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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Interviewer: H. G. Young
Interviewee: Willis Bodine
January 27, 1992
Y: This is January 27, 1992. My name is H. G. Young, and I am interviewing Mr. Willis
Bodine, a professor in the Department of Music at the University of Florida. Mr.
Bodine, thank you so much for sharing your time and information this afternoon. I
would like you to begin by stating your full name.
B: My name is Willis Ramsey Bodine, Jr. I was born November 15, 1935.
Y: Could you begin by giving us a brief synopsis of your life prior to coming to the
University of Florida?
B: I was born at an early age. [laughter] I was born in central Texas and went to public
school in Austin. I went to the University of Texas, which had--and still has--a very
fine music school. I finished there in 1957 and then went to Germany for two years
on a Fulbright [scholarship]. Then I came here in 1959. I have been teaching here
in the Department of Music since then. I did go off a couple of summers to complete
my master's [degree] at Texas, but I have been at the University since 1959.
Y: During that time you have gained quite a perspective in terms of the University itself
and music in particular. Our focus today is going to be on the carillon, since you
have seen that whole project from start to finish.
B: When I came in 1959 the first thing that my chairman asked me, in addition to being
responsible for the organ students, was if I would please come over on Sunday
afternoons and play the carillon. I said, "I did not know you had a carillon." He said:
"Oh, yes. It was installed by the Schulmerich Company in 1953, and everyone loves
it except for the people who do not like the playing of 'Swanee River' every fifteen
minutes." I said: "Well, as a matter of fact, I am not sure that I would like to hear
'Swanee River' every fifteen minutes, either. But OK. I am a new instructor, and I
will do whatever my boss says."
So I went over and looked at the thing, and it was what I sort of began to expect. It
was one of these electronic chime instruments that the Schulmerich Company had
sold the University. I loyally played that a little bit on Sunday afternoons. But
gradually over the next several years I let it sort of dwindle away. These electronic
devices do not last very long, and [regular playings on Sundays eventually] went
I did correct the "Swanee River" [problem,] however. I found that we could program
it to play different tunes, so I devised a program that had different songs. Within
about a year or so we had completely turned around the campus opinion about the
music from the Century Tower. So from being a campus eyesore and an
unfortunate occurrence, within two or three years it turned into something that
people were interested in. So that was the situation until the electronic machine
Y: Let us back up just a minute. You came in 1959, so [the] Century [Tower] was
already here when you arrived.
B: Yes. The tower itself was built in the early 1950s. The actual centennial date of the
University was 1953. There had been a school in Ocala, Florida, that was founded
in 1853, and that school was subsumed into the University in the early twentieth
century. [East Florida Seminary was founded in 1852 and began to receive state
support in 1853. It was removed to Gainesville following the Civil War. As a result of
the Buckman Act of 1905, East Florida Seminary merged with Florida Agricultural
College, established in Lake City in 1872, to become the University of Florida,
located in Gainesville. Ed.] The University felt that it should celebrate its centennial,
as they thought of it, so that is the reason for the "Century" Tower.
It was only five or six or seven years after World War II, and there were still a lot of
veterans on campus. There were still a lot of temporary structures that were old
World War II dormitories on campus, so they made a secondary dedication of the
building to those who had given their lives from the University in World Wars I and II.
So that is the secondary part of the dedication of the tower, and that is also on the
The building was built over a period of three or four years in the early 1950s. They
started out with not enough money to build it. The first budget that they tapped into
was one that had been given by the legislature and [that had been] earmarked for a
water tower for fire protection for the campus. The president of the University at the
time [J. Hillis Miller] knew perfectly well that a water tower in the middle of the
campus would be a genuine eyesore, so he took that budget and managed to get
the architects to design a bell tower instead. Very conveniently, in the latest stages
of planning, they found that instead of filling the tower with water they could just put
a couple of pumps in the basement, which would satisfy the fire protection need.
[That was] some very, very neat administrative work, I think. They handled this
budget and got what they wanted without having to build what the legislature thought
should be built here. The reason I mention it is that there is a rumor that the
Century Tower is actually a water tower. That is not so, but that is how the rumor
Y: Thus, with that planning, the carillon soon came to someone's mind to be a part of
B: Yes. They felt there would be space for a carillon. They did not really know what
they were talking about when they said carillon, but they did make some
investigations. Of course, they did not even have money to build the building at that
point. They got about a third of the way and literally ran out of money and stopped.
