This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of
Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.
This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section
107) which allows limited use of copyrighted
materials under certain conditions.
Fair use limts the amount of material that may be
For all other permissions and requests, contact the
SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
Interviewee: Willis Bodine
Interviewer: Janet Graham
Date: April 21, 1987
G: This is Janet Graham for the Department of Oral History. I am interviewing
Professor Willis Bodine. Today is Tuesday, April 21, 1987. We are in Professor
Bodine's office on the third floor of the music building at the University of Florida
in Gainesville. Professor Bodine, please tell us your complete, full name.
B: My complete, full name is Willis Ramsey Bodine, Jr. I do not use the Ramsey,
and I stopped using the Jr. a few years ago.
G: Tell us where and when you were born and a little bit about your early years.
B: Well, I was born in Austin, Texas, which is the capital of the state of Texas, in
1935, November the fifteenth. I am from central Texas, and lived there until I was
about twenty-one or twenty-two years old without really much travel away from
G: Did you graduate from high school there?
B: I went to Austin High School. I was part of the very last class at Austin High
School. The following year they split the high school into three parts, and they
renamed it the Stephen F. Austin High School. I do not call it Stephen F. Austin,
it is Austin High to me.
G: And what year was that?
B: That was in 1953. That was after six years of playing tuba or sousaphone in
the marching bands and doing all sorts of various musical things in the city of
G: Was the tuba your first experience, or did you do other things like singing or
B: No, I guess my first activity with music was to go up to my neighbor's house
when I was five or six. The neighbor had a piano and my family did not.
Apparently I was picking out little tunes on the neighbor's piano. I knew these to
be something I recognized, and she recognized them too, so this dear lady [Mrs.
Von Graham, Austin, TX] went to my mother and said, this young man has
musical ability, and you really should arrange for piano lessons for him. This
struck a responsive chord in my mother's heart, because all her brothers had
been sort of amateur musicians. They would play the saxaphone around the
home. They are in Galveston. They had an old bass violin in the corner of my
grandmother's home, which I remember seeing in later years. Apparently they
had put together a little German oompa band among the brothers,so she knew
that there was music in the genes somewhere. So I started studying piano when
I was six or seven, something like that, with your standard neighborhood piano
teacher, who was a lovely lady and not really very inspiring. She taught me the
basics and just let me be. Then when I was in the sixth grade, the Austin public
schools had a system by which the band directors in the junior high schools were
able to go into the student records and pick the students who had higher scores
on some of the tests, and steer them into the band department. I still think this is
a very clever thing to do, and I have often wished that the chorus teachers were
as bright, because I would have gotten into choral music a lot earlier than I did.
At any rate, by what I thought was an administrative error, I found myself in a
seventh grade band class. It turns out that this was by their design. I did not
know a thing about it, but I was registered for band. The director took one look at
me and said, well, you are big enough to carry the sousaphone. I said, the what?
And he said, here it is and he put it on my shoulder. I learned to carry the
darned thing, and I marched for six years. The interesting thing musically I think
is that of course I played the bass line of all the music for six years. You were in
my figured bass class so you know what that means. I was always involved with
the bass line from that point on. I credit a certain part of my musical
understanding to that experience, as I was growing up, discovering new things,
and playing the bass line of all this music.
G: It does make a difference.
B: Yes, it does.
G: You mentioned Galveston was your mother's home, was that her home
B: Yes, my mother grew up in Galveston, and her family had been German
immigrants to the Galveston area. Many Germans had come to Texas. It was a
large family, not a wealthy family, and it sort of spread all over that part of the
state. The curious thing is that my mother's mother had originally immigrated
from Germany to Austin. So in the town where I was born, there was actually
some land that belonged to my grandmother or great-grandmother, I do not quite
know the genealogy. My family purchased some of that land at one point, and we
lived there for a while--actually on land that had our roots in it.
G: How about your father, was he a Texan?
B: My father was from another part of Texas. He was from east Texas, and had
been part of an immigration from Georgia in the 1820s, which was fairly early and
before Texas was a state. I guess it was a section of Mexico at that point, and it
became a state here in 1845. So they were from the San Augustine area of
Texas, which is the piney woods of east Texas. He was the first man of his family
ever to go to college and went to Texas A & M, which was the big school for
engineers in that state. He graduated from Texas A & M and started working for
the Santa Fe Railroad which ran from that part of east Texas south to Galveston.
That is how he and my mother met. She was working in a secretarial position for
the Santa Fe Railroad, and he as an engineer. They met and were married. This
was of course in the time of the early thirties, the time of the Great Depression.
They both decided that their economic position would be better in the long run if
they would go ahead and seek higher education, perhaps in a little different field,
so they moved to Austin and dad started in the college of education there. He
took another master's degree--his master's in education--and then eventually a
doctorate in education at the University of Texas. So that is where I grew up.
G: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
B: Yes, I have one sister who is ten years younger than I, and she lives in
California now, in Sacramento. She has one daughter, and then twins who are
male and female, so she has three children. She is in the scienceprogram at one
of the schools in that area. She was a little bit involved in music but has never
gone in that direction to the extent that I have.
G: You mentioned your earlier keyboard work, and then the tuba. Did you
continue with the keyboard at the same time as you were doing the tuba?
B: Yes, I played the piano of course, and I was one of the stalwart accompanists
for all my friends in the band. I had a certain amount of social pressure to
continue that and enjoy it. I did not go as far as I probably should have as a
pianist in high school. I dropped out for a time and then went back to lessons and
so forth. But I did begin to start getting interested in the organ in about the eighth
or ninth grade.That was, as is typical, through church involvement. I was
involved with the youth program at First Southern Presbyterian Church, as they
called it, in Austin. I can now sort of smile at that, but the director of religious
education knew a little bit about the organ and she was encouraging me to
develop my skill, so I played the church organ just a little bit. When I was in the
ninth grade, my parents joined a suburban Presbyterian church which was just
getting started, and lo and behold, they did not have a musician. So little Sonny
Bodine became the pianist for the church, and then as soon as they moved into a
building and had an electronic, I started playing the organ. I kept that job for I
guess five years, from the ninth grade through my first year in college, because I
went on to the university in that city. That was my first experience with the organ,
partly untutored and partly with a few little, conference-style lessons--no formal,
proper organ study until the summer before my college year.
G: So did you enter college with the idea of studying music formally?
B: Yes, by that time I had made my vocational choice and had almost completely
convinced my parents of it. They still wanted me--and may possibly still want
me--to be some sort of medical doctor or engineer, I think that was their fantasy.
