Title: Interview with John Meyer Tiedtke (March 7, 1993)
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00006625/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with John Meyer Tiedtke (March 7, 1993)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: March 7, 1993
Spatial Coverage: 12095
Orange County (Fla.) -- History.
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00006625
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'Orange County' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: OR 2

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Interviewee: John Meyer Tiedtke

Interviewer: Elizabeth Dumas Schneider

March 7, 1993

S: Today is March 7, 1993, and we are in Winter Park in the office of Mr. John Tiedtke,
on the corner of Holt [Avenue] and New York Avenue. I am asking Mr. Tiedtke
about his involvement in different arts organizations in Winter Park and in Central
Florida. Mr. Tiedtke, I would like to thank you very much for participating in this

T: I think I should start with what I know, the symphony. Before World War H there
was a Winter Park symphony which was run by a Mary Leonard, and it operated until
the war and then went out of operation. My wife and I came to Winter Park in the
spring of 1949. We decided that we wanted to stay and live here, and I thought if
we were going to do that, then it would be nice to have the symphony come to life
again. So I invited the old board [members] up to my office to see if they wanted
to get it started, and most of them did not. But one woman, Jessica Dyer, was quite
excited over the idea and said, "Well, let us have another meeting in a couple of
weeks," so we did. When we met the next time, she had begun to dig up people and
eventually we had Bob Carr (who is the Mayor), Joy Holley, Helen Ryan, Dr. Spivak,
and Rose Phelps, and we began putting together an orchestra. They were all
Orlando people, but the orchestra, the group that she got together, got Yves
Chardon, then the principal cellist of the Metropolitan Opera orchestra.

S: In New York?

T: Yes, and they got him to come down and put together a pickup orchestra in the fall
of 1949 for a trial concert. He did and it went very well. It was an exciting evening
and everybody thought it was a great idea to get the orchestra going again. So we
employed him, and he put together an orchestra.

S: Just [for] detail, do you remember what was on the program?

T: No.

S: Okay. But I read in an earlier article that Mr. Chardon was a cellist and he had
asked some of his colleagues from Julliard [School], is that right?

T: I do not remember. I do not think he could have gotten any of them to move here,
but he might have. I do not know where he got his players, but I would doubt very
much if he could have brought any from Julliard, but he might have for all I know.

S: Okay, that was just in an earlier article I got somewhere. Do you know if any of the
players present that night would still be among us today?

T: I have no idea.

S: Mr. Alphonse Carlo, who died recently, was active in that time.


T: Well, he came here around 1944, so he would have been here then and he was very
active in the orchestra.

S: Right.

T: Well, the orchestra, the people were practically all Orlando people. They did not
like the name Winter Park Symphony, so they had the name of the company changed
to the Central Florida Symphony, and then in a few years they got ambitious and
thought they should change the name to just plain Florida Symphony. But it is still
the old corporation that Mary Leonard had prior to World War II.

S: You mean in paper work, it has to say ..

T: Well, it is the same corporation, they never started a new company. It is still today
the old company that has just had a few name changes.

S: So it probably started with a very short season and a small number of players.

T: I do not remember that.

S: Yes. So Mr. Chardon stayed on. Now, I know that a history of the Florida
Symphony has been started, a silver anniversary publication came out.

T: Oh, yes, they have a book all right.

S: But [do you have] any personal recollections about early players, or directors? Can
you give me some anecdotes about that?

T: No. Of course they had a series of conductors. I will not try to pass judgment on
them; most of them had some strengths and some weaknesses. On the whole they
were good enough to keep the orchestra going, and sometimes they were rather
exciting conductors who were difficult to work with, and others were fine to work
with, but not very interesting conductors. Anyway, the orchestra kept going and I do
not think it had any great crises. I know that when Rose Phelps died she left it
$50,000, and that was a great help. It was naturally just hanging on financially as
time went on, just barely able to get enough to keep going, but it did. Of course,
now, as we know, it has a tremendous budget and it is a fine orchestra. [It is] a great
move forward from the old days, but with this big budget it takes a lot of money to
keep it going.