Then they found some more money and executed a second construction contract
and got almost to the top, just below the limestone, and [they] stopped again. It was
the Athletic Association that rescued the project. They gave the money for the last
story, which is [the part] with the carved limestone at the top. So it was actually built
in three stages.
All the while the faculty was furious because there was no classroom space that was
adequate. People were teaching in [buildings that were] just hovels. Faculty did not
have proper offices--[there were] four or five faculty in a room--and they were furious
because here was the president of the University building this bell tower while what
they needed was classroom space. That also contributed to the ill feelings about the
Y: So as a result, obviously, they were going to put bells in the tower. The electronic
carillon that you discovered when you arrived was an alternative.
B: It was a substitute, yes. It had been bought by my predecessor along with the dean
of student personnel of the University, who thought he knew a great deal about
music. You notice I am not mentioning any names.
Y: Sure. Your own responsibility, then, was somewhat informal at first, to do this, and
then came a change in the attitude among the faculty and students.
B: Yes. There was a change in the programming that changed what people thought
Y: Could you start at that point, then?
B: Yes. It would be about the time when the country was beginning to become aware
of the bicentennial celebration. If you looked in the papers you would actually find
that about 1975 the electronic machine stopped working. Inquiries were made as to
what it would take to repair, and the dollar cost of that was found. I suggested that it
really not was a good idea to repair it because that was money down the rat hole.
So we made a proposal to the president of the University in about 1977 [Robert Q.
Marston]. The proposal was that we complete the [University Memorial] Auditorium
organ, which was not complete, for about $200,000. I thought, frankly, that we
would not get approval. I did not think the University would do it. To help things
along I increased the proposal by suggesting that we could at the same time buy a
cast bell carillon for the Century Tower, and that what we wanted was $450,000. My
hope was that we would get half that and be able to do the organ.
I was completely surprised when President Marston called me one Saturday
morning and said: "I just wanted to let you know that we just do not see any way we
can do this, but we have to do it. Both of these projects are important, so we are
going to go ahead with it. I thought you would like to know that. You will be getting
some papers." When I saw the chair of the Department of Music [Budd Udell]
Monday I said, "I had a call from Bob Marston, and he said we are going ahead with
the organ and we are going ahead with the cast bell carillon." He said, "Wow!" It
was at that point that we had, then, the possibility to go forward with both projects.
Y: This was from the president?
B: His direct approval.
Y: That is what I mean. The president really began it directly. Where did the money
B: Half the money came from so-called PECO money, Public Education Capital Outlay
money. A very small amount, about $80,000, came from a grant from a foundation
in Miami that wanted to make a contribution to the University. Then the remaining
money came from student government funds. Again, there was some very adept
politicking that went on there. We had a chairman of the College of Fine Arts
Student Council who was adept at student politics, and he went over [to student
government to discuss the project with them]. Late, late, late at the meeting, into the
wee hours, he brought a motion onto the floor that the student government should
approve the completing of the organ and the bells for the tower. They were all
sleepy, and they passed it.
Y: It might be helpful for us to have that person's name. It should be recorded for his
role in the history of the University.
B: His name was Paul R. Roberts. He later took a teaching job somewhere north of
Jacksonville. I have lost track, quite frankly, of Paul.
Y: But he had some vision and certainly the best interests of music [at heart].
B: Yes. He guided that through the process and managed to get a second approval.
Student government moneys have to be approved twice so that folks cannot do
what he was doing. So they got the second approval, and there we were with the
Y: So now you have money, and now you have something to purchase. Could you tell
me a little about the process and where you went from there?
B: Yes. Fortunately, the chair of the department at the time was Budd Udell, and he
was most recently from Cincinnati where the I. T. Verdin Carillon Company is. He
also had studied at Indiana University, which had--while he was a student--
purchased a carillon. So Budd Udell was in a beautiful position to understand what
Y: Let me stop you for just a second. [Tell us about] your own experience with the
carillon. You are the University carillonneur and played the electronic chime. Did
you have any direct experience?
B: Yes, I did. I grew up, as I said, in Austin, and the University of Texas at the time had
a chime that had about eighteen bells in their tower. [A chime has fewer then
twenty-three bells; a carillon has twenty-three or more. Ed.] I had grown up hearing
that, and I just assumed that all towers had real bells in them until I got to Florida.
