimpse of the Orchestra's financial picture in 
Manager Landon's report of October 8, 1956 — a $7,000 
pay-roll to local musicians; $5,000 to the Conductor; 
$3,000 to the Manager; nearly $1,000 in promotional 
printing; and a total budget of nearly $22,000! 

The Orchestra, which had enjoyed the services of a 
harp only spasmodically since the apprentice days of 
Sonya Kahn, now on November 15, '56 added to its rolls 
the name of Miss Jude Mollenhauer of Quincy, 111., as 
harpist. 

Increasingly the Board's "strong, right arm," the 
Guild donated, through its president, Mrs. Clayton, a 
check in the sum of $3,000 on April 18, 1957, destined 

52 



THE SONG SOARS 

for the operating fund of the Orchestra. Mrs. Samuel 
Rothberg, Chairman of the outstanding 1957 Symphony 
Ball (when the Viennese theme was changed to a French 
motif, with the French Vice-Consul in Chicago officially 
representing France and gifted Mrs. Joseph Bellas con- 
tributing authentic French posters and decor, besides 
many other inspired "pieces" in supper rooms and ball 
rooms executed by Peoria artists) presented a check for 
$2,000 as Ball profits to the Endowment Fund of the 
Orchestra. 

Still following the pattern of symphony growth in 
comparable cities all over the nation, a Youth Guild to 
promote young people's help for the Orchestra (which 
like the women's guild, had been often discussed by 
previous boards) grew out of Mrs. Charles Ringel's 
work in assembling "Junior chairmen" for the Mem- 
bership Committee. Mrs. Ringel was appointed the task 
of helping to form and activate the nucleus of a Youth 
Guild. 

Forte: 1958 

Thus the Sixtieth Anniversary year of Peoria Sym- 
phony dawned on an era of incredibly expanded 
services — a thriving orchestral ensemble, a strong Guild 
organization, a community link with the Arts and 
Science Center and with Bradley University; a national 
link with the American Symphony Orchestra League; 
and a rapidly growing Junior committee. The issuance 
of the 1957-58 brochure with its attached "application 
envelop" and the subsequent audience response proved 
that the Symphony had arrived at that point where 
concert ticket-books could be sold effectively by direct 
mail. With a budget of $26,000 the expectation was 
that forty-six per cent could be met by ticket sales and 

53 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

thirty-eight per cent by Patrons, Sponsors and Friends, 
with the ever-loyal Women's Symphony Guild earning 
the "makeup" monies. 

Conductor Reiners, Manager Landon and the Con- 
certs Committee had devised a five-concert program 
(exclusive of the annual youth concert) which was 
worthy to mark the Anniversary Year — opening the 
season October 13 with Gary Graffman, gifted inter- 
national pianist, then currently appearing with the New 
York, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago Symphonies, in 
a Brahms concerto; offering Hanson's Second Symphony 
on November 24 at a gala Thanksgiving concert; present- 
ing David Abel, an exciting young violinist who had 
"debuted" with the San Francisco orchestra at the age 
of fourteen. On the same program with Abel appeared 
lovely young Jude Mollenhauer, a Salzedo harp-pupil. 
The February concert featured Dr. Allen Cannon, the 
Symphony's concertmaster, in Saint Saens' "Rondo 
Capriccioso" and the Beethoven Fourth. At the closing 
March concert, full of popular appeal, Peoria's Norman 
Fettkether spun magic from his piano in von Dohnanyi's 
"Variations on a Nursery Tune"; and the Orchestra did 
full justice to the beloved Tchaikowsky "Pathetique." 

The best comment on the anniversary season was 
Graffman's. On October 17 Manager Landon quoted 
Graffman's comment on the Orchestra's accompaniment 
to his Brahms: "Only in Europe does one find such excel- 
lent quality of orchestral accompaniment in the smaller 
cities." 

Beyond a doubt the most colorful, artistic and imagi- 
native production ever sponsored as a Symphony benefit 
— again under the auspices of the Guild — was the fanci- 
ful "Fashionata" presented March, 1958, when, with the 

54 



THE SONG SOARS 

co-operation again of Block and Kuhl Co., a fashion 
show intriguingly divided into two "acts" was produced 
under the presiding genius of Betty (Mrs. Joseph) 
Bellas. In a season when "chemise" and "trapeze" were 
startling the world of fashion, five hundred women 
were sufficiently allured by the conventional, beautiful 
Fashion show which is a staple of feminine "benefit" 
projects everywhere, but the opener, "Around the World 
Fashions" rates as a unique artistic achievement in the 
realm of national cultures. 

Mrs. Bellas, a world traveller and student of the 
costumes, customs, adornments, dances and indigenous 
music of a galaxy of nations, supplied not only the 
authentic total costumes of Europe, Africa, the Middle 
East, the Orient and South America from her personal 
collection, but established the pattern and narrative of 
the showing. With Mr. Walter Puterbaugh, the Sym- 
phony's recording expert, she synchronized tape record- 
ings of her own made in far-off comers of the earth with 
other music supplied by Mr. Puterbaugh's tapes, Mr, 
Puterbaugh serving as narrator for the Bellas text. 