S: Right. I wanted to ask you (as long as we are talking about its history), did the
Orlando Opera Company grow as a separate institution or did they branch off from
a single parent?


T: I had been on the board of the symphony ever since it was resurrected in 1949. We
used to have one of these concerts where you have some opera stars come down and
sing a few arias, then we had them sing more arias, and finally we got to the point
to where we began producing an opera. Then, we had a junior league and other
groups help for a couple of years, but there was a group of ladies who ran it. Then,
the time came that they wanted to have their own opera and not be a subsidiary to
the Florida Symphony. The Florida Symphony voted to do it. I particularly spoke
in favor of it and voted for it, because I thought if these women felt it was their own
organization, they would work a great deal harder for it, and it would be a lot better
organization. And I think that is the way it turned out. The opera was then run all
by women; several of them did the professional jobs that you normally hire, and by
doing most of the work themselves they had a very low administrative cost. And by
running it very carefully and not having too many operas, they were able to turn out
good operas and stay in the black. After a number of years, they decided to bring
some men on to the board and I was one of the first ones brought on. Then, after
I had been on about a year these ladies who had been running it decided that they
could not handle it without some help, and so they employed a manager. For two,
three, or four years, we had one rather unsuccessful manager after another. In fact,
I think that the opera suffered because of the managers that it had.

S: Yes, one in particular was mentioned in this Louis Roney article of 1984 (Outlook,
October 18, 1984). I believe it was Dwight Bowes who was the least successful of
your managers, to say the least.

T: Well, yes, I would not want to say just what was weak about them, but the fact is that
the opera was not managed very well for one reason or another. But, anyway, after
a series of managers, it now has Robert Swedberg, whom I consider an excellent

S: Right. I know him and I have worked with his wife Melissa in music education.
They are fine.

T: I think he is doing an excellent job.

S: I think so. You mentioned the number of concerts being expanded and that there
is always a risk you take with the budget when you decided to put on another opera
in the season.

T: Yes.

S: Is there a formula you think for taking those types of risks?

T: No, but the history of the opera, a good deal of the time, was a case where in
planning a budget for the coming year, the budget was balanced by having overly


hopeful figures put in on the income side, both in gifts and in ticket sales, and when
you get in the middle of the year, you would find that you were running out of money
because the income was not where it had been anticipated. As a result, there were
a number of very close squeaks with the collapse of the opera, but one way or
another it managed to keep going. To the present time, it has a much more
ambitious budget, and I think that if United Arts can continue to give us what it is
supposed to, even though we have to raise a part of it, I think that we are going to
be all right financially.

S: May this depend on the size of the community, whether an organization like United
Arts is a better idea, that it should have its own separate [organization]?

T: Way better.

S: You think so?

T: We are getting way more money from United Arts. See, I am the president of the
Bach Festival; I am one of the seven major organizations, so I am speaking as a
recipient of money from the United Arts. United Arts is giving us a lot more money
than we were able to raise ourselves.

S: It is.

T: For two or three years, United Arts raised all of the money it needed and gave us
all we needed; however, then it's income fell off, so now we have to raise one fourth
of the money that they give us. Well, the organizations, with the exception of the
symphony, have been able to raise that one-fourth, but if we are having trouble
having to raise one-fourth where would we be if there was no United Arts and we
had to raise all of it? You can see the great importance of United Arts. I think it
is a spectacular plan for Central Florida Arts, and we can not give enough credit to
[former] Mayor Bill Frederick for having organized it and put into effect.

S: If you say you are having trouble meeting your one-fourth budget commitment, then
what did you do in those years before?

T: We did not have as much income.

S: You simply had a smaller budget.

T: No, of course, United Arts is getting some of the money that we would have gotten,
and it varies from organization to organization. But in our case we were able to
raise about as much as we ever did and we get all of that extra, three times as much,
from United Arts. I think some of the other organizations might disagree and feel
that they are not benefitting that much, but they are benefitting a great deal.


S: So each of the seven member organizations has to raise a certain amount [of money]
which is matched?