So I knew that instrument. A graduate student--one of my roommates, as a matter
of fact--had the job of playing the chimes each day.
Y: You had seen it?
B: I had seen it, and I had even gone up with Charlie and played a few bells. So I knew
what a carillon was from inside.
Y: And obviously as an organist you knew other things that were helpful. So the
combination of both you and Dr. Udell was a very important one for making the
project actually come to fruition.
B: Yes. It meant that the University had competent, professional advice without having
to go outside. We also were adroit enough to realize that our case would be helped
if we did have a consultant, so we invited Milford Myhre, from the Bok Tower in Lake
Y: Could you give us a little more information [on him]? He is very well known and
respected in this area.
B: We invited Milford Myhre to be the consultant for the University for this instrument.
Milford has been at the Bok Tower since the early 1960s. Bok Tower was built in
the flowering 1920s in Florida--it was a philanthropy of the Bok family of
Philadelphia--and it has a carillon that is one of the two finest carillons in the United
States. It is a very large instrument. It is in a garden; the whole place is in a park,
and it is absolutely quiet. It is an exquisite place for carillon music, and Milford has
managed to get the financial support to have a fine library there and to get
programming support. He can hire carillonneurs to come in. There is a mansion in
the adjoining development where they can have musical soirees. It is a lovely
Y: To back up a moment, because of that--and that certainly has been an important
institution in this state prior to the carillon here--was there any bearing of that
particular carillon on the decision to build one here?
B: Actually not, I think, because the Bok Tower in most people's minds is simply a
tourist attraction. They do not think of it as a musical instrument.
Y: So the administration of the University did not say, "Because of this particular part of
the Florida heritage, this is something that we should have at our state University"?
B: No. I would say that did not enter into their thinking. The Stephen Foster Cultural
Center in White Springs, Florida, also has a musical instrument which they call a
carillon, but that is also a tourist attraction. It is not a cast-bell carillon but is a
tubular chime instrument from the 1950s. I understand it does not work at the
moment. It has had mechanical problems. But I think in most people's minds [they
consider] the White Springs memorial as a tourist attraction and the Bok Tower as a
tourist attraction. They are about the same. Most people do not have any sense of
the perspective of what a real carillon is, usually because it is so hidden away. They
do not see it.
Y: So now you have three professionals that are putting together a package for the
University to spend a lot of money, obviously, in the very best way. So what
B: First we did it on paper. I read a lot of literature. I became a member of the Guild of
Carillonneurs in North American, so I started reading their journal and newsletters
regularly. I also talked to a couple of colleagues around the country who had been
through similar processes. Budd Udell did the same thing; he talked to some of the
people at Indiana [University] and asked them about their carillon purchase process.
Then I simply prepared a so-called request for proposals, and I made a list of all the
manufacturers of carillons in the world. We sent out from the University a request
for proposals saying: "We have this building. Here is the physical dimension of the
space for the bells. We want to build a carillon. Will you please make a proposal to
us." This is normal for a large enterprise like this. We had the five carillon
manufacturers of the world prepare proposals for the University. This got us a little
further down the track. But each of the proposals was so markedly different in what
they were proposing, as well as different in price, that it was necessary for us with
our own expertise to sharpen it a little bit.
Y: The same as buying an organ.
B: Exactly. So what we did was decide how large the instrument could be. We
decided on the weight of the lowest bell. Then we made a couple of other decisions
that had to do technically with the hanging of the bells. Then we prepared a
document that could be sent out for bids. Since we are a state institution, we have
to do things on a bid basis. We have, as most people know, a mechanism for
disregarding the lowest bid if we need to, so we were not going to put ourselves in a
corner of having to accept something cheap. We did not. We put it out for bids.
When the bids were returned we removed the lowest bid because it was clearly too
cheap. They were cutting price. They were trying to undercut the competition. We
made a tentative acceptance of the second-lowest bid.
But then we said to the University, "We feel that we know pretty much what we are
doing, but it will be helpful in assessing these proposals to visit the factories, to
make an on-site visit." So Budd Udell and I went to Europe for what turned into a
total of three weeks in order to visit each of the bell foundries [and] to visit
instruments that they had built in various churches and cathedrals in Europe and
examine the musical effect of those. That was probably the most educational part of
it because we came into contact not only with the instruments but the people who
played them [and] the culture that accepts them.
