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THINGS-PSO, Opus 1 - TIMELINE SECTION ....... A Reference History of the Portland Symphony Orchestra



1676       A New England settlement, then called Falmouth, was attacked and burned down by local Native American Indians. The European inhabitants abandoned the settlement and it remained abandoned until 1716.

1775       British ships under Captain Henry Mowatt fire-bomb and destroy Portland (Falmouth Neck). The inhabitants immediately got to work rebuilding their community. This was the first “Portland Phoenix rising from the ashes”.

1805       Near what is now the corner of Congress Street and Preble Street in Portland, a home was constructed for the then 44-year/old U.S. Navy Commodore Edward S. Preble, war hero who a year earlier led his men aboard the USS Constitution in the Mediterranean Sea to successfully end the threat of Barbary pirates at the battle of Tripoli. His strong religious views caused him to consider theaters and theatrical entertainment as immoral. Little did he know that one hundred years later the very corner where he would live out his life “would mark the crossroads of Portland’s theatrical district” (source: Donald C. King, Vol 23; No. 1 issue Marquee Magazine, Journal of the Theatre Historical Society of America, 1991)

That this ironic fact deserves to be included in THINGS-PSO, a history of the Portland Symphony Orchestra, relates to the important role in society that so-called legitimate theaters and (by 1905) movie theaters would play in the normal daily lives of the city’s citizens. With the phonograph recording industry just out of infancy and radio broadcasting about to be invented when the 19th century would end, the theater industry would be huge and all the rage one hundred years after Commodore Preble’s naval heroism. One of the majestic theaters that would be constructed on Congress Street would become the venue where the forerunner organization of the PSO would be conceived and created.

1806       On January 17, “the selectmen of Portland petitioned the legislature of Massachusetts for a law to prohibit the erection of theatres. The law was passed,” and shortly thereafter “a $500 forfeit was levied for performing any sort of theatrical entertainment for profit, gain or other valuable consideration. (source: King, Marquee)

Decades would pass before construction of theatres would be permitted.

1814       Portland’s Handel Society is formed. (HS: This is one year before Boston’s Handel Society was formed.)

1819       The nation’s first Beethoven Musical Society was formed in Portland.

1821       Portland's "First Parish Church got its first organ when members contributed $680 and an additional sum of $350 was voted by members from church funds.” "This first organ was used in the wooden church known as the 'Old Jerusalem'. It was (later) installed in the present church, which was dedicated February 8, 1826."
(source: Press Herald article)

Henry Martyn Payson was born in Portland this year, the son of a minister who moved his family to the area after graduating from Harvard. He would eventually develop a highly successful business in the city, with his descendents becoming critically important to the Portland Symphony Orchestra and many of the city’s other cultural activities, as generations of the family generously supported and patronized the PSO. (HS: For additional information about Mr. Payson, see 1853 and 1866 sections of this Timeline.)

1825       Portland's first Town Hall built in Market Square (now Monument Square)

1829       Johann Carl Hermann Kotzschmar born, Finsterwalde, Prussia (on July 4; .....perhaps a sign of his U.S. future?)
-His father and grandfather had been the Stradtmusikers, or music directors, of the town.
-Early on, his family taught him several instruments, including violin, keyboard, flute and horn.
-When only 14 years of age, Hermann Kotzschmar moved to Dresden to study composition.

1832       Town Hall building first used as a City Hall... This structure eventually was torn down in 1888 to make way for the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial.

1835       Ferdinand Ilsley establishes Portland Academy of Music; attracts 300 students within a year

1847       Hermann Kotzschmar, from Prussia, settles in Portland after living for a brief time in Boston

(HS note: a second source denotes the year as 1848, after Cyrus L. Curtis discovered him in Boston)

- "He came to America with a group of young German musicians. They performed in Philadelphia and New York City, but due to bad planning and their inability to speak English, they were forced to disband in Boston.” It was then that "Curtis came upon Kotzschmar whose shabby appearance and lack of funds bespoke of a man confronting hard times. The seed of a friendship that lasts for many decades was planted that day and Curtis brought Kotzschmar back to Portland.” (The Chronicle)

1849       Portland housed performing arts at the Portland Museum - Union Street Theatre

"The small house orchestra was conducted by a twenty-year-old Prussian immigrant, Hermann Kotzschmar."
(HS: A look-back article in a 1983 Evening Express stated that “the four musicians making up the orchestra have been described as men of marked musical ability and the orchestra attracted more patronage than the performers.”)

Cyrus Libby Curtis, eventually to become father of Cyrus Hermann Kotzschmar Curtis, plays trombone in the Union Street Theatre Orchestra, under friend Hermann Kotzschmar.

John Stevens Morris was born in Bangor. Before his life would end 79 years later, he would become a wealthy railroad magnate, with additional business interests in insurance and insurance brokerage. Eventually, by then residing in Portland in 1924 when in his mid-70’s, he would financially subsidize the original formation of the Portland Symphony Orchestra (soon thereafter to be renamed the Portland Orchestral Society), becoming the group’s first President.

1850       Cyrus Hermann Kotzschmar Curtis born in Portland, to Cyrus Libby Curtis and Salome Anne Curtis. The house where he was born was at the corner of Brown and Cumberland.

The book “Music and Musicians of Maine” includes the reference that “at the meeting of the Portland Sacred Music Society held December' 4, 1850, it was voted to engage Mr. Kotzschmar as pianist of that society for the sum of fifty dollars per year. On Sunday evening, March 16, of the following year, he appeared as soloist in what is believed to have been his first concert program, in America as organist. His contribution consisted of two voluntaries, but whether they were compositions of the old masters or improvisations by the performer, the record does not state.”

1851       Hermann Kotzschmar was appointed organist at First Parish Church; to hold this position for 47 years. "He was also a director of the Haydn Association which is credited as the foundation organization for vocal music in Portland.” (source: The Chronicle) (HS: Actually, at this time the Haydn Association would not be formed for another 6 years.)

1852       The Old Portland Orchestral Society was formed "for improvement in instrumental music". (Source: Music and Musicians of Maine)

This year, following the demise of the Union Street Theater Orchestra, Hermann Kotzschmar was engaged as pianist for the Portland Sacred Music Society for $50 a year. This group, which later became the Haydn Association, was to influence his musical career for many years.” (source: Evening Express article of 1/12/1983)

Completion occurred of the filling of extensive waterfront area to create Commercial Street.

1853       First Parish Church received a new organ, with the old organ given to the Standish Unitarian Society.
The new organ remained in use until installation of another new organ in 1910. (Press Herald article)

Privately-owned Portland Theatre built as Deering Hall. It was located at the corner of Congress at Preble, and seated 1646 people.

Now long a widower, Henry M. Payson returned to Portland, following an unsuccessful four years in California’s gold fields, to take advantage of the increased need for financial middlemen to continue Maine's development. He set himself as a stock and bond broker and a dealer in paper money. (HS: This and other related information [see 1870 in this Timeline] has been taken from a financial-information website.) At this time in U.S. history, state banks printed their own currency to supplement the limited amount of gold and silver coins that the federal government was able to mint. Nevertheless, a great deal of Payson's business for the first 20 years involved transactions in gold, as he cashed drafts and acceptances from California and London institutions. He had a reputation for honesty, which was of great value. Payson built up a reservoir of trust in the community, which was bolstered by his decision to pay off his old creditors even though he was not legally required to. He was also known to be a careful investor of clients' money, strongly preferring blue chip investments over speculative ventures. (HS: See 1866 for further information about Mr. Payson and his firm.)

1857       The Haydn Association was organized on February 9, to “study sacred music of a classical nature”. This year the group presented an ambitious offering at the Chestnut Street Methodist Church. On two consecutive evenings, audiences respectively enjoyed Joseph Haydn’s oratorio Creation and Sigismund Neukomm’s David. Henry Kotzschmar was the organist and George A. Churchill conducted. In September, Handel’s Messiah was performed, with John Knowles Paine as organist. The presentation was so successful that a decision was made to repeat it on New Year’s Day. (Source: Music and Musicians of Maine)

1858       Cornerstone laid for a new City Hall building; material from the Bay of Fundy.

1859       The dedication of Mechanic's Hall at 519 Congress Street (still standing 150+ years later) was "enlivened by Daniel H. Chandler's Portland Band, one of the finest military bands in New England."

(from Portland, published by Greater Portland Landmarks)

1862       The first of what would over the course of time become three City Halls, was built on Congress Street at a corner with Myrtle Street (HS: This construction began in 1859, following a 1858-cornerstone-laying).

...Designed by James H. Rand, Boston architect

...Impressive structure, built in the latest fashion; timber framed with ornate stone exterior

1866       The Great Fire of 1866 destroys 1/4 x 1&1/2 mile-wide swath of Portland. The massive blaze was at that time the most extensive fire yet to occur in the U.S. (The Great Chicago Fire occurred in 1871).

..Fire started when a young boy carelessly tossed a firecracker onto chaff at a boat builder’s yard; cinders quickly blew onto nearby huge 8-story Brown Sugar House Company factory, which although built of brick very soon thereafter was engulfed by a conflagration, the structure doomed as strong winds whipped up the inferno.
-incident occurred on Commercial Street near base of High St, near where Becky's Diner is now

..10,000 (of roughly 28,000 population) homeless; amazingly, only two deaths occurred rapidly swept northerly through Fore street into wooden buildings between Center and Cross streets, consuming everything as it went, eventually sweeping completely through the city from the foot of High street to North street on Munjoy Hill, destroying everything in its track so completely that the lines of the streets could hardly be traced.

(Thousands of citizens fought fire; Hermann Kotzschmar was in those times a regular member of Hose Company #1.)

..half the city was destroyed, that half including nearly all the business portion; 1500 buildings

..all the banks were gone, all the newspapers, all but three printing offices, all the wholesale dry goods stores, several churches, eight hotels, and the telegraph offices

..the< homeless resorted to an immediately-created tent-city on Munjoy Hill of Cyrus Libby Curtis lost their home in fire

The four-year old City Hall was nearly destroyed, the front walls alone remaining standing. It had been considered fire-proof, and had been a most magnificent structure. The facade, of Nova Scotia freestone, was 175 feet, and the extreme depth on Myrtle Street was 275 feet. It was surmounted with an elegant dome, and the principal hall been pronounced one of the finest in the country. The hall was built with the intent to ultimately accommodate the State Legislature and State officials.

..City Hall shell was preserved, to become part of new replacement-building structure interior entirely destroyed, and subsequently removed and hauled away

..The impressive new structure was designed by Francis H. Fassett. After the Fire of 1866, he was Portland's leading architect for many years, also prominent among state architects. His other designs for the city include the original Maine General Hospital Building, Alms House, Second Parish Church, and the parish house for the Cathedral of St. Luke. He also designed numerous residences, many in the fashionable West End.

The City followed through on a commitment to create substantial water-flow from Lake Sebago, also to establish an up-to-date citywide fire and police communications alarm system.

In November, The Daily Memphis Avalanche carried a story about Portland stating that by that time six to seven hundred new buildings had been erected, including fifteen three-story brick and granite blocks. About that same time, the New Hampshire Sentinel, in Keene, reported that about a thousand buildings were in course of erection on Portland's burnt district.
(Source for most of the above detail about Portland's Great Fire and its aftermath is the internet web site GenDisasters, also several history treatises.)

Henry Payson became active in the re-development of Portland after the fire, involved in water bonds when the Portland Water Company was formed in 1866. Four years later, after the company twice succumbed to bankruptcy, Payson in the early 1870s was induced to join the board and help place the company on a solid financial footing. He was instrumental in securing the funds necessary to improve the infrastructure and turn Portland Water into a profitable business. It also marked Payson's entry into the water business, which became a main interest of the company for several decades, eventually running several water companies that he helped to found or acquired. The firm also underwrote many utility bonds during the final decades of the 1800s. The firm which he owned would became highly successful, with interests later spread from coast to coast, touching more than 100 utilities and leading Payson to become known as "The Water Bond House.” (HS: Phrasing and information in this paragraph, and earlier paragraphs about Mr. Payson and the firm he founded, have been unabashedly plagiarized from a website about financial firms.)

Another Phoenix-like rebirth of Portland was well underway (with further fire-related tragedy ahead that would eventually influence the Portland Symphony Orchestra).

1867       Second City Hall on Congress & Myrtle site erected (partially built in surviving shell of old bldg.)

..Includes an auditorium (really a public meeting hall... also to serve for school graduations, etc.)

.. Seating capacity 1540 with scenery; 1900 without (probably with seats on the stage)

..60ft wide stage; rigging loft 24ft above (replaced slide grooves)

..Proscenium 30ft wide with 20.5ft center height (source for all above: King Report at GPL)

The Rossini Club was founded at the corner of High Street and Congress, in the colonial homestead of Francis O. Libby. Subsequently meetings would be held at Samuel H. Steven’s Piano Warerooms on Middle Street, opposite the head of Cross Street. (Source: Music and Musicians of Maine).

1868       The rebuilt City Hall retained the exterior features of the building constructed during 1859-1862, but was more elaborate, with a changed roof line & the central tower re-detailed. This 3rd city hall was to later become referred to as "Old City Hall"; the facility reopened with a concert by Brignoli's Italian Opera Company. Gas lighting was used, later converted to electricity after 1890.

1869       The Rossini Club presented its first-ever concert at the Stevens’ Piano Warerooms on Middle Street. (Source: Music and Musicians of Maine)

The Haydn Association was virtually reorganized. It now met each Wednesday evening at Fluent’s Hall, with Henry Kotzschmar as conductor. Membership at this time totaled 303 people, with 150 on average attending rehearsals. (Source” Music and Musicians in Maine)

1870       Sometime during this decade, Ardon Coombs, a lawyer, formed the Ardon Coombs’ Orchestra. The ensemble held rehearsals of chamber music in his Vaughan Street home. (Source: Music and Musicians in Maine)

1872       Cyrus Curtis establishes his first publication, a weekly titled People's Ledger, in Boston.

Hermann Kotzschmar conducts The Haydn Association in the premiere of John Knowles Paine's St. Peter, the first American oratorio

The Haydn Association presented what a local handbill called "The Grand Oratorio of Handel" on December 30, at City Hall. The handbill referred to both "A Grand Chorus of 200 Voices!" and "The Germania Orchestra!" joining forces for this production of The Messiah, with Hermann Kotzschmar conducting.

In December, Hermann Kotzschmar married Mary A. Torrey, a native of Sacramento, who then resided in Portland, where she was attending a private school for girls.

1876       Johann Gottleib Friedrich ter Linden (known as 'Fred' ter Linden), forms Orpheus Symphony Club, comprised of his students. Interestingly, Herr ter Linden has been credited as being the first musician in America to play the saxophone. (Source: Music and Musicians of Maine)

Cyrus Curtis, seeking lower printing costs, relocates to Philadelphia

1880       On December 8, a Portland singing organization, the Weber Club, performed a “Programme” for the benefit of The Martha Washington Society. The concert had musical numbers that included a solo, duet, trio and quartette. (source: Maine Historical Society)

1882       Hermann Kotzschmar organizes the Portland Orchestral Philharmonic Society, which he directs.

1883       The Haydn Association, Chandler’s Orchestra, the Rossini Club and the Weber Club combined to present a concert named the “Longfellow Memorial Concert” in the assembly auditorium of City Hall.

Louisa Knapp Curtis pens 1-page supplement to Tribune and Farmer magazine owned by her husband.

1884       Paul E. Melrose is born in Fall River, Massachusetts.

Mrs. Curtis’ Tribune and Farmer magazine supplement becomes Ladies Home Journal and Practical Housekeeper magazine. The last three words were dropped two years later.

..the last three words of the original magazine title were dropped two years later

1885       Cyrus Libby Curtis, father of Cyrus Hermann Kotzschmar Curtis, passed away this year.

On December 31, in Gorham, Clinton W. Graffam (during his eventual PSO days, he was Clint, Sr.) was born.

1886       Eventually to become the first president of the PSO and its initial major financial backer, John Stevens Morris, then 37 years old, was “credited with being the first white man to explore the Grand Canyon”(HS: A claim my brother challenged, maintaining that the Spaniards who earlier controlled that region, certainly must have done some exploring there; he’s probably right about that..... but why ruin an otherwise darn good yarn about Portland’s Mr. Morris?), when traveling through areas of the Arizona Territory. With several other professional “railroad men, he spent 30 days on mule back, exploring the region (HS: north of Flagstaff to what became known as the South Rim of the Grand Canyon) through which the proposed railroad (i.e., the 65-mile long Flagstaff & Grand Canyon Railroad, which he eventually financed and built) was to pass. This was at about the time of the last uprising of the Apache Indians in Arizona. The railroad line was afterward purchased by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad.” (source: Maine Sunday Telegram and Sunday Press Herald) The Grand Canyon Railway is still in service today (2012), weekly transporting several thousand tourists in vintage or domed luxury parlor observation cars between Williams, AZ (HS: 35 miles north of Flagstaff) and the Grand Canyon. (source: Railway company media relations)

1888       The Portland Orchestral Philharmonic Society becomes the Portland Philharmonic Orchestra, which functioned for six more years. (Source: Music and Musicians of Maine)

1891       City Government of Portland inaugurates series of Sunday public band concerts

....The Board of Trade Journal editorially chastises the City Government's actions "to attract people away from churches, and the congregation of large masses of people to disturb the peace and quietness that has hitherto characterized the restful sabbath' as ill-advised and reprehensible since no good can come of it"

Curtis Publishing Company founded

1892       Richard Burgin was born in Siedlce, Poland (at that time, part of the Russian Empire).

1894       Ladies Home Journal annual circulation exceeds one million

1891       Music lover Horatio Nelson Jose constructed a small opera house, named Kotzschmar Hall, in that musician's honor. A wrought iron archway marked the approach to this concert hall set back from Congress St. This opera housed 620, with 100 in a balcony. (source: King, Marquee) (A successful Portland businessman, Horatio Jose for a while owned and resided in what is now the Cumberland Club.)

1897       The Jefferson Theatre was opened, seating 1650 in orchestra, balcony and gallery. In her history, "Portland" (first published by Greater Portland Landmarks in 1972), Josephine H. Detmer refers to the building of the elaborate and richly decorated Jefferson Theatre as the "heyday of Portland Theater". At the corner of 112 Free Street at Oak Street (now a parking garage, beside the Cumberland County Civic Center), "Portland audiences were rewarded with performances by such artists as Sarah Bernhardt in Camille and Maude Adams in Peter Pan." Other famous performers at the Jefferson included George M. Cohan, Ethyl Barrymore, Billie Burke, Lillian Russell, and Maine native Maxine Elliott. (for more regarding Maxine Elliott, see Anecdotes) The Jefferson was known as the best theater north of Boston and was Maine’s first truly modern theater. Googling reveals that “Portland boy John Martin Feeney, known to the world as the great Hollywood director John Ford, was an usher at the ‘Old Jeff,’ as it was affectionately called, between 1910-1914.”

Over the years many of Portland’s theaters, vaudeville houses and movie palaces would be renovated, expanded or otherwise converted into majestic facilities that attracted thousands to what was an aggressively competitive business. These improvements often were accompanied by the respective establishments taking on new names. As a result, now looking back it is oft-times difficult to determine when each of Portland’s theaters were originally constructed. In this THINGS-PSO, the openings are not always mentioned of all of Portland’s respective theaters. Movie houses would frequently close due to competitors’ successes, or close temporarily for expansion and/or renovations, and then re-open/open with new, catchy, names designed to attract customers away from each other. Eventually the major industry employing palatial-like downtown movie emporiums throughout the U.S., including Portland, would be completely annihilated by television, the economic depression and the move of people and shopping centers out of central cities. The closures of each and every Portland downtown theater is not included in this THINGS-PSO.

1898       Russell Ames Cook born, in Unity, Maine, on March 31. (Source: Handwritten outline of bio-material prepared by Dr. Cook, although a Portland newspaper tribute to him after his death noted his birthplace as Unity.)

1899       Hermann Kotzschmar presented with gold-tipped ebony baton at City Hall to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his arrival in Portland. Baton later encased in frame on wall of Merrill Auditorium stage.

John Turnell Austin develops the Universal Air Chest system for the organ, which led to the Austin Organ Company becoming a leader in organ building. The "chest" was a large, airtight, walk-in room with the chest action on the ceiling, making adjustments and repairs quite easy."(Tucker)


1900       Kotzschmar Club formed, a musical organization for men, with HK as the first president

1903       Chamber Music Club is formed, with Hermann Kotzschmar as its president

Hermann Kotzschmar receives Honorary Master of Arts degree from Bowdoin College.

At age 11, Richard Burgin first performed in public, as a soloist with the Warsaw Philharmonic Society.

Arthur Bennett Lipkin was born in England.

1904       International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States (IATSE) Local 114 chartered in Portland on July 15 (the national union was organized in 1893). Employees of the Portland Theater, a large facility located on Monument Square at the northwest corner of Preble St. at Congress St., were the first IATSE Local 114 workers. More than 100 years later, IATSE stagehands work at PSO performances at Merrill Auditorium.

1905       Hermann Kotzschmar received the honorary degree of Doctor of Music from Eberhardt College.

1906       Harold M. Lawrence was born. He would go on to be a Day#1 member of the PSO (including membership in the forerunner Amateur Strand Orchestra in 1924), as well as a signatory to the 1932-incorporation of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. He served as PSO President for many years, both before and after Army service in World War II, during which he participated in the invasion of France. While advancing through a personal management career at USM, he remained active in the Army Reserve, eventually retiring with the rank of Brigadier General. An inveterate scrapbook-maker, his 10 volumes of memorabilia about the PSO provided MANY previously otherwise-lost historical facts about the orchestra’s founding and early days that have not been located elsewhere. His family treasures those albums and graciously lent them for review and examination as THINGS-PSO was being compiled.

1908       After major January fire, City Hall destroyed, ----even surviving shell considered unsafe Citizens called to fight fire by ringing of church bells (as automatic system didn't function)

--Fire started in electrician's room on 3rd floor, below dome

--Irony: wires that short-circuited were at hub of citywide central fire alarm system.

This second monumental city super-structure completely torn down.

Keith's Theatre opened at another corner of Congress at Preble, seating 1875 people (the name was later changed to the Civic Theater). The stage was 55 ft wide, 37 ft deep, and 64 ft high. Albert E. Hopkins was the Orchestra Leader. Presented there were vaudeville and stage shows, and occasional movies before switching over to movies entirely by the 1920's. The main entrance to Keith’s Theatre was on Preble Street, and the Wedgewood-appearing façade remains in view today (2013). A long hallway from an alternate entrance on Congress St. (the building abuts the Maine Historical Society and Longfellow House grounds) remains (2013), still an enclosed marble-floor arcade with retail shops. Keith’s Theatre was a fancy place, 85ft. deep by 87ft. wide. The orchestra seated 700, the balcony 600, and the gallery 500. Two double boxes and four singles flanked the stage on the orchestra floor. There were eight more at the balcony level. Cherubic statues, illuminated from the rear, topped the boxes. The decor was rococo with a color scheme based on Nile green. Orchestra and balcony seats were upholstered with green leather. There was a large cartouche in the center of the proscenium picturing reclining figures with lyre and tambourine.
    (Coincidental irony: Keith's opening occurred only three days after the 1908 City Hall Fire)

Keith’s Theatre in Portland was one of hundreds of similarly-named movie and vaudeville halls within a circuit owned by theater magnate Benjamin Franklin Keith. Later in 1908, when a Keith Theatre was soon to open in Bangor, the Bangor Daily News on Dec. 3, 1908, referred to Mr. Keith by noting that he “is to vaudeville what Roosevelt is to politics, Morgan to finance or Rockefeller to oil”. Keith and his partner, Edward F. Albee (father of the eventual Pulitzer Prize-winning author) had a huge three-decade theatrical business that “raised the standard of vaudeville from the coarse and vulgar variety shows “to one where “risqué lines were not tolerated on its stages.... ...even so relatively innocuous term as ‘slob’ was banned.” (source: Boston Opera House website, history section) He was known as the “Father of Vaudeville” for he helped standardize the format of the genre thanks to the circuit of performers his multitude of theaters created and supported with regular work. Shows at the Keith typically consisted of 9 various acts and an intermission. The acts would usually include a juggler or clown or acrobat, a comic, snippets of plays or other short dramas and comedies, as well as animals. Shows often performed 2-4 times a day for 5 or 6 days straight before striking and moving on to the next town on the circuit. The theatergoer could stay for as many shows as they wished for the price of a ticket. (source: Doug Born, Portland IATSE Local 114)

A few years before opening their Portland theater, Keith and Albee had been among the first to show motion pictures, thus generating huge profits. Eventually Keith’s company merged with the Orpheum theater company, and when that combine was acquired by the Radio Corporation of America in the 1920’s, the various company’s first letters led to formation of the major motion picture studio, RKO.

May vote by citizens authorizes construction of "New City Hall" at burned out site.

"By a three-to-one margin it was decreed that the city building should be located on exactly the same site on Congress Street, and that the building should include a hall for public meetings and large assemblages."

('Behind The Pipes', by Janice Parkinson Tucker)

Noted architects NYC-based Carrère and Hastings, hired to design new City Hall

 -1908 was year their firm was overseeing construction of NYC's Public Library on 5th Avenue (In 1905-6 Carrère and Hastings designed both the House and Senate office buildings in Washington; earlier, in 1901, the pair designed Woolsey Hall, the concert hall at Yale)

 -Local architect John Calvin Stevens, assisted by son John Howard Stevens to oversee construction;
City Hall Auditorium integral part of building.

Drawings approved by city in October (-drawings retained at Maine Hist. Soc.)
  "plans were made to buy additional land at rear of burned out hall, so that the new building could be enlarged" (Tucker)

Hermann Kotzschmar passes away (on April 15)

Richard Burgin began studying with Leopold Auer at the St. Petersburg Conservatory.
(HS: he would graduate in 1912, winning the Silver medal in violin in that year).

1909       Cornerstone of New City Hall was laid this year (see 1912 for details).

1910       A visiting pianist from Australia, Robert Harkness, suggested that a grand organ be included in the new auditorium, similar to the one in the Town Hall in Sydney.

Former Portland Mayor Adam P. Laughton is believed to have solicited Cyrus H.K. Curtis to contribute toward establishing an organ in the City Hall Auditorium.

The so-called “New” Portland Theater is built at #11 on Preble Street, replacing the Portland Theater that had stood at the corner of Preble and Congress. Then the smallest of Portland’s large theaters, it was erected on the site of two wooden buildings to replace the earlier structure, and held 1000 patrons – decades later to increase comfort for patrons, the capacity was reduced to about 800. It would eventually have its name changed to The Playhouse, and for many years starting in the early 1930’s would be the venue where a popular local amateur play troupe, The Portland Dramatic Guild (which members eventually renamed The Portland Players because a legal case won by the Theatre Guild of New York prevented amateur groups with "guild" in the title from getting good plays) often performed. When the “New” Portland Theater opened in 1910, at the front were three curtains, which a much-later (1967) EE article reported were “an asbestos one, a richly colored pictorial one, and a Portland one showing Monument Square with the Portland Theater, the Fidelity skyscraper and the New City Hall in the distance”. The 60’s EE article mentioned that “on opening day, three vaudeville) shows were given... ...the program given headed by Professor H.C.Wilson’s bears, dogs and anteaters”. The motion picture for that day was “The Tide of Fortune”. The newspaper added that “and last, but not least, was the Portland Theater orchestra, billed as ‘a feature in itself’ “. (HS: No reference as to how large that orchestra may have been has been spotted, but it is likely similar in size to 10,000 or so ten-to-twelve-piece theater orchestras then common throughout America.) Tickets in 1910 were 10 cents or 20 cents depending on location. The “New” Portland Theater eventually became a member of the Loew’s chain of theaters. Fifty-seven years after opening, by then rarely used and dusty-and-crusty, a 1967 announcement was made that consideration was being given to converting the structure into a three-story office building. While that failed to be accomplished, and the theater would continue to be periodically (but not often) used by local performing groups seeking a medium-sized auditorium at an affordable rental rate, in the late 1980’s The Playhouse was eventually razed. Today (2014), that #11 address location is at about the entry point of the drive-thru area of People’s United Bank on Preble Street, still just down the street from where Preble meets Congress Street at Monument Square.

First Parish Church received a new three-manual Ernest skinner organ.

A “large roller skating rink” called Convention Hall, was constructed “on the second floor of a fireproof building at 17-21 Forest Avenue. Its location was only one half a block from Congress Street.” The facility was a large, cavernous, structure. (source: King, Marquee)

1911       In early January, former Mayor Laughton announced in local newspapers that Cyrus H.K. Curtis had offered to present an organ to the city as a memorial to the man for whom he was named. (Tucker)

Plans for City Hall auditorium are redrawn to take into account the new organ. The additional drawings cost the city council $23,244.75 in design-fee changes. (Tucker)
(HS: in 2012-dollars, that extra cost would total more than $500,000! Wow!)

In early March, John Carrère was injured in New York City when a streetcar collided with the taxi in which he was riding. He suffered a brain concussion and never regained consciousness.

On April 3, the 1500-seat Big Nickel Theater opened on Forest Avenue (near Congress St., from which a second entrance would be added in 1917), with a 14-member orchestra. The facility was constructed around what had been Convention Hall, thus it “already had a balcony, an organ, and few posts. Seats and equipment were all that was needed. However, to be successful there had to be an entrance from the main street. A bridge-like connection was made from the hall to the second floor of a building fronting on that street. A broad stairway existed which gave the theatre a lobby on Congress Street.” A large vertical electric sign was erected above 565 & ½ Congress, plus another at the corner of Forest Avenue. (source: King, Marquee)

The orchestra at the Big Nickel, like those at thousands of other movie houses around the country, played overtures and accompanied films as well as vaudeville performers who took the stage between films. Nowadays (2012), many people do not realize that music was an integral element of watching a movie, with one historical observer poignantly commenting that not knowing about that, is “Akin to writing a history of opera and not mentioning the singers.” A newspaper article about the history of old movie houses said, “The music punctuated scenes, gave a sense of time passing and sounded like people talking back and forth.” It wasn’t long after talking movies came in 1927, that tens of thousands of theater musicians soon became jobless. The Big Nickel, a nickelodeon, was one of the few theaters in America to show an early talking picture system called Cameraphone. The Big Nickel eventually changed its name to The Strand, where the first forerunner orchestra of the eventual Portland Symphony Orchestra gained its initial roots.

1912       Third City Hall on Congress and Myrtle site erected (as per the referendum vote)

..French Renaissance classical style

..built to then-known highest standards of fireproof construction

...Granite (from Jay, ME), marble, concrete, terrazzo floors, etc.

..Cost of Construction $932,244.75 ($21mm in 1912-dollars)

..A large Municipal Auditorium (seating capacity 3000) listed re structure

..cantilevered balconies constructed entirely of steel and reinforced concrete

.."on the main floor folding portable seats have been provided, in order that they may be removed and stored under the stage; and the main floor used for dancing, fairs, or exhibitions

.."opera chairs fixed in place" ........"used in the two balconies which together (seat) about 1500."

..Cyrus H.K. Curtis contributes Kotzschmar Memorial Organ for Auditorium

-Initial cost of the organ was $60,000

"In 1911, Cyrus H. K. Curtis proposed contributing all the necessary funds ($60,000) to build an organ for the auditorium.... Curtis directed the Austin Organ Company to design an organ for the new space, and he gave them carte blanche to do so, not wishing 'any interferences from organists or music committees.' <" (Amer. Organist)

..The "great rated in size as the fourth in the world and as the third largest in this country, and in quality of construction, purity of tone, or musical adaptability second to none. An echo organ has been placed in the ceiling and is operated from the same movable console as the main organ." (The American Architect, Nov., 1918)

-It took seven railroad boxcars to bring the organ from Hartford to Portland;

-Mr. Curtis participated in and spoke at the unveiling ceremonies;

-Mrs. Kotzschmar pulled "a silken" cord to release curtains and reveal the bust of her husband that is still (2014) mounted on the façade in front of the organ pipes. (source of info.....Daily Eastern Express and Maine Historical Society).

The new City Hall Auditorium "seated 3,051 -- 1544 on the ground floor in movable folding chairs (to allow for dancing, fairs or expositions on the floor), 852 in the first balcony with plush theater-style seats and 655 in the second balcony, on more utilitarian fixed seats.” ('Pipes' -Tucker)

Although it was already huge in 1912, the Kotzschmar Organ was eventually to become really six organs in one.

"The organ is (ultimately) divided into six divisions--- Great, Swell, Orchestral, Solo, Echo, and Antiphonal-- all controlled from a four-manual console. The main organ is behind the elegant façade at the rear of the stage, while the Echo and Antiphonal divisions are located in ceiling high above the auditorium." (American Organist)
(HS note: The huge pipe organ's walk-in wind chest was something that most organs existing early in the 20th century did not have.)