I should be an architect, I should be a medical doctor. But by the eleventh grade,
I had been involved enough in music, as an accompanist, as church organist,
playing the organ in a local skating rink entertainment-style, baseball parks, that
sort of thing, and was finding sufficient satisfaction and having enough sense of
professional direction that I realized what I wanted to do. I guess every person in
some fashion or another rejects his parents and rejects their advice as a normal
part of growing up. So in spite of their wish that I be an architect, I made the
decision to go to music school, and it was helped by the fact that I was going to
go to their alma mater, I was going to go to the hometown university.
G: It saved you.
B: Yes, and I think I would not have been successful had I been trying to go
away to music school. They simply would not have allowed that. Maybe they are
more open-minded than I realize, but my memories of that period are that there
was more than a little tension over that decision, and suspicion too. What is
going to happen to you? How are you going to live?
G: How are you going to eat?
B: Yes, that was the story. Well, I put myself through college. I paid for a half or
a little more than half of my college costs. There were some semesters when I
did not need to ask for a check for tuition, and I kept a church job all the way
through, better and better church jobs, better and better music that I was able to
get involved with. The time when they were finally willing to admit that I must be
doing something right was coming to my junior recital and hearing my friends and
the people in the music school applaud what I did. That made an impression.
Then the next year I got a little advanced word--I overheard that I had been
awarded a Fulbright for the following year. When I could hold that up as a
credential--look, Mom, I got this--then they began to be a little more willing to
accept it. I think if I had always had the life of a professional performing musician
in front of them as a goal, they would never have accepted it. But I am a college
teacher, and that is what Dad was for a good portion of his career, so the fact that
I am teaching makes it even a little more okay. I am not teaching architecture, I
am not teaching medicine, I am teaching music. It seems to fit in pretty well.
G: I know Austin has a very good reputation today. Were you pleased with your
B: Yes, it was simply superb. The University of Texas has in effect a small
conservatory sitting there within a state university, and that is very unusual. This
school does not have a conservatory. So I found the training there to be
excellent. My teachers were fine, the music theory department was simply
outstanding. I had the opportunity to do various kinds of work in the department.
I worked for one year as a studio accompanist, that was a thrill for me. I worked
for one year as a theory assistant; I was teaching the freshman and sophomore
keyboard labs when I was a senior, which was a very good situation. It meant I
did not have to go sack groceries or wait tables at the student union. I could do
music for my college bread, and I could not have asked for better. I like to see
that happen for students today. So the work there was quite fine, and I think the
faculty were extremely sympathetic. There were some important people there on
the faculty. I gave up the tuba as soon as I came to college. It had been good for
me socially, as I suppose good musically. When I was in high school, I had gone
to Cotton Bowl games with the University of Texas band for two straight years,
because they did not have enough good players in the football band at the
University, so they would come down into the high schools, and they hired us. So
we had gone to the Cotton Bowl and had a great time doing that. As soon as I
came to the University, I discovered that the football band was totally separate
from the school of music. If you played in the football band, you might as well not
bring your organ shoes or anything else around the school of music, so I told
them politely and very firmly, "no." From that point on I never picked it up. I did
pick up the tuba one time. My father received his doctorate at one point when I
was in my first or second year of college, something like that. At that time the
doctorates were awarded in the summer commencements, and the band played
on the plaza there in Texas, right in front of the tower. This was a very lovely and
solemn occasion, and by sitting in the tuba section I was closer than anybody
else. I was about ten feet from my father's hooding ceremony.
G: It was a press pass.
B: Yes, it was, it was good. The neat thing is that I just heard, this very afternoon
as a matter of fact, that my alma mater has invited me to come back to Austin
and play the dedication concert of the new carillon in the tower at Texas. It will
be on November the fourteenth, the day before my birthday, and it will be at the
University of Texas Dads' Day. It could not be better, and I will get to take my
father to that and to enjoy a weekend with him.
G: What kind did they get?
B: It was originally a Meneely chime of about seventeen bells or so, and the
Verdin company has extended that then and built a new baton keyboard. They
have got additional electric playing action also, and I think the bells, of course as
usual at Verdin, have been cast in Holland by one of the founders there. The
whole thing is being assembled in Cincinnati, and they are going to start the
installation this May, and we trust this time, finish up by November. This is the
second postponement of the event, because the first date was last fall sometime,
and the second date was April seventh of this month, and they did not make
either one of those dates, so now they have scheduled it again.
G: What was the degree, the bachelors, was it a B.A., a B.M.?
B: No, it was a Bachelor of Music in Organ and Church Music. I played junior
and senior recitals, I took the performer's certificate, did all the church music
courses, and for the rest of it, it was a very standard baccalaureate degree in
music. That school did not at that time have a very strong liberal education
component so, unfortunately as I think of it now, I never took any college level
science courses, I never took any college level math courses. I had had
everything that the high school had to offer, and I could do trigonometry at that
time, and I could do a dissection at that time. I am sure I could not now. I did
have to take a course in Texas history and government. This was required of
every college student in the state, so I took that one summer at seven o'clock in
the morning, got it out of the way, and then I could practice.
G: So how did you come into the Fulbright, did you apply?
B: Yes, my teacher encouraged me to apply for that. He had had a Fulbright to
England a few years earlier, and apparently had benefited greatly from the
experience, so encouraged me to do that. I think that process for Fulbright
applications has not changed very much since those days. You write a very
extensive application, a statement of purpose, and you emphasize in that how
much you want to accomplish for international good will and smoothing over
relations by going over and studying music in northern Germany. So it is a little
bit of a fantasy, but I did that and then had campus interviews. I do recall quite
clearly that that committee questioned me closely on my language capability. I
had just started my second year of German, and they asked whether I felt I would
know enough German. For some reason I had the presence of mind to say that I
thought that I be able to have a basic understanding of German, but that music
after all was the universal language, and I thought I would be just fine. That was
a rather brash remark, and I found out later that I had had somewhat of a friend in
court. There was a member of the committee who had known my family over a
number of years, I did not even know the man, but apparently he had put in a
good word for me with the committee, so that my application was one of the ones
that was forwarded to the state. The state had the privilege of selecting two
applicants, quite apart from the national process of selection, so I was one of
those that had an early selection. I knew by the middle of the year, even though
the awards were not announced until March or April.
G: So what would that be, 1957?
B: Yes, in 1957, I got my bachelor's and left for Germany that summer. So from
1957 until 1959 I was in north Germany, and then came back in February and
went back to Texas for one semester. I started in the masters program. Then I
guess it was in May that I had gotten the call about the job here in Florida, so I
explained to them exactly where I was. I had my masters degree, done the
Fulbright years and started the masters program, and they said, well, on the basis
of Leo Sowerby's recommendation, we really want you to come here. I said, well,
if you understand that I am only this far along. What are your plans for finishing
the masters? So I described them. I stayed in Austin through the second
semester, then came here and then the following summer finished up the
G: Was Leo Sowerby one of your teachers down there?