Y: This was what year?
B: This was in the summer of 1978. The carillon was installed in the spring of 1979.
Y: Could you identify those three foundries that you visited?
B: Yes. The [first] maker of the carillon [we visited] was Eijsbouts in Asten,
Netherlands. The second place we went was Petit and Fritsen [in Aarle-Rixtel,
Netherlands]. The third place that we went was in Annecy, France, and the name of
the founder is Paccard.
So we actually landed in Amsterdam. We went south to southern Holland and
visited Eijsbouts. We went then on to Paccard; we actually flew to Paris and then
drove across the wine country to Annecy to visit Paccard. Then because of a
commitment I went back to Switzerland and flew home, and Budd Udell continued
up to Petit and Fritsen. By doing that over a period of a number of days, talking with
all the founders, talking with all the musicians, getting a lot of information, we were
able to decide, according to what we could tell, that Eijsbouts would be the best for
us. Now, as a matter of fact, it happens to be the same decision that Indiana
University made when they went through a similar process.
Y: But you went through a logical process of estimates and visits, both acoustical
decisions and musical decisions, and you used all the best information.
B: Yes. It was a complicated business, and it was splendid that the person who was
going to be responsible for the instrument after it was built turned out to be the
person who helped make the decision. So it has been to the University's benefit, I
Y: Very often in bureaucracy that is not the case.
B: Exactly. Somebody will buy it, and somebody else has to use it. That air ticket
looked rather large in dollars, let me tell you, but it has been greatly to the benefit of
the institution that we were sent over there to do that.
Y: And the feeling here was complete trust in you and Dr. Udell to make the
B: Yes, because it was not just invested in one person. There were two of us. He was
an administrator, I was a professor, and we had a consultant from outside. We
presented a great deal of this information in making our recommendation. We did
all that, and within I guess three months the contract was awarded.
Y: Before we leave this particular portion, do you have a best story or best memory of
that particular time there?
B: It was a really marvelous trip. We did so many things. The food in Holland, of
course, is exceptional. There is a museum in southern Holland in association with
one of the foundries, and we actually sat for a luncheon surrounded by old bells,
bells from the fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries, while we were having our
little br6tchen for lunch. That was a marvelous thing. When we got to Paris we
spent the afternoon with the sister of the bell founder. She lived in a barge
anchored right across the Seine River from the Louvre. We woke up [on the Left
Bank] in the morning, and there was Notre Dame and all the rest. That was fun.
We went to the foundry in Annecy-le-Vieux and stayed in a little seventeenth-century
hotel. I am a little taller than Budd, and I had to duck going through the doors. That
was fun. We climbed the mountain there.
I think the thing that I remember musically was the church in Holland [the cathedral
in Dordrecht] where the carillonneur, an exquisite player [Jap von der Ende], has
transcribed all of the unaccompanied violin sonatas of Johann Sebastian Bach for
carillon, and he plays them exquisitely. You hear this music, which I know as violin
music and is fairly abstract, and you are standing in the middle of this tower
surrounded by these immense bells, and here this man is playing so delicately, so
interestingly, so wonderfully, the music just takes on a totally different character.
Y: While this trip was important for you in terms of the decision-making process, it was
also important in terms of establishing an aesthetic in you as the person in the music
department directly responsible for the carillon.
B: Yes. I think I have been able to attract students to the instrument because of my
enthusiasm, which is largely based on this experience. Then about three years after
that I had the good fortune to be the consultant for a church in North Carolina that
was building a carillon, or at least was considering the process.
Y: Where was that?
B: That was outside of Charlotte. The town is Belmont, North Carolina. It was a
church that had an open steeple, and I think it may even have had an electronic
something-or-other. But they had a donorwho owned one of the fabric mills in the
area, and those people are extremely wealthy. The donor died, or the husband of
the donor died, and they offered to one of the universities a scholarship program
and to this church a carillon. Whichever one could get its act in order first would get
the donation. The pastor was on the phone that night to me, and within relatively
few days we had a proposal into the hands of the donor, and it was accepted
Y: Could you identify the church?
B: Yes. It was the First Presbyterian Church of Belmont, North Carolina. I was very
pleased to work with that committee as they went through this same design process.
The decision to build the instrument was a quick decision because they had to
move very quickly. The college in Charlotte was rather disappointed because they
lost about a $300,000 contribution at that point.