During the ceremony, Will C. Macfarlane played the new organ. The Austin Organ Company's Opus 323 was received in the crowded auditorium with great enthusiasm. Nothing of this sort had ever before been heard in Portland. A three day festival of organ recitals followed. Overflow crowds attended these programs, paying 25 cents per ticket.

City appoints three-man Music Commission. The independent Music Commission (independent financially, that is, from City Council, except for the fact that the council appointed the three members), was formed to govern and oversee care of the municipal organ, therefore all details that would accompany the successful use of the instrument and the hall. The Commission immediately set about to select an organist.
(The Commission was "abolished in 1933, terminating a long and contentious dispute between then-Chairman Louis E. White and the council.” -Tucker)

William C. MacFarlane appointed the first municipal organist in the U.S., in Portland.

-MacFarlane later composed the music for the song "America The Beautiful"

-Annual stipend is a generous $10,000, although the Municipal Organist is obligated to perform one concert each week and pay for the maintenance and upkeep of the mighty organ.

1913       Simpson's Symphony Orchestra was organized by Ralph W. E. Hunt and Mr. Simpson, and presented its first concert. This group existed only two years, an illustration of how difficult it was to create and sustain the existence of an orchestra.

Paul E. Merrill was born.

The City Music Commission reported first-year income in excess of expenses of $2335.28 (HS: presumably little paid maintenance work was required that initial year), which included advertising, printed programs (HS: for organ concerts), office expenses, costs of visiting artists, etc. Individual organ concert tickets cost 25 cents to $1.50 (when special artists appeared), with free tickets distributed through benevolent and charitable institutions to people who could not afford to pay for admission.

Another Portland roller skating rink, a few doors up Congress Street from the Big Nickel, was converted into a second big movie house, and renamed as the Empire Theater, with 1400 seats. Advertisements hammered home “The Only Ground Floor Theatre in Portland!” (King, Marquee)

(HS note: Several large commercial vaudeville houses in Portland continue during this era as businesses competing with the movie palaces, although this part of the U.S. entertainment industry now had a limited remaining life, especially as Top vaudeville stars more and more would film their acts for one-time pay-offs)

1914       Clinton W. Graffam, Jr., was born this year.

The Portland Men’s Singing Club was formed this year.

During that season the Music Commission reported more than $1500 left over from box office receipts of more than $9400. ('Pipes' -Tucker)

Richard Burgin, at age 22, became concertmaster of the Warsaw Philharmonic.

1915       Kotzschmar Memorial Organ concert "receipts swelled to just under $16,000.” (Tucker)

A contest was held to decide a new name for The Big Nickel Theater. The winner was “THE STRAND”. Reports state that “a new vertical electric sign, the largest in New England heralded the change up and down Congress Street. A new $25,000 organ accompanied Paramount Pictures in their new home.” Paramount Pictures had been formed the previous years when five major film exchange owners combined to distribute feature pictures throughout the U.S. (source: King, Marquee, and Cinema Data Project)

Rouben Gregorian was born into an Armenian family in Tbilisi, Georgia. (HS: Shortly thereafter, his family fled to Tabriz, Persia [later to be renamed Iran], to avoid the horrors of Armenian massacres happening in neighboring Turkey.)

Portland Exposition Building (The Expo) was constructed.

While retaining his chair as concertmaster with the Warsaw Philharmonic, Richard Burgin also became concertmaster of both the Oslo Symphony AND of the Stockholm Concert Society.

An engraved announcement contained in the private scrapbook of Russell Ames Cook this year announced that "he will resume his teaching of Modern Violin Playing". On the same page of the scrapbook is pasted one of his business cards (undated of course).

“The Strand Theatre Company acquired the building housing its entrance on Congress Street. Land between it and the old second floor auditorium was purchased. Old Convention Hall was gutted and its walls incorporated into the stage end of the new theatre.” While The Strand was closed for complete-reconstruction, its management leased Kotzschmar Hall, then known as the Casco Theatre, to show first-run films while work was underway for the new house. (source: King, Marquee)

1918       Although a record of total organ concert receipts for that year has not yet been found, notes were read about the Music Commission annual report, which noted that a "War tax on tickets" to organ concerts brought in $1253.85. That total was exceeded during each of the following two years. (Tucker)

Bates College awarded Will C. Macfarlane an honorary doctorate in music.

A new Austin console, with advanced features, was installed in Portland City Hall Auditorium.

At about this time, Will C. MacFarlane resigned his position as Municipal Organist. He then accepted a post in Melrose, Massachusetts, where a new organ, Austin Opus 851, had recently been installed.

Now including seven dressing rooms, the refurbished “New Strand Theatre” reopened in June, and promoters referred to the 2500-seat facility as “Portland’s 1st Picture Palace”. The auditorium of the new facility contained a 10,000 square foot orchestra floor, the balcony 4500 square feet. It was the second largest motion picture theatre in New England, and opened with Mary Pickford in “M’liss”, accompanied by a from-then-on-to-be regular 14 member orchestra and the grand concert organ. Six years later, this small ensemble would be augmented by the formation of a full symphony orchestra, the primary forerunner organization of the present (2012) Portland Symphony Orchestra. As the moving picture business evolved and changed, in order to attract enough ticket-buyers to remain financially viable, for many years the Strand would also offer vaudeville and live theater productions, struggling to succeed in its later years (eventually it would be demolished in 1970).

Someone reading the draft of this THINGS-PSO inquired as to what the premiere silent film at the New Strand Theatre starring Mary Pickford, “M’liss”, was all about. Google-checking the website revealed that in the celluloid tale based on a Bret Harte story, “M'liss, a feisty young girl in a mining camp, falls for Charles Gray, the school teacher. Charles is implicated in a murder of which he is innocent, and the two must fight to save him from a lynching.” There’s lot more, of course (HS: But you probably already know all about this movie, don’t you?).

Russell Ames Cook, two years after graduation from this high school, becomes conductor of the Somerville (Massachusetts) High School Orchestra.

1919       Dr. Irvin John Morgan appointed Municipal Organist, as Will C. MacFarlane's tenure ended. (BE SURE to check out the anecdote about Dr. Morgan!)


1920       Richard Burgin was appointed concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1920, when Pierre Monteux was the orchestra's conductor. He would maintain that assignment with the BSO for an extended period of time, 42 years(!!). Before coming to America, he had already been concertmaster of the Leningrad Symphony, Helsinki Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic and the Stockholm Concert Society. (He would later [1927] be appointed assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony.)

1921       Dr. Arthur F. Kendall reorganized a loosely organized group in which anyone could play for musical enjoyment, into the Symphony Orchestra with a more or less regular group of players.

Edwin H. Lemare, renowned English virtuoso, named Municipal Organist. He was arguably the greatest transcription player of all time, a wizard of registration and his technique was legendary. At his first recital, the critics said the mighty Kotzschmar organ was 'played as it had never been played before.' “ (American Organist)

Russell Ames Cook becomes leader of the Peabody House Orchestra, in/near Boston.

1922       The Portland Polyphonic Society was organized. Its work was stated as devoted to the study of the highest forms of artistic music. Its sole purpose was stated at the time of its organization to be for the mutual enjoyment of its members in singing songs written for five or more parts.

Russell Ames Cook named Assistant Director of Music at Ford Hall Forum in Boston, Massachusetts.

1923       Formal re-organization of a PSO forerunner group by Clinton W. Graffam, Sr., the 60-member Amateur Strand Orchestra, was formed.

--Arthur F. Kendall was set to be the orchestra's first conductor; (he would serve until 1926).

--A newspaper ad was Mr. Kendall's organizing medium. (source: 1953 Sunday Telegram article) "The ad outlined the purposes of the project. Several weeks later the newly organized group began rehearsing.” (HS: Records that some 60 years later were attributed to Katherine Hatch Graffam, reveal that the first rehearsal occurred early the next year, in 1924.)

Longtime PSO flutist and many-times-President Harold Lawrence, then a high school student, was a Day#1 member of the new Strand ensemble. Many years later he said that the newly-formed group had four rehearsals this year before Mr. Kendall agreed to have them perform for an audience (which would be the following February).

Scrapbooks saved by Mr. Lawrence contained two ensemble photographs taken at the Strand Theatre, each with a professional photographer’s mark “Photo By Tisdale” (each can be viewed in the “Pictures” section of the website). The first bears a notation on the back “Portland Strand Theatre, Stage and Orchestra, 1923”; however a single line is drawn across the “1923”; also the word “symphony” is nowhere to be seen. With all but one person dressed in formal clothes, that picture includes nineteen individuals. Fifteen appear to be musicians, as they are holding or standing near instruments – brass players are respectively holding two French horns, a trombone and a trumpet. As many film historians have written, silent films were anything but silent. Orchestras of the size at The Strand in Portland were employed by thousands of theaters in America in that era. Two women standing at the respective sides of the group in the 1923 ensemble picture saved by Mr. Lawrence are shown with no instruments, possibly suggesting that they might have been vocalists. Mr. Kendall is standing next to the podium, as is a gentleman dressed in a suit--- perhaps a manager or senior person with the Strand (HS: Unfortunately, we may never know more specifics about the consist of this group of people.).

Mr. Lawrence told the Press Herald in a 1954 interview that “Back in the old days” during the silent-movie era, the Strand Theater “opened at 11 in the morning. A pipe organist accompanied the movies. Then the theater orchestra came in from 2 to 4:30 as accompanists. The musicians went home for supper and came back from 7:30 to pretty near 11.” He explained that conductor Arthur Kendall “also arranged for entertainment during 10-minute interludes between movies.” It occurred to him that “he might draw more patrons if he expanded his stage group into a full-fledged orchestra to play at intermission.”

Wanting to accomplish the goal of establishing a “full-fledged orchestra”, Mr. Kendall likely built the new symphony around the nucleus of the Portland Strand Theatre Orchestra. Conversely, unless those theater musicians agreed to work without pay, it is possible that he was not able to pursue this path. In any event, the newly-established community-based orchestra’s musicians were not compensated...... they were an amateur group.

The second photograph in Mr. Lawrence’s scrapbook is of the new ensemble, and inscribed by the photographer, “AMATEUR STRAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA”. It includes slightly more than sixty musicians respectively holding a wide array of instruments, with a bespectacled Mr. Kendall standing on the podium and facing the camera. Seated to the conductor’s immediate right are what appear to be the orchestra’s top two violinists sharing a stand, both women. (HS: So...... did this forerunner ensemble of what would evolve into the PSO initially have a concertmistress? Again, unfortunately, we may never know; however, we don’t know whether that logical supposition is incorrect, either. The book “Music and Musicians in Maine” includes a statement that “In the Spring of 1926 the personnel of the Portland Orchestral Society was as follows”, including a listing of “E. Raymond Shaw, concert master”. Based on that information, Mr. Shaw is listed as the first concert master of the PSO and its fore runner organizations. I’ll keep my eyes open looking for any information that a revised listing might be required.)

The Jefferson Theatre (by then the city's only legitimate theater) had fallen onto hard times

 ..."Motion picture competition" was one factor involved

 ...actions of civic leaders kept it open (until 1930s when it was demolished)

Municipal Organist Edwin H. Lemare left Portland for a similar position in Chattanooga; later returning to the life of a touring artist and organ consultant. The Maine Memory Network Collection of the Maine Historical Society reports that his resignation “follow(ed) a public dispute over his contract”.

1924       Old records that decades later would be organized by Katherine Hatch Graffam state that the first rehearsal of the Amateur Strand Symphony Orchestra was held on Friday, January 18 of this year.

Written reminiscences of longtime PSO violinist Louis Rapaport tell about tryouts at Frye Hall that were held a short time earlier: “When I got there there (sic) were about 50 or 60 people with violins tucked under their arms, plus several with saxophones and various other instruments. The sight of so many violins discouraged me, and my first impulse was to go home. I did.

“One week later I met a violin teacher who told me that several of the violinists had been weeded out and that there were still one or two openings, so I returned for an audition and was accepted. And perhaps that was the greatest thrill of my life.”

Mr. Rapaport went on to tell about the orchestra’s early rehearsals: “Things were some(what) different in those days. We had no librarian and the music was piled on a table, first come, first served. If one came in late and all the music was gone he had to sit three at a desk or come in earlier next week and try again.”

When Mr. Rapaport eventually wrote the above, although undated, it appears likely that it may have been during the late-1960s. The by-then former PSO violinist, who had also served many years as librarian, business manager, vice president, board member and principal of the second violin section, concluded his thoughts about more than four decades as a PSO’er. He wrote, “As I look back at my 42 years with the Portland Symphony, having taken part in its endeavors, its struggles, its glories, I wouldn’t exchange it for anything.” (HS: It’s unfortunate that recollections from many other Day#1 PSO musicians weren’t also similarly written down and saved. But with Mr. Rapaport’s look-back including general hints about what was to come after 1924, in what follows---- readers of this THINGS-PSO can now look forward to learning specific details.)

The 75-member Amateur Strand group this year played two six-day gigs at The Strand Theatre (HS: When I first read about the number “six” in regard to the initial performances, the source was from recollections of longtime PSO flutist, Harold Lawrence. Subsequently-found newspaper clippings from the time refer to “evening performances... ...throughout the coming week”, which with Saturday included would also have been six in total.). The ensemble's "public debut" concerts were in conjunction with regular movie-showings at The Strand Theater, all during evenings. Since a P-H article announced the group making its “stellar appearance Monday evening”, the very first concert would have occurred on Monday, February 25. The Portland Sunday Telegram advertisement for these concerts referred to the ensemble as "Portland's Amateur Strand Symphony Orchestra.” That name was also contained within two Press Herald articles that week regarding offerings at the Strand. (HS: Although there was likely no significance intended at the time, an advertisement in the Portland Sunday Telegram at that time reflected a slight variation of the ensemble's name, this time "The Strand Amateur Symphony Orchestra".)

One of the Strand-related articles that week did not lack for promotional bravado on the part of the theater, boldly proclaiming “This is without question the greatest musical treat ever offered Portland people by any local theater.” The top-line picture attraction that week was “Paramount’s latest success, ‘The Next Corner’, with a big cast including such stars as Conway Tearle, Lon Cheney, Dorothy Mackail, Ricardo Cortez and Louise Dresser.” The article went on to say, “The companion picture is Walter Hiers in ‘Fair Day’... ...Of course, there is also the usual high class news and the best in views.”

A copy of now-faded typed notes originally thought to have been prepared by Mrs. Edith Lawrence (see 1925 for more info) was spotted by HS well before many old scrapbooks retained by the Lawrence family were located (also before Katherine Graffam’s scrapbooks were spotted). Copies of articles and advertisements from the Portland Sunday Telegram remain and are now retained in the PSO Archives. The new orchestra led off those six February performances with Largo from Xerxes, by George Frideric Handel. Following was R.B. Hall's Greetings to Bangor -march, Song to the Evening Star from the opera “Tannhäuser” by Richard Wagner, and Antonín Dvořák's Humoresque. (HS: It is not known if other works were also performed.)

Harold Lawrence, some 60 (!) years later,recalled during an interview with a Press Herald reporter, "We packed the house", he said of that week-long engagement. "Back in the old days the Strand Theater (sic) on Congress Street opened at 11 in the morning.” "A pipe organist accompanied the movies. Then the theater orchestra came in from 2 to 4:30 as accompanists. The musicians went home for supper and came back from 7:30 to pretty near 11.” He also told of Conductor Arthur Kendall also arranging for entertainment during 10-minute interludes between movies. Mr. Lawrence said that it occurred to Kendall he might draw more patrons if he expanded his stage group into a full-fledged orchestra at intermission.

Again in conjunction with The Strand's motion picture offerings, a second series of six evening concerts began on Monday, May 12, by (what a look-back article in a 1980s’ Portland Sunday Telegram incorrectly listed as) "The Portland Orchestral Society's Symphony Orchestra", by now an ensemble of about 60 musicians. (HS: actually, a form similar to this name was not adopted until an unknown time after mid-summer of 1924, after the May concerts-- there would no longer be references to either "Strand" or "Amateur" by then.)

The group this second week at “The Strand” opened with American Patrol by F.W. Meacham. That march was followed by a rendition of the bouncy, (then) popular, jazz/dance band hit by Harry Tierney, Saw Mill River Road. (HS: to get an internet-link to hear this fun number, see the Anecdote section of THINGS-PSO). The orchestra's final work that Sunday-Friday is thought to have been the Second Regiment March, by R.B.Hall. (HS: Again, it is not known for certain whether other works were also performed, as no actual concert programs were retained by Mr. Lawrence. Starting several years later, in 1927, Mr. Lawrence began placing concert programs in a scrapbook, and the total number so retained is virtually a complete set for the following 40 years!)

Harold Lawrence recalled for the Press Herald during the 1984 interview that by June of 1924 the Strand ensemble had incorporated as the Portland Orchestral Society, after using the name Portland Symphony Orchestra during the early summer according to an internal document earlier mailed to member musicians. He said that after some thought, "They thought that 'Portland Symphony Orchestra' was too high-toned a name.” (HS: “High-toned” or not, the orchestra ensemble would graduate to perform in a much larger hall the next year a concert, when a concert would be held at Portland City Hall Auditorium.)

By the fall, the ensemble held its rehearsals on Sunday afternoons, at Frye Hall. The first rehearsal was from 3-6 pm on Sunday, September 14. The Frye Hall location on Spring Street (HS: Part of the Holiday Inn By The Bay facilities cover the site today [2012].) was the home of both the Community Club and the Rossini Club. John S. Morris picked up the tab so the orchestra could use Frye Hall for 15 rehearsals. (Sources: Lawrence recollections and a 1950 Sunday Telegram Section article)

Mr. Lawrence also told the P-H that the Portland Orchestral Society had financial backing from a local broker, John Morris, and the fledgling orchestra played free shows. (HS: The book “Music and Musicians of Maine” includes a reference that Mr. Morris was the “good angel of this organization... ...who generously paid for the rental of a suitable room in which the orchestra might be able to hold its weekly rehearsals and otherwise contributed to its maintenance.”) The P-H reported his also telling that "When Morris decided the orchestra was fine-tuned enough to charge for tickets, Kendall disagreed and resigned in protest.” (HS: A reference to Mr. Kendall being still engaged as conductor of The Portland Orchestral Society in the spring of 1926 indicates that his resignation occurred either that year or in 1927. -Source- the book “Music and Musicians of Maine”)

Note: 1924 is considered the year when the Portland Symphony Orchestra started. Based on information retained in the PSO Archives (as noted above), the first performance of the PSO's forerunner Strand Amateur Symphony Orchestra was on Monday evening, February 25, 1924.

Preparatory to whatever 1924-1925 season that the orchestra might have, a lengthy mid-year mailing “To Each and Every Member of the Portland Symphony Orchestra” was sent over the name of John S. Morris, President. It carried both his office address, 206 Spring Street in Portland, as well as Arthur Kendall’s home address at 13 Gray Street. The letter started off referencing how “the President and Board of Directors of this organization, as well as your Conductor, Mr. Arthur F. Kendall, each and all of us, desire to extend to you their congratulations for your grand and noble efforts, as well as your sincerity and devotion, in your application and work, the past few months, to help make this orchestra one of merit and of high standing.” The communiqué goes on to say, “We can all see, that by all of you cooperating, studying, practicing and rehearsing, you will reach that high standard which will appeal to every musical citizen of Portland”, etc., etc. (HS: Ah-ha..... a new way to encourage musicians to practice!) Mr. Morris’ letter repeated the importance of lots of practice during the summer months, advising the players that Sunday 3-6pm rehearsals in Frye Hall would start on September 14..... urging everyone to then show up “more or less perfected” after diligent practice. The members had been provided parts to rehearse, “a little higher grade of music... ...more in the order of Symphony music.” Mentioned was a plan to eventually “invite some 400 to 500 of the noted musical people of Portland, as well as the real lovers of good music, to assemble at Frye Hall, some designated evening, to hear you render the music before them....”, although such a concert would not be scheduled until everyone, “including Mr. Kendall”, feel that the ensemble is very ready to perform a concert. (HS: As events would play out, the organization would be reorganized somewhat, change its name to the Portland Orchestral Society, and play a concert at Portland City Hall Auditorium on February 22, 1925. Ironically, more than a year later, after two additional concert programs were ready and were performed, however, either the members of the group didn’t by then practice and become proficient enough, or possibly Mr. Kendall’s standards were just very high..... but the conductor would cancel two concerts –one at Frye Hall and the other at PCHS-- [on 12/10/26 and 3/4/27, respectively], believing that the POS was unprepared. Those decisions would be part of Arthur Kendall’s undoing as the group’s conductor..... but we’re getting ahead of events here--- so let’s let the particulars play out in sequence.)

So.... just who was Mr. John S. Morris? One answer, included in a 1953-written PSO history by flutist and eventual orchestra President, Harold Lawrence, is that he was a broker interested in good music. The Portland Sunday Telegram the next year would refer to him as “a local broker who has a keen interest in music, and a desire for the advancement of Portland along musical lines.” The newspaper also said he had “a view to aiding in developing the city’s amateur talent (and) he has paid for the... ...(the) hall for 15 rehearsals” The article added that he “has given generously of his time and counsel to the organization.” (HS: Whether he was a stock or bond broker was not initially determined by HS. However, subsequent P-H information found stated that about 1872 he came to Portland “and became connected with the insurance firm of Rollins & Adams, which included then-significant-in-Portland marine insurance among its activities. Later he developed an insurance and brokerage business of his own.” [– source Press-Herald article])

Googling also revealed that during times when he was a highly successful Portland businessman, in the mid 1880s he was president of the Little Chebeague and Harpswell Steamboat Company. He appears to have married well, as his wife, Myra, was the “daughter of Benjamin F. Chadbourne, one of the pioneer residents of this City.” (source: Press Herald article) Also, an 1882 document shows him listed as the treasurer of the Old Orchard Junction Railroad (HS: This was likely a trolley line, that connected Old Orchard Beach to the Portland, Saco and Portsmouth Railroad, and operated during the summer months for travelers heading to/from OOB’s ocean shore properties and other popular pleasure activities). Another late-1920’s document shows him listed as owning mining claims in Newfoundland (HS: since there is no indication that he was a prospector, therefore he was likely a speculator in that venture). As a lover of fine music, he likely “had the bucks” to be the PSO-fore runner ensemble’s financial backer.

(HS: Months after the above paragraph was written, more information about him was located to better answer the “So, just who was John S. Morris?” question.) Additional Googling had turned up the two references to him in regard to Maine railroads(or perhaps medium-range trolley companies might be a better description; this was a boom industry in the late 1800s)where he was an officer. Another mentioned his having legal interests in mining claims in Newfoundland. However, not much else that was “Googled-up” revealed additional significant information. But...... The Public Library’s Portland Room periodical newspaper file cards contained a single reference to John Stevens Morris; and it was highly informative, a lengthy and impressive Press-Herald obituary in 1929 containing a large formal posed photograph of a distinguished-looking gentleman. In this THINGS-PSO, an earlier 1886 Timeline item told about his Grand Canyon adventures in what were then Arizona Territory lands claimed (and often aggressively defended) by Apache and Aztec tribes. That proved that he was an adventuresome man. While he was most-certainly awed by the majestic scenery during his 30-day mule-trip explorations (like everyone else is today when they gaze upon what it now the #1-visited U.S. National Park), his goals were grander and more imaginative than just searching for gold or other valuable mining yields(HS: And broader goals were achievable with what must have been strong talents that he possessed in marketing plans for the financing and development of efforts associated with). This was certainly evidenced by his successful efforts to develop a railroad line to carry miners, their prospecting tools and supplies, and ultimately transport out rich minerals. Insofar as his own prospecting activities were concerned, he appears to have been the 180-degree antithesis of the proverbial bearded, dented-canteen-carrying Gabby-Hayes look-alike miner exploring for or panning for gold. Instead, he definitely had his eye on a significantly bigger picture and was interested in monetizing mining claims and railroad development rights and constructions, leveraging those into large financial gains..... and then moving on to other potentially lucrative ventures.

The P-H stated that “Following the sale of the (Grand Canyon) railroad property he returned to New York and became interested in various traction lines in a promotional and advisory capacity. (HS:  Regarding the definition of the word “traction” in this context, I checked with my brother who is a railroad buff, learning from him that it refers to “Railroads using electric locomotives [and/or trolley or interurban passenger cars] rather than steam locomotives".) Later he became interested in mining properties and timberlands in Newfoundland and Labrador, and was away from home on cruising expeditions for a month at a time.”

His vivid imagination was also evidenced by another interesting aspect of his life that the P-H featured. Also in the article, “During the Columbian Exhibition at Chicago in 1892 and 1893 (HS: the Great Chicago World’s Fair)he assisted in formulating plans for the construction of an $80,000 (HS: equivalent to $2.25 million in 2012-inflation-adjusted dollars)building for exhibitors of Maine clams and lobsters. He is generally credited for being the man who introduced clams and lobsters to the Western states.” (HS: Wow!! That’s cool info!)

The obituary contained no specific reference to the PSO, just a brief mention toward the end that “Mr. Morris was a great lover of music and, in his younger days was associated with many of the older musical organizations in the City.” Considering the 100% amateur, 100% volunteer aspect of the orchestras that respectively preceded and led to today’s PSO, his financial backing was critical those ensembles’ early years.

In December, Charles Raymond Cronham, from New Jersey, was appointed Municipal Organist. He had been organist at various churches in the Garden State until 1919, when he was appointed Organist and Instructor in Music at Dartmouth College. There he presented organ programs and taught at the Music Department until 1923. At that time he was hired by the Lake Placid Club in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, to assume the position of Organist and Director of Music. The club had recently installed a large Austin organ in their auditorium. He presented organ programs and worked with the Club Summer Orchestra, recruited from the ranks of the Boston Symphony players (Serge Koussevitzky’s founding of the forerunner to Tanglewood was still 14 years off.). Later during his Portland music career, at a social dinner with Portland Municipal Orchestra members and Music Commission Chairman William S. Linnell present, he admitted that he had actually started as an oboist in his college days, then playing on other instruments to obtain experience and gain perspectives that would help him better understand music. (HS: Most of the preceding information in this paragraph is from a 1930 C/V bio discovered among memorabilia carefully organized and saved by Harold M. Lawrence.)

Sometime this year, the daughter of Cyrus Curtis founded Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music, and dedicated the new institution to him.

Also this year, Paul Vermel was born in France.


1925       Portland Press Herald article “The Strand Chat” refers to a program of the "Portland Orchestral Society’s Symphony Orchestra of 75 local musicians under the direction of... Kendall of... the Strand Symphony Orchestra.” An original picture of the orchestra taken at the Strand still exists, with a copy in the PSO Archives. Still alive in 1996, Mrs. H.M. [Edith] Lawrence then commented that her husband was the "flute player nearest to the conductor" in the photo. (Harold M. Lawrence, later to be one of the founding-signatories when the PSO was formally incorporated in 1932, was a longtime flutist with the PSO -- and later served multiple terms as PSO Board President.)

This year two concerts were given, the first on the afternoon of Sunday, February 22, which was the ensemble’s debut performance at Portland City Hall Auditorium.

A complete listing of the members of The Portland Orchestral Society is contained as an Appendix to this THNGS-PSO (the list was compiled in the spring of 1926 and found in the book “Music and Musicians of Maine”).

The Portland Orchestral Society again led off the Washington’s Birthday concert with the Largo from “Xerxes”. HWV 40, by Handel, the same work played in February the prior year. The orchestra next performed Haydn’s aristocratic Minuet from Symphony No. 100 in G major (the "Military"), followed by Charles Cronham at the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ performing three solo works. Mrs. Charles Fenderson next sang Saint-Saëns’ My Heart At< Thy Sweet Voice, and that number was succeeded with the audience, orchestra and organ joining in a rendition of America, with Rupert Neily directing. The orchestra and organ followed with Wagner’s Song of the Evening Star, the cello solo played by Miss Mildred Dugen. Prior to the ending of the afternoon’s music, Mr. Cronham returned to the organ to play Allan Macbeth’s Intermezzo. Then, drawing the afternoon to a close, the orchestra and organ combined to perform Vojtech Kéler Bela’s Lustpiel Overture (HS: Googling reveals that he sometimes was also known as Adalbert Paul von Kéler.)

The second concert was performed six times during a week of evening concerts in May at “The Strand”, starting on Monday the 4th. Harold Lawrence’s notes list Kéler Béla’s Lustpiel Overture again being played in May, by now likely a well-performed work judging from it so frequently having appeared on concert programs. Within notes he typed in the 1920’s, Mr. Lawrence wrote that "At least one other number was played, however the titles are unknown."

Mr. Kendall continued as conductor of the Portland Orchestral Society. (Lawrence recollections)

In what Richard Burgin always recalled as one of the high points of his career, this year he played the U.S. premiere (in Boston under Koussevitzky) of Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No.1 in D major, on April 24, 1925. (HS: this Boston performance was just two years after the work was written.)

Arthur Bennett Lipkin, at age 18, joined the Philadelphia Orchestra violin section this year. Shortly thereafter, he became concertmaster, a position he would hold for 20 years.

Also this year, Russell Ames Cook became Director of Music at Ford Hall Forum in Boston, Massachusetts. He was then also the Director of Music at the Peabody Playhouse Theater in Boston.

1926       On Sunday afternoon of March 21, what would end up being the only concert by the Portland Orchestral Society to be performed this year, was again before an audience at City Hall Auditorium. “Mr. Charles Raymond Cronham, Municipal Organist was the soloist, playing the Concerto Gregorian(sic) for organ and orchestra”. Mr. Kendall was the conductor. Of course, the correct name of Ottorino Respighi’s work is Concerto Gregoriano for Organ and Orchestra.

The entire program list was retained by both Mr. Lawrence and Miss Hatch (HS: Although, unfortunately no actual concert program was saved by him.). With Mr. Cronham once again at the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ, he and the orchestra began with Franz von Suppé’s Poet and Peasant – Overture. On its own, the orchestra next performed Czech-American musician Vincent Frank "V.F." Safranek’s Atlantis (The Lost Continent) Suite, followed by a piano solo of the Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor "Quasi una fantasia", Op. 27, No. 2, popularly known as the “Moonlight Sonata”, by Beethoven (HS: There is no record of who the piano soloist was for this work.). Mr. Cronham returned to the organ for a solo presentation of what Mr. Lawrence’s scrapbook notes list as Goblin Dance, from Poetic Tone Pictures, Op. 85 by Antonín Dvořák. The afternoon concluded with the ambitious Concerto Gregoriano for organ and orchestra, by former Vatican organist Pietro A. Yon, using (HS: The Portland Sunday Telegram of the time said--) “the Gregorian tone scheme as a foundation”. (HS: All this detail is courtesy of Mr. Lawrence’s scrapbook, to which I say--- “Thank you, Harold Lawrence!”)

A Portland Sunday Telegram article that preceded the concert stated, “The city is watching with much interest and pride the development of this big orchestra, which is now attaining a grade of excellence which gives promise that it will represent Portland with much distinction. It has been augmented and much strengthened this year by the addition of a number of professional players.” The article continued that the orchestra “today... ...has the makeup of a complete symphony orchestra. Nearly two years of practice together have given the players  confidence in themselves as ensemble players and both the difficulty of the program they are attacking and the precision with which they will execute it on Sunday will indicate the remarkable progress which they have made since last year.”

A group of local flute players formed the Portland Flutists’ Society, and held a number of get-togethers where the members performed for each other. This organization lasted only one year. (Source: Music and Musicians in Maine)

Late in the year, in December, a concert at Frye Hall that had been publicized via both newspaper articles and/or advertisements was cancelled when Mr. Kendall felt the orchestra was unprepared. Mrs. Gladys Russell Cook was to have been the soprano soloist.

1927       A second attempt to perform this concert, this one scheduled for City Hall Auditorium (HS: Reports from that era state that Frye Hall was too small for more than a limited audience.), was also cancelled when Mr. Kendall continued to feel that the orchestra was not yet fully repaired. The soloist for this concert was to have been soprano Marion Harper Kuschke, accompanied by Howard Clark. Samuel Fineberg, a 12-year-old marimba artist in the Portland High School orchestra was also to have performed. As had occurred the previous December, this performance had been publicized via both newspaper articles and/or advertisements, and the cancellations were an embarrassment to the musicians. These two cancellations, along with a consensus among musicians that the concerts no longer be free of charge, drove a wedge between the players and Mr. Kendall, precipitating a second reorganization of the group.