B: Yes, I knew him at the Evergreen Music Conference in Colorado in the
summer of 1956 I guess it was. I had gone to that conference, and he heard me
play when I played for these rehearsals. I studied a little composition with him,
and I also showed him sort of the beginnings of my own efforts in composition.
He liked some of the things he saw there and then encouraged me to continue
with those, and so I did and completed the work that I was fiddling with. Then I
went to Germany, and one of the first pieces of mail I got from this country in
Germany was a note from Leo Sowerby saying that the Hymnal 1940
Commission would like very much to include my communion service in their
forthcoming supplement to the Hymnal. They had the Kyrie, and they had the
Sanctus and the Agnus Dei, and the only thing they needed was the Gloria,
because they wanted to include it. Of course I had not written the Gloria yet,
because I had gone to Germany instead. So one of the more difficult things I
have ever done musically was to try to write a Gloria in Excelsis in a style that
was really two years previous. Styles change pretty fast when you are that age.
Here I was trying very hard to write in a style that I had used two years to
eighteen months previously and sending the manuscripts back to my teacher,
who was really my composition critic at that point. Then waiting, with the
international mails, two-and-a-half weeks for the manuscript to come back with
his comments, and by that time it is cold. When it comes back after
two-and-a-half weeks there is not much freshness there, so I would try to recover
my state of mind from weeks previous, and I would read his comments and make
revisions. It was not easy, but I finally got it done and sent it in. It was published
by H. W. Gray, and it was put in the Hymnal supplement, which is a nice little
G: What year was the supplement?
B: This was 1960 when it actually came out.
G: Can you tell us a little bit about Germany, who you stayed with and where?
B: Yes, I was a student at the Nordwestdeutsche Musikakademie in Detmold,
Germany. Detmold is a small little town. It was one of the nicer towns in the
eighteenth, early nineteenth century when Germany was a collection of
city-states. The actual land, or state, was Lippe, and the palace of Lippe is today
the music academy. They took over the palace where the court had been for a
music school. The former chapel, which has very lovely acoustics, is the concert
hall. I think the organ studio must have been in one of the sitting rooms, a
magnificent room on one side of the hall. All the walls of the building are two feet
thick, which meant that there was good sound isolation from place to place.
There were some of the most glorious gardens you have ever seen, very much in
the English style, very free and flowing up and down the hills. It is a good school.
It was a school that had been established after the second World War, primarily
with faculty who had been musicians coming from the eastern area of Germany,
fleeing the Russians. The choral director was Kurt Thomas, who had been at the
St. Thomas Church at Leipzig, Bach's old stomping ground. They had some
superb faculty. The person with whom I went to study was Michael Schneider.
Schneider was and is one of the most important organ teachers in Germany. He
was out of the tradition of Karl Straube, which is one of the mainstreams of
German organ playing. Schneider had been in the city of Cologne, he had been
in the city of Berlin, he had been part of the occupation army in Paris, he had
known Marcel Dupre, had studied with Dupre. He represented an amalgam of
traditions, both German and French, which is unusual, because most of the
German organists are very narrowly German--very excellently, but very narrowly
German. Schneider was the exception, and in many ways a very good teacher
for me, because he had the same approach to technique that I had been given at
Texas. But it was much broader musically, much more comprehensive, and he
was just excellent, he was a fine, fine figure. That was my organ teacher, and
then I studied harpsichord with Irmgaard Lechner. Lechner was from the
southern part of Germany, and she was one of the original early music people in
Germany. She was a fine harpsichordist, very much in love with chamber music,
an extremely sympathetic teacher. She had a knack of explaining technical
problems in a way that made it possible for the student to solve things easily. I
recall so very clearly my very first harpsichord lesson with her. The fact is that at
Texas for four years no one had really ever said, fingers, hand, wrist, elbow,
upper arm, shoulder, and here is how this works. I think maybe I had not been
the most receptive pupil, but still, no one had really taken it apart for me and
helped me put it back together. In my first harpsichord lesson in Germany,
Professor Lechner asked me to play for a few minutes so she could get an idea of
what I could do with my fingers. After I played for ten minutes, she stopped me,
and she explained everything that was going on in my technique in a way that I
could understand, even with my limited German, and she helped me resolve
technical problems that I had not been able to deal with. So at any rate,
Professor Lechner helped me understand my playing technique and resolve
playing problems, and I credit her as much as I credit Schneider with the
technical progress that I made as a player in Germany. I learned about music
from her, I learned to play figured bass, I coached chamber music with her and
also with Helmut Winschermann, the oboist with the Deutsche Bach Solisten, that
is the German Bach Soloists. I coached chamber music with Hans-Peter
Schmitz, who had been the first flute of the Berlin Philharmonic and was the
faculty flautist there at Detmold, and just learned an enormous amount, as well as
the contact with the organ students which were extremely disciplined. The
instructional method in Germany was always interesting to me. I never had a
private lesson, it was always group instruction. Schneider would gather two or
three, sometimes four, and we would have a two hour session. We would play
for each other. He would play only a little, we would play a lot, and we learned
two or three times as much literature as we would in the private lesson situation.
As I now understand it, it was very economical in terms of his time, too, so he
could teach two to three students. I wish I could figure out how to do that--part of
it was his geniality, part of it was just that that was the tradition, that you got three
or four students to sit at your feet, you were the master, and they would absorb,
and you would tell things.
G: It was also helpful for your own dealing with teaching in the future, too.
B: Oh, of course. Yes, I learned an enormous amount watching that happen,
and I saw also things not to do. I think in many ways the European students are
much more strongly self-motivated, they are much more self-directed and much
more likely to realize what they had to do and go to the practice room and do it.
Whereas typically, American students will wait to be told and need to be pushed.
I never felt that in Germany. The other interesting thing is that by and large the
German students were considerably younger than I, because they were in the
age range, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, whereas most of the Fulbright students
were twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four, right after their bachelor's
programs, or some of them right after their master's programs.