Besides the incredible 1,800 hours of creative effort 
contributed by Mrs. Bellas, a large group of Symphony 
workers, arrayed in saris, mandarin coats, Turkish 
harem trousers, sheik's robes, Balinese sarongs, etc. 
went through the traditional steps and postures of a 
score of tribes and nations, to a musical background 
which included rhythms, folk motifs and street-cries 
seldom heard by the American ear. At a time when a 
newspaper strike in Peoria had paralyzed completely 
that invaluable channel of publicity for ten weeks, the 
indefatigable Betty Bellas not only performed miracles 
in the realm of publicity but directed and produced 
"Around the World Fashions" so professionally that 

55 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

New York and Chicago experts hailed the entire pro- 
duction as "unique." Thus, quite aside from swelling 
the coffers of Symphony, the event took its place, with 
the Y.W.C.A.'s 1957 World Dance Festival, as an 
original and creative contribution to the fine arts to 
come out of the city of Peoria. 

In March of 1958 the Board introduced a new policy 
in regard to subscriptions to Symphony Membership, 
with the decision to change the membership drive date 
from early fall to the end of the current concert season 
and projecting into midsummer. The validity of the 
decision was indicated by a tremendous response from 
the March 30th audience which "signed up" 750 blanks 
expressing a desire for seats the next season. 

Out of this idea of Manager Landon's grew a new 
Audience Committee (for season ticket sales) headed 
by Mrs. J. C. Brodnax, and the orders SAviftly rose to 
1,195 before summer even began. 

Firmly entrenched now among Peorian traditions, 
the fourth Annual Symphony Ball, chairmanned by 
Mrs. Arthur Heidrich, Jr. and carried out under the 
closing term of Mrs. Roger Clayton, Guild president, 
took place April 22, introducing a change in pace. The 
assembled Symphony orchestra still provided stately 
waltz measures, and a theme of "the old Southland" 
was carried out in Southern Colonial decor to the 
swing of bouffant antebellum skirts. Dance-lovers and 
music-lovers participated in the festivity to the happy 
tune of a net profit of $2,000. 

With the April, 1958 meeting of the Board of 
Directors and the usual "salute of thanks" to Thomas 
Mills, music-loving architect, for his two years of service 
as President, there occurred a new Symphony mile- 

56 



THE SONG SOARS 

Stone: for only the second time in Board history — and 
indeed the first time since the 1946 "renascence" — a 
woman headed the Board. Following in the long-ago 
footsteps of Martha Mackemer Brown was Mrs. Jackson 
Heiberger, former president of Symphony Guild and a 
devoted worker for all civic music. 

The closing conference of the Sixtieth Anniversary 
Year and the opening of yet another season signalled a 
host of new appointments and approaches: the attorney 
Board Members, Mr. Charles Iben and Mr. John 
Radley, completed the new Constitution and By-Laws 
for the Board; Mrs. John Brandon, a former publicity 
writer for Boston Symphony, was appointed to Public 
Relations; a Memorial Fund committee was set up to 
separate bequests and memorial donations from the 
Endowment Fund. (Contributions and bequests had 
been left to the orchestra in memory of Ray O. Becker, 
Gertrude Sneller, Delia Bloom, Martha Baymiller 
Radley, Mrs. George Sikes and Martha Mackemer 
Brown) ; the fast-growing Youth Committee volunteered 
to assist in the canteen service at Sunday pre-concert 
rehearsals and also in the ushering for concerts (a serv- 
ice provided for many years by members of the 
faithful Amateur Musical Club, Symphony's earlier 
guardian) ; and the Board, in a gleeful moment, ap- 
proved a new and intriguing symbol to be used in all 
printed material associated with the Orchestra. 

The Symbol was "Orky" — a fanciful little figure 
representing the cheerful spirit of the orchestra, baton 
in hand, conceived by Mrs. Brandon and executed by 
Donald F. Bell. This elfin conductor, "Orky," born at 
the close of the Sixtieth Anniversary Year may be 
expected to appear often in the annals of the years to 
come. 

57 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 

The Concerts Performance committee, ever on the 
alert for experimentation with new policies, and grati- 
fied that the box office record shows that "local" artists 
draw far better than internationally famous ones as the 
tally of the seasons is reviewed, decided to set up a five- 
concert, seven-artist season presenting soloists who, 
though widely known and Europe-trained, reside in 
or who have resided in Peoria. The roster reads: Dr. 
Armin Watkins, young, internationally known pianist, 
a newcomer to Bradley University as professor of piano, 
in Beethoven's Concerto No. 4; George Landon, clari- 
netist, with Walfrid Kujala, Chicago flutist with the 
Orchestra, in the Saint Saens Tarantelle; Sabina Mica- 
relli, violinist; Dr. John Davis, Director of the Bradley 
Community Chorus of one hundred voices; Ruth John- 
son, cellist and concertmistress of the cello section; and 
Werner Zeppernick, pianist and former Bradley profes- 
sor, now of Nashville, Tenn., in Liszt's Hungarian 
Fantasia. Watkins was the first person ever to receive 
simultaneously degrees in both piano and violin at Yale 
and the first to receive the degree of doctor of music 
literature at Indiana University. He studied abroad 
under Adelina de Lara, a pupil of Brahms. Sabina 
Micarelli, scheduled for a Mozart concerto, studied at the 
Paris Conservatory of Music. Mrs. Johnson is a graduate 
of the New England Conservatory and the Tanglewood 
school. Zeppernick, bom in Germany, studied and con- 
certized both here and abroad. 