Reaffirming much of the above, according to typed notes retained by the family of Harold Lawrence, “The fourth season of the organization was another year of changes. Two concerts were planned, one for Frye Hall”, and he continued, “and one for the City Hall Auditorium during February. Both of these concerts were cancelled due to Mr. Kendall not regarding the orchestra as yet adequately prepared.” Mr. Lawrence also wrote, that “Later during February the group changed its name and became the Portland Municipal Orchestra, with Charles Raymond Cronham its conductor. This change also brought the orchestra under the... ...Portland Music Commission.” (Lawrence recollections) (HS: The orchestra was five years away [1932] from being renamed again.)

Later-made recollections of Mr. Lawrence included statements that the Portland Music Commission fired Mr. Kendall, with the intent to install Mr. Cronham as conductor of the PMO. Mr. Cronham, of course, was already a full-time paid employee of the Portland Music Commission.

The size of the Portland Municipal Orchestra was 82 players. About twenty-five were professional, with the remainder amateurs who were regularly engaged in other occupations.

At that time, tickets to concerts were priced at 25-cents. (Source: Harold Lawrence)

Mr. Lawrence once commented to the P-H that the unpaid musicians (HS: Since Mr. Cronham was paid by the Music Commission as Municipal Organist, the orchestra benefitted from the talents of a professional musician leading them, but did not have to “chip in” together in order to provide him compensation.) rehearsed at Frye Hall, a dance hall that stood on what is now Holiday Inn By The Bay on Spring Street in Portland. "Back in the day," the stuffy old brick structure hosted teen dances just about every weekend. (HS: Six decades later Mr. Lawrence also told a P-H reporter about other Portland practice venues where the orchestra would rehearse-- the Chamber of Commerce Building, the Chestnut Street Methodist Church, the Boys Club and finally City Hall", the paper reported.)

A copy of a rehearsal-schedule is among items kept in a scrapbook by Mr. Lawrence. Two practices were set for Sundays in January, with two more on Sundays in February, all at Frye Hall. A February 27 rehearsal was set for City Hall Auditorium, after which it is presumed that Mr. Kendall felt it necessary to cancel the March concert. Presumably, this rehearsal marked the end of Mr. Kendall’s stand on the podium before the orchestra.

Looking at the remainder of the 1927 rehearsal-schedule, it is presumed that practices began only about a week after the reorganization of the ensemble into the Portland Municipal Orchestra under the auspices of the Music Commission. With rehearsals now set for City Hall Auditorium, three mid-week practices were held in March, followed by four more in April (HS: the third of those four was for solo parts only, at Mr. Cronham’s home on Bramhall St.), preceding the orchestra’s excursion to perform its inaugural concert as the PMO in Bridgton.

Harold Lawrence years later recalled for the P-H that attendance at admission-free Sunday organ concerts at City Hall Auditorium had slacked off so much that the three Music Commissioners decided to adopt a full-blown symphony in an attempt to fill seats.

Mr. Lawrence took on the role of librarian for the PMO, “aware that more than keen interest in music and playing ability were needed to keep a civic venture of this nature functioning.” “The system that he inaugurated for cataloging and maintaining (the) costly library was still being used” 20 years later. He would later take on more and more administrative responsibilities, and is credited for organizing the nucleus for the Women’s Committee, whose support would prove vital to the orchestra. (Source: 1946 internal member publication, “Symphony News”, Katherine M. Graffam, EDITOR-In-Chief)

The Portland Music Commission annual report confirms the general aspects of the above, on page 211, stating that "In February, 1927, the commission was instrumental in organizing the Portland Municipal Orchestra, this consisting of 65 players, with the Municipal Organist, Cronham, as its conductor. This orchestra has since grown until it numbers over eighty players. The orchestra played two concerts during the year 1927, one at Portland and one at Bridgton. No financial profit resulted from these concerts. The members of the orchestra and the conductor are giving their services free for development of this activity.” (’Pipes’ -Tucker) (HS note: elsewhere in her book, Mrs. Tucker wrote that the then Chairman of the commission, Mr. William S. Linnell, requested that Mr. Cronham discuss the idea of the commission supporting creation of a municipally supported orchestra with Mr. Kendall, "as there had been some talk of his theatre musicians becoming the city orchestra.” A letter later written by Mr. Linnell resides in the FOKO archives, stating that Cronham "reported back that ’he [Kendall] was agreeable that... [Cronham].. . Should start it, and it is my [Linnell] recollection that the first concert ever given under the municipal services was the one which you [Cronham] started and I would be rather anxious that you [Cronham] have all the credit you are entitled to for starting the thing which has grown so strong.’ ")

There is strong disagreement with Mr. Linnell’s recollection in that letter that Mr. Cronham started the PSO. Old newspaper articles (HS: I have one from 1937 on my desk at the moment this is written.) credit Arthur F. Kendall with having organized the Symphony in 1923. The PSO Executive Board during the 1930s (and well beyond that time) was made up of players, and that group provided many news releases to the newspapers; thus it clearly appears that the PSO playing members gave founding credit to Mr. Kendall.

There are many references to William S. Linnell over the years throughout board minutes of the orchestra, but also among memorabilia saved by Mr. Lawrence. It is abundantly clear that the chairman of the Music Commission in 1927 when the Portland Municipal Orchestra was formed, was very interested in the community group and his support, counsel and friendship was highly valued. In years to come, especially during some tumultuous Depression times, the musicians would turn to him for advice and guidance. Eventually, they would rely on his legal advice to forge ahead independent of the Commission, which by then would become embroiled in such internal (and external) political turmoil that even Mr. Linnell would be squeezed aside from his commissioner responsibilities and duties.

In an interview referenced in a Down East Magazine article many years later (1983), Harold Lawrence said that John Morris dropped out of the picture this year. The article said that Mr. Lawrence thought that Mr. Morris tired of underwriting the group.

The 1983 Down East Magazine article stated that “the Portland Municipal Orchestra played its first concert, [sic] in the town hall in Bridgton on April 26, 1927 (HS: See a fun story in the Anecdote Section of this THINGS-PSO about this event.) Miss May Korb, lyric coloratura soprano, was featured (HS: Miss Korb was the wife of Municipal Organist Charles Cronham, although both the program and newspaper reviews about her performances neglected to state this relationship [which was likely already widely known in Portland, and therefore probably didn’t need saying].) Its first concert in City Hall Auditorium was shortly thereafter... ...before a capacity audience.” That evening a different soloist, Marie Tiffany, was accompanied by the ensemble. (HS: A surviving program of the historic inaugural Bridgeton PMO concert is in the possession of Mr. Lawrence’s descendents, with a scanned copy retained in the PSO Archives.) The Bridgton concert was also the first out-of-town concert given by the orchestra (under any of its several names during that era).

Once the four buses of musicians were finally able to gain entrance to the hall (HS: Remember to check out the anecdote story that describes the scene when the orchestra members arrived in Bridgton.) the content of the PMO’s inaugural performance in Bridgton began with the Overture to “Euryanthe”, Op. 81, by Carl Maria von Weber. Mr. Cronham then led the ensemble in Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov’s In a Village from his Caucasian Sketches Suite No. 1, Op. 10. This was followed by Franz Joseph Haydn’s Minuet and Finale from his Symphony No. 103 in E-flat major, Hoboken 1/103, commonly called “The Drumroll”, the eleventh of the twelve so-called London Symphonies he composed when in England during his two year-long journeys there. Miss Korb was then assisted by the orchestra as she sang the old French chanson Viens Aurore (“Come Sweet Morning”): the Tuscan folk song La Columba (“The Dove”), arranged by Kurt Schindler; and Voci di Primavera (“Spring Voices”) by Johann Strauss, Jr. After intermission, the orchestra played three of the four movements of Jules Massenet’s tonal pictures Alsatian Scenes, (“Sunday Morning”, “Under the Lindens” and “Sunday Evening”). The ensemble was rejoined by Miss Korb as she sang Magnolia Moon, a piece composed by the PMO’s maestro, her husband, Charles Raymond Cronham. This was followed by her singing Spinnerliedchen, arranged by Henry Riemann; L’heure délicieuse by Victor Staub; and Carl Anton Florian Eckert’s romantic Swiss Echo Song. The evening ended with Fantasia on themes from “Carmen”, by Georges Bizet.

Two practice rehearsals preceded the PMO’s premiere concert at PCHA, with a small select audience invited to the first of those, held on a Sunday (source: HML scrapbook notes). Thus, some Portlanders (HS: Presumably including the friendly Music Commissioners) had an advance chance to see and hear the new PMO.

Referring again to the second concert mentioned above in a Down East Magazine article, another 1953 looking-back article, this time in the Sunday Telegram, reported that in May “the new (Portland) Municipal Orchestra performed for the first time in City Hall Auditorium, with Metropolitan Opera soprano Marie Tiffany as the assisting soloist.” Miss Tiffany was, of course, the first assisting artist from out of town to appear in concert with the orchestra. (sources: 1953 Sunday Telegram article; also Lawrence recollections)

Other than the vocal solo works, the May 3 PCHA concert program was identical to the one performed a week earlier in Bridgton. The Sunday Telegram predicted “a program is expected which will demonstrate to the residents of the Forest City that Portland has a new musical organization of which it may be exceedingly proud.” Assisted by Conductor Cronham and the orchestra, Miss Tiffany sang the aria Vissi d’arte, Vissi d’amore from Puccini’s opera “Tosca”. Later in the evening she returned to sing a selection of numbers: Would God I were the Tender Apple Blossom, lyrics by Katherine Tynan Hinkson, arranged by Frank Bibb: Dorian Lullaby by K. R. Heyman; Mandolins by Gabriel Dupont; and the old French melody, Come, Sweet Morning (HS: None of that French “chanson stuff” for Miss Tiffany!). The audience also was treated to all the orchestral pieces played the prior week by the 65-musician ensemble. The next day the Press Herald headlined that the 65-member “Municipal Orchestra Gives Splendid Performance In Debut At City Hall”. The review was very positive, commenting in solid terms about “both players and director, who received a veritable ovation at the close of the concert.” PMO Instrumental soloists mentioned in the advance Sunday Telegram article were violoncellist Mildren Dugan, Concertmaster Samuel Blumenthal, violist Clinton Graffam, Sr., trumpeter Frank Knapp, trombonist Bernard Greeley and clarinetist Mollie Jones.

The May performance was the final concert by the PMO this year.

A new hotel opened in Portland on June 15, The Eastland, designed by Portland architect Herbert W. Rhodes. At that time the hotel gained fame as the largest hotel in New England. It is reported that the local press billed it as “The Forest City’s supreme symbol of elegance”. Located on High Street just below Congress Street, the hotel was owned by Henry Rines, elder son of Joseph Rines. Thirty years earlier, the latter had the nearby Congress Square Hotel constructed at the corner of Forest Avenue and Congress Street. His son spent $2 million to have the 12-story Eastland built (HS: A construction feat completed in just 12 months!), having the new structure attached to the 7-story Congress Square Hotel. In total the new combined structure had 369 rooms with 369 baths. Some 272 of the rooms contained Murphy beds which swung up behind doors for convenient layaway. The hotel boasted a large ground floor ballroom, a facility that in years to come would be the venue for many concerts by what would then be the Portland Symphony Orchestra.

Rehearsals at City Hall Auditorium (HS: now under the auspices of the Portland Music Commission, the orchestra members no longer had to cough up dollars to pay for rental of practice venues) resumed in the fall, nine in total throughout November and December for the PMO musicians. This season, Mr. Cronham selected music of a much more difficult nature than had previously been studied by the Orchestra.

Scrapbook memorabilia saved by Katherine Graffam contained a Portland Music Commission concert program for Sunday, December 18. Listed on the cover page along with two other solo performers for that afternoon was violoncellist Miss Katherine Hatch, the later-to-be Mrs. Graffam’s maiden name. Penciled onto the program cover was the notation “1st Concert”, most certainly referring to the then-14-year-old’s first significant public performance. Mrs. Graffam’s memorabilia was presented to the Portland Symphony Orchestra in the early 1990s and currently (2014) remains in the PSO Archives.

Cyrus H. K. Curtis generously contributed $22,000 to enlarge the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ this year. "The organ grew in size and tonal capacity. An antiphonal organ... above the ceiling" was added "and a percussion organ was located in the main instrument. Over 1000 additional pipes were installed", as were various stops; the Swell division was enlarged and a new console provided. (Tucker)

A Wurlitzer theatre organ (Opus 1778, Style 260SP) was shipped to the Strand Theatre.

Richard Burgin was appointed assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He would eventually conduct the BSO in 308 concerts in the United States, Australia and Japan, and was associate conductor for seven world premieres and 25 Boston premieres.


1928       The Portland Music Commission annual report for that year noted “that the Portland Municipal Orchestra grew to 82 members. Five concerts were given.... three in Portland, one at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, and one at the Sanford Town Hall, to a total audience of 6,850.” (Tucker)

The first concert of the calendar year, in Portland at City Hall Auditorium, on the evening of Tuesday, January 10, followed two additional rehearsals earlier in the month. This concert did not feature a guest soloist. However, it likely was a “knock-out of a show” (HS: Truthfully, when I wrote the immediate-foregoing, I didn’t know for-sure how the program was received by whatever audience was in attendance.) As events turned out, a strong collection of works was in store for concertgoers. Mr. Cronham chose to begin the evening with Richard Wagner’s Overture to Act I of Reinzi (HS: Googling reveals that the full title of the opera is Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen (WWV 49), or (Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes). This was followed by Nocturne from Midsummer Night’s Dream, by Felix Mendelssohn. Leading into the intermission, the PMO played a Ballet Suite containing four melodious dances from operas by Christoph Willibald von Gluck, arranged by Felix Mottl. A newspaper review of the concert reports that following this number “Mr. Cronham was obliged to respond to the continuous applause with ten bows”. The general enthusiasm (HS: Undoubtedly not just of the record audience of 2800, but also the conductor and the 82 orchestra members..... AND ALSO LIKELY—the Music Commission!) was so great that a pre-intermission encore was performed, an arrangement by David Guion of the popular Turkey in the Straw.

Other than a concluding work by Verdi (details at the end of the paragraph), the “knock-out” work referenced above filled out most of the post-intermission part of the evening’s performance. The first performance in Portland of the late-Romantic composer Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns’ 1886 delight, Carnival of the Animals: Zoological Fantasy, was presented by a special 14-piece group created by Mr. Cronham, named the Portland Municipal Ensemble. Those players performed all fourteen sections of the composition, with rave reviews in Portland’s Wednesday newspapers. (HS: There is no reference to any narration accompanying this work. Googling reveals that the wonderful poetry written by Ogden Nash to accompany performances of “Animals” occurred in 1949.) The concert ended with Giuseppe Verdi’s Fantasy on Themes from “Il Trovatore”. A newspaper the next day, stated that this work “was listened to with rapt attention from start to finish, (making) a glorious ending to a notable occasion”. (HS: The meaning of this reviewer’s final reference was undoubtedly a reference to not just the Verdi work, but to the entire evening.)

The program notes for the concert included some particularly interesting information about the Saint-Saëns’ work: “The ‘Animals Carnival’ was composed in 1886. For some years the composer permitted private hearings of the piece, but finally forbade any further performances. After his death in 1921, it was found that a provision in his will removed the ban and sanctioned the publication of the work.”

A week later, on January 17 in Brunswick, the PMO presented a repeat performance of the entire concert that was so successful in Portland. An obscure record about this event contains information that in addition to the usual large number of instruments always needed to be transported to out-of-town performances, for this concert two pianos were trucked to/from Brunswick so concertgoers would fully enjoy the Saint-Saëns’ composition. It is likely that the Bowdoin College athletes in attendance that Tuesday evening were happy to temporarily set aside allegiances to their Polar Bear mascot when the PMO’s elite small ensemble performed Camille Saint-Saëns’ musical tribute to many other “Animals”. (HS: While a scan of an original program for this concert does reside in the PSO Archives, unfortunately there was no Brunswick newspaper review of the concert retained.)

Back in Portland five days later, on Sunday, January 22, Mr. Cronham performed a dual role for a jam-packed City Hall Auditorium audience, many lured by tantalizing newspaper advertisements about the afternoon’s program (HS: A P-H sub-headline stated that the “Artist Appear(ed) Before (a) Thronged Hall”.) . As Municipal Organist, on the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ he played five works: Merry Wives of Windsor: Overture, by Otto Nicolai; the gentle Abendlied, Op. 85, No. 12, (“Evening Song”) by Robert Schumann; Kamennoi Ostrow by Anton Rubenstein; and Bach’s Tocatta and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565. But........ TALK ABOUT REPRISES--- After the intermission Mr. Cronham left the organ and was joined on the stage by his newly organized Portland Municipal Ensemble whom he would now conduct --ONCE AGAIN-- (so the concertgoers would enjoy what likely a majority primarily came to hear) Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals: Zoological Fantasy. The next-day’s Press Herald reported that “The composition aroused enthusiastic applause and laughter from the audience, the largest of the present concert season.” The P-H article also stated that “Miss Katherine Hatch, violoncellist, had to bow repeatedly after her performance of the ‘Swan’ to acknowledge the prolonged applause.”

A notice of rehearsals saved by Harold Lawrence reveals that the Ensemble had met a total of seven times as a group, using facilities provided by Cressey & Allen on six occasions, and also once at Erickson’s studio.

At the Portland Music Commission’s final sponsored-concert of the month, on Sunday afternoon on January 29, Municipal Organist Cronham was joined by two of the re-energized PMO’s musicians for organ and instrument duets. PMO Concertmaster Emil Hybert performed Pietro Mascagni’s Ave Maria, while PMO First Flute Harold Lawrence followed, performing both Sir Henry Rowley Bishop’s Lo, Hear the Gentle Lark, and The Wren, the latter set on an anonymous work by Liza Lehmann. Both soloists were accompanied by Mr. Cronham at the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ. Also on the program as a soloist was recent NY-radio contest award-winning lyric-coloratura soprano Marie Healy, accompanied by PMO organist and pianist Harold Clark. Miss Healy sang April Morn by Robert Batton, Will o’ the Wisp by Charles Gilbert Spross and Giuseppe Verdi’s opera work Caro Nome from “Rigoletto”. Miss Healy had earlier in the concert also soloed along with Mr. Hybert and Mr. Lawrence when they performed. A glowing newspaper review noted that “The perfection of... (‘The Lark’) ...aroused the enthusiasm of the audience to such a degree that it broke forth into... ...applause before the conclusion”, and that “Miss Healy returned first with the blushing young flutist to make him share in the demonstration” after his beautiful obbligato. She responded to calls for encores with Laughing Song from “Manon” by Puccini, then Home, Sweet Home, and finally Brownies by Leoni— the latter “given with elfish, mischievous laughter and gestures by the young lady who has not left childhood so far behind her that she has ceased to forget its delights”. Although the P-H article said that “even then the (audience) clamored for more”, she waited for additional accolades by accepting so many good wishes in her “artist’s room” (HS: presumably her private offstage dressing room) that it finally “was with some difficulty that her father and mother extricated her from the admiring throng to catch the train back to her home in Manchester.”

Alone at the organ, Mr. Cronham opened the January 29 program by playing Franz Liszt’s poetic Les Preludes – Symphonic Poem, and concluded the concert with his own composition, Concert Tocatta – with pedal cadenza. (HS: Interestingly, an advance notice of this concert program included two organ numbers that were not performed when it was held, Schackley’s Distant Chimes and Atonement of Pan-Entr’acte by Hadley. So far no record of why the program was changed has been located.) The opportunity to hear the award-winning vocalist from New Hampshire, the P-H reported, resulted in “3000 persons crowd(ing) into the auditorium as soon as the doors opened, one-half hour before the concert was to begin.” Obviously, Mr. Cronham and the PSO players enjoyed being able to also perform their talents before this throng.

This is the year that Harold Lawrence later recalled for the P-H that the PMO established a fairly dependable five-concert season.

So, with two Portland concerts and one in Sanford yet to go, the orchestra next performed at the end of February, on the 28th (HS: Well.... it wasn’t quite the end of the month, since 1928 was a leap year and February had an extra day.). Leading off the first Portland program were five movements from the two suites L’Arlésienne: Incidental music to Daudet’s Melodrama, set music in 1872 by Georges Bizet. The concert program listed seven PMO members as performing featured parts. Next, guest baritone William Simmons sang three numbers: Antonio Secchi’s Lungi dal Caro Bene; the Old English song The Pretty Creature; and from his opera, Charles Gounod’s Faust: Even the Bravest Heart. After the intermission, the orchestra performed the first movement, Allegro Moderato, of Symphony in B minor: Unfinished by Franz Schubert. Then Mr. Simmons returned and sang Watts’ Blue are her eyes; the Birds’ Courting Song from Robert Hughes’ collection From Songs of the Hills of Vermont, published in 1919; and Frederic Cowen’s Border Ballad. Next the upper string players were featured in the short, but well known Pizzacato from Sylvia, by Léo Delibes. The evening’s program concluded with Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite: Waltz of the Flowers, featuring PMO harpist Grace Tibbets. The P-H referenced a “comparatively small audience” as being in attendance. The reviewer noted the orchestra’s “poise and artistry... ...gained since their January concert”, as being “apparent from the outset of their program,... ...noticeable chiefly in the precision of their attack, unanimity of bowing and crescendi and diminuendi.” The article said that Mr. Cronham “was accorded an ovation at the close of the evening’s performance, responding to the applause with a short speech of thanks for the loyal support of the citizens of Portland. William S. Linnell, chairman of the Music Commission, also spoke a few words of appreciation urging the audience to continue support of the orchestra so that it will become a permanent organization.”

The PMO’s final Portland concert was performed on April 10, a Tuesday. The featured guest soloist was Dorothy Barth, violinist. The PMO opened the Tuesday evening performance with Carl Maria von Weber’s Overture to “Euryanthe”. Next the orchestra reprised a work, part of which was performed a year earlier, but this time playing all four movements of Jules Massenet’s Alsatian Scenes, Sunday Morning – with organ, CabaretUnder the Lindens, and Sunday Evening. The last movement featured first-chair PMO trumpet, Charles Rowe. After the intermission, Conductor Cronham brought Miss Barth to the stage to perform four works: Zigeunerweisen (“Gypsey Airs”) by Pablo de Sarasate; Summer Idyl by Cecil Burleigh; Sarasate’s well-known Malagueña; and Joseph Haydn’s Vivace, arranged by her teacher, Leopold Auer (HS: Googling reveals that he was a great favorite of Tchaikovsky.). The next day a Portland newspaper reporter heaped praise on “the pink frock young woman who looked like a child and yet whose work had all the rare assurance and polish of the mature artist.” The article went on say, “members of the audience gazed at each other aghast, apparently amazed at such technique and such tonal charm.” “Miss Barth was recalled innumerable times and finally responded with two encores, Hubay’s Hungarian Dance and Serenade by Chaminade-Kreisler.” Lastly, the orchestra --certainly aware how well-received was its recent performance of Saint-Saëns’ “Animals” -- concluded the concert with another well know work by the same composer, Danse Macabre – Symphonic Poem, with a violin solo by concertmaster Emil Hybert.

A copy of a pre-concert handbill for this performance was found among Mr. Lawrence’s collections, listing ticket prices for the performance. (HS: As opposed to the free Sunday-afternoon organ concerts presented by the Music Commission, tickets were sold for the PMO’s performances.) Individual tickets cost 50-cents for seats in the front of the Orchestra section of PCHA, also for the first three rows of the 1st Balcony, and the 1st row of the 2nd Balcony, with all other seats in the auditorium available at 25-cents.

A 40-mile excursion to the Sanford Town Hall (HS: Remember, there was no high-speed I-95 in those days.) took the orchestra members to the group’s final concert of the year, on April 27, a Friday. This performance featured works the PMO had “polished off” for Portland audiences earlier during the year: Wagner’s Rienzi: Overture to Act 1; Massenet’s Alsatian Scenes; Schubert’s Symphony in B minor; Unfinished; Delibes’ Sylvia: Pizzicato; and Verdi’s Fantasia on Themes from “Il Travatore”. A copy of the concert program resides among the many-decades-old Lawrence Collection of memorabilia, allowing for a PDF-scan of it to be in today’s PSO Archives.

Since the beginning of January, the full complement of PMO musicians had a rehearsal schedule totaling nineteen. While the greater number of rehearsals most certainly led to the group achieving higher proficiencies of musicianship, board minutes from those days (HS: and for many years afterwards) frequently included bemoaned references to a high frequency of absences when individual members had conflicts. Had the rehearsal disciplines of all the members of the PMO been top-notch (HS: something hard to achieve in any volunteer group, we all know from personal experiences), the musical advancement of the collective group would have been even better. The unpleasantness of “firing” PMO players who were too-often absent from rehearsals, was something that the orchestra’s leadership generally wanted to avoid, understandably so.

During November and December the orchestra members gathered for seven rehearsals where Mr. Cronham conducted them through works planned for presentations to audiences in the upcoming season.

A young 14 year-old cellist from Portland, Katherine Hatch, joined the PMO this year, as mentioned earlier in regard to her impressive performance with the Portland Municipal Ensemble during Carnival of the Animals. She was to remain with the orchestra for 55 years, eventually retiring in 1987. An excellent musician who would go on to hold her section’s principal chair for decades, she would many times also be featured as soloist. She was a leading private music teacher in Portland, and many of her hundreds of students over the years would eventually also become members of the PSO. In 2012 the PSO would still include some of her former string students.

1929       Two additional rehearsals of the orchestra were held before the PMO’s first concert of the year, which occurred on Sunday afternoon, January 13, at City Hall Auditorium. At this performance, a then 5-year-old piece would be performed, perhaps (although the concert program doesn’t say so) for the first time in Portland. But since that work would lead off the post-intermission half of the program, following here are the first-half compositions: Joseph Haydn’s Symphony in G major, No.11 – “Military”; followed by Pearl of Brazil: Charmant oiseau (“Thou Brilliant Bird”) by Félicien David. Lyric-coloratura soprano May Korb was the vocalist during the performance of latter work, which also included a flute obbligato by Harold Lawrence, the PMO’s first flute player. A post-concert newspaper review stated, “it is always a keen pleasure to hear Miss Korb, not only for her artistry but for her delightful presence. In the David number she was assisted by Harold Lawrence of this city, flutist. The excellent work of Mr. Lawrence enhanced the beauty of the floral passages in which the flute and voice figured. The soloist responded to the applause of the audience with Il Bacio (“The Kiss”) by Luigi Arditi, also accompanied by the orchestra.”

A member of the Portland Municipal Ensemble, which excited Portland audiences a year earlier in performances of Saint-Saëns’ “Animals”, Zilphaetta Butterfield, sat at the Mason & Hamlin piano in front of the orchestra when the second half of the concert began. Before laying a finger on a key, she, the orchestra members and the audience listened to the PMO’s first clarinetist, Maurice Lane, wail out an opening glissando to a work which still delights audiences now (2012) almost 90 years after its premiere with George Gershwin at the piano and Paul Whiteman on the podium in New York City. Miss Butterfield then went on to perform, of course..... Rhapsody in Blue with the orchestra. Interestingly, and maybe revealing that classical audiences of the time were not yet fully comfortable with the classical-jazz idiom, the newspaper review of the concert waiting for readers the next morning was complimentary of how both the soloist and the orchestra performed a “difficult score”. However, comments about the work as an exciting piece of music, or any description of audience enthusiasm for the then-modern and style-breakthrough piece, were notably absent.

The concert continued with Miss Korb singing L’Oiseau Bleu by Camille Decreus, Lullaby, Op. 57, No. 2, by Cyril Scott and Karl Anton Florian Eckert’s Swiss Echo Song. Miss Butterfield accompanied Miss Korb during these works. The afternoon concluded with 1st violinist Harriet Schreyer playing the violin solo parts during the orchestra’s performance of Selections from “Madame Butterfly” by Giacomo Puccini. The newspaper reviewer commented that the “well known violinist of this city... ...was the capable interpreter of the solo passages.” While there was no mention in the article about exact attendance, it opened, “A crowded house greeted the Portland Municipal Orchestra when it made its initial appearance of the season at the City Hall Sunday afternoon.”

Following a midweek rehearsal, the inaugural performance of the 1929 season is believed to have been repeated a week later at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, on January 17. (HS: No copy of the actual Brunswick program was saved by Mr. Lawrence, although he did note that the concert was held, suggesting its content by pasting another copy of the 1/10 Portland concert program on the page of that notation.)

Also on January 17, the important early-financial backer of the orchestra, John S. Morris, at age 79, died at his large 206 Spring Street home. A man regarded to have been “enjoying the best of health” (source: Sunday Telegram and Press Herald obituary), he died “after a few days illness of pneumonia which developed from a slight cold.”

After seven more rehearsals (HS: Mr. Lawrence noted that only 25 players made it to the 5th practice, due to a storm. [His meticulous records deserve a salute.]), Mr. Cronham assembled the PMO for another Portland performance, on Sunday afternoon, March 10. Members of the audience not familiar with the work that opened the concert might momentarily have thought they were in the wrong place, and perhaps at a late-winter horse race. The multi-measure solo trumpet call signaling the start of Franz von Suppé’s Light Cavalry Overture was followed with numerous cadences from various sections of the orchestra, mainly brasses playing in military style.... leading to the popular and famous gallop which is soon taken by the entire orchestra, fortissimo. With that start, the orchestra faced a challenge to keep the audience excited. So.... what could be more of a sure-fire winner than five movements from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite? Those selections were March, Arabian Dance, Trépak, Chinese Dance and Waltz of the Flowers. Following the intermission the PMO played Showboat Selection, an arrangement of the most popular pieces form Ziegfield’s successful musical play by Jerome Kern. (HS: Although the numbers from “Showboat” are well known today, the fact that the hit’s NYC opening had been only 15 months earlier reveals how quickly national audiences became familiar with the show.) The concert continued with a light theme, as the orchestra reprised a work that Portland audiences had twice enjoyed a year earlier, Pizzacato from Sylvia, by Léo Delibes. The afternoon’s concluding composition played was Giuseppe Verdi’s Aïda: Triumphal March and Ballet Music.

Two April concerts closed out the Portland Municipal Orchestra’s 1929 season, the first on Tuesday the 16th, at Town Hall in Kennebunk. There Mr. Cronin again built a program during which May Korb, his talented wife, could showcase her lyric-coloratura soprano talents. The orchestra opened with a number that it likely had down cold, Wagner’s Rienzi: Overture to Act 1. Following was Menuetto from L’Arlésienne Suite No. 1, by Georges Bizet, featuring solo parts by Mr. Lawrence, clarinetist Mollie Jones and Saxophonist Roland Peterson. Musically moving from France’s L’Arlésienne region in Western Europe to a Russian region in Asia, the orchestra next performed Alexander Borodin’s tone picture In the Steppes of Central Asia. The pre-intermission segment of the program concluded with the orchestra accompanying Miss Korb as she repeated a song that pleased Portland concertgoers in January, Pearl of Brazil: Charmant oiseau (“Thou Brilliant Bird”) by Félicien David.

After the mid-concert break, the Kennebunk audience was treated to a performance of a movement from Edvard Grieg’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in A minor: Allegro molto moderato, with guest-artist Adele Bramson at the keyboard. Next pianist Gertrude Davis accompanied Miss Korb, as the vocalist sang Nature’s Holiday by Richard Hageman, followed two numbers she also sang in January, Lullaby, Op. 57, No. 2, by Cyril Scott and Karl Anton Florian Eckert’s Swiss Echo Song. The concert concluded with the orchestra performing Carmen: Selections by Georges Bizet. (HS: Mr. Cronham and the musicians were efficiently performing works they had perfected in different venues.)

Portland concertgoers attended the final concert of the year on Wednesday evening, April 24. A newspaper report cited “a large audience” and a “remarkable program”. Then world-famous Chicago Opera star coloratura soprano Luella Melius was guest soloist, and Adele Bramson again played the Grieg concerto. The orchestra opened with the same three numbers that began the recent Kennebunk concert, the overture from Wagner’s “Rienzi”; Bizet’s “Menuetto”; and Borodin’s “Steppes”. Pianist Harold Spencer accompanied Miss Melius as she sang O by Stefano Donaudy, Les Filles de Cadiz boléro by Léo Delibes, Vor Sonnenaufgang by Wolf and the piece from Dinaorah: Ombra Leggiera (“Shadow Song”) by Giacomo Meyerbeer. A Portland newspaper the next day referred to her performance saying “there is no exaggeration in saying that Madame Melius scored a sensational success.” It was reported that she “added two encores to this group, a shivery ghost song entitled Night Wind and the old English When I Was Seventeen.” After the intermission Miss Bramson again played the Grieg concerto movement she played eight days earlier in Kennebunk. Then Madame Melius returned to center-stage with Mr. Spencer, to sing Wings of Night by Wintter Watts, Little Rain Drops by Anna von Wohlfarth-Grille, The Lamplighter by Kathleen Lockhart Manning and an unspecified Strauss Waltz Song. After this group she performed three encores. The concert and the 1929 season for the orchestra ended with a performance of Bizet’s Carmen: Selections. The newspaper review concluded by citing Mr. Cronham and the PMO for having achieved “an entire series (of concerts that) went into the records as a distinct success.