G: So let's see, we had you back about twenty-four when they called you to
B: Yes, I think that is exactly right. I called and came to Gainesville, it was one of
the hottest Augusts on record in 1959, and my wife and I and our five month old
baby drove over from Texas. It took three-and-a-half days in our old car. We
took the scenic route, which meant the beach road at the top of Florida. This was
a vast mistake, we should have taken the main road. We did not know that at the
time. We drove into Gainesville on the first of August or the first of September,
whichever. We had to be here on the first day of the month, otherwise we could
not be paid from the first day of the month, and at that point it was very important
to be paid from the first day of the month. So we got here on the first, discovered
that none of the music faculty was available that day, including the chair. The
secretary of the music department informed us that they were all at a memorial
service for a member of the piano faculty that had died while practicing in the
building that summer. I looked around the building which no longer exists, and it
was a frame barracks type structure that had been left over from World War, I do
not know what number. It was an awful building. It had been a bottling plant, and
then a gymnasium for men, and then a gymnasium for women, and then a music
department, and that is when we came. The memories are pretty bad about that,
and yet it was a first job, it was an opportunity to teach, and I was pleased by
G: Somehow we got you married without getting that on the record here.
B: Oh, yes. I was talking about "me" when I should have talked about "us." Part
of my experience in Texas was working as a studio accompanist, and I ended up
playing accompaniments in the local studio of Josephine Antoine, who had been
a soprano on the Carnation Hour and was a Metropolitan Opera artist. Into her
studio one day came a lovely soprano who had just transferred from TSCW at
Denton, named Anna Hartung. Of course in the next year-and-a-half, we became
closer and closer and were married during my senior year in college. We went to
Germany and were able to travel and experience that culture together. Her
German was vastly better than mine. She was a singer, so she understood
diction and had been in a German play, spouted off these German lines and
knew the language of her lieder of course. She came home a few months before
I did, because she was pregnant already, and I got home about a month before
Liz was born. Then we came over in August-September, whatever the date was,
G: What were your first responsibilities? Obviously organ, I would think.
B: Yes, astoundingly they were just about what I am doing now, which is
progress of a certain sort. I was told that I would have some organ students. I
was going to be responsible for the electronic carillon in Century Tower, and I
was going to teach the freshman theory course, and as I best recall, that was my
assignment. So I did teach freshman theory for my first three years here. I since
learned that that was sort of a standard thing through which young faculty seem
to rotate. My first semester I had five students studying organ. The next
semester I had about eleven, and the next I had about eighteen. The word sort of
got around that either I was an easy touch or a fine teacher, I am not sure, and I
said to my chairman, look, there is not any time to do anything. I am playing
recitals, I am teaching eighteen students, I am teaching this freshman theory
course with thirty-five kids. He said, oh, well,you need to be more selective as to
whom you accept into your organ studio. So that became the question, how do I
balance my time in teaching an academic area, like music theory, as opposed to
developing the possibilities of the organ program here? That has always been a
balancing act. Even in this very semester I have gotten myself over-committed to
individual lessons, something I apparently have not learned. I am working on it,
and I tell myself what I should do.
G: Is there some system whereby so many students count for the same as a
three hour course or something?
B: Yes, there is a system, there is a load formula for faculty. It is sort of an
informal formula, and it is not particularly honored in the department. That is, it is
not administered across the board to every member of the faculty. Since all the
classroom teaching that I am doing now is in my areas, as figured bass, as
church music, as organ design, any problems of load I have are really my own
creation for not taking care in limiting the number of private students that I have.
One thing that would probably help would be if I could figure out a way to teach a
certain amount of organ on a class basis, and probably I will be forced to do that.
It may be that some of the students would be well-served just by a weekly class
in service playing skills. That might really be sufficient for their abilities and
G: It is sort of a shame in a way, because I have been at several schools
throughout the country that have very, very few organ students, and where they
are beating the bushes for them.
B: Yes, I had a former student here last weekend who is the state coordinator for
the guild playing competition and he also networks with the other organ teachers
in the state of Georgia. As of this date, there are nine organ majors in the state
of Georgia. And that tells the tale. Of the schools in this state, some of them do
not even offer organ. The University of South Florida does not offer it.
G: Really? I know that at Rollins College, which had a good heritage in organ,
Dr. Alexander told me last summer, they have none.
B: That is right.
G: This year they will have no majors unless somebody drops, you know.
B: And yet a school like Stetson University which is very strong always has an
excellent enrollment. They turn out superb players. Paul Jenkins has had an
excellent program over the years. Florida State has a very strong program and
has a major professor and a couple of graduate assistant local teachers, and they
keep them busy. So there is organ activity, and yet my former student who
teaches in Jacksonville, Arthur Bloomer, does not have a large studio. He has
one or two people studying with him, but that is about it. So he spends his time
teaching humanities courses, venture courses for the university, evening courses,
and doing performing activities.
G: Has there always been a fairly steady flow of students here?
B: Yes, I think the only time there was really a limited number of organ students
was a period when the auditorium organ had been taken out. It was partly in
storage and partly being worked on. It was the final portion of the sixties and
seventies, youth rebellion: we are going to get rid of all that formality. All those
factors together had pretty much pushed organ study as such into very much of a
background. There were some semesters when I had as few as five or six
students studying, and that was very small. Now it began to change about seven
years ago, and the trend has been upward ever since then, in terms of numbers
and in terms of abilities. The biggest change that I have noticed over the last ten
years is the growth of the graduate program. I am much more likely to have an
equal number of graduate and undergraduate students now, whereas in
preceding years if I had one graduate student, it was unusual.
G: Do you suppose that is more people going back, or fewer are going into music
at the earlier level, or a combination?
B: It is hard to say. I would probably say it is a combination of lots of different
factors. I could not pin it onto one thing, but by and large there is a greater
maturity on the part of the students than I have ever seen. I do not think it is
simply that I am doing it from a more mature vantage, I think there is a more
G: When you first came here and were in this building out in the woods, so to
speak, what did you teach them without practice organs and things?
B: My predecessor at the university, Claude Murphree [Claude Murphree,
Professor of Music (1925-1948)], had purchased, apparently out of his own
money, a small pipe organ, and then let himself be repaid by student practice
fees over the years. This little instrument, which was a four-stop Kimball organ,
1939 electronomatic unit action, had been installed in the auditorium of the old
student union, which is now the second floor of the College of Liberal Arts and
Sciences Building. So there was that instrument still over in the student union,
and then there was the organ in the University Auditorium, which was a 1925
Skinner which had had heavy draperies installed over it. There were actually,
literally five layers of heavy velour draperies hung in front of the organ in the
auditorium. The first day I went over to the auditorium, my second day in
Gainesville, I sat down at the console, flicked on the switch, pushed it, I heard
something coming up from the basement, so I knew the organ was on. I played,
and I could tell that there was an organ, but I could not tell where it was, and that
is rather strange, because usually an organ has a strong sense of direction. So I
stuck a pencil under a key, and I started wandering around the stage hunting for
the organ, and finally found it up in the flies there behind where it actually is now,
it had been completely concealed by these velour draperies.
G: And the console was down.