T: Yes. For instance, in the Bach Festival, it is computed that we would need $188,000.
What we get from grants and things is deducted, that is from the state grants, and the
balance would come from United Arts, but we are to raise approximately a fourth
of it. If we do not raise the fourth, they do not give us their three-fourths.

S: So $188,000 is your annual budget.

T: That is not the whole budget, that is the amount that we get from United Arts.

S: I see.

T: I mean, that is the total amount that we get from the state of Florida grant plus
United Arts.

S: Right. What do you think is better? Having annual gifts and annual fund raising,
of course, is important, but how important is it to also have endowments or
perpetuities established?

T: Well, it is always nice to have it. I have some doubts as to whether enough could
ever be raised to where the income would be very significant. I always wonder in our
case whether it would be wise to build up an endowment, because if something
happened that the Bach Festival disintegrated, either we had a poor choir or for
various reasons it no longer was worth operating, then you have this endowment
fund. What do you do with it? So it is some risk in building up an endowment fund
for anything as risky as a musical organization. However, practically all of the
organizations wish they had one.

S: Right, yes.

T: Most of them are trying to build up an endowment fund.

S: Right. I have heard of orchestras buying a chair, you know, buying a principal
concertmaster chair.

T: Oh, that is fine if you can do that. If you are sure that the orchestra or organization
is going to last forever, then of course it is fine to have the endowment fund and
have a chair endowed, or whatever you can do with the endowment money.

S: In one of these interviews I have read about, you made an interesting statement
about government support, that you thought it should be kept at a minimum.


T: Well, I do not. That is not exactly consistent with what I am doing, because I am
urging the State of Florida to give us all it can. I would not say that it should be
kept to a minimum, except for the cost to the taxpayers, but you know in Europe
there is practically no private money that goes into the arts. The operas and
symphonies are entirely paid for by the government. Well over here, I think that we
are very lucky that nearly all of the money is paid for by private gifts and only a
small part by the government. But when you look at the alternative to what we are
doing, the government doing everything, I think that we are just real lucky that we
get as much as we do, but there is nothing wrong with the government giving you

S: Do you think that if we depended to much on the national endowment, things like
that, that they would dictate what we needed to [do], how we needed to run our

T: They have not. That, of course, would be awful, if they used their power in grants
to control the way we are doing things, but I do not think that has happened so far.
I think the only place we have heard a squawk is in the photography recently, where

S: [Robert] Mapplethorpe.

T: The gentlemen was Mapplethorpe. It was so bad that some of the people in the
government began objecting to paying for it, but unless you get something that is
extreme, I do not think the government interferes with what we are doing.

S: How about the educational side, building up your audience through music in the

T: In most of these cases, to do a good job it takes more money than you can raise
yourself. That is the characteristic of art, and it seems to be also characteristic of
music and art--the higher the quality of the organization, the bigger the deficit. If
you try to run high quality things, you have a big deficit, and if you cannot raise the
money from private sources and the government helps you do it, I think it is fine.
The government spends a lot of money to improve the quality of life, so it is not
inconsistent that it should put some money into our organizations.

S: With your business acumen, do you think that you could design an orchestra that
would largely support itself, without government help?

T: No. It just is not the money. People will not pay enough to support a good quality
musical operation. I do not think. Once you get down to popular music, it is the
opposite, the performers make millions. As you go into a higher level, you lose more


and more of your audience. The higher the level, the bigger quality, the bigger the
deficits you run.

S: Do you need help in creative fund raising?

T: Yes. Well, I do not think it is so awful for the government to help. As I said, if you
look at Europe, you will find the government does about everything. So when it is
just doing a small part over here, it is not, I do not think, out of proportion. I used
to think it was nice if we did not have any government help, but if you find when you
are trying to put the thing together you can not raise enough money to do a good
job, the extra help from the government is justified.

S: Do you think state level government ought to be more influential, or national?