The PMO musicians had five rehearsals prior to the Kennebunk concert, followed by two more practices prior to the concluding Portland concert.

By the end of the season the Orchestral Advisory Committee consisted of Concertmaster Emil Hybert, violist Clinton Graffam, Sr., violinists Benjamin Haskell and Henry Cook, French horn player Arthur Stevens, and trombonist Bernard Greeley. Clinton Graffam, Sr. served as the PMO’s Business Manager.

Near the end of the year, for the first time a professionally-printed two-page flyer promoting the PMO’s upcoming season was prepared and distributed. On one side was a full-page formal portrait of the seated musicians assembled ready to perform on the stage of City Hall Auditorium, with the magnificent pipes of the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ majestically standing tall behind the ensemble (HS: Hanging today [2012] in the PSO offices is a handsome, 24in-x-17in gilt-framed enlargement of a similar formal portrait of Charles Raymond Cronham and the Orchestra.). Mr. Cronham was standing on the podium. On the other side was text that discussed concerts for the upcoming season, mention of some guest-soloists scheduled to perform, endorsements supporting the musical progress having already been achieved by the PMO, and a message urging audience support. Clearly also stated is an important message—the orchestra receives only “a small appropriation from the City of Portland”, thus is mostly self-supported “by its own earning capacity the orchestra”, also “supported through the generosity of Portland citizens”. (HS: Presumably there was also a subliminal intent of the handsome flyer, to head off in advance political attacks related to city financial pressures that would eventually result in budget cutbacks for many, many, services.) The flyer was signed by the three Portland Music Commission members, William S. Linnell, Chairman; Herbert W. Barnard; and Donald M. Payson.

At this time, Sustaining Memberships in the PMO were $1.00 (less than $15.00 in 2012-inflation-adjusted dollars), and a published list of these sponsors totaled 157 names, not including four prominent citizens listed separately on the first page as Honorary Members (HS: Who presumably had contributed much higher sums.). Already reflecting budget shortfalls that would grow in significance in coming years to come...... on this published flyer’s last page was the statement “The Orchestra needs 1000 Sustaining Members at $1.00 a year”. That goal reflected more than a five-fold increase in supporters, a mighty-high target. During the era when the PMO operated under the auspices of the Portland Music Commission, those concerts actually sponsored by the commission did not require the PMO to pay any hall-rental fees. The PMO did incur costs when it traveled out of town, but it was largely successful offsetting those expenses by receiving some performance fees from the sponsors of the out-of-town performances. Regular operating costs were largely associated with music, advertising, printing and soloists. (HS: A great conductor, talented and dedicated local musicians, quality music, and a virtually-free facility to rehearse and perform were not enough to make the PMO enterprise function; like with everything.... eventually the bank account has to be able to pay the organization’s bills. That difficult portion of the entire PMO calculus equation would demand increased board attention.... for multiple decades to come. While it several times will almost bankrupt the Portland Orchestra, fortunately such a traumatic ending will each time be avoided..... something that many other civic orchestras have not been able to avoid.)

Cyrus Curtis’ Saturday Evening Post and Ladies Home Journal together carry 40% of all U.S. magazine advertising, and the Curtis family fortune exceeds $45 Billion (HS: This figure is adjusted to reflect 2012 dollars.).
...(It is revealed that in its early years (1909+), Cyrus Curtis anonymously made up deficits of Philadelphia Orchestra

Some of the credit for the Post becoming so successful is due to another New Englander, artist Norman Rockwell. During a multi-decade association with the magazine, Mr. Rockwell painted 323 covers for the publication that had two-hundred-years earlier been founded by Benjamin Franklin.

This year, “the State Theatre’s doors opened to the public for the first time, on November 8, to 2,200 invited patrons for Gloria Swanson’s first talkie The Trespasser. The State Theatre, located at 609 Congress Street, would serve as a top-tier first run motion picture house for over 30 years. Tickets were ten cents to a quarter. The State only flirted briefly with silent films and vaudeville before transitioning completely to Hollywood’s biggest first run sound films of the day. In the mid 1930s the State Theatre began a children’s matinee program, showing the most popular cartoons of the day, such as Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, and Popeye. The weekly radio show Recess Time was also recorded Saturday mornings. Roughly fifteen kids would answer trivia questions to win a cash prize between fifty cents and a dollar.” (source: Wikipedia; unidentified author) Built as a movie house, the State was also designed for vaudeville productions as what Portland IATSE (stagehand union local) members call “a hemp House” (designating hemp ropes used to lift scenery). Six-plus decades later, during the 1990s when Portland City Hall Auditorium was being renovated to become Merrill Auditorium, the Portland Symphony Orchestra performed some concerts at the State Theatre.


1930       Under the auspices of the Music Commission, the South Portland High School Music Department presented the PMO in a benefit concert to aid the school’s music activities, on January 10, a Friday evening. It was reported that “Eighty-two musicians filled every available inch” on the stage, before an enthusiastic audience of 400. The next-day newspaper review of the concert was also filled with praise for Conductor Cronham and the musicians. Mr. Cronham had arranged an orchestra and organ rendition of the Entrance of Knights and Minstrels and Pilgrims’ Chorus movement from Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser opera, and this work opened the program. Next the Gluck-Mottl Ballet Suite performed for audiences a year earlier was performed. The first half of the concert ended with another Cronham arrangement, this time the Largo movement, originally a tenor solo, from Handel’s “Xerxes” opera.

Two movements, Adagio and Allegro, then the Largo (featuring an oboe solo by 14-year-old Clinton Graffam, Jr. –the PMO’s youngest member) from Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 5 in E Minor “From the New World” led off the post-intermission part of the program. The newspaper review claimed this “was the most impressive contribution on the entire program”. The evening concluded with a selection from Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore, including a trumpet solo by Gladys Arey and a trombone solo by Bernard Greeley, both PMO regulars. (HS: Nine rehearsals at City Hall had preceded this concert.)

Two days later, at City Hall Auditorium in Portland, the Music Commission presented a PMO concert. Again, Mr. Cronham’s arrangement of the “Tannhäuser” movement, recently performed at SPHS, led off the program. The remainder of the concert consisted of the same Gluck-Mottl, Handel-Cronham, Dvořák and Verdi works that had been presented at SPHS. (One program alteration from SPHS was that instead of featuring an oboe solo in the “New World” work, this time a Mr. H. Stanislaus played an English Horn solo.)

After another six rehearsals, Mr. Cronham again led the PMO in concert, on Sunday afternoon, February 16, at PCHA. The program began with a new work for the orchestra, Gluck’s Iphigenia in Aulis. This was followed by a reprise for the Portland audience of Alexander Borodin’s tone picture In the Steppes of Central Asia. Featured guest-artist Adele Bramson then treated concertgoers with the Grieg work she had presented in Kennebunk the previous April, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in A minor: Allegro molto moderato. The next-day newspaper review heralded the New England Conservatory graduate’s “spirited playing and technique”, also headlining that her performance “Thrills Audience”. The program closed with Verdi’s opera work, his Triumphal March and Ballet Music from Aïda. Once again the newspaper review mentioned a “crowded house”, without specifying a precise number of attendees.

Slightly more than a month later the musicians were back at their places on the stage of PCHA, for a Wednesday evening performance that was part of what was billed as a Community Concert Course, on March 19. Once again a Chicago Opera star was the featured soloist, this time contralto Kathryn Meisle. The PMO first played two orchestral works that it had performed in prior years, both of which must have been musically better after additional rehearsals, the orchestra and organ “Entrance” movement from Tannhäuser, and three movements from Georges Bizet’s two L’Arlésienne Suites, the Intermezzo, Adagietto and Farandole. Next, accompanied by Solon Alberti, Miss Meisle sang Giuseppe Torelli’s love confessional, Tu Lo Sai; Bernardo Gaffi’s Minuetto Allegro and Gluck’s Orfeo e Euridice: Che farò senza Euridice. She later returned to perform Mary Turner Salter’s The Cry of Rachel; Solon Alberti’s My Lady Sleeps; then Five Eyes (a Google-search yielded a description of this work as an entertaining “show-piece which brings its feline characters to life with scampering and prowling movements”.) by Cecil Armstrong Gibbs; Kathyrn Lockhart Manning’s Luxembourg Gardens; and Love Went A-Riding by Frank Bridge. A newspaper review of her performance sub-headlined that she “Captivates Audience With Brilliancy of Tone”, the article citing audience demands for several encores, which of course were performed. Surrounding Miss Meisle’s post-intermission performance, the orchestra played Danse Macabre – Symphonic Poem (again with a violin solo by concertmaster Emil Hybert), and closed the concert with Madame Butterfly – Selections from Puccini’s opera. The review headlines also championed the musicians, “Orchestra Again Demonstrates Results Of Intelligent, Painstaking Training”. Board minutes indicate that the PMO received a performance fee for this concert, as it was not presented under the auspices of the Music Commission (HS: Every $ helps.).

There was a “Theremin player”, Mischa Tulin, featured in the PMO’s next concert. So what..... you rightly ask—is a Theremin?  Had your curiosity been peaked pre-Google, you “might” have gone to an Encylopaedia Britannica for an answer; but then again, probably not (often that was “too much trouble”, wasn’t it?). But now, checking for answers is much easier. Following is what Wikipedia carries (HS: You may want to skip over the next four paragraphs if you super-hate modern music [from any era post-1899; except for Rhapsody in Blue, of course] or are an anti-techie; however, I found it fascinating stuff.):

“The Theremin, originally known as the ætherphone/etherphone, thereminophone or termenvox/thereminvox is an early electronic musical instrument controlled without discernible physical contact from the player. It is named after its Russian inventor, Professor Léon Theremin, who patented the device in 1928. The controlling section usually consists of two metal antennas which sense the position of the player's hands and control oscillators for frequency with one hand, and amplitude (volume) with the other, so it can be played without being touched. The electric signals from the Theremin are amplified and sent to a loudspeaker. After a lengthy tour of Europe, during which time he demonstrated his invention to packed houses, Theremin found his way to the United States, where he patented his invention in 1928. Subsequently, Theremin granted commercial production rights to RCA. Although the RCA Thereminvox (released immediately following the Stock Market Crash of 1929), was not a commercial success, it fascinated audiences in America and abroad. Clara Rockmore, a well-known thereminist, toured to wide acclaim, performing a classical repertoire in concert halls around the United States, often sharing the bill with Paul Robeson.

“In 1938, Theremin left the United States, though the circumstances related to his departure are in dispute. Many accounts claim he was taken from his New York City apartment by KGB agents, taken back to the Soviet Union and made to work in a prison camp.

“After a flurry of interest in America following the end of the Second World War, the Theremin soon fell into disuse with serious musicians, mainly because newer electronic instruments were introduced that were easier to play. However, a niche interest in the Theremin persisted, mostly among electronics enthusiasts and kit-building hobbyists. One of these electronics enthusiasts, Robert, began building Theremins in the 1950s, while he was a high-school student. Moog subsequently published a number of articles about building Theremins, and sold Theremin kits which were intended to be assembled by the customer.”

And last..... as you by now likely have surmised, “Moog credited what he learned from the experience as leading directly to his groundbreaking synthesizer, the Moog.”

So.... it appears at this 1930 concert the Portland Municipal Orchestra conductor wanted to expose the local audience to some “modern stuff”. Mr. Tulin and his Theremin were how Charles Cronham set to accomplish that goal.

First off at this April 13 concert (HS: Wouldn’t it have been neat for it to have been scheduled for April 1?!!) the PMO opened the afternoon “semi-repeating” two movements, Adagio and Allegro, then the Largo from Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 5 in E Minor “From the New World”. This featured an oboe solo by Clinton Graffam, Jr. (Remember....?  He hadn’t earlier repeated his January SPHS oboe solo when the orchestra repeated that concert at City Hall Auditorium.) Next was a new work for the musicians, Léo Delibes’ Valse Lente. Following was Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre – Symphonic Poem, again a likely reprise from previous concerts for many in the audience. This work feature solo parts by Emil Hybert on violin and Samuel Fineberg on xylophone. After the intermission, accompanied by pianist Howard Clark, came Mr. Theremin’s pupil, Mischa Tulin, and “his eerie-sounding thing”. He performed Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria; Edwin Henry Lemare’s Andantino in D-flat major; and The Swan by Saint-Saëns’ (HS: Late in her life, I’d love to have heard Katherine Graffam recall her reactions that day; “The Swan” was a classic cello solo part that she had earlier performed before a PMO audience.). The concert ended with Gioacchino Rossini’s classic William Tell: Overture to Act I, featuring Miss Hatch on cello, Mr. Graffam on oboe (HS: be on the alert for social rumors about those two) and Mr. Lawrence on flute.

Writing in a local newspaper (likely the P-H, although the clipping found isn’t noted so) the next day, reviewer Inez Perry Turner seemed to enjoy hearing Mr. Tulin and the Theremin. She wrote that he “cleverly manipulates this uncanny instrument and through what seems like ‘black magic’ produces tones that in many instances emulate the violin, the cello and the human voice. At times the tones are exquisite and the melody delightful, but there were many very ‘blue’ notes which were jarring to the trained ear of the musician and greatly detracts from the enjoyment of the whole”. The review reported that Mr. Tulin was recalled by the audience after his solos, and “played Bohn’s Calm as the Night, Deep as the Sea.” Her overall review of the concert and the PMO was, as usual, highly favorable. (HS: Hopefully her views reflected some objectivity, since it could be thought that too many “reprises” of works performed by the orchestra at earlier concerts might have begun getting tiring for Portland audiences.) Again, there was no newspaper report regarding specific attendance numbers.

The concert program credits local music store M. Steinert & Sons with supplying instruments featured during the performance, the Steinway piano and......... a Theremin (HS: What?!!! You mean some people in Portland might still have some Theremins long-stored-away in attics and basements?!!).

The Music Commission honored the PMO musicians with a banquet at the Sunrise Room of the Hotel Eastland during late April. Mr. Linnell extended praises on any and all, including the conductor Cronham, the musicians and the orchestra board, volunteers, the city manager, music store purveyors Cressey & Allen, and others. Judging from a newspaper report about the affair, the extensive goodwill throughout the crowd at the Sunrise Room banquet seemed to be most genuine (HS: About two years hence, the ensemble’s good relations with Mr. Linnell would prove to be VERY valuable and important.)

Shortly thereafter, on April 20 and May 2, in Brunswick and Kennebunk, respectively, the PMO musicians again took their instruments, stands, and themselves “on the road” to perform identical concert programs. Works performed were, of course, compositions that had been staples for audiences at Portland City Hall Auditorium. The four “sure-winners” were Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 5 in E Minor “From the New World”; Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre – Symphonic Poem; a reprise that Adele Bramson had played for Kennebunk concertgoers a year earlier, Grieg’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in A minor: Allegro molto moderato; and Rossini’s classic William Tell: Overture to Act I, again featuring a trio of soloists who would go on to multi-decade careers with the PMO and the PSO that would emerge in 1932, Katherine Hatch, Clinton Graffam and Harold Lawrence. No local newspaper reviews are among either Mr. Lawrence’s or the PSO’s archives..... but “how could they miss?”-labels are forever fixed to the Dvořák/Saint-Saëns/Grieg/Rossini foursome of works performed that April in Brunswick and Kennebunk!

Since the beginning of the season, the PMO had certainly been busy. Twenty-five rehearsals had been held, and eight concerts presented.

Following four summer rehearsals, on August 22, the PMO “participated in the 18th Anniversary Concert of the Portland Music Commission, held at Portland City Hall Auditorium. Mr. Cyrus H.K. Curtis who presented the Municipal Organ to the City of Portland was in attendance at this concert.” (Lawrence recollections)

Young Tokyo native Hizi Koyke, soprano, was featured as soloist this Friday evening. The PMO would rely on some of the tried-and-true works in its repertoire for this concert. At the podium, Mr. Cronham began the program with the venerable Entrance of Knights and Minstrels and Pilgrims’ Chorus movement from Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser” opera, followed by Alexander Borodin’s tone picture In the Steppes of Central Asia. The next piece by Tchaikovsky, from Nutcracker Suite: Waltz of the Flowers. Miss Koyke, joined by accompanist Howard Clark, she sang the Frank Bibb arrangement of Handel’s Aria from “Radamisto”; Allerseelen by Richard Strauss; Jules Massenet’s O’uvre tes yeux bleus; Takashi Yamada’s Boatman’s Little Song (sung in Japanese); and Hills by Arthur Geiterman, arranged by Frank La Forge.

After the intermission, Mr. Cronham took control of the keyboard of the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ and played two solos, Up the Saguenay from Alexander Russell’s St. Lawrence Sketches; and Irish Rhapsody, one of his own compositions. Then again the PMO conductor, he escorted Miss Koyke to center stage to benefit from the support of the orchestra in a rendition of One Fine Day, from “Madame Butterfly. The concert concluded with Wagner’s “Rienzi”: Overture to Act I.

The PMO trumpet section this year included 20-year-old Portland native William Vacchiano (he later would become principal trumpet of the NY Philharmonic).

Seven rehearsals preceded the PMO’s opening concert of its 1930-1931 season, presented on Sunday afternoon, December 14. Again, the majority of the works performed were reprises of compositions played at other concerts during the preceding several years. (HS: I really don’t know if any “too much repetition” issues will occur in the orchestra’s near future [meaning 1-4 years, I suppose], but I do wonder if maybe the ensemble might then have been getting too far ahead of itself, with too many concerts on the schedule -- thus causing concertgoers to refrain from buying season subscriptions?) Gluck’s Iphigenia in Aulis was the official musical start to the new season. Next came Franz Schubert’s Symphony in B Minor (“Unfinished”). After the intermission, two works that should have pleased, as they say—“children of all ages”, were performed. The first of these was a well-received work first played in January of 1928, Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals: Zoological Fantasy, likely an extra-fun experience for youngsters during the Holiday Season. Adele Bramson and Ruth Burke were guest-pianists during this number. The program was closed out with a movement from Tchaikovsky’s classic Christmas-theme ballet, the ever-popular Nutcracker Suite: Waltz of the Flowers. Reviewer Inez Perry Turner reported that City Hall Auditorium was “practically filled” by music lovers. Unfortunately for the coffers of the PMO, this was a Music Commission-sponsored concert, so admission was free.

On Sunday, December 28, Isabelle Jones, soprano and PSO flutist Harold M. Lawrence played recital works at PCHA, as did Municipal Organist Charles M. Cronham. Although this was not a PMO concert, it is mentioned since a copy of the concert program was retained among the memorabilia of the Portland Municipal Orchestra retained by the orchestra’s principal flutist.

A mid-December newspaper clipping reveals that for the previous two years William S. Linnell had been serving as a Portland Music Commission member (also its chairman) despite his appointment having expired (HS This is the first indication that HS has seen of this issue. No mentions appear in any board minutes, nor have any newspaper clippings about any prior commissioner transitions been spotted.). Mr. Linnell had legally stayed active since no replacement had been nominated and elected. That situation changed with the nomination and election of Louis E. White this month, thus completely ending Mr. Linnell’s authority and continued involvement with the Commission. Since Mr. White was president of the Portland Men’s Singing Club, several hundred members of other musical organizations in the city signed petitions protesting his nomination, asserting that “no member of the commission should be affiliated with any musical organization in the City except those under the direction of the Commission.” Nonetheless, the members of the commission (HS: Remember, the Council had created the Commission to be independent of any outside control regarding music matters in Portland.), elected Mr. White. At the same meeting where Mr. White was elected, a second new commissioner was elected to replace another lame-duck commissioner, Herbert W. Bernard, whose term also had expired earlier. Thus, essentially overnight, two new personalities (one of whom, Mr. White, the PMO had publicly objected to.... so from the get-go he’ll likely not even be neutral about issues regarding the orchestra) replaced two known supporters of the PMO. Although the new commissioners publicly stated that they supported the orchestra, ya-da, ya-da, etc., only time will tell whether there would now be a TILT in the Music Commission’s level of support for, and interest in, the orchestra. (HS: So.... you might ask: Would this turn out to be a big deal?  Might the change portend future difficulties for the Portland Municipal Orchestra?  [I already know the answers...... and they are: YOU BET IT IS! YOU BET IT WILL!  A to-become rocky relationship won’t last 16 months.]  Keep reading for more details.)

Using a different spotlight to reinforce the significance of the Linnell and Bernard departures, consider that just prior to this change-- atop the 12/14/30 concert-program page listing orchestra personnel were the names of four prominent men, all shown as Honorary Members of the Portland Municipal Orchestra. One of those names is that of Charles H. Payson, a former Music Commissioner (HS: I’m unsure as to whether or not any of the others might also have been previous commissioners.). At the first concert performed by the PMO following the change, on 2/1/31, seven names are now shown. A second member of the Payson family, Donald M. Payson has been added. The other two additions are (HS: You guessed it!) Herbert W. Bernard and William S. Linnell...... the two recently deposed members of the Portland Music Commission.


1931       Again, seven rehearsals were held prior to the PMO’s next concert, presented at PCHA on February 1, a Sunday afternoon. The talented and highly-regarded May Korb, wife of Conductor Cronham, was the featured guest-soloist. She would bring her strong lyric-coloratura soprano voice to two operatic arias and five other songs. The orchestra first performed Lohengrin: Introduction to Act III, by Richard Wagner. This was followed by the first two movements of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, Allegro con brio and Andante con moto. Miss Korb then came onto the stage, “bewitchingly gowned in robin’s egg blue transparent velvet” according to reviewer Inez Perry Turner. Accompanied by Howard Clark, she first sang the aria Ah! fors'è lui, and then Sempre libera, both from Act I of Giuseppe Verdi's opera “La Traviata”. The reviewer described both as “captivating”. Following intermission, she returned with Mr. Clark, and sang Come, Love, with me, by Vito Carnevali; Love Finds Out The Way, anon., arranged by Joseph Raff; Dreams, by Abram Chasins – based a poem by F. Scott Fitzgerald; Nymphs and Fauns, by Herman Bemberg; and Ave Maria, arranged by Charles Cronham, based on Gounod’s melody superimposed upon J.S. Bach’s Prelude No. 1 in C major, BWV 846. During the latter, instrumentation called for in Mr. Cronham’s arrangement involved several PMO musicians: violinist Stella Brewster, cellist Katherine Hatch, harpist Francis MacPherson, and Mr. Cronham at the organ. Responding to calls for an encore, Miss Korb immediately reprised her husband’s arrangement, and also sang Such a ‘Lil Fellow, by William Dichmont, “sung with all the depths and pathos of a true mother” commented reviewer Turner.

Following the concert, a local newspaper clipping states, “Mr. and Mrs. Cronham and the orchestra were entertained by the Music Commission after the concert. Coffee, sandwiches and cake were served by Mrs. Clinton W. Graffam, Mrs. Iona Leach and Mrs. Benjamin Haskell. Mention of the reception suggests that the newly-reconstituted Commission was extending a hand to the orchestra musicians so as to get off on a friendly start. (HS: So..... the commission invited the musicians to a reception, but let folks close to the musicians do the serving. Well..... at least the commissioners certainly must have fixed the sandwiches and baked the cake--- right [harrummphh!’].)

Nine days later (during which there were two addition rehearsals), the February-1 Portland program was repeated at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. (HS: A wonderful newspaper picture of some 31 wintry-dressed PMO musicians about to board buses that would take the full 82-member orchestra to Brunswick was clipped and saved by Harold Lawrence. Actually, the PMO’ers in the picture may have totaled 32; the b&w photograph shows one lady holding aloft a fluffy hand-muff – maybe that was a short, hatless male musician with a lot of hair. It’s too fuzzy a picture to be sure. Oh, well.)

A program-insert from about this time containing a Membership Application was saved by Mr. Lawrence, and notes that the PMO’s 1931 operating expense budget for “music, printing, advertising and soloists” for the season called for $2640. Once again, the flyer points out that “To carry out this program the Orchestra requires ONE THOUSAND SUSTAINING MEMBERS AT ONE DOLLAR A YEAR. Your interest and support for the year 1931 is requested.” Time would tell how close to that goal the PSO would get.

The next “official” PMO concert would not be presented for two months. However, during a busy six-day period in late February, the entire ensemble was engaged in a unique group performance assignment. The Orchestra and a chorus of 200 local voices joined with a traveling troupe from Germany which presented the nearly 700 year-old Freiburg Passion Play that featured members of the Fassnacht family (HS: About 1760 the town had made the roles hereditary, so that the role of Christus during the tour was played by Adolph Fassnacht – via “his inheritance of seven generations”. Elsa Fassnacht played the role of Mary Magdalena.). In 1929, The Freiburg Players group had a 48-performance run at the Hippodrome Theatre on Broadway in New York City, and when it came to Portland the “drama of Christ’s suffering and death for mankind” was on an extended tour to many U.S. cities. The local nine-concert run of the production was presented at The Exposition Building, and was sponsored by the four musical clubs of the city – the Rossini Club, the Men’s Singing club, the Women’s Choral Society and the PMO. The conducting responsibilities were shared between native-Portlander Harold Loring, the production’s General Musical Director, and the production’s Conductor-- Orchestra and Chorus, Ralph B. van Courtright, who had a long career as a music professor in California.

That next “official” PMO concert was presented on April 12. (HS: April 12 would be a date that would go down in history as possibly the most important date in the orchestra’s history, but....... I’m getting ahead of myself— as you continue, be sure NOT TO MISS reading about the events of “the next April 12”; that is... 4/12/32.)

The April PCHA concert featured by-now-17-year-old violoncellist Katherine Hatch as soloist. She would go on to, unarguably, be one of the two most important long-term members of the Portland orchestra (the other would be oboist Clinton Graffam, Jr., who she would marry several years later, in 1935). By now a recent graduate of Deering High School (class of 1930), she already was instructing ten students, and would go on to a teaching career extending 72 years. She had begun playing with the Portland orchestra in 1927 at the age of 14, the following year named principal cellist. Her advanced cello studies started when she was age 13, leading to her eventually studying with several nationally known cellists including Jean Bedetti, principal cellist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra; Jacobus Landendoen, noted Dutch cellist; and Carl Stockbridge of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. After she had early on come to the attention of Mr. Stockbridge, he offered her lessons at greatly reduced cost. This was in the midst of The Great Depression, her father was out of work and money was scarce. Thus began four years of weekly Saturday trips to Boston in her father's aging car (This was before the turnpike and road obstructions were numerous, making flat tires a common occurrence.). As a result of her start in music, she never charged the going rate for her lessons and often furnished music, strings, and other supplies to students to make music study possible. She herself eventually studied at Boston University; the American Institute of Music in Auburndale, MA; and attended the Suzuki Institute in Ithaca, NY. Many of her students became professional cellists and music educators and many more used music as an important avocation. (HS: Most of the foregoing information is from a Harford Courant newspaper obituary published following her passing in March, 2005.)

The masterpiece composition that Miss Hatch would perform this April Sunday afternoon in PCHA was the third work on the program. The PMO first played Benjamin Goddard’s Adagio Pathétique. Mr. Cronham had next selected to have the orchestra go a “significant step further” than it had in January when the first two movements of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, had been performed. At this April concert, the entire symphony was played. After intermission, Miss Hatch took her place at center stage to perform Camille Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33, written for violoncello and orchestra. (HS: Googling reveals the information that the composer “broke with convention in writing the concerto. Instead of using the normal three-movement concerto form, he structured the piece in one continuous movement. This single movement contains three distinct sections. Those sections, tightly-structured, share interrelated ideas.”) Portland newspaper reviewer Inez Perry Turner’s article the next day cited Miss Hatch’s performance as one of “professional technique and mature artistry”. She went on to state that the cellist “covered herself with glory and won new laurels as an artist of rare ability.”

Next performed was a composition by Mr. Cronham, Burlesca, In Form Of A Rondo, For Wind Instruments. The work was scored for piccolo, 3 flutes, oboe, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, and 2 horns. Miss Turner’s review mentioned that the artists “came in for a large share of praise by the audience” after this number; however she neither specifically praised nor panned the work itself. The afternoon’s program concluded with the Second Hungarian Rhapsody by Franz Liszt, arranged by von Karl Müller-Berghaus. The clarinet cadenzas were played by the section principal, Donald Davis, and were described in the review as “splendid piece(s) of work in this number.... ...the solo parts (played) with clarity and sweetness of tone as well as interpretive artistry. After insistent applause, Mr. Cronham returned to the stage and directed a popular setting of Dvořák’s Humoreske.” (HS: That sometimes-but-not-often used spelling of the work was the form in the review. Whether the score from which the encore was played also showed that spelling, is not known now for sure.)

In the program for this April performance, the last municipal concert of the season, a notice of appreciation was included “To the City Council for improved stage facilities”, also “To Mr. Charles H. Payson for his gift to the Orchestra of complete platform equipment.” (HS: Specifics as to what changes-for-the-better occurred were missing.)

On the last day of April, the PMO traveled to nearby Norway, for a concert-cover stated was presented by the Portland Music Commission. Much, but not all of the PCHA concert earlier in the month, was performed for an audience gathered at the community’s Town Hall. Conductor Cronham chose to open the program with the Battleship Connecticut - March and Two Step, by James M. Fulton (HS: He eventually composed more than 245 compositions, including more than 144 marches more than Sousa, against whom he competed with his touring Fulton's American Band.). Next performed was Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67. After the intermission, Miss Hatch performed the work for which she had recently received high plaudits in Portland, Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33. This was followed by Mr. Cronham’s Burlesca, In Form Of A Rondo, For Wind Instruments.

Miss May Korb then sang three numbers, accompanied by Howard Clark. First was Nature’s Holiday by Richard Hageman, followed by Kurt Schindler’s arrangement of La Columba (“The Dove”). She concluded her scheduled part of the program with Karl Anton Florian Eckert’s Swiss Echo Song. While the sell-out (source: a saved penny-postcard mailed to orchestra members prior to the concert) Norway audience presumably requested, and then received, one or more encores from Miss Korb, no clipping about this concert has been located, thus any details about what else might have been sung is now not known. The Thursday evening concert concluded with the PMO complementing clarinetist Donald Davis as he “cadenza-ed” his way through featured sections of the Second Hungarian Rhapsody by Franz Liszt, arranged by von Karl Müller-Berghaus.

Hand-typed notes retained in Mr. Lawrence’s notebooks list that the full orchestra had held thirteen rehearsals between the Brunswick concert in February and the end-of-season Norway appearance.

An early-October mailing to orchestra members from Mr. Cronham was printed on stationery bearing the seal of the “City of Portland, Maine”, noting Charles Raymond Cronham as Municipal Organist, and also listing the names of the three Music Commissioners, Louis E. White, Chairman.... also Philip I. Milliken and Harry T. Raeburn. In the letter, Mr. Cronham requested that the PMO musicians “notify us of your own continued membership and of prospects (who could be) new members.” The letter contained a paragraph that said, “The Music Commission, as in the past, will extend every facility to the orchestra and during the Summer has assisted the orchestra in wiping out a small deficit(emphasis added by HS-- Perhaps the notice of the Commission’s financial aid, and the wording in this letter, were intended to assuage possible concerns among orchestra members who might have been nervous about the attitudes of the two new commissioners regarding the PMO).

Insofar as new musicians for the orchestra were concerned, the letter from Mr. Cronham reveal his interest in wanting to improve the quality of players. After requesting orchestra members to notify him or Mr. Graffam (Sr.) about possible new members, the letter stated that “The plan of having new members simply report at the first rehearsal will be eliminated and no new member must so report unless he, or she, has been accepted into the ranks of the orchestra.” The conductor advised that “it is desired to secure about four new violinists and new additional ‘cellos.”

A neat touch of humor was contained in the letter, also. After advising the musicians of two established classical works that would be included in the upcoming season’s first program, listing of a third work, Tango, included a finger being poked toward “someone”, as following the name of the work appeared, “(now arranged for full orchestra) by Cronham – an unknown composer”.

The 1931-1932 season schedule was originally set to include “three Sunday afternoon concerts... ...and at least two out-of-town concerts”, also “a Fifth Anniversary Concert” to be given in the Spring”. As events would turn out, however, as the Portland Municipal Orchestra, the musicians would end up presenting only two PCHA concerts, and a third in Brunswick.