B: The console was on the stage. It was out in front of the stage, actually, on a
theater organ elevator. It would elevate up to the stage level, or it would elevate
down to the floor level there. I cannot remember if it would elevate even lower
into the pit or not, I think maybe it would. At any rate, I found the organ and went
back and took the pencil out of the key, played a little bit and realized that this
was just hopeless, there was just no way you could have music if the organ was
covered by velour. So I arranged for the draperies to be folded back a little bit, so
that I could practice, because I had a recital coming up. It had been scheduled
for me, coming up in about six weeks. For that recital I arranged for the draperies
to be folded back completely, so that the organ itself could actually speak out into
the room, and I found out later that this was the first time in anybody's memory
that they had seen the organ. So apparently my predecessor had played the
organ through the draperies for all those years, and I cannot imagine that, but
who knows? Stranger things have happened. So I had, honestly, set out on a
little bit of a campaign to help the University understand that it had a fine
instrument, that was not being heard because it was poorly situated. In about two
years they removed all the draperies--which it turns out had been put in for the
drama club, the Florida Players--and they replaced it with a single screen of
fiberglass, and they also cleaned the organ at that point. So for the first time we
were able to hear the organ. We set out on a rebuilding program, because it was
mechanically in very poor condition. Skinner did some work in the mid-sixties.
The entire auditorium was planned for renovation and air conditioning, so we
stopped doing work on the organ for a period of time. Then when the auditorium
was being renovated, it had to be removed completely. It was put into storage,
because we did not quite have enough money to rebuild it. Then gradually the
auditorium was opened again. We got the money for getting the organ done, and
we reinstalled the whole instrument in 1980. From that point forward there has
been strength, I think, in terms of organ students and organ performances--some
fine undergraduate and some excellent, excellent graduate student
G: I can just imagine, in comparison with today, what the tuning situation prior to
the air conditioning was back then. Did you spend a lot of time right before your
B: Well, it was virtually hopeless to try to keep the organ in tune, because in the
summer up in the organ loft it would go over a hundred degrees. There is no way
to exhaust air out of the top of that building, because there are no openings to let
it out. So there was that, and in the winter there was a heating system. It was an
extremely noisy system with radiators underneath all the windows. Whenever the
heat would come on it would sound like, clankety-clank clank clank, but it did
keep the building relatively comfortable through the winter season, the short
winter season. But through the long, what we now call the air conditioning
season, there was no cooling, except nature's breezes. Consequently the organ
got dirty, and it got wet with humidity, and had got birds and roaches and things in
it, and of course it just heated up, and no organ can stay in tune under those
G: How about harpsichord, did you teach that all along?
B: Yes, we had a little harpsichord that had been bought in about 1953 or so. It
was a German factory harpsichord by Norford. It was not a very good instrument,
but we did use it and did some Baroque performances, and I think it was in 1967
that the chairman of the department agreed that it was time to get a better
harpsichord, so we got the large instrument that
we have from Eric Hertz in Boston. That was brought here in 1967, and at that
point the Florida Baroque Ensemble was founded. It just happened that a new
oboist came that year who had been part of a Baroque ensemble in New York in
his former work, and we had a faculty flautist who was coming from half-time to
full-time status, so she had a little more time to devote to work, and we had a fine
cellist on the faculty. So we had the makings of a Baroque ensemble. I was
interested in doing it with the new harpsichord, so we began both doing
harpsichord performance and the Baroque ensemble activities.
G: How about the tuning? Was that about like what it is today, except that the
temperature does not change quite so badly?
B: Yes, the harpsichord has always been a problem. I think one of the things we
did fairly early on was find an air conditioned space for the harpsichord. Little
room air conditioners are terribly noisy, and they are not awfully stable as to
temperature, but they helped keep the place a little dry and a little cool in the
worst part of the summer. We are spoiled in this building by the central air
conditioning, we really are. We forget what it was like.
G: Yes, it does not take long thinking back to remember. Well, what about some
of your initial impressions when you came, having come from two places--Texas
and Detmold--that were fairly well along in the way of music.
B: Well, the thing that I sensed the most when I came to the faculty here was
there was great sincerity on the part of the people to do good things, but that first
of all they did not have the financial resources to do what needed to be done.
The department of music in those days was simply a stepchild, and a barely
tolerated stepchild. Had the football band not been needed for Saturdays in the
fall, I think there would not have been any musical activity on campus except for
men's glee club-type fraternity making events and things like that. Sort of the old
college rah-rah, that was literally the level of the musical culture here. I found,
although there was, again, a great willingness on the part of certain faculty to do
good things, they were intimidated by the necessity to entertain--entertain on
Saturday afternoon or entertain with the glee club. The performing arts series at
that time was called the LyceumSeries, and there were occasional good events,
but it was very much dominated by entertainment style. So I found some very
sincere people who were very frustrated by the lack of resources and the
entertainment-oriented mentality. It was not what I would call a professional
situation. What can you say? That is exactly what was here. Various people
have sought to change that, and I think it has been a gradual process of change,
and there are still some remnants of that. I think candidly that the tensions that
we sense in this department are the result of that process of change from an
entertainment, service-oriented department to a professionally-oriented
department. Each successive chairman over the last twenty-five or thirty years
has tried to make some changes there. I think I am being fair if I say each
successive chairman has been frustrated by the walls that he has found in trying
to deal with the slowness of the institution, to change the slowness of the people
G: I seem to recall that you did something with the chamber singers.
B: Yes, actually I started the chamber singers in about 1972, something like that.
I would have to look in a file to get a date. A couple of undergraduate students
came to me and said they really would like very much to sing some baroque
music, and they also had some instrumental capabilities. Since I had the
harpsichord, they would like for me to hear them and coach them, work with
them. So one summer and then into the fall we did some baroque things, and
somehow there was a little cluster of singers who seemed to be very very
interested in doing some small group activities. Again, the only other activity was
to be in the college choir, the university choir of sixty-five or seventy people, or in
the choral union, the oratorio chorus of a couple hundred. The possibility of a
small group had not been developed at all by the department of music. I began
doing that a couple of afternoons a week, and within six months they had gotten
together a very, very nice concert, which we presented, and I sent a tape of that
into one of the MENC competitions, and lo and behold, we were invited to come
to one of the divisional MENC things.
G: Where was that?
B: It was in Norfolk in 1974. So we did that, and it was greatly appreciated.