Y: Now, back to the University of Florida. The process has gotten to the point where
the selection has been made, and money was available, and now it was time to get
the bells here and to put them in the tower. Would you comment on that?
B: Yes. After the bells were completed--they were cast and tuned in Holland [because]
the Guild of Carillonneurs in Holland has a rule: they will not allow a carillon to leave
the country until it has been tested properly for tuning--I went over to Holland again
for that project and was with the guild people as they tested the tuning of the bells.
What they do is set them all upside-down--they look like teacups--in huge concentric
circles and strike them with hammers. They have a handful of hammers. Some of
the hammers are very big for the big bells, and then they had down to little ball peen
hammers. They play a scale all the way up, and you are listening to that. Then they
start playing intervals. They check all of the octaves; every single octave within the
carillon is tested. Then they start checking the various other intervals for tuning. As
a matter of fact, there was one bell that sounded just a bit off, and they marked that.
They did regrind that bell; they tuned a little more on it because it just was not
perfect. The final thing is when they check the diminished seventh. There are three
diminished sevenths in a carillon, and I have a very clear memory of this fellow with
the hammer leaping from bell to bell, finding all of the notes of the diminished
seventh chord up the entire carillon, and [of] this vibration in my head as this
diminished seventh rang through the air. It was quite an experience. I experienced
that same thing again when the carillon for Belmont was done because I had to go
back again for their tuning. So going through all of this I have ended up in Europe
four times listening to bells.
Y: Now, obviously the bells are large and heavy, and Europe is quite a way from
Gainesville. Can you talk about how they were transported?
B: Yes. They are put in what is called a shipping container, but it is actually a boxcar
without wheels. The shipping company takes that to the foundry in Holland, and
they load into that the bells. They typically set them inside each other--a large, a
medium, and a small bell with strips of wood and straw and everything separating
them. They just pack all the parts of this instrument into this shipping container,
which then ends up weighing about thirty-five tons, [which] is nothing at all for
international shipping. They lift that, put it on a flatbed trailer, truck it to Rotterdam,
and put it on a boat. It comes across the Atlantic to, if I recall correctly, either into
Jacksonville of Savannah. I think it came into Savannah. Then it came over land to
Jacksonville. The agent who accepted the shipment and brought it through customs
was a Jacksonville agent. Then from Jacksonville it came by flatbed trailer to
Gainesville. We have photographs of the day when it was setting out on the lawn
There is a small story attached to that. The University technically was importing a
foreign product. When you import from a foreign country you pay a duty. Well, duty
on a $200,000 musical instrument is about $4,000. We wanted very much to get
that money back if we could, so the University approached Don Fuqua, who was our
Congressman at the time, and there was actually a bill put through the United States
Congress: "Know ye by all these presents that the University of Florida shall not pay
duty on this," and the money was returned. We got the bill passed, again by adroit
politicking. So the University was refunded the duty that it had to pay in the process.
Y: But a senator did not have the bells named for him. [laughter]
B: As far as we know there is no name attached. The neatest story, I think, is the day
they unloaded the shipping container and put the bells out on the lawn. The various
publicity photographs that we have are showing the bells sitting out on the lawn with
people standing around looking at them.
Y: So the bells were sitting on the lawn around the tower, and students actually had the
opportunity to come up and touch them and take pictures.
B: Yes. They had to sit out on the lawn over a day or so until they could all be hoisted.
Since we were responsible for security, we actually had a police guard that stood by
them twenty-four hours.
Y: No one could have taken a bell anywhere.
B: But they could have taken some of the forty-pound ones away. They could have
ended up in a fraternity house or somewhere.
Y: Sure. Or some kind of damage [might have occurred].
B: Yes, so we did actually post a police guard there. It turned out that one of the
members of my Chamber Singers from the early days [Patricia Denson] had shifted
professions and was a University police officer, and she turned out to be one of the
guards. That was great fun to see her there.
Y: Now, obviously to get a large bell up eleven flights or more involves some sort of
process. Could you describe that?