The PMO’s season began with a performance at the newly-refurbished City Hall Auditorium on Sunday afternoon, December 13. A number of new works had been rehearsed by Conductor Cronham and the musicians, and the ensemble led off this program with one of them, Coronation March From Le Prophète (“The Prophet”) by Giacomo Meyerbeer. Next on the program was Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 in D major (Hoboken 1/104), his final symphony and the last of the twelve so-called London Symphonies that he composed during extended stays in that city. It is generally referred to as “the London Symphony”. Featured guest-soloist soprano Isabelle Jones, accompanied by Howard Clark, took center stage prominence after the intermission. She first sang the My Heart Ever Faithful aria by Johann Sebastian Bach (HS: Googling about this work suggests that Miss Jones may have sung the Traditional English translation, adapted by Julia Pabst based on Luke 17:21, Mark 1:15, and John 10:28.). Her final three selections were Over the Steppe, Op.5, in A minor, by Aleksandr Gretchaninov and based on a text by Alekseĭ Pleshcheyev; Lass with the Delicate Air, a 1762 work by the English composer, harpsichordist, organist, singer, and actor, Michael Arne (HS: Googling reveals that he “wrote several songs for London's pleasure gardens, the most famous of which is “The Lass”.); and Hüe’s Chanson Alasacienne. The vocalist was next joined by the musicians, and sang Giacomo Meyerbeer's Shadow Song, from "Dinorah". Although, once again, no newspaper clipping about this concert has been spotted, it is likely that the audience successfully cheered Miss Korb such that she sang at least one encore. The concert concluded with two orchestral numbers. The printed-program states that Mr. Cronham’s Tango, is a “Mexican dance related to the Spanish Habenara... duple rhythm and properly a posture-dance for two.” The concert-program also includes mention that the work was “Dedicated to the Members of the Municipal Orchestra”. The afternoon’s performance by the PMO concluded with Martha : Overture to Act I, from the opera composed by Friedrich von Flotow.

A noteworthy event during the PMO’s mid-December concert was the ascension of a new Concertmaster, Reginald Howe. Emil Hybert was now listed on the program as principal 2nd violinist. Mr. Hybert’s tenure as concertmaster of the Portland Municipal Orchestra began in January of 1928. Stella Brewster was now listed as principal 1st violinist. (HS: It is natural to speculate that Mr. Howe and Miss Brewster were among the new-recruits that Conductor Cronham had earlier written that he desired to secure.)

This year the Portland Concert Association was formed by a group of area music teachers who initiated a series of five concerts. Today (2012) the PCA operates under the name Portland Ovations.

Plans drawn by the Stephens architectural firm suggest consideration then being given to expanding the stage forward by 8 & 1/2 feet. Also then proposed were 310 lamps in footlights and a one-foot lowering of the orchestra-pit floor area in front of the stage. No action was taken on these proposals. (Source: plans preserved at Maine Historical Society)


1932       On January 14 the PMO again traveled to Brunswick for a performance, with soprano Isabelle Jones among the entourage. This Thursday evening concert sensibly contained quite a few works that were already in the orchestra’s music folders. Mr. Cronham began by conducting the Meyerbeer “Prophet” work, followed by Haydn’s Symphony No. 2. Then Miss Hatch undoubtedly wowed the audience with the Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto that she had so impressively already performed in Portland and Norway. (HS: In later years, a newspaper article covering a lengthy interview during which she looked back over decades with the Portland orchestra ensemble contained a story about how one time the concert hall at Bowdoin experienced a power failure and the lights went off. While she continued on for about 15 minutes, in total darkness, she eventually stopped playing alone. When the lights went back on, she and the orchestra completed the concerto. This incident likely occurred the evening of this January, 1932, concert, and is covered in the Anecdote Section of this THINGS-PSO.)

Miss Jones then sang four numbers, this time accompanied by Zilphaetta Butterfield. Her selections were Joseph Haydn’s Mermaid’s Song, with text by the composer’s longtime English acquaintance, the lyrical poetess Anne Hunter; Deep in the Night by Grace; Hüe’s Chanson Alasacienne; and Meyerbeer’s Shadow Song, from "Dinorah". The final three instrumental works performed were Mr. Cronham’s Burlesca rondo; the composition that he had dedicated to the orchestra members, his Tango; and von Flotow’s Martha : Overture.

Following the PMO’s January concert, for several weeks PCHA received some redecorating attention. A saved newspaper clipping states that “The newly decorated City Hall auditorium, which has been undergoing extensive alterations and repairs for several weeks, will be officially re-opened Tuesday evening when Lawrence Tibbett (HS: That concert was scheduled for March 22), world-famous baritone, will appear in a concert sponsored by the Portland Music Commission. The article continued to provide information about the work that had been done, “The entire hall has been newly painted, and beautiful red velvet draperies, trimmed with gold, are at the doors and windows.” Also, “The console of the organ has been reguilded a dark bronze. Beautifully designed gold lanterns, with prism glass and 2000 watt bulbs, have replaced the old lighting fixtures. Overhead lighting on the stage also has been replaced with prism glass fixtures.” (HS: The article does not make it clear whether general city funds, or possibly Music Commission bank accounts, provided funding for the dress-up of the now almost 20-year-old auditorium. Nonetheless, events would turn out that this would be the last major refurbishment of City Hall Auditorium until the late 1960s.)

In early March, Portland citizens were surprised to learn that Will C. MacFarlane would come out of retirement, and be re-engaged as Municipal Organist by the Music Commission, which simultaneously dismissed Charles Cronham (he had been notified of his firing by a letter dated February 8 (received two days later), although the Press Herald did not report the news until March 2. Portland newspapers reported that "surprise and indignation were expressed by leaders of the city's prominent musical organizations". ('Pipes' -Tucker) “Music Commission Chairman White, whose signature appeared on the peremptory dismissal of the municipal organist, had no comment to make on the matter”, one paper reported, adding that “Members of the city government disclaimed all knowledge of the Music Commission’s actions.” That paper added that former Music Commission Chairman “William S. Linnell expressed indignation at the ‘summary dismissal’ of Mr. Cronham ‘after his splendid service record in Portland.’” The paper reported that Mr. Linnell was now advising Mr. Cronham, who told his counselor that during a conference with the three commissioners that he was informed that “his services were dispensed with after ‘due consideration’ and that ‘seven years as municipal organist was a long time’” (HS: Mr. White’s refusal to make comment to the newspapers, and the weak-sounding reasons that Mr. Cronham reported hearing from the commissioners, provide no insight as to what was then going on behind the scenes.)

Within two days of the matter becoming public knowledge, at a rehearsal of the PMO a resolution was unanimously passed expressing “great confidence” in and recommending the retention of Mr. Cronham as conductor. A saved Evening Express clipping includes the comment that “Mr. Cronham expressed his appreciation for the sentiments contained in the resolution.” Even the local clergy quickly became involved, with the EE quoting Episcopal Bishop Benjamin Brewster “prais(ing) Mr. Cronham’s musical work in Portland, and declar(ing) the people of Portland should be told the reason for his dismissal by the Music Commission.” The final paragraph of the Evening News editorial about the goings-on titled “SOUR NOTES IN THE SYMPHONY” cleverly summed up, “The piece, so far as it has been played, has distressed Portland ears with its cacophony. The public now wants to know who has blown those sour notes.”

Amidst often nasty political "bickering and sniping" about the City's abrupt actions among city councilors, members of the music commission, news reporters and many citizens (one petition contained more than 500 signatures), "more.....turmoil" was to follow. (HS: One newspaper reported that “nearly 3000 petitioners asked that the order for his dismissal be rescinded.) Mr. Cronham refused to resign, citing a "gentleman's agreement" with the commission to be given six-months notice of termination that also reaffirmed his entitlement to a $6500 annual salary. Mrs. Tucker's book states that officials responded that "was impossible, because his successor, MacFarlane, was under contract". ('Pipes' -Tucker)

At one point, a Portland newspaper reported that Mr. Cronham sent a proposal to the Portland City Council, “offering a plan to slash in half the annual appropriation of approximately $14,000 for the Portland Music Commission.” The article also said that the Council responded to Mr. Cronham that “the Music Commission was in complete charge of all municipal music and musical matters.” The “Council thus indicated its refusal to intervene in the dispute between the Municipal Organist and the Music Commission.”

In the midst of all the commotion and controversy, a previously-scheduled PMO concert on March 20 at City Hall Auditorium was cancelled. Reports from this time state that the Music Commission concluded that renovations underway in the hall would not be completed before March 22 when famed Metropolitan Opera baritone Lawrence Tibbett was scheduled to appear, thus he was released from the agreement to perform. However, as late as March 3, the PMO concert was “on”, based on an article reporting its date, location, time, the name of a replacement guest artist - Miss Adele Bramson, and also citing the name of one work to be performed. In regard to the cancelled March 20 event, the Evening Express published an article that included a statement that the Music Commission had denied a request by Mr. Cronin “to present a concert by the Municipal Orchestra in the City Hall” Auditorium, a report that additionally inflamed widespread public disaffection with the firing decision, as well as anger over the Commission’s “stonewalling” requests for justification for its actions. It would have been perfectly understandable for Mr. Cronin to just stand back and let this report further tilt the public’s disaffection with the Commission, and keep alive that the commissioners were simply vindictive in wanting to thwart Mr. Cronham at every turn. However, taking the “high road” in what he said in a “To the Editor” letter published a day or so later by the EE was written in “the interests of fair play”, Mr. Cronham corrected an erroneous impression left by the original article. He wrote, “The facts are as follows. A concert by the Municipal Orchestra was booked for Sunday, March 20, with the understanding between the Music Commission, the authorities at the City Hall, and myself that the giving of such a concert depended upon whether or not the work in the auditorium would be finished by that date. I am informed by the City Hall people that it is impossible for the hall to be ready before the night of the 22nd, and that is the sole reason for postponing the program by the Municipal Orchestra. This program will be presented on Tuesday evening, April 12.” (HS: Hm-m-mmm; “April 12.” –Remember my earlier 1931-related tease about how April 12 would be a date that would go down in history as possibly the most important date in the orchestra’s history ? Well, the explanation about that assertion is almost at hand.)

The last two days of March, and also on April 1, an ensemble group of 22 members of the orchestra participated in three performances of the second annual Music Clubs' Frolic at the Eastland Hotel Ballroom, showcasing Mr. Cronham's composition, a jazz operetta titled "Alice in Wonderland". An audience of 500 attended the first performance, with a local newspaper reporter suggesting that “equally large audiences” would be repeated the last two evenings. In addition to Mr. Cronham’s jazz operetta, other “Entertainment, (and) Dancing” was a lure in a local newspaper advertisement for the affair. A photograph of a strutting chorus line of six attractive white-top-hatted young ladies was featured in a newspaper picture about the evening. An advertisement labeled the “Frolic” as “The biggest dollar’s worth in Portland”.

On April 9, Mr. White notified at least one newspaper that he and Mr. MacFarlane would that week travel together “to Philadelphia to confer with Mrs. Mary Curtis Bok, founder (in 1924) of the Curtis Institute of Music.” The stated intent of their trip was “to establish a measure of tangible cooperation between the institute and the Portland Municipal Orchestra. In an announcement... ...Mr. White mentioned a ‘big plan of cooperation’, the details of which, will be announced later.” (HS: This announcement appears to have been a PR move on Mr. White’s part about what was also likely hoped-for trip to gain a financial gift from the daughter of publishing magnate Cyrus Curtis. No further announcement following Mr. White’s trip with Mr. MacFarlane was ever forthcoming [although Mrs. Bok did make a gift to the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ 35 years later, in 1967. Obviously, Mr. White deserved no credit for philanthropy occurring three decades after his death.)

In April the orchestra members indeed did do something that would prove to be one of the most significant moments in the history of the Portland orchestra. Every single member withdrew from the Municipal Orchestra, and the process was started to change the ensemble’s name such to completely dis-affiliate everyone in the group from the Portland Music Commission. The withdrawal immediately followed the Portland Municipal Orchestra concert presented at City Hall Auditorium on April 12. (HS: The concert contained what perhaps couldn’t have been a better musically-ironic aspect--- the group’s final work as the PMO was the ever-crescendo-ing Boléro, with its gigantic final chord as an exclamation point!) Every single PMO member formally resigned in a unanimous vote, thus abruptly leaving the Music Commission without any control over their individual future decisions to re-assemble as a group under a new formal organization. The next day Portland newspapers carried articles reflecting signed statements by all the members of the ensemble’s Advisory Board charging that “the commission has ignored the municipal orchestra the past year”, and stating that “Charles Raymond Cronham, municipal organist, is given sole credit for carrying on the orchestra”. The board’s statement also called attention to the former friendly relations of the orchestra and other preceding music commissions. Another article pointed to a an additional thorn in the side of the ensemble, stating that “Indignation was expressed... ...that the Music Commission is making certain arrangements for the future of the orchestra without consulting the Advisory Committee (of the PMO) or orchestra members.”

Performed during the first half of this final-ever concert of the PMO were Gioacchino Rossini’s frenetic Semiramide: Overture to Act I; the Allegretto (2nd movement) of Symphony No 7 in A major, Op. 92, by Beethoven; and Léo Delibes’ Coppélia – Ballet Suite, Mazurka, Waltz and March of the Bells. After the intermission, guest-pianist Adele Bramson played Franz Liszt’s Étude No. 10 in F minor, "Allegro agitato molto", followed by Frédéric Chopin’s Andante spianato et grande polonaise brillante in >E-flat major, Op. 22, for piano and orchestra. She then performed Piano Concerto No. 4 in D minor, Op. 70, by Anton Rubinstein. Reviewer Inez Perry Turner praised Miss Bramsono’s playing, asserting that she “surpass(ed) all previous appearances” in Portland. The PMO then concluded the concert, and its history, with the Rhythmic, repetitive and ever crescendo-ing Ravel work. Reviewer Turner wrote that the orchestra “reached the greatest height that it has ever attained.” All seats for the concert were priced at 50-cents. One review opined that the “audience was far smaller than the merits of the event deserved”.

Nine days later, on April 21, the now-former PMO musicians met as a group to rehearse in Room 41 at City Hall, and to discuss plans to re-organize under the aegis of a new formal organization. Temporary officers were named to serve until an election. The minutes of that meeting contain, “Mr. Charles R. Cronham agreed to continue as conductor as long as he should remain in Portland.” Following was, “Meeting adjourned.”

Four additional days later, on April 25, the orchestral society officially incorporated as the Portland Symphony Orchestra, a charitable organization. (That name had been suggested in 1924 and used for at least one mailing to musicians, but was then rejected as being "too imposing for this tenuous new adventure".) The petition for incorporation, a signed copy of which resides in the PSO Archives, includes the signatures of seven musicians. Not by coincidence, the Justice of the Peace to whom the formal application was directed was William S. Linnell, the former Portland Music Commission Chairman and constant friend and advisor to the ensemble. Benjamin Haskell, one of the signatories, was elected President; also, six other Executive Board officers were elected.

The complete list of original signers of the original PSO incorporation application follow:

Benjamin E. Haskell

Percy D. Mitchell

Henry C. Cook

Clinton W. Graffam (HS: The correct "Sr." is not designated for Mr. Graffam)

Harold M. Lawrence

Robert R. Lane

Herbert G. Jones.

Later on April 25,violinist Benjamin E. Haskell was elected as the first President of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. (HS: The “History” Section of the website contains digital scans of the PSO’s incorporation papers, and also minutes and documents from the organization’s first official meetings in 1932.)

All along, aggressive legal jousting continued regarding the Music Commission’s decision to relieve Mr. Cronham of his Municipal Organist responsibilities. At one point charges of inefficiency and insubordination were made against Cronham by Mr. White. “Dereliction Of Duty Is Basis Of Charges Preferred By White” read a page-1 sub-headline of the April 27 Portland Evening News. The severe economic pressures of the depression were most certainly an added complication (factors that respectively affected Cronham, the City, and MacFarlane). Finally, in May, Charles Cronham would resign as municipal organist effective the end of the month, and charges were dismissed. Whether he ever collected additional months' salary is not clear.” ('Pipes' -Tucker) (HS: Historical contradictions disagree as to the outcome of the, let’s call it –“severance issue”.).

In what turned out to be his final performing or conducting appearance in the city, on May 27, the Portland Symphony Orchestra performed what was called their “fifth anniversary concert in City Hall Auditorium, conducted by (Charles) Cronham, their founder.

The first half of the concert consisted of the first performance of Mr. Cronham’s composition, Celebration March. Next was the Allegro Moderato movement of Franz Schubert’s Symphony in B minor – “Unfinished”, D. 769. The PSO was then joined on stage by Miss Korb, who sang Pearl of Brazil: Charmant oiseau (“Thou Brilliant Bird”) by Félicien David, with Harold Lawrence performing the flute obbligato. The Scherzo and Finale of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, led to the intermission.

The evening's program records that the second half of the concert was the presentation of Cronham's (jazz-operetta) Alice In Wonderland, with his wife, May Korb, singing the leading role.” (sources: Tucker; also newspaper clippings reviewed by HS) The 22-member ensemble from the PSO again provided the orchestral accompaniment. Marcia Merrill, Leroy Leonard and Virgil Smith were names also featured on the program in addition to May Korb. The headline above newspaper reviewer Inez Perry Turner’s article was “Charles R. Cronham And May Korb Are Given Enthusiastic Reception.” Several clippings read (by HS) make references suggesting that originally the “Alice” work was not scheduled to be included in this concert. However, it appears that high levels of enthusiasm following the “Frolics” events led to the decision to include it in this evening’s program. Tickets for the concert were 50-cents each.

Since October of the preceding year, the musicians participated in 32 rehearsals of the entire group. The “Alice” ensemble rehearsed a total of 6 times. Four full orchestra concerts were performed, three at PCHA and one at Bowdoin in Brunswick.

No further concerts were presented this year by the PSO.

(HS: In her book, Mrs. Tucker states that Mr. Cronham was “founder” of the Portland orchestra. As referenced earlier, the PSO has historically considered otherwise, with Arthur Kendall credited to have been the group's original founder, in 1924, not Mr. Cronham as incorrectly interpreted and written by Mrs. Tucker.)

Mr. Cronham went to New York, where he became organist at the Marble Collegiate Church, working with the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale. He had a remarkable record there as he never missed a Sunday in 26 years except for his annual vacations.

As Harold Lawrence later summarized in a 1953 draft-history about the organization, “It now had a new name but was still the same group of people carrying on with the same ideas, to give worthwhile concerts of good music for the citizens of Portland.”

Apart from all the turmoil of the Cronham-dismissal affair and losing an orchestra due to the mass resignations of musicians, during the spring of this year the Portland Music Commission, at three different concerts, presented three already-booked world-famous artists for Portlanders to enjoy at City Hall Auditorium. At the respective concerts, they were the aforementioned performance by baritone Lawrence Tibett, another by violinist Mischa Elman and the third by renowned soprano Lily Pons. Today (2012), if there were to be a Classical Music Hall of Fame, each of the three would be front-row members.

On June 2 the newly-created PSO Executive Board met with members of the Portland Music Commission and Edwin Smith, City Clerk of Portland. Among points clarified between the Commission and PSO was that matters of the Portland Symphony Orchestra using rooms in City Hall was solely a matter between that orchestra and the city authorities, as the Music Commission was concerned only with the Portland Municipal Orchestra that was no longer in existence. Having the City Clerk not protest that assertion likely was most certainly an irritant to the Music Commission, thereby thwarting any nefarious plans the commissioners might have had to keep the new PSO barred from using meeting rooms in City Hall, or the auditorium, for future rehearsals and concerts.

The orchestra was ordered to, and subsequently did (within four days), deliver several musical instruments then used by PSO members (tympani, bassoon and oboe), to the Music Commission, who were decided to be the rightful owners of these instruments. A receipt for this submission rests in the PSO Archives. Subsequently, the instruments were turned over to the Portland High School at the request of the music supervisor Miss Emily E. Chase.

PSO archives contain handwritten minutes from a September 23 meeting of the PSO Executive Board that was held at the Cressey and Allen store (HS: In case I didn’t mention this earlier, the senior Mr. Graffam had been long affiliated with the Cressey & Allen music store in Portland.), referencing a letter from Mr. Cronham regarding his "resignation as conductor of the orchestra". The board voted to accept the resignation, also to make Mr. Cronham an honorary member of the orchestra. Five days later 12 PSO members attended an official PSO Board Meeting (HS: recall that during this era all musicians were also board members.) where it was decided to seek City Council permission for the use of a room in City Hall for rehearsals. (HS: These entreaties were ultimately unsuccessful, and later mid-fall rehearsals were held at a room rented at the Boy’s Club.)

The new Symphony faced some significant new budget challenges. Already with a string of annual operating losses on its books, it now faced added costs of renting rehearsal space and concert venues (the Music Commission had previously provided both of these, at no cost to the PMO). A newspaper article reported that both the Music Commission Secretary, James C. Furnival, and also City Manager James E. Barlow were as not “being disposed, however, to apply any hardships on the orchestra now that it is no longer (a) municipal” organization“. The paper also wrote that, the “Minimum charge for the use of City Hall (auditorium) is $75, which is virtually the cost of heating, lighting, setting up or removing the chairs and cleaning.” PSO representatives held discussions at that time with city officials seeking that there be no rental charge applied for rehearsals. Their requests were denied.

In mid July the Portland Music Commission added further confusion to the messy situation regarding the re-engagement of Will C. MacFarlane as Municipal Organist. With then only a $3200 bank balance (HS: So! Ah-ha! The commission is broke! Now we’re getting some useful information out of Mr. White.), Music Commission Chairman White appeared before the Portland City Council to request that council monies be appropriated to it so that financial terms of Mr. MacFarlane’s contract could be met. In 2012 dollars, his annualized 1932-pay rate of $500 per month would equate to almost $100,000 (about 20 percent below that of payments to Mr. Cronham) , and although he was expected to finance repairs to the organ from these funds, there is no record that much actual maintenance cost was incurred back then. Politics aside (HS: And it would be naïve to assume that there wasn’t plenty at the meeting), the City Council emphasized that the organist’s contract had not been authorized by the city government, but by the independent Music Commission. The council finally unanimously voted not to appropriate money for Mr. MacFarlane’s salary, although earlier-authorized city funds would stand in regard to payment for services already rendered by the organist. Mr. White threatened legal action.

Controversies between the two city bodies continued to swirl. One newspaper clipping states that the City Council repealed the ordinance creating the Music Commission, but also decided that after the terms of the present music commissioners expire (HS Hold’on there! Why didn’t the “repeal” close down the joint? Does anyone know what’s going on here?), then “to appoint successors to hold office doing the pleasure of the City Council”. Later the Council ordered the Music Commission to dismiss Mr. MacFarlane, but Mr. White refused to do so, instead keeping him on duty.

By December Mr. MacFarlane had completed playing a fall organ concert series, and submitted a $1500 bill to the City Council for his services (HS: Remember, the till of the Music Commission is empty.), which precipitated a ruling that he could take $750 or nothing, but any bills for additional services in 1933 would not be paid by the City. He chose to not appeal or seek court remedies, instead...... accepting the $750. (HS: Clippings reveal literally dozens and dozens of continuing back-and-forth articles and letters regarding both organist pay and Music Commission activities [or non-activities]) that extended well into the next summer.) Finally the next August (then it WOULD BE 1933!), the City Council voted unanimously to request Mr. White to resign. Not surprisingly, he refused; a local newspaper quoting him as saying, “I was re-appointed to the commission under the old ordinance.... ...and I still have two more years to serve.” He added, “on advice of counsel, I refuse to resign.” Charges and counter-charges continued (HS: And remember, there’s a Very Severe economic Depression going on in the real world. How could the citizens stand for all this rigmarole?). Even the City Manager and Mr. White tussled in the newspapers over disagreements. One City Council member stated that he was ready to press charges against Mr. White.

Then, in September of the following year (HS: Yes, I know that this section of THINGS-PSO is supposed to be dealing with events in 1932..... but seriously, folks—let’s get this sordid situation!), the City Council would unanimously abolish the Music Commission. The Evening News reported that, “Due to the refusal of one of its members to conform to the requirements of the City Council, the latter body Wednesday voted unanimously to abolish” the commission. Continuing, the EE article stated that “By and by the Council can create another commission if it chooses, or it can make other arrangements for the care of the City organ and the continuance of its use”. The newspaper expressed the view that it was “agreed by practically every citizen that the action taken was unavoidable”.

The Council decided to take over responsibility for the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ (HS: Only to find that Mr. White had removed all 337 ivory keys, then privately sold the ivory to speculators in Madagascar, and skipped town-- using the proceeds to pay for an escape to Bora Bora. ---No, that’s all stuff I made up.... but it’s almost believable considering all that had transpired up until now, isn’t it?). Mr. MacFarlane is believed to have moved back to New York City by 1934 (HS: Mrs. Tucker’s book says that in 1933 he had been listed in the City Directory “as living at Portland’s Eastland Hotel”.), and, Mrs. Tucker wrote, later “died in 1945, in North Conway, New Hampshire, where he and his wife had been living since his retirement in 1941”. He was then 74. Mrs. Tucker also wrote that “Mr. White died in 1936, after a brief illness with a heart ailment, at the age of 58. His obituary in the Portland Press Herald of February 17 made no mention of the controversy.”

So.... analyzing all the newspaper details about what went on over a year-and-one half period, here’s what appears to have happened. While annually receiving a stipend from the City Council, a newly-constituted Music Commission Board (HS: Since it didn’t actually answer to another government body, the commission’s books were secret from outside view) had financially overextended itself. For example, on the expense side of the ledger it’s a certain bet that Lawrence Tibett, Mischa Elman and Lily Pons had all cashed significant checks from the Portland Music Commission for their appearances. Since there wouldn’t be funds available to keep paying Mr. Cronham’s combined large salary and Kotzschmar-repair contingency allowance (HS: --a hefty $125,000 annually, inflation-adjusted to 2012-dollars), a desperate commission dismissed him and then attempted to get the City Council to accept responsibility for taking on Mr. MacFarlane’s contract. The commission stonewalled innumerable requests for explanations as to why Mr. Cronham was being fired, obviously not wanting to shed light on its financial mismanagement. When in April Mr. White eventually publicly-charged Mr. Cronham with “dereliction of duty” as justification for his being dismissed, the supposed instances of insubordination cited had occurred in March, a time after he had received the early-February letter notifying him that he was fired. In summary, then, the Commission was financially overextended; fired Charles Cronham to eliminate future obligations; replaced him with the popular MacFarlane but attempted to get the City Council to take responsibility to pay the replacement Municipal Organist; and then stonewalled both the press and the City Council about details. Like so many other times over the course of history, at the Music Commission Louis E. White was atop a mismanaged mess and hoped that everything would somehow turn OK and blow over..... and nobody would ever learn about its flirtation with bankruptcy. The firing of one municipal organist and replacing him with a popular icon from the Kotzschmar Organ’s past was never really a musical matter..... what it was about was a financial matter. While no references to embezzlement or something akin has been spotted, all along, the dismissal and later charges against Charles A. Cronham were ----- a “Classic Political Cover-Upof a snafu-ed public agency.

And now..... back to events occurring in 1932.

At its September meeting, in order to boost the group’s financial footing, the PSO Executive Board voted to assess playing member’s annual dues of $2.00. (HS: Although in 2012-adjusted dollars this would only be equivalent to about $33, the board knew that the move would meet resistance among players, given the worldwide economic depression of the times and the national unemployment rate standing at one-in-three [and no end in sight where it would stop worsening].) Also at this meeting, Charles Raymond Cronham was voted an honorary member of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. In future concert programs, his name would be added to the printed list of seven other prominent Portlanders already named Honorary Members of the PSO.

In late September, Charles A. Warren, of Brunswick, was named conductor of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. (HS: Rehearsals were to begin on November 17.). He had been born in Portland (HS: U.S. Census records indicate that he was born “about 1876”, although the New England Conservatory alumni office records “are fuzzy, either 1874 or 1875”. Thus, he was in his late-fifties..... some 20 years older than Mr. Cronham.), where he received his early music training. At the time of his PSO appointment he was credited as being a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music (HS: The NEC alumni office could not find a record of his graduating, reporting only that he “studied tuning here with Oliver C. Faust for 4 semesters in 1895-1896. OK.... so he wouldn’t have been the first to have fudged college records). A local newspaper reported that he did “post-graduate work at the Paris Conservatory with Andre Caplet of the Paris Opera (HS: Google-in reveals that M. Caplet had been mentored by Claude Debussy). For many years he had been a member of the Boston Opera Company. An accomplished string player (HS: different articles claim him proficient whether with a violin, viola or cello)... ...with a wide experience in orchestra work,” he also was “conductor of the United States Fifth Infantry Army Band, stationed at Fort Williams.” Mr. Warren and his wife (Eva, known as Belle- from her maiden middle name) had then lived in Brunswick for 14 years, and shared responsibilities for the city schools’ music programs, for which he was supervisor of music of the Public Schools (HS: One newspaper reported that “he was connected with the school system of the state as music supervisor {small “m”, small “s”, so that may not have been an official paid position}). “Mrs. Warren had charge of chorus work in the schools while Mr. Warren taught harmony and had responsibility for the grammar school and high school orchestras”. “Orchestra rehearsals were held daily and not weekly as in the case of most school orchestras.” One local Portland newspaper clipping mentioned Mr. Warren having had a professional relationship with Clinton Graffam, Sr. regarding state high school musical activities.

Mrs. Warren’s wife would join the PSO as a violinist. In the program for the first 1933 concert of the Symphony was Belle Warren’s name, listed among those of the orchestra

Clipped newspaper articles about Mr. Warren at the time referenced him as being very active in the national organization of high school music educators, and attributed to him responsibility “for the founding of the National Music Camp in Northern Michigan.” (HS: This facility later was re-named “Interlochen” and today [2012] under the umbrella of the Interlochen Center of the Arts has long been regarded as the top music camp in the nation..... also the premier year-round high school focused on music. The bucolic wooded Interlochen property exceeds 1000 acres.) (sources: a Lewiston Evening Journal, also Lewiston Sun Journal and a clipping from a Portland newspaper [publisher not specified] saved by PSO flutist Harold Lawrence- 1932, as well as Googling)

Although no fall PSO concerts of the reconstituted orchestra were performed, late in the year five rehearsals under Mr. Warren’s direction were held for 1933 concerts at the Boy’s Club (HS: That Cumberland Avenue venue remains in operation today [2013].)

In late December, the ensemble’s President, Benjamin E. Haskell, died suddenly at his home, a victim of acute indigestion. It is sadly ironic that the PSO’s first-ever president lived only long enough to participate in one concert by the new-and-officially-constituted Portland Symphony Orchestra.

Elsewhere this year, Russell Ames Cook was "appointed lecturer on the teaching of music, with a special reference to orchestral techniques and conducting at the graduate school of education, Harvard College". (Bangor Daily News)

Russell Ames Cook conducts at Symphony Hall, Boston. (Boston Herald)


1933       In January, the Executive Board voted to rescind the September dues assessment approval. (HS: This decision was likely due to PSO-member dissatisfaction about the board’s earlier dues-implementation decision, in light of the national economic Depression.) The Board also considered that a letter be sent to Mr. Cronham requesting return of scores from the PSO library.

Also in January, Executive Board Secretary Manager Clinton W. Graffam, Sr. resigned from his position as Secretary – Manager in order to be elected President, a parliamentary procedure related to the death of Mr. Haskell. A Testimonial was entered onto the permanent records of the PSO. The board also voted that Harold M. Lawrence be made Secretary – Manager, certainly the right decision given his proven (HS: Both then.... and subsequently many-times-over also proven regarding saved-records critical to this THINGS-PSO research.) ability to organize and systematically coordinate handling of arrangements.

January rehearsals were held at the Boy’s Club, with a pre-concert dress rehearsal (HS: Although musicians traditionally wore “whatever” at dress rehearsals; the term when applied to orchestra dress rehearsals relates to conductors trying to have uninterrupted play-throughs of works on the program.) on February 2 at a rented City Hall Auditorium.

At the PSO’s first concert of 1933, David E. Fisher was concertmaster. A newspaper clipping from that era noted that “Mr. Fisher established himself in Portland some years ago and is now the dean of violin teachers in this and nearby states.” (HS: It is taken by HS that “dean” in this context is as a-“generally considered by area musicians” connotation, rather than as any college or university title-position.) Among the other violinists, Sara Silverman is now first-listed; her name first appeared in a program late in 1931 when then a prominent Deering High School musician. Later she would remain active with the PSO both as a player (HS: Six years later she would succeed Mr. Fisher as concert mistress) and as an officer, first being mentioned regarding the latter as (an acting) Secretary in 1935 board minutes.

A pre-concert advertisement designed to attract Portland newspaper readers tried to draw the attention of potential concertgoers with the catchy heading, “A Symphony Concert At A Movie Price”. Ticket prices for all the seats in City Hall Auditorium (HS: Auditorium rental charges were by now an expense the PSO needed to offset.) were set at 25-cents. Each ticket contained a slogan similar to the newspaper advertisement, “A Quality Concert at a New Low Price”.