T: I had not thought about it. I would not know as one ought to be more important
than the other. I think any level--city, county, state, or national--can do it. I think,
however, that what we said before regarding influence [is true]. You do not want
them to come in and control what you are doing. But I do not think that any of
those organizations, any of those governments, whether it is city or what, are going
to do too much. I think the county, the city, the state and the federal government
can all help the symphony, so every possible level has helped the symphony. I do not
think any of them have used any influence in trying to control what they are doing.
I have not seen any real sign of danger there.

S: If you were the manager of the Florida Symphony in the recent crises, what would
you have done differently to control the orchestra's dreams and ambitions?

T: I do not think I would have done as well as the ones they had.

S: Really.

T: No, [it] probably [would] have gone bust if I had been running it, because I do not
think I could have done as well as they did.

S: You think that they handled it well?

T: Harvey Massey did a remarkable job. He was the president. He did a remarkable
job in holding the thing together, and an even more remarkable job was done by the
people who raised a million dollars, as you know. I think that was an unbelievably
successful drive, which I never thought they could do. It was served pretty well. I
do not know who all was in charge of raising that money. I think probably a lot of
the people were in on it. I was not in on it, but I think a lot of people helped raise
that money.


S: I have been a musician in the orchestra and I have also been a teacher to the
children of some of the board members, so I have been in the position of listening
to both sides, what the orchestra wanted and what the board needed. An orchestra
member, for example, if you were able to give them counsel, in that case what would
you do differently?

T: At what time?

S: At the time that this crisis came up in 1990-91 season.

T: Well, at that time, it was so obvious to me that the orchestra did not have the money.
No matter where I would have been, whether I had been a musician or what, I would
have faced the fact and tried to work along with a system that would work instead
of insisting on money that the orchestra could not possibly pay. A lot of orchestras
have gone bankrupt, as you know. But, in this case, the board of the Florida
Symphony thought that rather than vote a budget and make a deal that was going to
bankrupt us, we would just stop there. If you vote a plan that is going to bankrupt
you, by the time you run out of money you have spent a lot of other people's money,
and it is a great deal worse than if you just stop first. If you are going to go bankrupt
and you are losing a lot of money, it is better to stop as soon as you can. That is why
the board of the symphony voted to just disband the orchestra when it looked like
what we would have had to agree to would bankrupt us.

S: Then at that point, the orchestra members acquiesced to a lower salary.

T: Well, what they did [was] agree to the offer that the symphony had made much
earlier, which was an increase. The symphony had offered the players an increase.
In fact, it was an increase that was questionable whether they could pay it or not.
I think it was a 5 percent increase. But the union demanded way more than that,
something that never could have been paid, so the board decided that they better just
stop right there and not try to go into a deal that they could never carry out. Then
after [the board] voted to disband the orchestra, the more realistic members of the
orchestra outvoted the ones that did not [want to accept the lower offer], and they
voted to except the orchestra's offer.

S: Right.

T: It was not a bad offer, by the way. It was an increase at a time of very tight financial
conditions, and it was not a bad offer at all. Anything else I can do here?

S: Well, [you can help by] going back maybe to the history of some of the other
organizations. You have talked about the Florida Symphony having it's resurrection
after World War II, and I just wondered if there were any memorable ..


T: Well, as far as our Bach Festival is concerned, in 1936 the conductor of the Rollins
Chapel Choir, Christopher Honaas, had an all-Bach performance one Sunday
afternoon and a woman by the name of Mrs. [Isabella] Sprague-Smith heard it. It
reminded her of Bethlehem [Pennsylvania, whose Bach Festival has occurred
annually since 1901], with which she was familiar, and [she] wanted to get the thing
going and turn it into a Bach Festival. So the next year they called it a Bach Festival
and began an annual performance, and then it just grew into what we have today.

S: But you do not always concentrate just on Bach.

T: Oh, no. You see, this was the one big, really fine choir in Central Florida and a lot
of the people in the choir like all kinds of music, and a lot of the audience that came
to the Bach Festival liked all kinds of music. So we took advantage of the choir and
the audience and, in addition to giving them the Bach, we added some other things.
So for a long number of years now we have had a comprehensive performance. I
think you will find practically all Bach Festivals do that. They put on enough Bach
to be a Bach Festival, but then they go on and add something else.