Then we did some more touring around the state. In 1976 we toured to and sang
concerts in as many revolutionary American sites as I could find. We did not sing
any William Billings, but we did visit sites. We sang in colonial Williamsburg, and
we sang in Trinity Church, Wall Street. We sang in Philadelphia at Independence
Hall and so forth, and students really responded to that. They liked the
"in-tune-ness," they liked the concentration on the basic Renaissance and
Baroque choral repertory. They were hearing some things that they were not
otherwise hearing at a pop performance, and that was very satisfying. At the
suggestion of the union, but with my cooperation, we started doing Madrigal
dinners. That turned out to be a great success. They still use my script, I
believe, and some of the things, like the singing of the motet in the hallway before
and afterward, which gives the impression of a distant chapel kind of thing. I take
certain personal pride in having gotten some ideas and in having made the thing
go for a while. I directed the music for that for its first seven years, and then it
has continued as a campus event.
G: Let me see, it was just about two years ago, I believe, they altered the format
just a little bit.
B: For the chamber singers, yes.
G: They do still do the Madrigal, do they not? They do that and the showtime.
B: Yes, what they are doing is more after the pattern of the University of Miami
chamber singers, which very clearly does the more classical repertory in the
fall--Renaissance, Baroque--and does show material in the spring and takes a
tour. So that is the pattern that has evolved for that group.
G: If someone wants to do the traditional Baroque/Renaissance in the spring,
they find another group, I guess.
B: If not available from that group at the moment, yes. The problem I was having
really was one of size, because I had finally to make a limitation of twenty-four,
and that is slightly larger than I would want it to be. I would probably like eighteen
to twenty people, if they were really mature in their vocal approach, but because
these are university-aged people, we could work with the twenty-four. But there
were more than that that wanted to sing, so we were bumping our heads against
the ceiling. It was becoming, I will not say a drag on my time, because it was
extremely pleasurable, but again I was meeting my own personal limit. How can I
possibly do the things that I must do? Because I was teaching organ, doing the
Baroque ensemble, fortunately not quite as much classroom teaching, because
the chamber singers were understood as representing that kind of activity. But I
finally had to say that I cannot do everything, and so I asked the chair to seek
another director. So about a year after that, it moved in a different direction.
G: I wonder, you mentioned Stetson and some other places where they have
graduate people helping out on the undergraduate level, teaching assistants.
Has that ever been thought of here? I know you have a couple of very...
B: Yes, strong graduate students. We have done just a little bit of that. We had
one graduate student who took one or two students. It has not been as
successful as it might have been. The thing is, practically every student who is
serious about the instrument really needs some careful teaching, and often the
graduate students do not really know what needs to be done technically. I am not
sure that having graduate students do the instruction is a good idea.
G: You probably find the undergraduates highly disciplined, as if they try to get
study experience any way they can.
B: Sure, and there is a balancing act. The only reason we as faculty are here is
to teach, as far as I am concerned. In music we are expected to perform also, of
course, as well as investigate and do certain kinds of research. But the reason
we are here is to teach students, to help them develop, and what I try to do is to
find a way to help them do that as best I can. It is not always successful.
G: So what do you see down the road? Are you happy with the way things are
here, other than the frustration of having more students than your share?
B: Yes, I would like to see the University have a little better equipment in my
area. We still have some stops to complete in the University Auditorium, in two
divisions, the Choir and the Bombarde. That really needs to be done. The organ
that is in the teaching studio here is really a practice organ for down the hall. I
would like to have a nice studio organ. Those are expensive dreams, and in the
music business you cannot often have a big grant that will pay for all this
equipment. So you have to go to the University administration and say, we really
want this fine whatever. It is hard to justify a $200,000 instrument when you say,
I will be able to teach three students in here. You can barely buy an electron
microscope when you are going to teach a hundred students, so it is a difficult
thing for the institution to support an expensive teaching area. I do not mean to
sound like I totally resent the negative answers that we are given. In some ways
the University has been very generous in its support to the music area.
G: I know that you have heard many reports about a proposed concert hall that
did not get built when they did this. If indeed it comes someday, is there to be an
organ with that?
B: It depends on the configuration of that little room. I was a part of the
committee that planned this building, and one of the decisions that had to be
made fairly early on was a money decision. There was only so much money
available, and it came down to a choice between having three rehearsal halls with
their attendant offices and libraries, or having one rehearsal hall and only a recital
hall. I think we would have lost something like two or three classrooms in that
barter. I have been to too many colleges where the music department is housed
in the wombs of an auditorium. I think of Converse College, where there is this
lovely auditorium, and then you go out into the wings of the ante-building behind
there, and there are little faculty cubbyholes. So I think this department wanted to
avoid that kind of situation, so with immense reluctance, we decided that we
could always in future years ask for a recital hall as a discreet entity. We could
say, look, we need a place to perform. Whereas if we had the recital hall, many
people would assume we were taken care of for the infinite future, and it would be
very hard to justify having a place to rehearse. So we do have three nice
rehearsal halls, plenty of office space, almost enough practice room space, lots of
classrooms, and we need very much the recital hall. There is a site planned for it
just to the south of the music building. There is plenty of space there, if we can
keep the University from building a parking garage there, and I have every
expectation that it will be done eventually. If it is a miniature concert hall, that is,
simply an open stage, then it would be an appropriate place for a small organ. If
on the other hand, it is a building like the Constans Theater, that is, a building
with act curtains and a little stagehouse, then there probably is not a physical
place in such a room for an organ. That is a compromise that probably should
not have to be made. It would probably not be good use of organ money to put
an organ into a room that has a stagehouse, because it does not work well. We
are better off doing the right thing to the University Auditorium, where we do not
have to fiddle with a stagehouse, than we are trying to fit it into a little theatre. So
it will be interesting to see how that plan develops. The opera program here
would like to have a place to work, and yet of course, they only do two
performances a year, so it is not as if they needed it all the time. There are a lot
of student recitals here that happen in the University Auditorium, which is far too
big. Probably our most pressing need is for a chamber music hall, and a
chamber music hall does not need an act curtain and does not need theatrical
equipment. So there are several decisions, important decisions that will have to
be made. If there is enough money, you can make the hall flexible, and you can
do different things. The trouble is, the budget often starts to get skimpy at that
point, so I do not know what will happen. It is hard to guess.
G: Let us go back, we have not gotten to Century Tower, other than the mention
of electronic bells that were here when you came. How about some background
on the purchase, the basic time frame, the idea? I am sure that is something,
having a tower like that.