The first concert under the baton of Conductor Charles Warren was presented by the Portland Symphony Orchestra at City Hall Auditorium on Friday evening, February 3. Camille Saint-Saëns' stirring March Militaire Française, Op. 60, from the composer’s Suite algérienne” opened the program, followed by Kunihild, Prelude to Third Act by Cyrill Kistler. Local Portland coloratura soprano Isabelle Jones then joined the orchestra on stage and sang the aria from Gioacchino Rossini’s Barber of Seville, Una voce podo fa (“A little Voice”). Another work by Rossini was next, the William Tell, Overture to Act I, featuring PSO soloists violoncellist Katherine Hatch: Clinton Graffam, Jr., on English Horn; and flutist Harold Lawrence. The intermission was preceded by Karl Komzák’s Maerchee (“Fairy Tales”), which the program notes described as “A charming fairy story with the usual happy ending told by the strings alone.”

The second half of the concert began with Selections from Carmen, familiar melodies from Georges Bizet’s opera. The audience was next treated to Tales from the Vienna Woods, by Johann Strauss, Jr., which the program notes described as “A great radio favorite, seldom heard without cuts.” Miss Jones again came on stage, accompanied by Howard Clark. She sang Les Filles de Cadix by Léo Delibes; Jonathan Spilman’s Flow Gently, Sweet Afton; The Nightengales of Lincoln’s Inn by Herbert Oliver; and the showcase almost-aria The Laughing Song from Manon Lescaut ("L'éclat de rire") , also known as "C'est l'histoire amoureuse", by Daniel Auber. A next-day newspaper review said that she responded to the audience with “the encore Blue Danube Waltzes by Strauss-Liebling sung with rhythmic precision and elasticity, artistic and beautiful in every note.” The evening concluded with Jean Sibelius’ nationalistic 1899 symphonic tone poem, Finlandia. The review described the overall program as “intensely enjoyable” and referred to the new maestro’s “scholarly and dignified conducting”, whose “quiet, graceful gestures were a pleasure to watch.” What was described in the saved clipping as “a large and appreciative audience” was greeted from the stage at the outset of the evening by William S. Linnell, who spoke of “the work of the organization, now... (performing) ...its thirtieth concert, practicing together with no remuneration. Mr. Linnell then introduced Mr. Warren to the audience, and he was welcomed with enthusiastic applause.”

Another clipping from this time listed the names of ten PSO musicians from 1924 who “were in the original group of musicians from which the organization evolved” back when Arthur Kendall formed the amateur group of 40 to perform at the Strand Theater. That article referred to the Strand ensemble as “having served the immediate purpose for which it was formed,... (then being re-) ...organized independently, calling themselves the Portland Orchestral Society”, before aligning with the Portland Music Commission as the Portland Municipal Orchestra (HS: With then-commissioners being William S. Linnell, Herbert W. Barnard and Donald M. Payson, each of which by this time in 1933, be among the PSO’s Honorary Members.). The ten musicians listed in what wasn’t then an official designation, but a “Ten-Year Club” in 1933 we might say now, were:

Henry Cook – violin
Donald Davis – Clarinet
Mildred Dugan – violoncello
Clinton W. Graffam, Sr. – viola
Ralph Knight – Bass
Maurice Lane – Clarinet
Thelma Latham – violin
Frank Prince – viola
Arthur Stevens – French Horn
Maynard Young – French Horn

Prior to the final two concerts of this season, in April and May, rehearsals would shift to the rented auditorium at the Chamber of Commerce, the former performance immediately preceded with two pre-concert dress rehearsals at the rented City Hall Auditorium.

The Portland Chamber of Commerce had purchased what was then the 85-year-old Free Street Baptist Church building in 1926 and hired John Calvin Stevens and his son, John Howard Stevens, to restore the building to its original appearance. It had originally been built in 1830 as a theater. Located at 142 Free Street, the four impressive large white columns that marked the theater almost 100 years earlier were retained with the Stevens’ renovation—and still remain today (2014) as the familiar edifice of the Children’s Museum of Maine.

The season’s second PSO concert was performed at City Hall Auditorium on Friday evening, April 7. Mr. Warren opened the performance conducting Beethoven’s Overture to Prometheus. (HS: Googling reveals that the composer based the fourth movement of his Eroica symphony and his Eroica Variations [piano] on the main theme of the last movement of the ballet “Creatures of Prometheus, Op.43”.) Tchaikowsky’s Waltz from “Sleeping Beauty” followed. Next the Symphony performed Mélodie, by Rudolf Friml. The orchestra then played the second movement of the “Little Symphony in F”, the Allegretto Scherzando from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8, Op. 93. Following was Faust Ballet Music by Charles-François Gounod, his “Entry for Trojan Maidens”, “Solo Dance of Helen” and “Bacchanale and Entry of Phryne”. The first half of the program concluded with the frenzied Indian War Dance by Charles Skilton. Guest-artist Miss Ocy Downs, of Portland, took center stage after the intermission, with her Boston instructor, noted concert pianist Felix Fox, on the podium. The orchestra accompanied her performance of Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat major, S. 124, known as the “triangle concerto” according to concert-program notes. Newspaper reviewer Isabelle Jones wrote that “Miss Downs scored a decided success in her brilliant interpretation of the difficult showpiece.” As an encore, she played Fireworks (HS: Feux d'artifice: Modérément animé in the original scoring, the final composition of two 12-set [each!] groupings of pieces for solo piano, his Préludes” ), by Claude Debussy. Reporter Jones called the encore “a subtle but none the less realistic display of pianistic pyrotechnics.” A chamber ensemble of strings from the orchestra next played Menuet by Luigi Bocherini. The music for the evening ended with an early orchestral work of Jules Massenet, his Phèdre Overture. The newspaper clipping cites that, “Recalled, Mr. Warren led the strings alone in the exquisite little ‘Fairy Tale’”, an encore reprise of a well-received work at the February concert by Karl Komzák.

The PSO’s 1933 season concluded at PCHA on Wednesday evening, May 10. After this event observing National Music Week, headlines above two post-concert reviews read, “Exceptionally Hi Standard Attained In Concert Of Symphony Orchestra” and “Music Lovers Given Treat At City Hall”. (HS: Audiences were initially greeted by a single-page concert-program. Might this have been the standard program format for other Music Week concerts this week, or possible evidence of cost-reduction efforts then underway by the Symphony?) More than half of the program was numbers played earlier in the season. The Symphony led off with Rossini’s William Tell Overture, followed by the Prelude to Kunihild by Kistler. Guest soprano Lucille Potter Lavin, accompanied by Susan Coffin, sang Air and Variations by Heinrich Proch, with Alfred Robyn’s A Heart That’s Free for a mid-concert encore. The orchestra closed out the first half with Saint-Saëns' March Militaire Française, then the novelty Voice of the Chimes by Alexandre Luigini. In the second half of the evening’s performance, came Tales of the Vienna Woods by Johann Strauss, Jr., then Gabriel Pierné’s March of the Little Lead Soldiers. Next Miss Lavin sang Iris by Ware, If Thou Wert Blind by Johnson and The Doll Song from Jacques Offenbach’s “The Tales of Hoffman”. As an encore to this group, she presented Oh, Dry Those Tears by Arthur Pryor. (HS: OK... I’ll fess up; go ahead and laugh at me. Curious to learn anything I could about Miss Lavin’s first number of the second half, I Googled “Ware, Iris”. Now I’ve got more info than I’ll ever need about a Human Resources Development Strategist & Trainer in Detroit, Iris Ware. Yikes.)

The orchestra held a total of 24 rehearsals for the three concerts presented during the 1933 season.

In June, the first Annual Meeting and Banquet of the Portland Symphony Orchestra was held at the Dunsboro Farm in Dunston. Sixty-four members and guests were present, with a newspaper clipping citing more than 100 attendees overall. Handwritten notes about the affair retained in the PSO archives show that "The centerpieces at the tables were roses and the favors were colored paper caps." (HS: No detail too small to be recorded!) The number of playing members of the orchestra is noted (79).

At the Annual Meeting that month, Clinton W. Graffam, Sr. was re-elected President of the PSO.

Briefly repeating information summarized earlier in THINGS-PSO (HS: But, to officially re-enter it into events pertaining to 1933.) on September 6, the local community’s consternations regarding Portland Music Commission actions ended. In fact, the Commission itself “ended”. The City Council voted unanimously to abolish the commission. The official action came as the Council gave one last consideration to, what the Evening Express reported was “the refusal of one of (the Music Commission) members to conform to the requirements of the City Council.” The indirect personal reference, of course, was to Mr. White, about whom there were widespread calls for his resignation.

The financial severity of the times is evidenced by an entry into the minutes during a September Executive Board meeting. “The question was asked, how much money the orchestra had and the amount of the bills. Mr. Graffam reported that although he did not have the books at hand, he thought they had about twenty dollars ($20) and owed eighty-five ($85) dollars.” At that same meeting, the minutes also suggest that the rehearsal decorum of the volunteer orchestra needed improvement, saying “It was decided to insist that the members be more quiet (sic) between numbers at the rehearsals.”

Following the dismissal of his wife by Brunswick school officials in a depression-influenced move to reduce expenses, Charles Warren chose not to go it alone and take total responsibility for all school-music activities. He resigned his position as supervisor of music of the Public Schools. The Lewiston Sun Journal at the time reported that he said, “I could bluff it thru (sic) and get away with it, but that wouldn’t be using the town right. The job requires two persons...”. (source: Lewiston Evening Journal, 1933)

On June 7, Cyrus Curtis passed away at his Wyncote estate near Philadelphia; Will MacFarlane traveled to The City of Brotherly Love to play at his funeral service. The 40-strong Portland Men's Singing Club also attended the service and sang "Hermann Kotzschmar's Song in the Night, the favorite hymn of the deceased.” (Tucker)

The Maine Memory Network Collection at the Maine Historical Society reports that upon his death, Mr. Curtis “left no public gifts, so, for the first time, there were no funds to use for the upkeep and improvement of the Kotzschmar Organ.” After a difficult period regarding the Portland Music Commission (HS: Read on, for things get quite interesting.) which ensued, the Historical Society reports that “regular Kotzschmar Memorial Organ concerts would resume in 1935 under the auspices of the Maine Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, of which Alfred Brinkler, organist and director of the choristers at St. Luke's Cathedral on State Street, was dean.”

PSO Board Executive Committee minutes looking ahead to the next season record that, "Mr. Warren would like to devote the last thirty minutes of each rehearsal to a different section of the orchestra.” Subsequent-meeting minutes record that "it was decided to work for uniform bowing in the string sections.....", also that "it was decided to insist that the members be more quiet between numbers at the rehearsals.” (HS: Two 1932 newspaper clippings saved by Harold Lawrence each contained pictures of Mr. Warren; in one he had one of those “only-under-the-nose” dark mustaches, while the other showed him sporting a wide handle-bar mustache that made him look a lot less serious. Cool stuff. Then, too bad--- “all was lost” as a clipping saved from just before his first PSO conducting stint showed a completely bare upper lip.)

Another matter discussed at the above-referenced Board meeting was that a package received from Mr. Cronham "contain(ed) orchestral scores which were of little value to the orchestra.” Although "Several of those (scores) which he (still) kept (were) of considerable value", the minutes concluded with "It was decided to drop the matter.” (Note: The following year Mr. Cronham returned an additional thirty scores.)

Still no PSO member dues were either being assessed or collected. The Board minutes show that the orchestra "had about $20 and owed $85". During the year, various PSO playing members had resigned, some had requested leaves-of-absence, while the names of several others were stricken from the membership role due to too many absences from rehearsals. Not a factor solely related to the economic Depression, player non-attendance at rehearsals was to remain a problem PSO issue for another several decades.

In November, Executive Board First Vice President Percy D. Mitchell resigned in order to be elected President, a parliamentary procedure related to the recent death of Mr. Graffam. Again, a Testimonial Resolution was entered onto the permanent records of the PSO. By now the orchestra needed to pay accumulated back bills of approximately $300 in order to secure future services from various parties. Financial options were discussed, but no votes taken.(Wow.... these certainly were tough times!)

It was ironically tragic that 10 days before his passing on November 4, Mr. Graffam, then age 47, had been stricken by “an attack of septic sore throat... ...while playing in the orchestra at the Maine Teachers’ Association convention in Lewiston” the previous week. His death from pneumonia was incidental to that attack. Immediately upon graduation from high school in Gorham, he became a clerk in the Cressy & Allen music store, rising to become manager of several departments of the business. Clinton Graffam, Sr., was (of course) one of the Day#1 founders of the Amateur Strand Orchestra, the initial predecessor-ensemble of the Portland Symphony Orchestra, and was principal PSO violist at the time of his passing.

A notation in Harold Lawrence’s scrapbook for this year says that on November 13 the Directors discussed the giving of children’s concerts. Subsequently, additional notes say that on November 24 ”it was voted to admit all school children to regular concerts for 10-cents.”

The Symphony traveled to near Mr. Warren’s residence in Brunswick, presenting a concert at Bowdoin College on December 7. The evening began with Carl Maria von Weber’s Overture to Oberon, followed by the Second Movement of Tchaikowsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor. Op. 64, Andante cantabile, con alcuna licenza. Next a string ensemble from the Symphony played The Maid of the Mill by Joachim Raff, also Komzak’s Fairy Tales. Isabelle Jones, accompanied by Mrs. William H. Jones (HS: Maybe her mother?), sang the arietta La Calandrina, by Niccolò Jommelli. Following the intermission, the PSO played Madame Butterfly – Selection, by Puccini, then Valse Triste, Op. 44, part of the music which Jean Sibelius wrote for a drama described as “weird-gaiety”, called Kuolema (HS: The translation of the Finnish word is "Death."). Miss Jones returned to sing Rejoice Greatly (From the Messiah), by Handel. The evening ended with Sibelius’ Finlandia..... twice! A news report from Brunswick after the concert advised that “Finlandia was repeated after five minutes of continuous applause.” The audience certainly gave the recently-resigned school music director an endorsement, one likely designed to show displeasure toward Brunswick administrators. (HS: Again, as had been the situation earlier in Portland, a single-page printed program was given to concertgoers in Brunswick, a practice that continued [not always, but most of the time] until the late-1930s..... so it looks as though the earlier supposition that programs requiring less paper [and printing costs, too] might possibly have been a Depression-related cost-reducing move, were on the mark. Sometimes the names of the orchestra members were printed on the back-side of the program; sometimes not.)

Portland's last legitimate theater, the 1600-seat Jefferson, its curtain down for the last time a year earlier and its doors closed, is demolished and an era ended. The spot at Free and Oak where it stood since 1897 becomes the location for Portland’s first downtown gas station.


1934       This year, the PSO invited the renowned Walter Damrosch to appear at a PSO concert in Portland (with the aim of his involvement helping to promote appreciation for top-level music among both adults and children in the area), and a short response letter from an assistant in his office in New York declining the PSO entreaty resides in the archives. (HS: Googling reveals that Mr. Damrosch was “the National Broadcasting Company's music director under David Sarnoff, and from 1928 to 1942, he hosted the network's Music Appreciation Hour, a popular series of radio lectures on classic music aimed at students. [The show was broadcast during school hours, and teachers were provided with textbooks and worksheets by the network.] According to former New York Times critic Harold C. Schonberg in his collection Facing the Music, Damrosch was notorious for making up silly lyrics for the music he discussed in order to ‘help’ young people appreciate it, rather than letting the music speak for itself.” Had the PSO garnered his services for an appearance in Portland, his presence could well have been a positive influence on the city’s youth.) Mr. Damrosch had affiliations in Maine in that during summers around this time he was President of the Eastern Music Camp Association, which operated a camp on Lake Messalonskee (HS: The site where the EMC operated before becoming defunct during the Depression, continues currently [2014] as the location of the New England Music Camp.).

In January the Portland Music Teachers’ Association sponsored Nelson Eddy at City Hall Auditorium in the first of its season concert series.

Minutes from a January Executive Board meeting show cash deposits of $61.31 and outstanding bills of $594. Proceeds from a February concert in City Hall Auditorium boosted the bank balance to $500.47; after paying bills associated with the concert, The PSO bank accounts contain slightly more than $300.

A virtually-complete set of concert programs saved by Harold Lawrence over a 40-year period reveal that a performance then-officially designated as the orchestra's 33rd concert was performed on December 7, 1933. The next program in his collection is officially numbered as the 40th concert in the PSO's history, performed on February 7, 1934. (HS: It is considered likely by HS that between these two dates the PSO officials probably performed a review of historical concert records [six (6) concerts were not likely to have been presented in such a short span of time, especially under severe Depression economic conditions then prevailing]. Thus an "official recount" appears to have taken place of the number of total concerts throughout the history of the orchestra, leading to the subsequent inclusion of 6 additional performances performed by symphony members that previously had not been designated as "official concerts". However....... some contradiction exists involving three of the five, since each respectively was a six-day series of the same program.)

On Wednesday evening, February 7, the first PSO concert of calendar 1934 just referred to, was presented. The orchestra opened with Gioacchino Rossini’s Overture to “Barber of Seville”. Next the Symphony performed all four movements of Beethoven’s entire Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21. Momentarily away from her studies at the New England Conservatory of Music, Harp soloist Barbara Whitney then took center stage and performed two works with the instrumentalists, the tone poem The Fountain (“Am Springbrunnen”) by Albert Zabel and the baroque Giga by Arcangelo Corelli. For an encore, she then played Brahms’ Lullaby. The first half of the program concluded with Weaner Madl’n (Vienna Beauties) by Karl Michael Ziehrer, a waltz, the introduction of which features a whistling theme, a novelty of Ziehrer. After the intermission the audience was welcomed back to their seats by Procession of the Sardar, the final movement of the Caucasian Sketches, Suite No. 1 by Mikhail Mikhailovich Ippolitov-Ivanov. A string orchestra then performed two Bach works, Air On The G String and Gavotte. Miss Whitney returned with her harp to play two more solos with the Symphony. The first was by the French harpist and composer Marcel Tournier, By A Brook In The Forest; this was followed by Spanish Dance, for harp, Op. 7, by Alfred Holy, Miss Whitney’s teacher in Boston. To enthusiastic applause from concertgoers, for an encore she played the popular folk song Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms, arranged for harp by Angelo Pinto. The audience recalled her to repeat that number, and she acceded to their wishes. To conclude the concert, Conductor Warren led the PSO in Carl Maria von Weber’s Overture to “Oberon”. A newspaper clipping the next day titled “Symphony Orchestra Scores In Most Ambitious Concert Given” said that for an encore, “Responding to prolonged applause, the group played the exquisite and whimsical March of the Little Lead Soldiers”, the Gabriel Pierné composition well-received at earlier PCHA performances

During this era, with the Music Commission now abolished, the Welfare Administration Department of the City Government sometimes sponsored free Sunday-afternoon community sings at City Hall Auditorium. Either the Municipal Organist or various guest musicians or singers from the Portland area would lead crowds as popular favorites were sung by all. (HS: Remember.... with the Depression ever-deepening, anything “free” was especially welcome by the city’s citizens or families from nearby areas.) At one such affair, on February 18, a newspaper clipping that was spotted mentioned that at this concert a sizable group of people from Canada’s Maritime Provinces were among the crowd of 1300; they were in Portland in connection with taking a class of some sort. In their honor, the audience sang God Save The King. Fred Lincoln Hill was at the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ for the afternoon, and also gave seven organ solos. The article stated that “Pierre Harrower led the audience in singing of familiar songs.”

About this time, arrangements had been set such that the Symphony would not be charged rent for either a late-February or late-March concert at PCHA, inasmuch as a deal between the PSO and the city involved the orchestra performing two Community Concerts where citizens would be admitted for free, in exchange for the waiver of charges for one other occasion when a Classical Concert requiring purchase of tickets would be performed. (HS: The board had unsuccessfully requested two such “other” occasions...... but for trying---they deserved an A-for-effort.)

Thus, on Sunday, February 25, the PSO presented its second concert of the season, which was free to the public and included a combination of classical works and group singing. Mr. Warren led off the program with the Overture – Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna, by Franz von Suppé. (HS: Out of curiosity, I Googled this composer, and learned that somewhere along the line he had changed his birth-name. His Austrian parents gave him a name that carried on from Belgian immigrant ancestors, Francesco Ezechiele Ermenegildo Cavaliere di Suppé-Demelli. THAT would have taken up a lot of space on published scores of his compositions.) Next were two songs, led by Song Leader Howard Stevens, Felice Giardini’s Come, Thou Almighty King, and the old English air, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes. After this group-sing, the PSO’s organist, Howard Clark, played a solo, American Rhapsody by Pietro Alessandro Yon. The orchestra then played three well-liked works: Tales from the Vienna Woods, by Johann Strauss, Jr.; March of the Little Lead Soldiers; and Glow-Worm, a song from Paul Lincke’s German operetta “Lysistrata” known as the fun-to-try-and-pronounce Das Glühwürmchen in its original language. Two more popular songs in which the audience could join then followed, When You and I Were Young, Maggie, a poem set to music by James Austin Butterfield; and Stephen Foster’s Oh, Susanna. An instrumental work by the PSO was next, Handel’s Largo – for Orchestra and Organ. The afternoon concluded with the orchestra, Mr. Clark at the organ, and the audience all joining to perform America. A newspaper clipping saved by Howard Lawrence reported that 1400 people were in attendance at this Community Sing affair.

Interestingly, an Evening Mail essay written by J. Daniel McDonald was highly critical of the audience’s overall demeanor at this concert. His objections centered on how this affair was “reminiscent of early movie palaces”. He wrote about what he referred to as a rowdy element of the crowd, “back row habitués” who were at times engaged in “hootings and catcalls”. During the closing number, he continued, many in the crowd “started a stampede for the door, and the disrespect shown during the singing of ‘America’ was nothing short of scandalous”. One “young lady had to call a policeman to quell a group of young hoodlums”. His solution was to not turn out the house lights, which he felt would discourage such callous behavior from occurring. (HS: It’s not clear from the article whether rowdyism also happened during times when the PSO was playing classical works, but if it did, as our then-young daughter used to say........ Mr. Warren probably “had a cow!”.) Anyway, a month later Mr. McDonald wrote a follow-up essay that reported that about the next PSO community-sing concert, he was “pleased to note a distinct change in the atmosphere. The hall was well lighted. The crowd was dignified and orderly, the performance excellent and we not only enjoyed the community singing, but ‘joined in’ with great gusto”. (HS: It is likely that another thing had changed between the February concert and the March concert---- extra gendarmes were likely assigned to PCHA the second month.)

At the second free Community Sing concert featuring the PSO, on March 25 the program began with Giacomo Meyerbeer’s Coronation March From Le Prophète (“The Prophet”), first performed by the PSO two years earlier. Singing of two songs this Palm Sunday afternoon was then led by Howard Stevens, as the orchestra played the hymn O God, Our Help in Ages Past and Jean-Baptiste Faure’s gospel, The Palms. The Symphony next played the middle Allegretto and Andante movements from Ballet égyptien, by Alexandre Luigini. Organist Howard Clark then performed three solos, a Chanson of Edward Shippen Barnes, Horatio Parker’s Scherzino and from the Second Symphony for Organ, Opus 37, also by Barnes, the work’s fifth movement, listed as “Final”. The audience then had another chance to join in by singing the E. P. Christy hit (HS: He, the leader of the blackface troupe “Christy’s Minstrels”, who got Stephen foster to write the lyrics in which the latter misspelled ‘Suwanhee River’ in order better fit the melody, Googling reveals.), Old Folks at Home; and also The Old Spinning Wheel, attributed to Billy Hill (among others). Waltz from “Coppélia, by Léo Delibes, was played by the orchestra, followed by two more songs when the audience could join in. Those were Love’s Old Sweet Song, music by James Molloy; and an old English nursery rhyme, the familiar Three Blind Mice (HS: Which a next-day review colloquially reported as “a round most bravely performed”.) . The program then called for local popular soloist, soprano Isabelle Jones, to sing George Bizet’s Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God”), accompanied by Mr. Clark. The concert concluded with two more songs, Auld Lang Syne and America, as the audience, organist and the PSO combined to end the afternoon’s music. A local newspaper headline cited “1,200 Persons Are Present At Final Community Sing In City Hall”.

The Executive Board of the PSO discussed “the possibility of having a Junior League (-sponsored) ‘Pop’ concert in the spring.” (source; minutes)

The PSO received $100 to perform an April concert in Lewiston. (HS: Mr. Warren and the musicians must have relished the chance to get back to playing classical works and “leaving the nursery rhymes behind” for Mom-s and Dad-s to sing alone in Portland nurseries located in their homes and apartments. But, economic conditions being what they were during The Depression, you can’t fault the PSO for acting to avoid the rental costs of a rehearsal and a concert at PCHA; you “go for a buck” when you need to.) This concert was sponsored by the Orpheon of Lewiston, and held at the City Hall.

The April 10 affair opened with what must then have become a proven-winner to begin concerts, Giacomo Meyerbeer’s Coronation March From Le Prophète (“The Prophet”). This was followed by the PSO performing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21. Next on the program, “The Orpheon” men’s choral organization, Emile H. Roy directing, performed Bells of the Sea, by Arthur Lamb and Alfred Solman; and Les Martyrs aux Arènes (“Martyrs of the Arena”), which Googling reveals was composed by Laurent de Rillé (HS: Although the program credits “Dubue”, an unexplained puzzle to someone now interested in authenticity.). Pianist Miss Lucienne Bedard accompanied the Orpheon group. The PSO finished out the pre-intermission segment of the evening with Tales from the Vienna Woods, by Johann Strauss, Jr. Largely sticking with works then still in the musicians’ music folders, Mr. Warren welcomed back the audience as he led the orchestra in Ippolitov-Ivanov’s Procession of the Sardar, Bach’s Air on a G string, and Komzak’s Maerchee (“Fairy Tales”). The Orpheon singing club then put forth Morning, credited to Speaks-Baldwin; and Choeur des Soldats (from Faust), by Charles Gounod. The Symphony then concluded the evening’s concert with Carl Maria von Weber’s Overture to “Oberon”. A local Lewiston newspaper clipping reported that an “appreciative audience of over 500” was in attendance.

The arrangement with Lewiston officials determined that after Lewiston recovered its costs to present the concert, the PSO would additionally receive 60% of ticket proceeds between $200 and $300, then 40% of any proceeds above $300. Since the highest-priced ticket to the concert was 50-cents, it is likely that the $200 operating profit-level target for the PSO to receive a bonus wasn’t reached. Nonetheless, since expenses to transport the orchestra members to/from Lewiston probably didn’t exceed $100, some of the performance fee was added to the PSO’s bank account.

This year an article in the national magazine “Musical America” included information that Alfred Brinkler was then President of the Portland Music Teachers Association, and also Director of the Men’s Singing Club and the Polyphonic Society.

The “Musical America” magazine reported that a Nordica Memorial Festival was held during a three-day period in early May in City Hall Auditorium. The festival brought a group of renowned artists to take part, which also included the appearances of many local organizations. The headliner out-of-town guest was famed contralto Ernestine Schumann-Heink.

Russell Ames Cook was guest lecturer this year at Portland’s Waynflete Latin School. (Portland Sunday Telegram)

Russell Ames Cook also this year directed the Waynflete Latin School Glee Club in concert. (Two PSO’ers, Sara Silverman, violin, and Katherine Hatch, cello, were members of a string orchestra that also performed during this concert. Both young women were already on their respective ways to longtime PSO careers.)

The PSO’s right to perform a City Hall Auditorium concert for which it would not be charged rental fees was not immediately “cashed” by the Symphony.

On Thursday evening, May 24, at the Chamber of Commerce Auditorium, the Symphony performed a concert to which complimentary tickets had been sent to Sponsors and Sustaining Members – a thank-you for “their financial assistance” to the orchestra. The tickets included information that “this concert is being given... appreciation of (patrons’) generous support and interest and will not be open to the public.” Admission was by the mailed-out cards only.

Evening Mail reviewer J. Daniel McDonald was in attendance, and filed a complimentary post-concert report printed by the newspaper the next day. He wrote that the members of the orchestra “were in fine form and played with surprisingly few technical or tonal errors.” One objection that he registered, however, was that the Chamber’s hall was really not large enough and thus it was difficult for attendees to fully enjoy the large ensemble, especially due to “reverberations of the percussion instruments”. Liking the performance nonetheless, the critic concluded by writing that “Charles E. Warren directed with his usual skill, gaining a maximum of colorful effects with a minimum of display.”

The concert began with three numbers of a “little-heard” (HS: So wrote Isabelle Jones, wearing her “reviewer hat” this evening for a Portland newspaper.) so-called “Heroic Ballet” taken from one of Gretry’s operas, this arrangement by Felix Mottl, his Ballet Suite from “Céphale et Procris”, containing Tambourin, Menuetto (Les Nymphs de Diane), and Gigue sections. Next performed was Haydn’s Symphony No. 100 in G major, Hoboken I/100 (The Military Symphony), the second movement of which relies on the heavy percussion that disturbed critic McDonald, as those instruments lend what the program notes stated were “a certain military character... ...particularly from the coda... ...which employs an Austrian bugle call.” After intermission, a string ensemble played Tchaikowsky’s Andante Cantabile (from string quartet op. 11). Miss Jones reported that these musicians then departed from the printed program, and “added as an encore, ‘Fairy Tales’, Komzak.” The “thank-you” musical evening for contributors was scheduled to conclude with Mozart’s Overture to “Don Giovanni”. Well, while that was how the concert-program read, Mr. Warren and the orchestra likely expected to perform an encore, which happened when the concertgoers sought a recall of Mr. Warren and the Symphony, and the response was John Philip Sousa’s March El Capitan.

A week later, the musicians and their guests held the PSO’s Second Annual Meeting and Banquet at the Moulton House in Dunston. “Business – Dinner –Dancing – Etc.” read the advance notice post-card mailed out by PSO Vice President and correspondent for the affair (HS: Mr. Lawrence pasted a copy of the post-card into one of this scrapbooks, so the details almost 80 years later – still look as clear in 2012 as they did in 1933.). Dress was casual, the entrée choice was “Chicken or Shore”, and the price for each was 85-cents. Guests at the affair who made speeches were Portland City Manager James A. Barlow, Miss Isabelle Jones and Conductor Charles A. Warren.

At the meeting in May, Percy D. Mitchell was re-elected PSO President. No other person was listed on the ballot for the presidential position.

The PSO’s “business manager was directed (in July) to find a suitable place for storage and to have the orchestral platforms now stored underneath the stage of City Hall removed.” Mr. Lawrence’s long-saved later notes about “this’n’that” state that the “platforms were moved to the property of (violinist) Henry Cook on Washington Avenue, Portland. Their final disposition is unknown.”

In late August, Executive Committee board minutes show that “it was unanimously voted that to retain the present conductor, Charles Arthur Warren, for the coming (1934-1935) season.” Furthermore, “It was also voted to extend to Mr. Warren the appreciation of the orchestra for his loyal and efficient services. The secretary pro-tem was instructed to draw up resolutions to that effect.” (HS: Certainly, everything appeared hunky-dory insofar as members/conductor relations were concerned.)

Looking at the August minutes gives insight as to realities insofar as virtually all amateur organizations have always had to operate is, “The matter of discipline was discussed, and it was decided to enforce prompt attendance and have shorter intermissions (breaks) as much time has been wasted previously in this way.”

Having given thought to solving an old problem the PSO directors decided to officially notify the membership of action. The board stated via a post-card mailing to members that “it appears necessary for the development of the Orchestra and in fairness to those who do their part faithfully, to enforce the rules regarding attendance” contained in the organization’s by-laws. The post-card contained the pertinent rule: “ANY PLAYING MEMBER Who Without EXCUSE SATISFACTORY To The BOARD OF DIRECTORS FAILS To ATTEND TWO CONSECUTIVE REHEARSALS Or PARTICIPATES In A PUBLIC CONCERT GIVEN By The ORCHESTRA MAY Be DROPPED From MEMBERSHIP By The BOARD OF DIRECTORS.” The directors also then began sending post-cards to individuals absent from rehearsals, requesting that “WRITTEN excuse” be sent to the PSO’s clerk, then Roger D. Calderwald, a clarinetist in the Symphony. Copies of both post-cards were retained by Harold Lawrence among his many scrapbooks.

At that August meeting, a tentative outline of the upcoming season’s schedule of concerts was reviewed. While a total of seven concerts were on that list, in the end only two would end up being performed. (HS: Of three concerts being set for November-December [two in Portland], only one would be held-- and that in Brunswick.) Once again, the board authorized “the business manager to approach the City Council on the proposition that the orchestra be given the use of City Hall (Auditorium) for two paid concerts in return for playing for them at two free Sunday afternoon concerts.”

During the fall, PSO practices were held in the auditorium made available by the Chamber of Commerce. A per-meeting rental fee of $5 was charged, and at the beginning of the new year the Executive Board would approve that payment be made for an outstanding bill from the Chamber for $35, to cover charges for seven rehearsals.