S: Yes. In December of 1991, I played with Dr. [John V.] Sinclair, and a group of
musicians in the Bach Festival choir for a television Christmas special. [It was] about
thirty minutes long, and it will be broadcast on PBS [Public Broadcasting System]
from now to kingdom come.

T: Well, you are talking about the one on channel two.

S: Yes.

T: I think you are.

S: Yes.

T: Well, it was broadcast that Christmas, twice on Christmas day, and this last
Christmas, 1992, they broadcast it twice.

S: I wondered if that was an indication of some things to come?

T: It was quite expensive for us, although channel two did it at a discount rate. I am
sure they paid a good deal of the cost for running it, but we had, in addition to
paying some of the recording costs, to hire an orchestra and pay for several
rehearsals and the performance. So when you add that cost to the other, we had a
pretty big cost in producing it. I do not know if we could do that very often, but I
think the one we did was a very good one.

S: Right.


T: You saw it, of course.

S: Oh, I was in it, and I saw it. I have a copy, and I wondered if that could be used for
commercials someday and raise funds for the Bach Festival.

T: It might. I think that it may be that channel two might would have some rights on
its use. I do not know.

S: So it was mostly for publicity rather than for fund raising?

T: I just do not know.

S: It was certainly a gift to the communities.

T: Yes, well, it was a fine thirty minute tape. I think channel two has some ownership
rights, you know. I have copies of it. I think there are limits on what I could do with

S: I was interested in that, to kind of segue into public television, because I read that
you were instrumental in the founding of a public television affiliate here.

T: Well, yes, years ago when there was no television here, George Allison, who is the
associated with the school board, asked me if I would want to join a group to start
a television station here, and I said I would. So, we got together, a group of us, and
met down on Sand Lake in a building down there and got the thing started.
However, it became obvious to me that what they needed the board for was to raise
money, either give money or raise money. Well, I was heavily involved in trying to
keep Rollins [College] going and I did not need another source of needing money.
I needed to spend all of energy that I had on Rollins. So, after a year or two down
there, I resigned from the board and let other people go on who did not have other

S: (I think you used it earlier also.) It sounds so easy, you used that phrase, "We got
the thing started." Of course you are a business man with a lot of associates and a
lot of experience, it sounds so easy for you to say, but I wonder about those details.

T: Well, this was all done by George Allison and people he put together. We did not
do a thing but meet as a board, and then, as I said, we found that our job was just
giving and raising money, which I already had enough of here trying to work with
Rollins. So I thought I better let other people take care of the television station.

S: With an institution as established as a college, I understand you can raise money by
floating a big bond.


T: Well, that borrows money, then you have to pay it back.

S: Right. Do you do such things with smaller arts organizations?

T: Well, I would hesitate to put out a bond issue, because I would not want that debt
hanging over me. I do not know who would want to loan the money on a bond issue
on something as fragile as an arts organization. I think it would be an awful risk for
your money.

S: The Orlando Sentinel today has an article about the upcoming FSO season. They
are diminishing their master works from twelve to ten concerts and increasing their
pops from ten to twelve.

T: Well, I think they are going to keep the same price for the ten as they had this year
on the twelve, which means you are paying a little more for a concert. I am on the
board of the symphony; however, we were not a part of this decision. So the first I
heard about it was when I read about it in the paper. The decision was made by
management in this case.

S: Do you think that is a healthy direction to take?

T: Well, the symphony needs all of the money it can get. Yes, I think it is good because
they are broadening their base by, according to the morning paper, putting on more
popular music. [It] may not be what the orchestra is in business for, but if it is a way
of raising money there is certainly nothing wrong with doing it. (By popular, I do not
mean extreme, rock and roll, but I mean easier music to listen to.) And if they put
on more popular concerts where you have a broader audience, it not only brings in
money but it gets people coming to the orchestra, and after they come to a year or
two of listening to that music they might then want to start listening to the regular
master works concerts. So I think it is a very constructive move to do what they are
doing; I was very glad to read about it.

