Timeline of Historic Events and Anecdotes Related to the Portland Symphony Orchestra
........Also "Lots of Stuff" About the PSO's Performance Home--- Merrill (nee City Hall) Auditorium
........and........ Other Portland Music-Related Events
Prepared by Hank Schmitt, [email protected]
Although based on extensive research of documents and personal interviews, these notes are not intended to be a scholarly report. Thorough and accurate, most assuredly; but adhering to scholarly regimen (consistently citing sources and sources and sources)...... that was never my approach. Organizing information that I had picked up here and there, often had my head swimming; ---a timeline-format allowed brain cells to get untangled.
THINGS-PSO is intended as an exhaustive and detailed history of the PSO, to be a comprehensive source of many, many specifics. If you're looking for an easy-flowing novel.... this isn't it. If you're looking for something to help put you to sleep.... this may be it. But if you want to determine details about times and events pertaining to the Portland Symphony Orchestra.... then hopefully I've succeeded in providing such a resource. Software search features will hopefully help you find what you might want. Two companion projects complement this THINGS-PSO, each also available via the internet. One is a chronological listing of more than 2200 PSO concerts -- believed to be more than 99 percent of all that were ever performed (including dates, type of concert, conductor, a feature of the performance, venue and whether a program has been located). The other is a collection of pdf-scans made from original concert programs handed to audiences (including cover pages, program content and list of musicians). Thus, there are now three PSO histories available for viewing.
A number of interesting (at least.... to me) "Anecdotes" follow the "Timeline" section. Also, some of the time I included anecdotal info within the Timeline; there was no consistency attempted insofar as to where anecdotes were inserted.
Furthermore, some anecdotes in the Timeline section are surely also duplicated later (also...... the realities of "get to it when you can, and wherever it is found" researching undoubtedly resulted in various repetitions).
The program content of some concerts sometimes varied versus what was earlier described in newspapers. When I discovered such changes, the correct information was described. However, sometimes all I had to go on were programs handed to concertgoers or pre-season PSO promotional brochures; when only those were available I had no choice but to accept the pre-concert published lists as what occurred.
While sources of many items are noted, early care to consistently list every source wasn't made. It should also be noted that information obtained from some sources was not always the same as that obtained from others (human memories being what they are, this is not surprising). When minor differences occurred..... I ultimately included combinations of the remembrances that were the most fun to retell.
Numerous references are made to performances. As you might expect, with more than 2200 total concerts performed by PSO ensembles over the past 90 years, the Orchestra's Archives include details, details.... and more details about many of them-- but sometimes, unfortunately, few or none about others. When compiling timeline information for respective years, sometimes I included LOTS of info about various concerts and other times I did not enter much; there was no rigorous consistency that I tried to follow (...... sometimes I just plain got tired and abit brain-dead.... and went on to another old file or another box of stuff, leaving unread who-knows-what..... but not too often). If anyone who reads this knows about a particular concert, event, or fun-happening of any sort that they feel deserves mention, please let me know; I'd love to learn more-- especially from the people "who were there when it happened". (Hopefully, more good info will be uncovered to be added to these pages.)
There are some instances when details gleaned regarding events became confused in my mind as to their proper order (materials were read and considered when I got to them, they almost always were not in sequence). The events that I had the most difficulty correctly sorting through and reorganizing in chronological order were associated with the early-to-mid- 90s happenings regarding renovation of City Hall Auditorium. MANY actions occurred, and it took me a long time to finally establish a reasonably-accurate chronology of all that transpired during those years. Most fortunately, the End Result of the dueling architects and dueling acousticians associated with the Merrill Auditorium project was a win-win for Portland! This "THINGS-PSO" intentionally contains extensive coverage of auditorium-renovation events and activities.
Readers will quickly notice that the Timeline includes references to major fire tragedies throughout Portland's history. My justification in doing so relates to the Phoenix-like abilities of Portlanders to "rise again" after these terrible mishaps. I also was drawn to how all the post-fire recoveries seemed to be poetically-associated with the similarly Phoenix-like renovation of the Portland City Hall Auditorium (a public lecture hall) into Merrill Auditorium (a first-class concert hall); I came to think of this transition as Merrill Auditorium emerging from a fiery crucible of controversy. Please excuse the over-emphasis I took regarding what I came to realize was an amazing metamorphosis. There is much repetition about the many events that transpired, but I wanted to record and write down as many references as might be relevant. I became determined to turn over and read every saved item possible to learn all about the Merrill transformation. I thoroughly enjoyed that complicated journey.
Having learned about my PSO history project (which started off as only something for myself), several people have requested opportunities to read what I have set down. Early-on printouts of the Timeline in its current form acceded to those urgings (although its now-expanded size makes digital-formatting much more practical.... and decidedly less expensive; avoiding high ink-costs became "the only way"). While plenty of edits might make the Timeline and the Anecdotes likely to receive a higher grade from Miss Eiholzer (my English teacher in junior high school), were she still alive and interested in reviewing my work--- other demands on my time and other interests that Sue and I have..... beckon. In hundreds of pages, mis-spellings, punctuation and grammar mistakes are inevitable, especially when compiled by a volunteer who is well-meaning but not a professional writer.
The historical text compilation you are accessing was originally designed for me to keep my thoughts in order; I hope you enjoy reading it...... but eventual print-publication that would inevitably involve substantial re-working of the materials herein........ isn't going to happen. It has been designed to be resource material, and was not intended to be read like a novel. Besides, writing a book well is reputedly a hard enough task; successfully publishing and finding a buyer's market for a book is really a long shot. Thus, there'll be no book from this guy. Fortunately, the final text-history product, and also a HUGE and fantastic program-scanning job by Sue, will end up on the new PSOHistory.org website that will be linked to the current Portland Symphony Orchestra website. Her efforts have made it possible to use "the cloud" to examine key content of hundreds and hundreds of original PSO programs.
Readers should feel assured that all (except one; .....maybe two; .....OK..... more than two) events listed have been thoroughly and carefully researched; the information herein is as accurate as are the reports and articles that I read and the interviews that I conducted. I had back-up support for each item listed-- and all [except for several fun-but-fictional items that should be recognized as such when read. Since I enjoy being a bit goofy- you'll see some attempts at humor] can be provided if necessary. However: only I am authorized to decide what's necessary. I trust that you'll bear with me and accept THINGS-PSO as a 99+% accurate record. By the way, occasionally in this text I've offered some personal musings, which you're free to ignore..................... but not criticize.
Oh...... a request if I may. This PSO-History project has been a volunteer effort, and a lot of effort there has been. For sure, errors in spelling, grammar and syntax will be found. When that occurs, please don't let me know. If I end up communicating with 98% or 99% precision, please think of any such accomplishment as similar to a PSO concert performance when maybe 1 or 2 percent of the notes might not have been perfectly played....... yet Maestro Moody and the musicians were right-on in communicating the essence of the composer's work.
Note: If you know about something that you feel should be included, please contact me. And if you have any old concert programs, most definitely contact me. I monitor the email address [email protected].