At a November meeting, the Executive Committee discussed the need to secure the use of timpani, since the earlier-borrowed instruments returned to the city more than a year earlier were not available for purchase. It had been learned "that the timpani formerly used by the Portland Municipal Orchestra and the Portland Symphony orchestra that belonged to the City of Portland had been transferred to the School Department of the city and therefore were not "available for purchase". (Evidently the last remnants of the former Music Commission were now being cannibalized by the cash-poor City for other uses.)

Approval was voted to authorize the purchase of a set of timpani for a price of $190, plus transportation charges of $2.60. Summary historical notes written many years later by Mr. Lawrence state that “second-hand set of tympani with trunks” was purchased by the orchestra that November, for $192.60.

At this Executive Committee meeting, the officers were advised of plans underway for John Erskine to come to Portland and appear with the orchestra (see two paragraphs below). Also at the meeting, a somewhat puzzling item is also reported: “Mr. Felix Fox, who was guest conductor at a concert two seasons ago, had offered his services to the orchestra.” No further comment was noted in the minutes, nor any explanation given as to the context of why he had made his offer. Mr. Warren did not attend this meeting. (HS: So..... is something going on behind the scenes insofar as Mr. Warren’s conductor-position is concerned? He was scheduled to conduct the orchestra in a concert two weeks later [which occurred – see next paragraph], but is listed as having attended a short Executive Committee meeting three days earlier, that was held during the break of a rehearsal. What caused Mr. Fox to “offer his services” to the orchestra?)

Charles A. Warren conducted the Symphony at a concert in early December, performed at Bowdoin College’s Memorial Hall, in Brunswick. (HS: Because he and his family resided in Brunswick and it was there where he had developed strong school music programs, it is ironic that this would prove to be his last concert atop the PSO podium, although no public signs leading to such an outcome were then extant, thus likely not anticipated by many [if any] attendees this specific evening.) The program began with music by Mozart, three of the four movements (the 2nd was omitted) of his Symphony No. 41 in C major, K. 551 (“Jupiter”). Soprano Gladys Russell Cook, accompanied by pianist Frances Donnell, then sang the Aria from Il Trovatore, Tacea la note placida, by Giuseppe Verdi. The orchestral work, Lohengrin: Introduction to the Third Act, was performed next. After intermission, the first two movements from Jules Massenet’s Suite No. 7, Alsatian Scenes ("Scènes alsaciennes"), Sunday Morning and Cabaret, were played by the Symphony. Miss Cook returned to center stage with Miss Donnell, and sandwiched a work by Joseph Marx between two compositions by Mozart, singing An Cloe, K. 524; next Und gestern hat er mir Rosen gebracht; then Alleluja from Motette "Exsultate, jubilate". Before closing out the numbers on the program, the PSO likely charmed the audience with Thousand and One Nights, Waltz, by Johann Strauss, Jr. If they could whistle, on what was a near-freezing evening, concertgoers as they headed home were challenged with emulating strains of the evening’s difficult final work, Overture to “Der Freischutz” by Carl Maria von Weber. Ticket prices for this concert were 40-cents for adults and 25-cents for school students.

Two 1934 letters to Mr. Lawrence from John Erskine in New York City offer confirmation that the PSO was again interested in presenting guest artists to audiences in Portland -- as long as any performance fees involved would be minimal, or none. (HS: Googling reveals that Mr. Erskine was an American pianist, educator, and writer on music, also an arranger. A graduate of Columbia University [four degrees], he was a professor of English there from 1909 to 1937, later becoming professor emeritus. In addition to his teaching responsibilities at Columbia, he had resumed earlier piano studies in 1923, subsequently playing as soloist with the New York Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore Civic Orchestra. He became president of the Juilliard School of Music in New York from 1928, continuing into 1937, and president of the Juilliard Music Foundation from 1948 until his death in 1951.) The letters referred to above regard his general acceptance of an open-invitation from the PSO for him to play with the PSO. The first letter (Sept.) states “If you will provide a good Steinway, and pay my traveling expenses, there would be no other charge.” He then added, “If you will let me know the remaining dates of your schedule, I’d be glad to see if I could fit into one of them.” The second letter (Dec.) apologizes that about the fact that he had become “over-worked, and the doctor says I must cut down my engagements rather than add to them. If you will hold the invitation over until the autumn, I’d like very much to come then.” Unfortunately, neither did Mr. Erskine ever later perform with the PSO, nor has any further correspondence between him and Mr. Lawrence been found. Luring a person with his professional credentials to perform with the Portland Symphony Orchestra would have been a real “feather in the cap” of the PSO.


1935       Unspecific as to potential eventual importance, but the first hint of portending events that would lead to the hiring of a new conductor, minutes of an Executive Committee January meeting contain, “Mr. Paul Melrose (will be) Guest Conductor during the temporary absence of Mr. Warren” (HS: Italics added by HS). No details are provided (HS: Nor are other perspectives gleaned from carefully reading the minutes from that meeting) as to where Mr. Warren is, nor what his “temporary absence” is all about. On a majority of occasions, Mr. Warren participated at Executive Committee meetings; however, once again, he did not attend this meeting.

The Executive Board voted to approve a $40-expenditure to have a professional photographer take a picture of the PSO, with copies available to members for 65-cents apiece. An excellently-preserved original print of this formally-posed photograph, taken on the stage of PCHA with the magnificent pipe-organ rear wall as background, rests inside one of Harold Lawrence’s scrapbooks. A scan of this photograph was entered into the PSO Archives. (Note: a number of other posed 8x11 group photographs of the orchestra are also contained in the PSO archives. Unfortunately, the specific years they were taken were not always notated.)

No concerts are performed during the January-February-March period, the first time this had happened.... going back to when the orchestra was originally founded as the Amateur Strand Orchestra in 1924. Plans reviewed late the previous summer had called for two Portland concerts during these months. Close examination of board minutes do not reveal any direct explanation as to why there were no concerts. However, economic difficulties relating to the worldwide and national depression must have been somewhat of a factor, as was the absence of the conductor, Mr. Warren, whose whereabouts and circumstances are unreported in the minutes.

Mr. Paul E. Melrose was listed on an April 4 concert program as Guest Conductor at City Hall Auditorium. That April concert in Portland featured Portland vocal teacher Gladys Russell Cook as soloist (HS: Minutes show that she was paid $10 for her appearance, the first time that information about any payments to her have been spotted.). Performed that Thursday evening was an opening number by Antonín Dvořák, the complete Symphony No. 9 in E Minor From the New World, Op. 95, B. 178. The remainder of the first half consisted of Johannes Brahms’ orchestral arrangement of his Hungarian Dance No. V (5). As an immediate encore, the Evening News reported, the composer’s Hungarian Dance No. VI (6) was played. After the intermission, the Symphony performed Overture to “Ruy Blas” in C minor, Op. 95, written in 1839 over a three-day start-to-perform period before its premiere. The work was in response to a seemingly impossible request made of the composer (HS: Of course, I Googled for this information. Heck, all I wanted was some descriptions of the work, which turned out to be “bright, melodious score, with its trumpet fanfares and courtly strain”; --- but then I linked onto a large batch of EBay composition offerings.) by the directors of the Liepzig Theatrical Pension Fund who boldly asked if some incidental music to Victor Hugo's melodrama play Ruy Blas could be provided to them (“gratis, of course”, reports a Google source). The Hugo play is a work of passion, intrigue, subterfuge, and tragedy, and reading a poor German translation, the composer pronounced it "detestable" and "beneath contempt.” Nonetheless, he filled the pension fund directors’ unreasonable request. This miracle worker was Felix Mendelssohn.

Following the Mendelssohn overture, Miss Cook joined the orchestra on stage and the soprano sang (Elvira’s) Recitative and Cavatina – Involami (“Oh, Come and Fly With Me”), by Guiseppe Verdi (HS: For introspective adjectives, this one stumped not only me, but also pretty-much stumped Google – changing some words gets you “semi-close”; ugh.). For her immediate encore, the popular local singer chose The Birthday, by Brooklyn-born Raymond Huntington Woodman. Next a string orchestra group played Franz Schubert’s The Bee. The evening concluded with Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. II (2). Mr. Melrose responded to reported prolonged applause with Beethoven’s Minuet in G. Reviewer McDonald thought Mr. Melrose’s “work was little short of sensational”, calling “Mr. Melrose... ...the finest musical acquisition that Portland has had in many years.” Years later in a 1974 interview published by the Evening Express, Katherine Graffam recalled Mr. Melrose as ‘capable, very dynamic and quite a showman’.

This was the slowest year in the Symphony’s history, with this April PSO performance the only concert to be presented in 1935.

Reminiscences made years later (1953) by Harold Lawrence state, “After the first concert of the 1934-1935 season which was given at Bowdoin College (in December, 1934) under the conductorship of Mr. Warren... ...Mr. Paul Melrose was engaged as conductor.” The longtime PSO flutist added, “One other concert was given in Portland by the orchestra under the baton of Mr. Melrose.” (HS: However, that “other concert”, being the April performance in Portland, was the only time the PSO played for concertgoers during the entire calendar year of 1935.)

Mr. Melrose was in attendance at an early-May meeting of the Executive Board.

At least an encouraging report could be (and was) presented to the Executive Board in May. Despite “these four years of depression... ...the fact (is) that the current bills have all been paid and have at the same time reduced the 1933 debts of approximately $600 to $217.14. This amount is the balance due Cressey + Allen”, one of only three outstanding bills of the orchestra.

At the May committee meeting, “the possibilities of a concert to be played in either Cornish or Norway were discussed. It is understood that the people in Cornish were very enthusiastic and it seemed likely that arrangements could be made for fall if not this spring”. (HS: It is interpreted that “this spring” meant either later during this month of May, or in June.”) In the end, no concert was performed in either locale. (HS: It certainly appears that sand seems to have been thwarting virtually every track the PSO attempted to take toward playing concerts during this period.)

The board minutes include the comment, “It was believed (by those in attendance) that a committee of influential persons in Portland should be formed to aid the orchestra.”

The next day in May, during the intermission-break at the final rehearsal of the season, Percy D. Mitchell was once again re-elected PSO President.

The total inventory value of musical property owned by the orchestra at this time was reported to the directors as $257.97,

At a September meeting of the Executive Committee, in a renewed effort to secure performance-dates for the PSO, “Harold M. Lawrence and Clinton W. Graffam, Jr., were appointed a Committee to negotiate for concerts in Norway, Sanford and Lewiston during (the upcoming) season.” Also at that meeting, “It was agreed that the orchestra will give two concerts this (season) in Portland, the first to be given some time in December before Christmas and the second in March.” (source; minutes) As events would play out, no December concert would be performed, although in both February and May the orchestra performed at City Hall Auditorium.

Also in September Paul E. Melrose, Warrant Officer and Band Leader, 5th U.S. Infantry Band at Fort Williams, is selected to become conductor upon his return from military duties that then-currently have him away from Maine. The Executive Board received a report at its September 5 meeting that he had accepted his election. (HS: For a smile, see an anecdote about a letter received from his commanding officer.) An earlier newspaper article (bylined Caroline W. Stevens) the preceding April stated that “Mr. Melrose joined the (PSO) organization as a cellist soon after arriving in this city” span class=TimelineHSnoteChar>(HS: Presumably she meant at about the time when he was first stationed to Cape Elizabeth. However, a review of musicians’ names listed on programs during this era never shows Paul Melrose among the cellists.) She also then described him as having “a gracious personality”. In addition to his rehearsal and concert appearances with the orchestra, throughout his short tenure (he serves until 1937), Mr. Melrose would be a regular non-voting attendee at most Executive Board meetings (when he wasn’t on conducting tours to other military base facilities).

Newspaper clippings saved by Mr. Lawrence contain various snippets of information about him. His appointment as Conductor of the 5th U.S. Infantry Band at Fort Williams had been conferred on him last summer (HS: Unfortunately, there is no specific newspaper name nor date noted on this clipping, so it is unclear whether “last summer” refers to the summer of 1935 or the summer of 1934.) The clipping continues, “He came here from Honolulu, where he had been director of the Kamehameha Band and of the Honolulu Symphony. He has been directing the Rossini Club chorus this season. Mr. Melrose is a native of Fall River, Mass., and was graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1908 (HS: A check with the NEC alumni office failed to produce confirmation of his having attended the Concervatory. Either the school’s records are incomplete, or the info reported in the clipping is less than fully accurate. By now..... it doesn’t matter.) and also pursued musical studies in Paris. He made a long tour one season as cornet soloist with a musical organization and has mastered several other musical instruments. He has held positions in civil Army organizations in Florida, Texas and Nebraska.” A later article about him stated that his time in Paris was taking a post-graduate course in theory and orchestration. He had also studied conducting under Walter Damrosch, reportedly a favored student. He was made a band leader in the U.S. Army in 1917, and conducted a mixed orchestra of American and French army musicians. A number of pictures of the bespectacled Mr. Melrose have been located, included several taken by professional photographers when he was wearing pince nez glasses that were stylish during the 1930s (HS: Think Roosevelt, ala Teddy or Franklin.).

Minutes of the September Executive Board meeting mentioning the above-noted selection of Mr. Melrose to be conductor, also contain a vague (but complimentary) reference to now-former conductor Warren—“A letter (will be) sent to Charles A. Warren from the orchestra as a whole, thanking him for his endeavors and many kindnesses while conductor of this body, and also recommending his abilities to the outside world”. (HS: Again, however.... there is no explanation nor hint as to “What happened to Mr. Warren?” Nor was any hint spotted when reading a copy of the mentioned-letter complimentary sent to him. For an HS-hypothesis explanation of personal-economic events that might possibly have been seriously affecting Mr. Warren at this point in time, see the following paragraph.)

Researching did turn up some income-related circumstances that, at least to some extent – and maybe to a significant extent, Mr. Warren faced at this time. First, wages for both he and his wife from the Brunswick Schools abruptly ended when she was released and he resigned, in 1933. Second, in 1934 he had also relinquished wages for conducting the 5th Infantry Band at Fort Williams (since Mr. Melrose is known to have held that position in 1935; and maybe he had taken over the previous year). Third, Mr. Warren was receiving little remuneration from the PSO. (HS: In fact, there likely were no wages paid to him at all, just some reimbursement for travel expenses. [The first time that board records show authorization of some pay to any PSO conductor will not appear until the minutes of January, 1938. That reference was when a check for $178 to Russell Ames Cook “paying him through to the first of January” was reported to the Executive Board.] Also, a later newspaper article at one point about Mr. Melrose, will state that Mr. Melrose received “not one cent” for serving as PSO conductor.) Since this was a period when “times were tough”, and everyone has to first-and-foremost be sure to “keep the home fires burning”, it is entirely possible the answer to the question “What happened to Mr. Warren?”, was that he was broke and simply took his family and moved to seek paying work elsewhere. (HS: Back in 1932 when it was first announced that he was the newly-appointed leader of the PMO, a local newspaper colorfully described that when he was a young conservatory student, “His pocketbook in those days was never too filled...”; perhaps he just never was able to get away from hand-to-mouth spending habits..... the full details {actually non-essential to know, anyway} are likely to never emerge.)

The Executive Board discussed plans for possible PSO performances in Lewiston, Sanford and Norway during the upcoming season, also two in Portland. In the end, a total of four concerts will be presented during in the first half of 1936, one in Brunswick and three in Portland. No explanation has been found to explain the variance from the earlier-discussed plans. (HS: Sanford does hold a concert during the 1936-1937 season.)

The total proposed 1935-1936 budget for the PSO was set at $4502.10. Acquisitions of new music accounted for $1057.10 of that total. (HS: In 2012, this would be equivalent to $73,000 [for an all-volunteer orchestra!] of which $17,000 is for music.)

The September Executive Board minutes also state that, “It was agreed that the orchestra will give two concerts this year (HS: Meaning: this “season”, 1935-1936) in Portland. The first to be given some time in December before Christmas and the second in March. (HS: In the end, two Portland concerts were presented at PCHA, although both were in 1936, in February and May. Whether the changes were brought about by depression factors, Mr. Melrose’s Army schedule-duties, availability of PCHA or other factors is not now known. Nonetheless, tightly planning ahead during those times seems to have frequently been iffy.)

A post-card update to the PSO musicians sent out in late August advised that the first fall rehearsal this year of the Portland Symphony Orchestra was scheduled for September 13. Subsequently, the first rehearsal was re-scheduled to October 3 (HS: It is presumed that the date was changed so that Mr. Melrose could be in attendance, as he would not return to the area from a concert tour with the 5th Infantry Band. See the ANECDOTE section for more explanation.)

While no record has been found, among either the PSO Archives or numerous other information-sources unsuccessfully searched, it is likely that a significant number of PSO musicians were all together on Tuesday, October 15 of this year. There was no PSO concert or rehearsal scheduled, yet it is a virtual certainty that many had accepted invitations to be present ---------- at the marriage of Katherine Hatch and Clinton Graffam, Jr. Never again would only her maiden name appear on a PSO program (HS: Except, of course..... for when there were references to her brother, stringbass-player Lawrence Hatch.).

Alfred Brinkler was appointed Municipal Organist this year.

As the Portland Symphony Orchestra musicians held rehearsals looking toward the season’s first concert, their collective ranks were somewhat reduced by attrition among some former members, likely accelerated by more stringent attendance standards being maintained. It would turn out that as the season progressed, a somewhat smaller orchestra of 52 musicians would become musically stronger under its new conductor.


1936       The first concert with Paul E. Melrose holding the baton as official conductor, was billed as the PSO’s 47th concert, then in its 13th season. It was only the Symphony’s second appearance in 14 months, presented on Wednesday, February 12. The performance was attended by what one newspaper correspondent referred to as “a fairly good-sized audience assembled at City Hall Auditorium”, and Mr. Melrose’s conducting received positive comments from three reviewers. One especially complimentary headline read, “Symphony Orchestra Sets New High Standard In City Hall Concert.”

The audience first heard Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67. (HS: I just searched back through works performed by the PSO up until this time, and it appears that this evening’s performance of the grand Beethoven composition was the first-ever since the initial origin of the Strand Amateur Orchestra.) The three Portland-newspaper reviewers praised the PSO’s performance of the “famous Fifth”. Intermission followed this work, with Overture, “Il Gaurany” by Antônio Gomez leading off the second half of the program. Next, with the PSO providing full orchestral accompaniment for Portland lyric soprano Miss Helen Ward, the guest artist sang Giuseppe Verdi’s operatic aria, Caro Nome, from “Rigoletto”. For an encore, Miss Ward sang a poignant ballad, Oh, Dry Those Tears, by Theresa Del Riego. The recently-wed Mrs. Katherine Hatch Graffam was then featured, performing two works by Benjamin Godard, the moving Adagio Pathétique, paired with the melodious Berceuse, from the opera, “Jocelyn”, Op. 100. As would continue to be true for decades to come, Miss Hatch’s performance received raves, from both the audience and the reviewers. Franz Liszt’s magnificent (HS: At least it always has been magnificent in my estimation.) Les préludes featured the PSO’s four horn players, and concluded the program....... except -------for what proved to be a bunch of encores.

Was there one encore? ; No. Two encores? ; No, again. Anyone care to guess Five Encores? ; That’s the right answer: The audience was treated to Rimsky-Korsakoff’s Flight of the Bumble Bee; the Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s Jewels of the Madonna (HS: This was likely just the Intermezzo to Act III.); Liszt’s Liebesträume, the strings playing Beethoven’s Minuet in G; and finally – two of Johannes Brahms’ Hungarian Dances, - #5 & #6. (HS: it’s a good thing that the Symphony wasn’t comprised of union members back then; a concert of this length would have “broken the budget” with overtime wages.)

A little more than two weeks later, on Thursday evening, February 27, an ensemble of 20 players from the Portland Symphony Orchestra joined with members and friends of the Portland Rossini Club at Frye Hall on Spring Street in honor of Gioacchino Rossini on his birthday (HS: Technically two days before his February 29, 1792, birth date.... which is too bad since 1936 was, as was 1792, a Leap Year. Maybe they all didn’t want to compete with a big Saturday-night hockey game in Portland.... or something like that. [You’ve got to know me to understand my attempt at some humor there.]). One newspaper later referred to the PSO players as The Portland Symphonic (but then the bottom of the article became too tattered to clearly read further), but I’d make the personal guess that they had actually chosen to adopt the name, Portland Symphonic Ensemble. Soloists from the Rossini Club on the program saved by Harold Lawrence read like a “Who’s Who of PSO Guest Artists”: Helen Ward, Dorothy Dinsmore, Gladys Russell Cook, Ocy Downs and Doris Wadsworth. The PSO players performed two works on their own, and three more accompanying soloists. Those five compositions were: Rossini’s Overture - L'italiana in Algeri, which opened the concert; Haydn’s Symphony No. 10, in D major, Hoboken I/10, which ended the affair; the 2nd movement, Adagio from Haydn’s Cello Concerto 2 in D Major, Hob. VIIb/2 (Op. 101) for cello and orchestra, with Katherine Hatch Graffam, soloist; also accompaniments to Miss Cook, who sang the area Tacea la note placida (“The peaceful night lay silent”) from Verdi’s “Il Travatore”, followed by Rossini’s setting of the traditional liturgical text, Inflammaus

Returning to Brunswick in March for a concert at Bowdoin College, on St. Patrick’s Day, conductor Melrose had a chance to “play it corny” and have the PSO only play works by Irish composers; however, he played it straight...... having the orchestra perform nary a jig or reel, nor any solos for harp, instead selecting works by classical composers who were from the European Continent. (HS: Sorry about all that nonsense, but the time seemed right to temporarily change the approach to discuss the works performed at a PSO concert. Even if you may not be tired of essentially unavoidable repetition..... I am.)

Anyway, the concert began with Overture, “Il Gaurany” by Antônio Gomez. Next, Katherine Hatch Graffam was violoncello soloist, playing the Adagio from Haydn’s Cello Concerto 2 in D Major, Hob. VIIb/2 (Op. 101). The remainder of the first half of the program, the Symphony performed another work that was well-received during the winter in Portland, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67. After the intermission, the audience first heard Franz Liszt’s Liebesträume. Then a Grieg work was performed in memory of recently-deceased Professor Edward Hames Wass, Mus.D., for twenty years College Organist and Head of the Music Department of Bowdoin College. The audience remained respectfully quiet at the end of Ase’s Death, from Peer Gynt Suite. Accompanied by the orchestra, soprano Helen Ward next sang an aria from Verdi’s opera, “Rigoletto Caro Nome. The conclusion to the concert was another Franz Liszt composition, his Hungarian Rhapsody No. II (HS: The style of type-face used for the concert-program leaves confusion about whether, among Liszt’s 19 Rhapsodies, this was #2 [were Roman numerals intended {II} or was #11 the selection played? My vote is for #2..... but who knows now?)

An audience at PCHA welcomed Mr. Melrose at the beginning of a concert on Thursday evening, May 28. He responded by leading the PSO in a performance of Franz Schubert’s Rosamunde Overture. Mozart’s Jupiter completed the first half of the program, the Symphony No 41 in C Major, K. 551. Three works comprised the second half, and the orchestra began with Fantasia on a Melody from Pagliacci, by Ruggiero Leoncavallo. Next, guest local artist J. Daniel MacDonald performed the first movement Edward MacDowell’s Concerto No. 2 in D Minor for Piano and Orchestra. (HS: If you thought that name was familiar, you’re right; I’m surprised, too. He is a music critic for one of the Portland newspapers. This is the first time his name has been spotted apart from his articles, but the fact that he is accomplished enough to solo with the Symphony helps explain some of the insights he had written about prior PSO performances in various articles. So, one might wonder, could his generally kind words for the orchestra in those articles have helped pave the way for him to be invited to perform with the Symphony? Hmm-m-m-m; it sure couldn’t have hurt.) His performance was well received, and he responded to audience acclaim with an encore, the F sharp Major Nocturne of Chopin. Writing in place of Mr. MacDonald in the paper, prominent Portland musician Fred Lincoln Hill was very complimentary to both the orchestra and Mr. MacDonald regarding this piece, with further compliments bestowed on Mr. Melrose regarding the entire concert. Later in the week, Mr. MacDonald wrote an article entitled “Musical Briefs” that expressed an insightful stream-of-consciousness insightful series of thoughts about the evening,” Haven’t recovered ... from the thrill ... of being soloist ... with the Portland Symphony ... Mr. Melrose was grand ... to work with ... such a thorough musician ... so gracious ... in performance ... and the members ... of the orchestra ... played so well ... and were so good ... to me ... before and after our performance”, also “and the audience ... so appreciative ... and they loved ... MacDowell’s Concerto ... suppose I shouldn’t ... take on so ... but it was ... a grand experience.” As the evening wore to a close that late March night, Chabrier’s España Rhapsody for Orchestra was the final number listed on the program. However, three encores proved to be the actual conclusion to the concert. They were: Entr ‘Acte and Gavotte from Mignon, by Ambroise Thomas; Andante Cantabile by Tchaikowsky; and Chopin’s Polonaise “Militaire”, Op. 40, No. 1.

In early June, representatives of all the major musical clubs and organizations in the city were invited to a meeting at which was formed The Entertainment Calendar Committee, planned as a clearing house for dates for public performances sponsored by the respective groups. The members’ purpose was to share information about future events with the goal to obviate conflicts which would likely lead to losses of audiences,  Alfred Brinkler was appointed chairman, and Harold Lawrence represented the PSO.

The PSO's financial deficit for the preceding season totaled $737.30.

In May, Percy D. Mitchell was yet once again re-elected PSO President.

At an Executive Meeting in early October, minutes regarding the re-appointment of the conductor read, “it was unanimously voted to ask our former guest conductor, Paul E. Melrose (HS: He was in attendance at this meeting.) to lead the Symphony for the 1936-1937 season. The invitation was accepted by Mr. Melrose.”

The Symphony’s 1936-1937 season would consist of five concerts, the one previously-mentioned Sanford performance and four in Portland.

This season saw the formation of the Portland Symphony Association for the purpose of supporting the orchestra (sources: USM Masters Candidate Darryl A. Card; also Robert K. Beckwith). The PSO Women’s Committee would be formed a year later.

In November patron-supporter of the PSO, Mrs. Melvin Pray, of Cape Cottage Park, arranged for three Metropolitan Opera stars from New York to appear in a PCHA benefit concert for the orchestra. Well more than 100 other PSO patrons also supported the effort Mrs. Pray spearheaded. (HS: There is no reference in board minutes as to who this lady was, but buried deep inside one [of about a dozen] newspaper clipping about the event and saved by Harold Lawrence, a significant item of information was spotted. It turns out that Mrs. Pray was the sister of one of the Met stars, the world-famous tenor Sydney Rayner; hence the connection. It appears that the NYC-originated program performed was part of a national tour-series being presented in different cities and likely usually respectively offered up for sponsorship by wealthy citizens. Thus, this concert was a perfect fit, and would financially benefit both the artists and the PSO. [A photograph of Mrs. Pray appeared in a local Portland newspaper, taken while she and the opera stars were being entertained at the home of Mrs. Guy (Anne M.) Gannett.] It is now unknown how much the Symphony’s bank account benefitted from the event.) A program from that event shows the PSO beginning the Monday night event with Weber's Overture to "Oberon", followed by Schubert's Symphony in B Minor, "Unfinished". Conductor Paul Melrose then continued at the podium as the PSO accompanied soprano Rosa Tentoni, Mr. Rayner and baritone Joseph Royer in Verdi's Scene and Trio from La Forza del Destino. The soloists subsequently sang individual arias by Verdi (four more), Ponchielli, Mussorgsky, Carnevali, Mozart, Messager, Hageman, Vene, Rachmaninoff and Rossini (HS: Since the concert-program lacks specific PSO-references for these arias, it is assumed that a pianist respectively accompanied the soloists. In late 2012, plans are being developed to upload to the PSO website --PDF-scans of programs from all known PSO concerts; thus anyone interested in reviewing titles of all the many arias performed this evening that are not listed in this THINGS-PSO may, easily view the complete program.) Late during the concert, the PSO played Grieg's Suite "Peer Gynt" before again accompanying the guests with Scene and Trio from last act of Faust by Gounod. Newspaper reviewers, of course, praised the soloists. (HS: a surviving copy of the concert program is in front of me as, early in the drafting of THINGS-PSO, I type these details; Fantastic!; --see the Anecdotes to learn how an old scrapbook was found that contains this program.)

An early-December letter to Harold Lawrence is retained in one of his scrapbooks. It is from the Office of the Commanding Officer at Fort Williams, Col. Wilson B. Burtt, and provides written authorization for three other members of the regiment to also perform with the PSO, in addition to Mr. Melrose. In the PSO, the three respectively played trumpet, oboe and bassoon.


1937       Formal legal organization of the Portland Concert Association would occur this year, with Donald M. Payson as president.

The first concert of the year (the second of the 1937-1938 PSO season) was performed on February 4 at City Hall Auditorium. A post-concert review that did not carry a byline included high compliments for Mr. Melrose. The article said, “The Portland Symphony continues to show great progress under its able conductor, Paul E. Melrose, whose work testifies to his comprehensive musicianship, his ability to analyze and project the inner message of the music, and his familiarity with orchestral instrumentation. He is by all odds the best conductor the orchestra has ever had.” Altogether three newspaper reviews were published, with each raving about the high quality of the PSO performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21. Earlier the orchestra had opened with two Mendelssohn works, first was Overture, “Fingal’s Cave”, Op. 26, (“The Hebrides”), followed by Nocturne from Incidental Music to Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 61. The latter featured a horn solo by Arthur Stevens. A premiere of a composition by Portland resident Harry McLellan, a light, easy to follow lilting melodic piece (HS: according to newspaper reviewer Ellen. Blodgett), Dance of the Daffodils. Another reviewer said that “it won high favor with the audience.” The next Symphony musician from the Symphony to be featured was Katherine Hatch Graffam, during Max Bruch’s Kanzone, Op. 55. Anton Rubenstein’s Kamennoi Ostrow, Opus 10, No. 22 then preceded the Beethoven symphony.

Toward the end of the program, soprano Georgia Thomas was guest soloist, singing Giuseppe Verdi’s Pace, Pace, Mio Dio, from “Forza del Destino”. This was followed by Georges Bizet’s Ouvre ton Coeur. Pianist Frances Connell Grasse accompanied Miss Thomas. The final work of the evening was the dainty and captivating (HS: So wrote reviewer Caroline W. Stevens.) ballet Dance of the Hours, from the opera “La Gioconda” composed by Amilcare Ponchielli.

The program for this concert included an unusually long eight pages. Program notes were more informative, and therefore required more space. In addition, names of Sponsors, Honorary Members and Associate Members required two pages to be listed. Also, in addition to the page regularly devoted to listing the names and instruments of all the musicians and the PSO’s officer and director leadership ranks, on two pages titled “From Our Programs”, were the names (in small print) of a large number of works (HS: This was not purported to be a 100%-complete list.) performed by the Portland Symphony and its predecessor-named ensembles going back to 1926.

By now size of the orchestra was back to 70 musicians.

At a February meeting of the Executive Board, one item posted to the minutes states, “A plan for series of Pop Concerts was presented. These are to be held at the Eastland Ballroom and will be sponsored by various college groups. The business manager was authorized to proceed with the arrangements. (HS: While Pops Concerts would eventually become popular and well-attended events, the PSO’s inaugural Pops event would not occur for two years, until May of 1939.) Also, the board authorized a letter to all members that, once again, emphasized the need for the collective ensemble to better adhere to the attendance requirements laid out in the by-laws; such a letter was mailed, dated February 22, 1937.

A copy of that letter rests in one of Harold Lawrence’s scrapbooks. It is on official stationery bearing a light-colored decorative musical staff-like logo—over which, in impressive bold black font, is printed Portland Symphony Orchestra. In a different smaller mid-size font under the orchestra’s name, appears Paul E. Melrose, Conductor.

By the way......
At the upper left of the stationery, is printed>                   ORGANIZED 1924
and, immediately below, is>                                                     INCORPORATED 1932
(HS: Your honors, I place this information into the record in consideration that even as THINGS-PSO is today [2012] being drafted, occasionally a small minority of folks continue maintain that the “organizing date” of the forerunner organization to which the PSO owes its original heritage should be otherwise, with those factions usually supporting either 1923 or 1927 as the founding year. The “original” PSO folks way-back-when said otherwise; So...... down comes the gavel against those arguments after examination of this 1937 evidence..... the case is closed, period!) (HS: Well........... maybe not entirely closed. During the late 1940s, for several years the PSO issued periodic three-page communications to the musician members, entitled “Symphony Notes”. On the cover of each, next to a caricature of a formally-dressed clarinet player were the words: “Published - by and for the members of the PORTLAND SYMPHONY”. And... just below those two capitalized words is: “founded 1923”. Oh.... boy!#%&@#!!!)