B: Yes. First of all they had to build the framework up in the twelfth floor; they had to
build the whole framework, which is a steel beam type of framework. It had to be
bolted together and everything made ready. Then they simply started hoisting the
They rented a large crane from Tampa. I guess they are used for building
construction typically. It had to be capable of reaching [the top of the tower]. I am
not sure of the exact height of the tower, but it is eleven stories, so it was a relatively
tall crane. The operator simply picked up the bell on the end of his crane and
hoisted it up. It went fairly slowly. This was very easy with the small bells; they just
swung right in. They took them in clusters of two or three. Then by the middle of
the process he was going one bell at a time. By nearthe end of the process he was
going very, very slowly because he was dealing with an enormous weight. If you
can imagine, he had a 3%-ton bell on the end of a wire about 110 feet long. The
possibilities for that swinging are immense, so he hoisted that all the way up. He
was just sitting there. Nobody would talk to the operator of the crane. He was just
very gently touching his hydraulic control. The slightest little misadventure there and
a bell would have gone crashing into the side of the tower. There were no problems.
A bell is slightly wider than it is tall, interestingly enough, and the largest bell is 6%
feet wide. The opening into the tower is only six feet [wide]. Everyone wondered
what they were going to do. All they did was put the bell on its side, which is why
the photographs look a little funny. The bell was rotated on its side, and it just
slipped right through with no problem.
Y: How long did the installation process take, from the time they started hoisting the
bells until they were in place?
B: About two weeks. But only the first part of that was obvious and apparent. After
they got the framework in and the bells hoisted, then everything was taking place up
on the eleventh and twelfth floors.
Y: What are the dates of this process?
B: It was all in March of 1979. We were trying to get the instrument ready, and we had
set a tentative dedication for May of 1979. As it turned out, we had no problems
with that date. It was just fine.
Y: I wanted to ask about the dedication. Would you describe the day and the events
and related activities?
B: We felt that since one of the finest carillonneurs in the world was in our state, it
would be inappropriate to have anyone except Milford Myhre come to play a
dedication concert. So we arranged for him to play two programs, one in the middle
of the day that would be sort of a marketplace event--a little informal--and then a
little formal concert in the evening. The difference was mainly in repertory: it was
slightly less stringent music in the middle of the day and major literature at night.
Also it was a noisier situation in the middle of the day, being in the middle of the
campus. The evening was more likely to be quieter. I think we scheduled that for
What the dedication committee came up with was calling the middle thing "Music for
a Picnic," and we invited people to bring their brown-bag [lunches]. It was in May,
and it was a nice afternoon. So we had a dedication ceremony right there at noon. I
cannot remember what clock strike [we used]--it may have been "Westminster
Chimes" or something like that--and then we had a few speeches by a few folks.
Then he simply played music for a picnic, and everyone sat out on the lawn and ate
their brown-bag [lunches].
Y: The participants in that ceremony, I would assume, were President Marston [and]
B: Yes, it was various people [from the administration]. I think Dr. Udell and I were
both too low in the hierarchy to be involved in that. The president of the University
spoke, the man who had been the president of the Alumni Association when the
Century Tower was built spoke, the president of the student body (as I recall) spoke,
and two or three other dignitary types. It was a typical academic ceremony.
Y: It was quite a time of celebration.
B: It was. The only wrinkle came from the fact that student government had changed
its spots. This was late 1970s. Student government in 1978 had approved the
money. However, there was a new administration and a new president [of the
student body], and that individual, who still has a bad name around this campus,
took exception to this whole project. At one point he had actually attempted to derail
it by getting student government money out of it. He did not succeed because it had
already been committed, but he continued to take exception to what was going on.
He actually attempted to mount a demonstration at the time of the dedication
ceremony. He had a group of hangers-on, and he set up, in effect, a counter
ceremony over in the atrium of the arts and sciences building across the street. He
actually arranged for some placards and some students to walk. So in the middle of
the dedication ceremony here came this line of students with their placards. It was a
silent protest; it was not anything vicious. But [their signs read,] "Education yes,
bells no"--that kind of motto. They actually walked through the ceremony, and we
have a few photographs of that, also.
Y: Was he invited?
Y: Could you identify him?
B: I have probably repressed it. I could find it, but I do not recall it. I think he was
given something to read, and he read it with very ill will. But he had arranged for
this counter demonstration.
Y: So he was making, obviously, a statement.
B: Oh, yes.
Y: Maybe the silent statement was better, because they probably could not have made
more noise than the bells.
B: That is right. I think that is an interesting little episode. I think if it had happened ten
years sooner it could have been nasty.