S: I was glad to read that they are changing to an earlier time to accommodate families.

T: Yes.

S: So I think some decisions like that could help. Parking has always been an issue and
the auditorium has been an issue.

T: Well, I do not think the auditorium is quite as bad as some people say it is. It is not
the greatest, but on the other hand, I do not think it is bad. I have not sat in the
different parts of the auditorium so I could judge how it is. I hear some parts are
not as good as others, which may be so, but I do not think it is so terrible. I think
that the people going there enjoy the music very much and I do not think their

11 -

enjoyment ([at least] 90 or 95 percent), is hurt significantly by the acoustics. I think
they hear the music all right and enjoy it like it is. It would be great if we had a very
well designed music [auditorium]. I do not want to make people angry that want to
have it, I think we ought to have it, but I do not think what we have now is so

S: Really. Since you support the arts so much, you may not feel comfortable telling
people what to play, (you want to leave the decisions up to the directors,) but do you
have a personal wish list of things you would like to see performed?

T: No. I really like the way it goes. I read the coming program with interest and
surprise and pleasure. I usually find what they are going to play is something I am
glad to read they are going to play. I really do not have any strong desires of things
that I think they ought to play. I think they are doing fine like they are.

S: Yes. The few patrons or donors leave so few strings attached.

T: Well, I am not a contributor to the symphony, but if I was I do not think I would
want to use that as any lever to make them do anything that they are not doing.

S: Right.

T: I think they are running the symphony as well as they can. I think the programs are
as good as they can [be]. I think they have done a great job in getting these various
candidates for the job here this year. There have been some very good ones. I think
the symphony is headed for a really fine future if it can raise the half million dollars
that it has to raise.

S: So it is a still a little bit in the hole.

T: Well, I would say that if they could raise that half million dollars so they could get
the full United Arts grant, I expect to see a really fine symphony here.

S: How do you speculate on the future of some of your other "babies" in this area, like
the Bach Festival?

T: Well, I think the Bach Festival is pretty sound. It also has to have some money and
the present United Arts plan will take care of it. I wish United Arts would raise all
that it needs so we did not have to raise anything, but as long as it cannot we have
to raise something. But we are getting by all right. I do not see any real clouds in
the future as long as United Arts can keep giving us what we need.

S: Do you think there is any danger in everybody putting their future in one basket with
United Arts?


T: Yes, there is some. Had we never had a United Arts, we would have become
adjusted to the amount of money we could raise, which would be less than we have
now. But if we got adjusted to that, then of course it is not vulnerable to United
Arts going out of business. Right now if it suddenly went out of business it would
be a disaster for all of us because we have budgets based on getting quite a bit of
money from them. It is very difficult to cut your budgets substantially in most
organizations, practically impossible.

S: Well, I am thinking on the personal level, what kind of things made you interested
in supporting the arts? What was your earliest exposure to music?

T: We used to have music in the house in Toledo. We had a pipe organ. Nobody
played the organ by hand, but we had rolls, and we used to play the phonograph.

S: You mean piano rolls?

T: Well, the organ had rolls cut for it.

S: Oh, interesting.

T: Of course, it is more realistic in the piano. With a piano, the way in which you press
the key controls the quality of the tone, whereas in an organ you make a contact
when the key is down or you do not. It is either on or off.

S: Right.

T: Well, you can do that with a roll. It can make a contact so you do not really lose
touch or quality in playing a roll, and they get a good organist playing a piece and
what he does is transferred to little holes in the role--like a piano, same thing.

S: Right.

T: Then when you play it, it plays just like the organist played it.

S: So you came from a musical family.

T: No. My mother played the piano a little like a lot of women do, just for herself. I
would not say it was a musical family, but I did hear quite a little music when I was
young. I think that may have had something to do with my interest in music.

S: Right. Yes, I read that you grew up in Toledo.

T: Yes.


S: [You were] born in 1907.

T: Yes.