A new Guild-inspired Symphony offering is a series 
of musical seminars called "Puterbaugh Platters" with 
Mr. Walter Puterbaugh offering to symphony-goers, the 
week preceding each concert, lively discussions of the 
program, illustrated by his own tape recordings. 

58 



THE SONG SOARS 

With a varied programming of Weber, Beethoven, 
Weinberger, Debussy, Stravinsky, Wagner, Saint Saens, 
Herbert, Dvorak, Rimsky-Korsakov, Bach, Mozart, 
Brahms Third, Smetana, Schumann's First, Wolf-Fer- 
rari, Falla, Faure, Cesar Franck, Rossini, Mendelssohn, 
Liadov, Liszt and Strauss, the Orchestra has rounded 
off its sixty years with ever increasing richness and 
eclecticism. 



L'ENVOI 

And so we leave the narrative — unfinished, of course, 
as is the tide of history itself, but with the conviction 
that Plowe's early prediction of desuetude or triumph is 
veering toward triumph and the Fortissimo is glimpsed. 
If the song did not die, it is because of the myriad names 
which throng these pages and a thousand eager, dedi- 
cated faces which rise to the mind's eye with every date 
and name. To the nostalgic reader is left the pleasant 
task of calling up those faces — Plowe's aquiline, poet's 
features; Schwab's warming smile; Bob Black's alert, 
dark eyes; Grainger's lion-mane; Jeanne Mitchell's 
tender beauty; the brooding, mercurial countenance of 
Bolognini; the blue-eyed radiance of Martha Radley, 
for the eye reaps memories more indelible than the 
brain's. 

As for Symphony itself — and this applies to the 
struggling, burgeoning small-city symphonies all over 
America — a project endures according to what it has 
been. Dreams, failures, efforts, successes, setbacks all 
are woven into the ultimate fabric. A symphony lives 
by what it has been, and — blessedly — by what it might 

59 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 



be. For the best part of a dream is what it intends to 
become. Were it not for the glory of growth and the 
promise of continuing illumination, neither a man nor 
a symphony would inspire a record. But where the 
song soars, let all men take heart. 



60 



PEORIA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA 

Personnel, 1958-59 



Dr. Rudolph Reiners, Conductor 

George E. Landon, Manager 

Dr. Allen Cannon, Concertmaster 

Frederick J. Ruber, Assistant Conductor 



First Violins: 
Allen Cannon 
Frances Macmillan 
David Nicoll 
Sabina Micarelli 
Virginia Segale 
Mahlon Saxton 
Edgar Muenzer 
Patricia Hackler 
Jean Clugsten 
Marietta Gihle 
Donna Russell 
Mabelle Slater 
Frances Whittaker 

Second Violins: 
Armin Watkins 
Fred Hoklas 
Jane Lady 
Ruth Hedstrom 
Joyce Brown 
Nathan Deutch 
Jean Rothberg 
Minnie Lou Marshall 
Faye G. Archer 
Erwin Kapphahn 
Roy Frey 
Sun Boo Lee 

Violas: 
Fred Huber 
Robert Schelly 



Fred Bourland 
Guido Rizzo 
Donald Evans 
Kendall Lange 

Cellos: 
Ruth Johnson 
Howard Teeter 
Ada Bliesener 
Helen Hill 
Ruth Frost 
Everett Pryde 

Bass Violins: 
Royce Lewis 
Benny Garrels 
Rudolph Fahsbender 
George Yingst 
Arthur Keller 

Flutes: 

Walfrid Kujala 

Ruth Young 

Lewis Deyo (and piccolo) 

Oboes: 
Jerome Edie 
Lawrence Fogelberg 

Clarinets: 

George Landon 
Rudolph Jungst 



61 



THE SONG THAT DIDN T DIE 



Bassoons: 

Anne Eagleton 
Adele Brown 

French Horns: 
Donald Filzen 
Perry Tudor 
Morton HofEman 
Donald Schnepper 

Trumpets: 
Herbert Stoskopf 
Carl Wood 
Charles Geyer 
William Booher 

Trombones: 
Frank Holler 
Earl Barnes 
Jerry Bowers 



Tuba: 
George Yingst 

Percussion: 
Albert Shaw 
James Ross 
Richard Kalus 
Roy Frey 

Piano-Celeste: 
Marion Johnson 
Sylvia Delicath 

Harp: 

Carol Baum 

Librarian: 
Roy Frey 



62 



C001