Y: I wanted to ask about that as well in the history of the carillon here. Obviously, you
and certain students have a responsibility for performing and playing appropriate
music. I just wondered if you had any stories about music that may have, either
purposely or not purposely, set off some sort of reaction.
B: Well, we try to be very careful with that, to have forethought so that we do not cause
problems with that. I cannot remember if it was still with the electronic instrument or
with the real carillon, but the date when the Vietnam war ended I played a program
of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," "Battle Hymn of the Republic," and such
appropriate music as that. There seemed to be a very positive response to that, and
the publicity arm of the University took hold of that and made something of it. One
of the graduate assistants who had had this job [Janet Graham] fell into a habit of
playing "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head" every day when it was raining and
she happened to be playing. It got to be a little bit of a cliche and actually gave us a
little bit of a bad name for a few months until that died down. When I realized what
was going on, I suggested that she vary the repertory a little more, so that
disappeared. But that story still circulates a little bit.
Y: But looking at 1976 ... We are past the 1960s era, [and] had the carillon been
available at that time there could have been greater reaction.
B: There could have been. We did have one episode. Our security on the tower was
not as good as it is today, and apparently a fraternity gave as an item in a scavenger
hunt to bring back a bell from the tower or to steal a clapper from a bell or something
like that. Some kids did, in fact, break into the tower and go all the way to the top
and clipped some of the carillon connecting wires. They stole clappers from three of
the bells, and that cost the University about $8,000 to have repaired. All the parts
had to come from Holland, plus the person to do it. I think that was an unfortunate
episode. What we did was install an alarm system so that now it is much harder to
Y: When was this?
B: That took place, if I recall correctly, around 1986 or so. I do not remember for sure.
Y: So the repair was done to put the carillon back in first-class condition, but security
measures had to be upgraded.
B: Yes. [There is now] an alarm system, and you have to go through three locked
doors to get to the top.
Y: I have just two or three other questions. You mentioned Milford Myhre, and I just
wondered if there were other significant, respected carillonneurs who have
B: Actually, we have had all of the members of the board of directors of the
international carillon group, the World Federation of Carillonneurs. Arri Abbenes has
played here, and also a Danish carillonneur whose name is Bent Gammeltoft-
Hausen. We have had Todd Fair, who is a superb American carillonneur.
We have had a number of international people play, and we are about to start to do
that again. The department has come into a little bit of money that is going to
support that. We have probably had about ten different people visit to play a carillon
recital. The fellow in Stanford, Connecticut, whose mother lives in Orlando--his
name is George Matthews--does a lot of playing, so when George is in Florida he
usually comes to play a program.
Y: I also would like to ask about students that have been here and what they have
gone on to.
B: [The first student carillonneur, when the bells were new, was Jim Sawyers, who is
now a management consultant in Tampa.] Janet Graham was the first graduate
assistant who had that job [of playing the carillon], and Janet is now the director of
music and organist at Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Augustine. She
is working on her dissertation in music education.
The next graduate student was Terry McKinney. Terry had had no carillon
experience when he started playing but was intrigued by the instrument and
developed very, very well as a carillonneur. Two years ago the Bok Tower opened a
position as assistant carillonneur and as librarian, and he competed successfully for
the job. So he is still in Florida and is doing extremely well at the Bok Tower. I think
he began that work last June or July [of 1991], just one year after he completed his
master's degree. So that is a fairly recent appointment. Obviously, this was at my
very strong recommendation, and Milford had to pay close attention to that. But
Terry had some strong competition from around the country because there are a lot
of young carillonneurs with a lot of playing experience. Terry had relatively small
amount of playing experience. The secret was that he had had computer activity
and computer work as a librarian here working on campus, and that happened to be
the other half of the job at the Bok Tower: computerize the carillon library. So he is
Y: His position is very well set.
B: It could not be better. The truth is that Milford Myhre is going to be retiring within the
next five to eight years, and Terry stands a very good chance of simply continuing
there. They would probably be delighted because he a terribly nice guy, and he
works well with people. He is going to take his guild exam this year and be a full-
fledged, licensed carillonneur. So he is in a beautiful situation.
Y: So the experience at the University of Florida had been very good for him.
B: Yes. And much better than you would ever expect anything like that ever to be.
The third graduate assistant is Kelly Schweikert, who is here now. She also had had
no carillon playing experience when she came here, but the offer we were able to
make to her was that work assistantship. She is an organist, and she is a good
musician. I gave her some initial instruction. She began playing fairly simple things
and has developed similarly an excellent sense for the instrument. Actually, she has
made quicker progress than Terry McKinney did.