S: And I was just always interested in people who had benefited from your work over
the years. They are going to be interested to hear about what motivated you.

T: Well, I do not know who benefited from it. I think I benefited from what I did more
than anybody else did.

S: Only all of the musicians like me who have been paid salaries because of your work,
and the people who have had the benefit of learning how to sing in the Bach choir,
[and] the audiences [have benefitted].

T: Well, the Bach Festival was set to disband when Mrs. Sprague-Smith died, and I was
responsible. All of the board, except me, wanted to end it, and I talked the board
into keeping it going if I would take care of the deficit and run it. So I was
responsible for keeping the Bach Festival going.

S: You mentioned Mrs. Sprague-Smith several times, but I do not [know who she is].

T: She is not any relation to the well known, Sprague-Smith up North. There is a Mrs.
Sprague-Smith up there who was very influential in musical circles. Apparently this
lady was not connected with her. This lady was Isabella Sprague-Smith, I do not
even remember now where she was from, but she was a fiery little women. She got
ahold of this thing and really made it go. She would get people, [and] drum up
people to come and listen to it, and drum up donations. [She] just pushed the thing
through and made it go. It was really a pretty darn good organization when she died.
She had it recognized nationally and [it had] been on national radio a couple of
times, and it was a recognized organization then. That was started in 1936 and she
died in 1950.

S: She was a great influence.

T: She was, all right. She was a little fireeater, though.

S: Really, in what way?

T: Oh, if she wanted something, she would get it.

S: Artistically?

T: In any direction. Money, people, anything. I was the treasurer at Rollins at that
time when she was alive, and we would charge her to put up the risers, you know,


and make it available. She would complain. All we would always charge her with
was the direct labor costs, no overhead, no nothing, and she would complain about
it, and want to pay less than the cost, claiming that we did not do it efficiently
enough and fight every nickel. Every nickel she spent, she fought to try to save it.

S: Against Rollins.

T: Yes. Which was very interesting, but that was that.

S: So although the Bach Festival has been housed at Rollins and some of the people,
personnel, overlap, it is a separate institution.

T: Oh, yes. The idea was conceived by her because she thought the setting in the
Knowles Memorial Chapel was so good. It was the setting in the chapel that gave
her the idea of starting it.

S: It is maintained separately though in a financial way.

T: Oh, yes, absolutely a separate organization. It simply performs in the college; it is
a separate organization.

S: I could see how a good performing organization might act like a football team in
raising money for a school, though, if it were connected.

T: Well, everything loses money. It runs a deficit that has to be made up. The college
runs a deficit.

S: Oh, I was just dreaming.

T: Everything runs deficits.

S: Well, tell me a few memorable performances throughout the years that were
favorites of yours.

T: Oh, in the festival?

S: Yes.

T: Oh, well, I think the B Minor Mass is one of the greatest pieces of music ever
written, and I think our performances of that, and the St. Matthew Passion, as far as
Bach goes, [are best]. As far as our non-Bach work goes, I think the Verdi Requiem,
is about the most dramatic and beautiful piece of music we have played. We do that
every few years because it is a great thing. My main interest would be the passions
and the B Minor [Mass]; they are the great Bach works. You have played in them.


S: Yes. Do you listen to a collection of recordings at home?

T: Yes. Well, I think we do very good performances, and [that] works all right. It does
not always work easily to use the symphony; it is much more difficult than hiring an
outside group.

S: Well, naturally, as a freelancer, I am interested in providing a smaller ensemble once
in a while.

T: Oh, yes. It is a lot easier and more flexible to get an outside group than it is to use
the symphony musicians.

S: I enjoyed helping Dr. Sinclair put together the Vivaldi oratorio, Judith Triumphant,
a few years back.

T: Oh yes, that went very well.

S: I felt that we did it at a very good use of the available funds because we had private

T: Would you like to play your cello for two minutes? I thought if you brought it in
here, we ought to listen to it.

S: Well, absolutely, I will do that. Do you want some Bach?

T: Yes, sure.

S: Okay. I think I will go ahead and end the tape, but I will thank you very much.


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