B: Yes, when I came to the University, I saw this tower and I was reminded of the
tower I knew at Texas, which had a chime in it, and Chicago, where I lived when I
was four, where there was a fine carillon on the campus of the University of
Chicago. Then there was this electronic carillon--an electronic bell system. That
is the politest thing I could call it. It was assigned to me, it was part of my
responsibility. I hoped that over time there could be some real bells instead of
this machine, but I would make the best of it, and so I tried to do that. Robert
Marston [Robert Q. Marston, President, University of Florida, (1974-1984)], the
president of the University, was very sympathetic at one point when we said to
him, look, the old electronic carillon has now given way. It really is not doing the
job, and there is no economical way we can repair it. It was a gift to the
University. Memorial funds to the University should never have been used for
something impermanent like a machine like that. So he was sympathetic and
aided us in guiding a very substantial amount of money to the carillon purchase
and to the auditorium organ purchase, and it was one of the largest amounts of
money that has ever come to the college. This was in about 1978 that he
approved that. With Student Government's support, and with the approval of his
office, the chairman of the department at the time, Budd Udell, and I started
planning the purchase of a carillon. Well, that happens very seldom in one's life,
but there it was. We set out all the literature, got some initial proposals and spent
two weeks in Europe visiting the foundries and listening to various kinds of
instruments. That was in the summer. Then the following January or February, I
went back to Holland to the bell foundry and saw the actual bells turned
upside-down on the floor of the foundry room and heard them being checked for
tuning accuracy and so forth. Then they packed up the instrument and shipped it,
and it arrived in I guess April of 1979, and was assembled into the tower. It was
hoisted into the tower piece by piece, and dedicated in May of 1979.
G: Where did you learn to play, out in Texas?
B: I had played a little bit out in Texas, because they had an old pump handle
chime console, which is very much like the baton playing clavier here at that
point. I knew carillons; I had visited a couple of them in Europe, and other than
that, it has really been a little bit of self-instruction. In the course of our study of
the carillon marketing and purchasing situation, I visited Bok Tower and talked
with Milford Myhre, and he had shown me a few things about playing. So I had
gotten acquainted with the instrument, and then in the two visits to the
Netherlands, I was able to sit down next to some players. They showed me a
little bit of the technique, and I played a little bit, and they would show me, but it
was not a formal course of study. I have a sabbatical coming up in the spring of
1988, and I am going to spend part of that time studying the carillon, as a matter
of fact. Does that not sound like fun?
G: Yes, it does.
B: So having a carillon has made it possible for us to do a number of things. The
fortunate part is that the carillon is closely associated with the department of
music. It means that if we offer carillon lessons, they can be offered as a
department of music event. It means that we can have a graduate assistant
whose responsibility here is to play the carillon. It means that there is a kind of an
aural focus on this area of the campus as being a musical place, and when the
carillon is played next door to the department of music, there is an immediate
association with this spot, which seems to me is very healthy. I was just talking
this afternoon with a fellow at the University of Texas, who is guiding the
dedication of the carillon there and whom I played for in November, and he said
something about the practice keyboard we are getting. I said, oh, how splendid
for the department of music. He said, they are so apathetic about that--they are
not even interested, really. I said, why don't I not drop a few lines while I am over
there? Let them know that it can in fact be something of value to them as an
institution? He said that would be appreciated. So I think that maybe we are
ahead of the game in that respect. There are three or four, maybe five
universities in the country that actually have carillon studies as part of the school
of music. The University of Indiana had it for a while,but it has now slipped back.
A couple of the California schools, the University of California at Riverside and
Santa Barbara, and then there are places like Yale, where it is not offered as a
formal study, it is simply an unorganized club, and student-run, student-played.
Of course they have an enormous amount of enthusiasm and a certain amount of
continuity to it, but it is not as if there were a faculty person who is doing the
teaching. So I think we have an opportunity, and I want us to do something with
that. When the carillon went in in 1979, we had an initial support grant to take
care of little expenses, a couple of visiting people and hosted staffs, programs,
that kind of thing. When that ran out, the department of music did not pick it up,
and so we really had a period of time where virtually nothing was happening.
Since we are so close to Bok Tower in Lake Wales, where the major carillonneurs
of the world come to play, we had the advantage of sort of taking an in-route fee
for a lot of people. They would love to come and play for fifty dollars or a hundred
and fifty dollars here, and we could have quite a splendid recital series going, and
we are just at the point of reestablishing that. We have the basic support, we
have the graduate assistantship and a little money available for guests, as soon
as we get this repair done. As it has been funded, it will be done I am expecting
in early summer, so we will be able to schedule visiting recitals. So I feel very
optimistic about that possibility, even though then it starts taking more of my time.
G: What about other students through the years playing? I know there was a
fellow, Jim Sawyers.
B: Yes, Jim Sawyers was an organ student at the point in time when the carillon
was installed, and he got very interested in it and did a little bit of study with
Milford Myhre. We worked together to a certain extent, and he did as you are
doing. He would go up in the tower not as often as you are. His actual major
was business--finance--and he was doing this on the side. He was marching in
the band, he was studying organ, playing carillon, and playing tennis, so he was
doing a lot of things. He would play three to four times a week, and he had a little
bit of a campus presence with the instrument, but not an extensive amount. He
was invited up to Riverside Church in New York City, and he played a couple of
Sunday there, went over to New Haven, played the carillon at Yale, attended the
national convention at one point of the Guild of Carillonneurs. So he was really
quite interested in the instrument as a student, and then he left, and there was no
continuity, and our grant ran out at exactly that point.
G: So basically, other than Jim there have been no others.
B: Who have really done much, no. There have been a couple who have played
a few notes here and there.
G: Having experienced the fallout--the feeling you just came from the Boston
Marathon--there is obviously no way you could ever do that, especially if you are
going to be in polite company afterwards.
B: Not if I am going to teach.
G: It is just starting to get to be real Florida these last few weeks. It has been
worse than I imagined.
B: Actually, a shower is a good part of the carillon equipment. I know Milford
Myhre has a shower there in the floor right between the carillon
and his office. It is just expected.
G: All I have is a can of beer, really.
G: I did notice there are water pipes that go up at least to the central level.
B: It is the heating system.
G: Oh, is that it? It does not need a heating system.
B: Yes, but it would be relatively simple to put in. There will have to be
restrooms at that level, so we will specify and call for a shower, and the University
in its wisdom may in fact do this at some point. We have suggested the ten floors
of the tower would make good overflow space for the department of music, but I
have not received the money for it.
G: It seemed to me I have heard talk about fire regulations being one of the big
problems with the tower.
B: Yes, fire regulations of course depend on who is doing the interpreting. Fire
regulations are whatever the local fire inspector thinks is O.K.They were at one
point saying, no, you cannot take more than five people in the building. So we
wrote them a letter saying we would like to take fifty, and they said, oh, well O.K.,
fifty. So fire regulations depend on the person responding, but the commercial
building code actually requires two separate exits from a public building. Well,
clearly it is not possible to have two separate exits from that tower. You cannot
do that, there is no way.
G: You could put a door across, ten feet apart.