Y: So the potential for her is very good.
B: Yes. There are very few opportunities for carillonneurs to play, you see. There are
only so many carillons; there are fewer than two hundred in the country, and of
those, probably no more than one or two have people like Milford Myhre--full-time
carillonneurs. There may be as many as seventy or eighty of them that have a
person like me that is nominally responsible for it and plays occasionally. And there
are a lot of carillons that just sit there, which is a tragedy, because it is a marvelous
instrument. It is a unique instrument in our society. Most communities will have
only one; there will not be a string of carillons. So there would be opportunities for
students to play and to be gainfully employed. I think it is a reflection of our society
that, in general, people do not reward that kind of thing with full-time employment.
Y: But the opportunity to learn is here.
Y: I want to ask you a few statistics on the bells themselves. First of all, how many
bells are there?
B: There are forty-nine bells.
Y: The number of octaves?
B: It is four octaves plus a note. The lowest bell is a Bb (or A#), and then the next note
is C. They are diatonic for three notes. Then it goes up from that C four octaves
Y: The weight?
B: The weight of the lowest bell is 3% tons, and the weight of the smallest bell is
around 35 pounds.
Y: This is one of several university carillons in this country. Could you make a
comparison of this one to others?
B: Yes. This one is the same size as the instrument at Indiana University, the same
size as the instrument at Wake Forest University, the same size as the instrument at
Brigham Young University.
There are a couple of California institutions that have instruments of about the same
size. Then there is a slightly larger carillon at Duke University. Ours goes down to
Bb, and theirs goes all the way down to F. You will find carillons of that size at Yale
and at Duke and such places. Then there is yet another size that goes on down to
Eb--it does not sound much bigger, but it is several tons heavier--and that would be
[like the ones at] the Bok Tower at Lake Wales and the National Cathedral in
Washington [DC]. Those two are sort of twin instruments, both made by English
Then there are two even larger carillons, and those are the ones at Riverside
Church in New York City and Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago.
Those carillons go all the way down to the note C, so they are slightly less than an
octave greater at the bottom than ours. That is the kind of range [difference there is
Musically, I think the lowest bells that are genuinely useable are those bells in the
F/Eb range. Those sound very profound and low. When you get down to that low C
it does not really sound like much of a musical effect. If you take a very large
hammer and hit the side of a battleship, in your imagination, that is the sound that
that low C makes.
Y: Before we conclude, are there any other interesting stories relating to the carillon
that you would like share?
B: Well, obviously, if you push the carillon button with me and I start, I will keep going.
I think the story about the "Swanee River" [I told] at the beginning and [how] hearing
that tune irritated the faculty [is a good example]. To go from that point to the point
where today it is a musical instrument that is a symbol of the University that people
hear, appreciate, and respect I think represents genuine progress within the campus
community. That has certainly been one of my goals.
The second thing isthe idea that a student can come here and have the opportunity
to play a unique instrument, learn its techniques, learn its literature, and experience
the way it can be a part of society and part of the way people are moved by music I
think is important.
We get requests from various kinds of campus organizations that are planning
events, and what I try to do is honor those requests when they are musically good
and when they seem to fit into what we are doing. We certainly did some special
music for the black emphasis week, for Martin Luther King week. We will do the
same thing when the Hillel Foundation has a Jewish interests week later in the
spring. We use the carillon in association with Christmas on Campus, now called
Sounds of the Season. Since the time of the student murders a year and a half ago
we have done several special carillon things that were related to that. When we had
a couple of campus observances, I played before them, and in one case I even
wrote a piece designed for that particular occasion when the families were on the
campus for the observance.
So I think the little motto that is on the bronze plaque in the south side of the tower
that says something about marking the movement of time, heralding events of
importance in the lives of its people, and ringing music of all ages to delight the
common spirit is really what we are about. The clock strike happens to be broken at
the moment; we are trying to fix it. We try to respond to special events in every way
that we can, and then we try to balance all of the music that is played from Century
Tower so that it becomes part of the society. It is not just a toy or a big music box
up in the sky.
Y: I want to thank you so much for your time and for all the information. Let me say
again that this is January 27, 1992, and I am with Professor Willis Bodine of the
University of Florida music faculty.
B: My pleasure.