B: The stairwell is one, you see, and elevators do not count, because in a fire,
the first thing that goes is the elevator service. So there is really only one fire
acceptable way out. Whether they could be satisfied by some kind of escape
chute or something like that. It is a little curious, an escape chute for ten floors.
G: Afire pole.
B: Yes, do you want to go down five or ten floors? Well at the downtown
theatre--the Hippodrome Theatre--the hairbrained scheme of building a structure
on each side of it just to contain a stairwell, is just nothing short of ridiculous.
Some person did actually suggest that for the tower; an exterior stairway to
satisfy the fire code. It is hard for me to talk to people who make suggestions like
that, because it is so patently ridiculous, and I guess fundamentally I am a realist.
G: I did want to point out one thing about the award that you just got. I thought
we ought to talk about that. Would you say a little bit about it?
B: Yes, the Foundation for the Promotion of Music is a local group. It was begun
a number of years ago, and each year they select one person in the community
for their Musician of the Year award. I was extremely flattered that this year they
selected me to receive that award, which was given a couple of weeks ago. They
invited three people to speak: a former student, a former chairman who is my
colleague in the department, and a present undergraduate student. Each of them
made a very personal and nicely flowery set of comments about what it is that I
do. I was extremely pleased by that, and had my picture in the paper and such
G: In addition to being here at the University, did you work at the First
Presbyterian Church? Is that true? Why don't you talk about your tenure there?
B: Yes, starting in 1961 and extending until about 1984 when I left that job. I was
the organist and choirmaster-type director of music, and had responsibility for the
adult choir and the chancel choir all through that period. For about a six year
period right in the middle of it, I had responsibility for the youth and children's
choirs, too. So all that sort of fit into what turned into a very busy schedule. For
the last ten or twelve years of my work there I did have an assistant, or even two
assistants, to carry the program. It was a very strong adult choir. They sang a
repertory over the full range of choral literature, and I think, contributed greatly to
a very well-focused sense of worship in the Presbyterian tradition. Some call it
the Reformed tradition. I have also become a little bit involved in the regional
association for Presbyterian musicians, the Presbyterian Association of
Musicians. And a couple of summers I have gone and been on the staff of the
Montreat conferences in North Carolina, which are recognized national music
conferences for church musicians, and we will go again in 1988. A package deal
that I usually work out is that my wife edits the newsletter, which is a full-time job
in itself, and uses her editorial, typing and writing skills, primarily writing skills and
layout skills. I have worked as the accompanist for the choral person, which has
been extremely satisfying to me. The first year I did it, the choral director was
Donald Neuen at the Eastman School of Music, who was just superb, and then in
1988 it will be Paul Salamunovich, who is Roger Wagner's assistant out in
California. My faculty colleagues are, I think, really surprised to see me enjoying
so much the role of being accompanist for somebody else, because they know
me either as an organ soloist or perhaps as a church musician, primarily as an
organist/choirmaster, or else conducting the chamber singers. All those are
leadership roles, and here is Willis Bodine sitting quietly at the piano and
supporting somebody else's rehearsal. That may be a little bit of a surprise, but I
take a great deal of pride in being able to set aside what I might think about in a
piece of music, and getting into another director's mind and supporting what he is
doing, and trying to help the director get away from being tied to the keyboard,
and have the full freedom of the rehearsal. That is what Don Neuen appreciated
very much. It was a very enjoyable summer for us.
G: Let us go back for a little bit of catch-up with the family. You mentioned your
daughter, Liz, is she your only child?
B: No, Liz was born in 1959, and then our second daughter, Cathi, was born
three years later, so I guess that is 1962, and they both went to school here in
Gainesville. They both went to P. K. Yonge, the University lab school, and then
Liz went to Emory in Atlanta, majored in business, and then took a job with
Hermann Miller furniture company, where she still is, in Atlanta. She was
married, I guess three years ago. They have a daughter, our first grandchild,
whose name is Holly. Her husband, Harry Hager, is completing his business
degree at Emory--his M.B.A. Our second daughter, Cathi, is of similar
background; she went to Duke to the nursing school. She was in the last nursing
class at Duke. They were closing that school one year at a time, so she was in
the last freshman class and so forth, and that created a certain amount of
pressure on her, because if she slipped, there was not anywhere to go. So she
did extremely well, has stayed in the Durham area, and is a nurse at the Duke
medical center. She had always wanted to be a psychiatric nurse, ever since
junior high school days, and so her first job there was in one of the psych units.
The burnout rate in psych nursing is very quick, so she was in psych nursing for I
think about thirteen months, and that was as much as she could take. She was
taking cases home at night, stewing about them. They had suicides in the unit,
that kind of thing. That makes you less interested in being what you were trying
to be, so she has gone over into labor and delivery and is doing extremely well in
that. She says she is dealing primarily with well patients. She is often in charge
of the unit and seems to be doing quite well. She was married in 1985, and her
husband is a computer sciences graduate student at North Carolina State in
Raleigh, so they live sort of on the outskirts of Durham in the direction of Raleigh,
which works very well for them. We are all going to see each other at the end of
May. We are all going to Texas for my father-in-law's eightieth birthday. My
wife's father is going to have somewhat of a celebration, and so we are going to
take all the family out for that thing. It should be a joyous occasion.
G: Do you or your wife have any other activities, community-wise, things that you
B: Yes, very much. She is a book person, especially interested in older books
and rare books. She is very active in the Friends of the Library organization here;
she is an officer and helps them carry out their program. She is active in the
book sale that they do each year, and runs the collector's corner, the little section
where the better books, the rarer books are, and the Florida materials are
sequestered. So she has become quite knowledgable about that, and that ends
up being an activity that draws one into a number of different contacts; the
Humanities Society here on campus, the Howe Society, and various antiquarian
and book fairs around the state, those are things that we do together. She is also
involved with one of the community service organizations that prepares meals for
indigent people in the community, the St. Francis Soup Kitchen. I have not been
drawn into that yet, but there may be a time. I am able to help with the book sale
activities, but there just are limits. It sounds like a refrain, maybe I will not sing
the refrain one more time. My biggest problem, I think, as a person is dealing
well with time, and I work at it, but I do not succeed always. I have some lines
that I have drawn, and that is one of them.
G: You were mentioning the company at Montreat. Do you miss the choral
exposure of this?
B: Yes, very much. I miss conducting, and it turns out that some of my former
church choir members and former chamber singers missed it too, and this last fall
a group of them approached me about starting a new community program. In
November we began meeting, and that group, it looks like, is going to become a
fairly permanent part of the music scene, just as long as we all maintain our
interest. We are preparing a Mozart Coronation Mass for performance and have
some other music that should go along nicely with that. They are a nice group of
singers, and very interested in doing things elegantly, which is probably the only
thing I am really interested in, so that is fun.