Executive Board minutes mention that on February 27, the PSO, the Portland Men's Singing Club and the Rossini Club chorus were scheduled to appear with the PSO at a joint April concert in City Hall Auditorium sponsored by the Longfellow Garden Club. The event was named, the “Longfellow Memorial Concert”, celebrating the 130th birthday of the great American poet. It was held on the same date that, 54 years earlier (1883), the Haydn Association, Chandler’s Orchestra, the Rossini Club and the Weber Club combined to present a similarly-named “Longfellow Memorial Concert” in the assembly auditorium of the City Hall that would later (1908) be destroyed by fire. A copy of the program cover from that 1883 concert was printed as the back cover of this 1937 concert. It was agreed that respective proceeds from tickets to the 1937 event sold by the three groups, would separately be retained by each, with costs of the concert pro-rata apportioned. With Paul Melrose holding the baton before the Symphony, which opened the program before the singing groups took the stage for the remainder of the performance, the orchestra played two works. First was Giacomo Meyerbeer’s Coronation March From Le Prophète (“The Prophet”). The PSO’s other composition performed by the PSO was a reprise of a work the PSO played during its first concert of this year, back in February, Kamennoi Ostrow by Anton Rubenstein. Subsequent PSO Executive Board minutes note that the event was well attended.

The PSO’s next appearance was on Thursday evening, April 15, at the Sanford Town Hall. The orchestra was presented by the Richmond Glee Club, and two soloists from the club, as well as the entire women’s vocal ensemble performed with the Symphony. Mr. Melrose conducted, along with Mme. Cora Pierce Richmond, director of the glee club. This was the club’s final performance prior to traveling to Indianapolis, Indiana a week later to appear as the “Singing Delegation From The State of Maine” at the National Biennial Convention of Federated Music Clubs

The orchestra led off the program with Jules Massenet’s dramatic Overture “Phèdre”, followed by Max Bruch’s Kanzone, Op. 55, with Katherine Hatch Graffam performing the cello solo. The third work on the program was Felix Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 4, in A major, 'Italian'. Prior to the intermission, soprano Miss Ruth Perkins sang Fluttering Birds, Op. 88, by Manna Zucca, and Jürgen Wolf’s Iris. In the second half of the program, the Symphony began with Kamennoi Ostrow by Anton Rubenstein. Next was a new work for the PSO, Gabriel Pierné’s L'école des AEgipans, followed by the always-popular On The Beautiful Blue Danube, by Johann Strauss, II. Another Massenet composition was then featured, with soprano Elaine Blouin Janson singing his Aria – Pleurez! Pleurez mes yeux! (da Le Cid). Before the Glee Club concluded the concert with three works accompanied by local pianists Florence Smith and Iva Grant, the PSO’s final orchestral work was Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodie No. II (2).

Three days later, a Saturday-evening banquet honoring Charles Cronham was held in Portland, at Langley's Marine Grill, with the former organist and PSO conductor in attendance (the-then New York resident was in Portland participating in a Rotary Clubs National Convention, at which he was giving an organ recital). Conductor and Mrs. Paul Melrose were in attendance. (While Mr. Cronham might likely still have been mad at the City for his dismissal, he had left the PSO on good terms, at that time elected an Honorary Member. There is no mention in the Archives whether he returned any more scores to the PSO on this occasion.)

An election of officers was held at the PSO’s annual meeting, the vote taken during a break at the final rehearsal of the season on May 5, with Harold Lawrence elected PSO President.

May 6 found the Portland Symphony Orchestra back in City Hall Auditorium, along with the Portland Rossini Club and the Portland Men’s Singing Club. This gala Thursday evening concert was in observance of National Music Week, and one newspaper article noted that “it was the first time these local organizztionw have combined for any special event. The hall was well filled...” (HS: It may have helped that tickets were free.). Conductor Paul Melrose and the PSO led off the program with Overture “Phèdre”, by Jules Massenet. After Alfred Brinkler led the combined women’s and men’s choruses in two compositions, the orchestra performed Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90, (The “Italian” Symphony). This was followed by an encore, the Fifth Hungarian Dance of Brahms. Next, contralto soloist Evelyn Badger Carroll, accompanied by the Women’s Chorus and a violin obligato by Phyllis Woodbury, sang Anton Rubenstein’s Rêve angélique. Two PSO violinists, Concertmaster David E. Fisher, and first violinist Sylvia Rowell (HS: She was one of Mr. Fisher’s pupils.) then teamed up with the PSO to perform Johann SebastianBach’s Concerto in D Minor for Two Violins. BWV 1043. As it was the turn for the Men’s Sining Club to perform, Mr. Brinkler led the group in three compositions. The Symphony returned to play Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s Intermezzo to Act III of “The Jewels of the Madonna”, which was followed by a grand finale as soprano soloist Beatrice Richards sang Gioacchino Rossini’s sacred Inflammatus (“Inflammatus et accensus” from his Stabat Mater), supported by the combined choruses and the orchestra. Three reviews were published by Portland newspapers, with all three reporters giving high praise to the performances of all the groups. (HS: One of the reviewers was not hesitant about faulting the concert’s length, writing “in this day and age, long programs are not desireable, however good they may be. Our local conductors seem to act on the premise that because a thing is good it should be given in large doses, whereas the opposite is actually true.”)

A week following the PSO’s final rehearsal, the annual members’ banquet was held on May 12 at Cascade Lodge in Dunstan, with entertainment featuring "readings and dances in costume, accordion solos by Allister Grant, and a number by the dance band. A feature of the evening was the Swing Band, supplied by Clinton Graffam, and composed of Symphony members, which furnished music for the dancing.” Earlier during the affair, a plaque was presented to Mr. Melrose “in appreciation of his services as conductor”.

Late in May an extensive, nearly half-page newspaper article (HS: The clipping of this article did not note the name of the newspaper, but reporter Edward H. Carlson is known to have had a position with the Press Herald.) was highly complimentary about Mr. Melrose. He was credited with significantly helping the all-volunteer Symphony to musically improve, applying both his conducting experience and his ability to help the players better understand what the composers intended. He was described as a tough taskmaster, but one who helped the musicians learn far more about the works they were rehearsing to perform than just “a lot of little black notes on the music sheets -- help(ing) to put life into the playing” of compositions. He, in turn, praised the members of the orchestra; while those interviewed by the reporter, in turn, praised their conductor. Early in the article it was emphasized how everyone involved with the PSO was there “chiefly because (the) members are sincere in their love for music itself and because of their willingness to sacrifice time and private interest for the good of the organization.” Again, in turn, Mr. Melrose was lauded for “not receiv(ing) so much as a plugged nickel by way of financial return for his labors.” The conductor was quoted as believing that the orchestra would continue to improve and “will go places”. (HS: It was especially intriguing for me to read this article, since I already knew that Mr. Melrose had already conducted his final concert as PSO maestro; read on.)

In September, the Chamber of Commerce announced it would be raising the per-rehearsal rental fee of the PSO from $5 to $15 (ouch!). The Executive Board decided to look elsewhere for rehearsal facilities (eventually agreeing to satisfactory arrangements at "the Boy's Club"). Many years later, Harold Lawrence would write about an aspect of the financial challenges of this era. “Clinton (Graffam) and I moved the racks, music and other impediments in our personal cars from the Chamber of Commerce to the Boys Club -- to save on trucking costs.”

At a September PSO Executive Board meeting, minutes make no reference whatsoever to whether or not Mr. Melrose attended the meeting. The Executive Board discussed (“The question of a conductor was discussed at length”, the minutes noted . [underscore emphasis added by HS]) and did vote to re-engage Mr. Melrose for the upcoming 1937-38 season, the minutes reading "there being six votes cast in his favor. Five members refrained from voting.” (HS-- hmmm, what's up?) The PSO considered proposals to unite the Men's Singing Club, the Rossini Chorus and the orchestra in a series of concerts similar to the one performed the previous spring, with "expenses and proceeds being divided among the three organizations. It was voted that the orchestra continue alone for the present, although plans for another joint concert were approved by the Directors."

At a subsequent Board meeting only three weeks later, it was reported that Mr. Melrose advised Clinton Graffam that he accepted the position as conductor of the Symphony for the 1937-1938 season. It was also reported that Mr. Melrose requested certain changes made in the seating of several members of the orchestra. A recent telephone call was recounted that Mr. Melrose had with two members of the board: he had requested that an orchestra member "who talked at rehearsals in such a manner as to make Mr. Melrose nervous" ... "be moved back" ... or "he would resign as conductor". The Board felt that “the reason given was insufficient for making the changes”, and then voted not to "interfere with the earned places of members except under conditions as are necessary for the maintenance of the purposes of the Corporation.” (HS: Minutes show that Mr. Melrose did not attend this board meeting.) Six days later, on October 7, the Executive Board met again and heard a report that when advised of the board's no-action decision Mr. Melrose subsequently did resign as conductor of the PSO. The resignation was accepted by the directors. (HS: Some years later, in a brief history about the orchestra, was written: “After Mr. Melrose was transferred to another post, Russell Ames Cook became the conductor. Obviouly, this was euphemistic, if not intentionally misleading prose.)

At that same meeting, the Executive Board then unanimously elected Dr. Russell Ames Cook as conductor for the 1937-38 season. (HS: obviously, that appointment was well "greased" before the meeting.) A periodic internal publication for PSO musicians, “Symphony Notes”, nine years later stated in a look-back article that in 1937 Harold Lawrence put forth the name of Mr. Cook for consideration by the board as the PSO’s “first out-of-state conductor”. Cook was referred to in the Sunday Telegram as "conductor of the Symphonic Ensemble of Boston, composed only of players from the Boston Symphony Orchestra". His first appearance on the podium in Portland would be a concert on December 16, with tickets priced at 60-cents.

Five days after accepting Mr. Melrose’s resignation, on Columbus Day, Dr. Cook conducted his first rehearsal with the PSO. The practice was held at the Portland Boy's Club, on Cumberland Avenue.

Later recollections (in 1975) of Mr. Lawrence to then USM Masters CandidateDarryl A. Card included references that Dr. Cook’s involvement with the PSO quickly brought about “well-planned and ambitious programs that revitalized the orchestra, serving to discourage less competent players and attract the more highly skilled men and women of the city and surrounding areas to its ranks.”

Decades later, longtime violoncellist Katherine Graffam would speak to a social gathering of PSO musicians, and among various topics, she discussed Dr. Cook. “In addition to his musical ability, Dr. cook possessed a polished, genial personality which appealed to both the orchestra and the public. As our first public relations conductor, he was eminently successful. His duties at Waynflete brought him into contact with many of the leading families in Portland and he was able to interest them in supporting the orchestra substantially. This paved the way for a steadily increasing list of public donors, (and) volunteer workers in establishing the Women’s Committee.”

In October the PSO received a questionnaire from the Office of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Treasury Department, Washington, D.C. The organization was required to file, within thirty days, a completed questionnaire signed and sworn to by a principal officer, for consideration to retain exemption uner section 101 of the income tax law. I’m guessing that Clinton Graffam, to whom the letter was addressed, said something like “Oh, boy:   ---- who needs this?!!!” Or.............. maybe he just let loose with “#%@@#@#&&^##&!!!”

In November of this year the PSO Women’s Committee was formed. Mrs. Guy P. Gannett was the first general chairman. A newspaper article stated that “The committee has been formed to aid in further interest in the orchestra and its activities.” The names of 26 other members of the committee were detailed in the article.

On Monday evening, November 29, the PCA presented pianist Mischa Levitski in concert.

Dr. Cook’s first podium appearance with PSO musicians occurred in Gorham, on Monday, December 6. Under his baton at the Gorham Normal School was The Portland Society of Chamber Music, consisting of first chair musicians of the Symphony, who played in various ensemble forms throughout the evening. The program began with a work from the comic one-act opera by François-Adrien Boieldieu, his Overture -- The Caliph of Baghdad, followed Allegretto by Max Pirani, then Bach’s Allegro Brilliante. Next were two works by Mozart, an Andante and an Allegro. Beethoven’s Turkish March preceded Berceuse, from Benjamin Godard’s opera, Jocelyn, Op. 100. Then, from Tchaikowsky’s “Nutcracker Suite”, Danse des Mirlitons, and Fantasie Concertante by Jules Demesserman. The long evening continued with Emile Kronke’s Deux Papillons, Elegy and Scherzo by Carl Maria von Weber, Impromptu by Franz Schubert, then the clever scherzo round, Three Blind Mice by Carlton Colby. The program concluded with Echoes From Vienna, with the entire ensemble performing the Johann Strauss, Jr. the tribute to Johann Strauss. (HS: An as-good-as-just-taken-yesterday 4x10-inch photograph of Dr. Cook and the ensemble has long rested in one of Harold Lawrence’s scrapbooks. A scan of that photo now resides among the PSO Archives.)

Less than a week later, local radio station WCSH started broadcasting four half-hour concerts "by a symphonic ensemble composed of fifteen members" of the PSO (HS: This group was almost certainly the Symphony’s First-Chair players, and the PSO was hopeful the radio publicity would stimulate attendance at regular concerts.), during which Dr. Cook conducted and made comments on each selection. The first of those was broadcast on Sunday, December 12, from 4:30-5:00 pm. A script from this initial program was saved by Harold Lawrence, thus revealing the works performed. Leading off was Overture to “The Marriage of Figaro”, by Mozart. This was followed by a suite of three ballet compositions by Jean-Philippe Rameau edited by Felix Mottl, Minuet from “Platee, Musette from “Les Fetes d’Hebe and also from the same opéra-ballet, Tombourin. Two American Tunes were next, David Guion’s The Harmonica Player from “Alley Tunes”, and Sheep and Goat. Concluding the broadcast were two movements from Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov’s Caucasian Sketches, In the Village and Procession of the Sardar. Newspaper and station advertisements preceding the broadcast, as well as the actual production, might have encouraged some extra attendees to the full PSO’s concert four days later. (HS: Remaining broadcasts in the WCSH series were announced for December 26, January 9 and January 23. No record has been found of what works were performed during these final three programs.)

Works performed during Dr. Cook's December 16 inaugural concert at PCHA as PSO conductor included the overture Russlan and Ludmilla by Glinka, Haydn's Symphony in D Major (“London”) (the Press Herald 'typo-d' that it was Haydn's "Symphony in M Major"; Oops), Bach's Concerto in C Minor for Two Pianos and String Orchestra and several other works. Local pianists and organists, Howard Clark and John E. Fay were soloists during the Bach composition, both members of the Kotzschmar Club. Also performed were three movements from Tchaikowsky’s “Nutcracker Suite”, Danse des Mirlitons, Danse Chinoise and Danse de la Fee-Dragee, as well as the finale for the evening, Capriccio Italien, Op. 45, also by the Russian composer. Articles in the Evening Express and the Press Herald included favorable comments about the quality of the musicianship by both Dr. Cook and the 70 musicians. The EE’s Caroline Stevens reported that “a good-sized audience” was in attendance, although specific total was mentioned. That paper also wrote that the “audience... ...generally conceded the concert to be the finest in the history of the orchestra.” The orchestra rose several times in response to applause; however, no encore was forthcoming. (The PSO Archives contain a copy of the program for this concert, in which was printed that this was the "Fifty-fifth Concert of the Portland Symphony Orchestra, Founded 1924, Incorporated 1932".) (HS: The preceding sentence was written early in the initial drafting of parts of THINGS-PSO, with some excitement at the finding of an actual program from this era. Although many additional programs would later be located, please consider the context of the author’s first finding some PSO programs [thus, the sentence was kept in during subsequent edits.)

On the back page of the December program are listed the personnel and instruments played by the members of the PSO. Mr. David E. Fisher continues to be listed as Concertmaster under Dr. Cook.

Notes found in the PSO Archives refer to a 2x4-inch copy of a notice about the first PCHA concert of this, the PSO’s 15th season-- run in the Telegram, Press Herald, Evening News and Express newspapers. The notice was published a total of seven times, resulting in a total expense to the Symphony of $40.10.

Possibly a reflection of better times (HS: at least for the orchestra, if not yet for the national economy), was the EE reporting that “The first social affair in several years is being arranged for members of the Portland Symphony Orchestra, a Christmas party to follow a rehearsal in the music room of the Boys’ Club Tuesday evening. Gifts from a decorated tree will be exchanged, following which refreshments will be served”. (HS: Although this may have been the first Christmas party in several years, certainly several of the summerfest dinners the PSO players enjoyed at various locales were well-attended and fun-filled social affairs.)

Note: Since in the upcoming early January the Board would authorize a “$178 Payment to Dr. Cook”, minutes recording that as "paying him through to the first of January", about this time a decision must have been made to make the PSO conductor position a paid one, although the minutes make no reference to such a specific policy change.

Mary Ann Torrey Kotzschmar passed away during 1937, at the age of 83.


1938       Dr. Russell Ames Cook continues as PSO conductor, which eventually extended until 1951. At the time of his appointment he was a resident of Brookline, MA and director of music at Portland's Waynflete School. During the 1940's, extending into the 1950's, Dr. Cook also was a music professor at Princeton University, conducting both choral and orchestra groups. During the years that he served as PSO conductor he also held music positions in the New York and Boston areas, traveling to each as assignments required.

The PSO Archives contain several large scrapbooks that appear to have belonged to Dr. Cook or to his family. They contain many newspaper clippings, and also programs to an estimated (HS didn't count them) 85-90 percent of the PSO concerts that he conducted. This THINGS-PSO Timeline attempts to detail most of the works performed during his 14-year tenure.

This year, more than $500 in contributions were received from sustaining members.

At the PSO's February 17 concert, local singing teacher and member of the Rossini Club, Mrs. Gladys Russell Cook was the soprano soloist, singing the aria Dich Theure Halle from the second act of the opera Tannhäuser” by Richard Wagner, also Mozart’s religious air Allelluja from Motet, “Exultate Jubilate”. She had previously sung with the Boston Orchestral Club. The program began with Overture- The Merry Wives of Windsor by Otto Nicolai, followed by Joseph Haydn’s tick-tocking> Symphony No. 101 in D major, Hoboken 1/101, “The Clock”, and then the two works with the vocal soloist. Both Evening Prayer and Dream Pantomine from German composer Engelbert Humperdinck's fairy tale opera Hänsel and Gretel” closed the first half of the program.

Also performed at the February concert, as reported in the Express, were “A group of dainty Russia folk songs, arranged for orchestra (HS: by Anatoly Liadov)... .... as follows: Christmas Carol, Humoresque Song, Legend of the Birds, Cradle Song, Round Dance and Village Dance Song. One of the most popular pieces of the evening was the foreign air, Bohemian Polka from the opera, Schwanda (Der Dudelsackpfeifer), by (Jaromir) Weinberger.” The headline above Miss Stevens’ review was “Portland Symphony Wins New Plaudits In 56th Concert”.

In March, on the 22nd, the City Hall Auditorium stage was filled as the PSO was joined by both the Portland Rossini Chorus and the Portland Men's Singing Club for what was billed as a "Festival Concert". Maude Huston Haines conducted the women’s group, while Bowdoin Music Professor Frederick E. Tillotson commanded the men. Although the reviews are somewhat contradictory about the matter, it appears that at times during the evening, the chorales sang without orchestra accompaniment. The orchestra opened the concert with The Secret Marriage by Domenico Cimaroso, with the "orchestra in fine form" and giving a "convincing demonstration of its high attainments", according to local newspaper critic Caroline W. Stevens. Next the Rossini Chorus sang four numbers, before the PSO returned to perform Joseph Haydn’s Suite for Orchestra from the “Water Music”. The men’s group then sang six numbers, followed by the Symphony performing two movements from Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov’s Caucasian Sketches, In a Village and March of the Sardar (HS: Sometimes referred to as Procession of the Sardar.) The audience was reported as especially enjoying a final number as the singing groups joined with the PSO to perform Brahms' How Lovely Is The Dwelling Place from The Requiem, and Turn Back O Man by Gustav Holst. The accompanists that evening were Frances Donnell Grasse and Fred Lincoln Hill. (HS: By now, PSO concert programs were consistently either four or eight pages in length, sometimes containing lists of subscribers, but regularly presenting extensive program notes. The added information was undoubtedly a mark of Dr. Cook’s involvement with the Symphony.)

On April 28, the PSO presented its Fifteenth Anniversary Concert, Dr. Cook’s fourth with the Symphony at City Hall Auditorium. (HS: Tickets were 50-cents for adults and 25-cents for students.) Board minutes earlier reflect that Mr. Cronham would "be asked to be the organ soloist at this concert as well as to conduct the orchestra in one selection.” Evidently that did not occur, as the program and newspaper reviews of the concert note that Alfred Brinkler was organ soloist, performing Handel's Grand Concerto for Organ and Orchestra, Opus 4, No. 2. The Express added: "with the orchestra at the best in a masterly performance utilizing the many possibilities of the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ tellingly". Mr. Brinkler responded to audience applause with an encore, Scherzo (HS: likely in G minor) by Portland’s first municipal organist, Will C. Macfarlane. The PSO opened this evening's concert with Mendelssohn's Overture - "A Midsummer Night's Dream", followed by Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Ballet Suite, edited by Felix Mottl, one of the works played by the ensemble of first-chair musicians the previous December on one of the WCSH radio broadcasts.

Other orchestral works on the program were Danse des Bouffons from Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera Snegoúrotchka (The Snow Maiden), and two movements from Georges Bizet’s L’Arlésienne Suite Suite No. 1, the Minuet, Allegro giocoso and the Adagietto. In response to popular comments received after the February concert, the Symphony reprised the well-liked Bohemian Polka, from the opera, Schwanda, by Jaromir Weinberger. The program concluded with the Prelude to "Die Meistersinger von Nurmberg" by Wagner. Reviewer J. Daniel MacDonald, writing in the Evening News, claimed the evening was “Quite the finest concert given by Portland musical talent in many a day”, and the headline to that report was “Combined Music Groups Present Exceptional Program At City Hall.” The PSO Archives contain a scrapbook, in which is a newspaper picture taken during this evening's performance.

In May, during a regular rehearsal, the orchestra membership re-elected Harold Lawrence as President.

The PSO traveled to the Kennebunk Town Hall on May 19 to join forces with the Federation State Chorus for a concert. The conductor of the chorus was Mme. Cora Pierce Richmond. The chorus opened the program with three numbers, and the orchestra followed with three orchestral works. The first of these was Overture to Russlan and Ludmilla” by Glinka, then the Rameau-Mottl Ballet Suite recently performed at PCHA, and Haydn's Symphony in D Major (“London”). (HS: Since this was an out-of-town venue for the PSO, the orchestra was able to efficiently perform works new to the Kennebunk audience, but also ones already in the music folders-- thus ones with which the musicians were familiar.) Mezzo-contralto Marion Hawkes from the women’s chorus sang a Donizetti aria, after which the Symphony concluded the evening’s orchestral works with the same lineup as that which ended the late-April concert in Portland: Rimsky-Korsakov’s Danse des Bouffons, the two numbers from Bizet’s “L’Arlésienne” Suite No. 1, the Bohmeian Polka by Weinberger, and Wagner’s Prelude to “Die Meistersinger von Nurmberg.

The next day, during a Friday afternoon, what a Press Herald article referred to as a “Young People’s Concert” was presented in the Portland High School Auditorium. No references as to what was played at this performance have yet been found among the PSO Archives.

On May 24, more than 40 people, members and relatives of members of the PSO, attended a year-end dinner held at Top-of-the-Hill in North Wyndam. At the affair, Dr. Cook, who received “a pair of bookends inscribed from the members of the Symphony”, outlined plans for the following season. Also at the dinner, 18 members were honored for having attended all rehearsals. (HS: As in the past for the Symphony, also over the next two decades, full attendance at rehearsals by PSO players rarely occurred, something commonplace for amateur groups. That situation would vex PSO conductors until the orchestra became a paid organization in 1959.)

June 7 found seventeen members of the Portland Symphony Orchestra joined in concert with the Waynflete School Glee Club (HS: where Mr. Cook was still the Director of Music) at the State Street Parish House in Portland. A program from that concert shows the PSO’ers as The Portland Symphonic Ensemble as assisting the Glee Club. On their own, the instrumentalists performed Mozart’s Overture – “The Marriage of Figaro”, Gavotte from “Iphigenia in Aulis” by Christoph Willibald von Gluck, Valse from the Ballet Suite “Dornroeschen by Tchaikowsky, and March of the Little Lead Soldiers by Henri Gabriel Pierné. Later in the program the Glee Club and the Ensemble combined to present Humperdink’s Excerpts from “Hansel and Gretel” which included the well-loved Children’s Prayer. The ensemble preceded the finale with Marche Militaire Française de la “Suite Algérienne” by Camille Saint Saëns. The evening concluded with the Glee Club singing Excerpts from “The Gondoliers” by Sir Arthur Sullivan. Dr. Cook's association with both Waynflete and the PSO made it “a natural” for the two groups to be combined for this event.

According to PSO historical records, this is the year the Orchestra instituted both Young People's Concerts and the Portland Pops (Source: PSO program notes). The youth concerts were "sponsored by a number of the Parent Teacher Associations and Mother's Clubs of the Public Schools of Portland and vicinity.” According to a newspaper article found in 2012, the first Youth Concert was presented on May 20, 1938. (HS: A Pops Concert Program for a concert slightly more than a year later, on May 25, 1939, is contained among the PSO Archives; this is the first specific reference found to any PSO Pops concert.)

The PSO women's auxiliary was established, named "Woman's Committee of the Portland Symphony Orchestra Association.” This would become a key fund-raising adjunct of the PSO, as well as a prominent social organization in Portland. (HS: Debby Hammond advised yours truly in 2014 that there never was an officially-named “Auxiliary” of the PSO. Describing the women’s group, the formal adjective “Auxiliary” did creep into PSO programs from time to time [i.e., 1961], but before much more time could elapse, white-hatted women sheriffs made sure later-issued programs were correct.)

This season the PSO had a $422 operating deficit. (HS note: it is comforting to read that by this time the minutes include fewer-and-fewer references to extensive discussions of financial difficulties.... perhaps the Portland area was by now "out" of the most-severe depths of the Depression.)

During midsummer, Dr. Cook guest-conducted the San Diego Symphony Orchestra in an outdoor nighttime concert before 4000 people at the Ford Bowl in that California city. The PSO's reputation was enhanced by the fact that Mr. Cook received glowing reviews. In the fall, the PSO Executive Board would unanimously elect him as conductor for the ensuing season .

Contralto Marian Anderson appeared at the Portland High School Auditorium, sponsored by the Portland Motion Picture Council.

The PSO scheduled four concerts for the 1938-1939 season. Interestingly, the PSO's concert programs at that time proclaimed, at the top of the cover page, that this was the orchestra's Sixteenth season. "Doing the (backwards) math" from 1939 (the end of the season), this confirms, once again, that the PSO then considered itself to have BEGUN in 1924---- the year that the first performances were presented by the group that Clinton W. Graffam, Sr. reorganized a year earlier. What emerged, of course, was Dr. Arthur Kendall's loosely-knit "Symphony Orchestra" to form the Amateur Strand Orchestra. (HS: Over the years, the PSO came to "officially" consider 1924 as the year of its formation, celebrating its "Golden 50th Anniversary" in 1974 and its "Diamond & Gold" 75th in 1999.)

Regarding the start of rehearsals for the 1938-1939 season, one of Harold Lawrence’s scrapbooks includes a notation that this season “the orchestra moved to Portland Junior Technical College on Plub Street, Portland, for its ome and rehearsal hall. This building had been the former home of the Portland Boy’s Club.” (HS: By then the Boy’s Club had subsequently relocated to its still-present (2012) site on Cumberland Avenue.)

The first day in December the orchestra climbed into two buses for a trip to Sanford to perform a concert in the Sanford Town Hall sponsored by the Etherbert Nevin Club. Two newspaper pictures found in the PSO Archives show orchestra members both inside, and also looking out of, the buses. The Boston & Maine Transportation Co. logo is displayed on the old-fashioned curtains at the windows of the buses (HS: at least, now.... the buses look old fashioned. What a fun pair of photos. And yes... almost all of the men are wearing fedoras.)

The Sanford concert consisted of five works, four of which would also be performed two weeks later in Portland. If you look ahead to the next paragraph (which details the 12/16 PCHA concert), the four works “tried out” on the Sanford audience are those by von Weber, Haydn, Bizet and Wagner. The only work performed in Sanford that would not be played in Portland (it had already been played there the previous March) were the two movements from Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov’s Caucasian Sketches.... In the Village and Procession of the Sardar

The December 16 concert in Portland this year was the PSO's sixty-first. The orchestra started off the program with the Overture, Euranthye by Carl Maria von Weber, followed by Haydn's Symphony in G Major, No. 11. Following the intermission the PSO accompanied Portland-resident mezzo-soprano Marcia Merrill in works by Ambroise Thomas and also Richard Wagner, arias from Mignon” by the former and from Lohengrin” by the latter. (HS: Miss Merrill was a member of both the Rossini Club and the Portland Women’s Chorus.) Dr. Cook then led the orchestra in all four movements of Suite L’Arlésienne No. 2 by Bizet, then concluding the evening's works with Wagner's Prelude to Act III from Lohengrin. Revewer Ellen Blodgett noted continued improvement by the Symphony, “with an increase in personnel and a marked advance in technical skill”. She ended her report with “Much credit goes to Dr. Cook for hi sefforts in beinging this organization to such a high level of achievement and to the members themselves.” The headline of the review read, “Portland Symphony Orchestra Thrills Large Audience In City Hall Concert”, while the sub-headline commended what it cited as a “Brilliant” string section. The review made no specific reference to the number of tickets sold.


1939       Various local-area Mother’s Clubs and Parent Teacher Associations sponsor several Young People’s Concerts, the first on January 20. Dr. Cook promised to " ‘take the orchestra apart’ to show what the several instruments look like and what their tonal values and qualities are". A Press Herald editorial that day praised this and planned other similar concerts, as being "now a definite part of Portland’s music life.” The first concert was presented at the Portland High School Auditorium, which a picture in the Press Herald that evening showed--- had a countryside frieze behind the ensemble, with several large trees and a hill in the distance across some meadows. Works performed included The Secret Marriage by Domenico Cimaroso, the Farendole Dance from Bizet’s L’Arlésienne Suite No. 2 and the Minuetto from L’Arlésienne Suite No. 1, three “danses” from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, and Prelude to Act III from Lohengrin. In addition, a demonstration of the various instruments in the orchestra was accompanied by comments from Dr. Cook.

The February 7 concert had the PSO performing Prelude to Oedipus Tyrannus by renowned Portland-born composer John Knowles Paine, who had studied under Hermann Kotzschmar. During his career, Paine was the first person to hold a "chair of music" in an American University, established for him by Harvard. For this performance in Portland, a Centennial Anniversary Memorial Concert honoring Mr. Paine’s birth in 1839, the Harvard University Library lent Dr. Cook the original manuscript of the work which he used at the podium. Other works performed that evening by the orchestra were Schubert’s Overture, Rosamunde, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 in C major, and Carl Maria von Weber’s Overture to DerFreischutz. The coloratura soprano soloist at this concert was Lucille Potter Lavin, who sang two arias, Ah, fors’ e Lui from Verdi’s “La Traviata” and Légende de la fille du paria (The Bell Song) from “Lakme by French composer Léo Delibes. (sources: concert program and Press Herald)

Another Youth Concert was performed on March 10, again at Portland High School Auditorium. This program opened with Glinka’s Overture to Russlan and Ludmilla, followed by six Russian Rolk Songs for Orchestra by Anatoly Liadov. Next was the opening Allegro Moderato movement from Franz Schubert’s Symphony in B Minor (“Unfinished”). Once again a demonstration of instruments was presented to the students. The program concluded with a work very familiar to the members of the Symphony, two movements from Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov’s Caucasian Sketches..... In the Village and Procession of the Sardar.

Eleven days later, on March 21, the PSO presented the second performance of Pastorale and Processional, from Improvizations for Orchestraby Boston Symphony cellist Jacobus Langendoen, a personal friend of Dr. Cook. (HS: I’ve never heard of this piece, and likely neither have you. However, thanks to info learned from a 1939 Press Herald article in the PSO Archives.... it’s a rather unique work; read on....) Eight percussionists are required. A 1939 Press Herald article found in the PSO Archives listed the names of each of them, and freely borrowing a military term, referred to the group as being a "percussion battery". A feature this evening was the first two movements from Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D.759 (sometimes renumbered as Symphony No. 7), commonly known as the "Unfinished Symphony". The PSO both opened and closed this evening’s concert with overtures, respectively Beethoven’s Egmont and Wagner’s Rienzi.

Featured during this March 21 concert, Harry Ellis Dickson was a guest soloist in a performance of Max Bruch’s Concerto in G minor for Violin and Orchestra, a work that preceded the Langendoen composition on the program. Mr. Dickson had joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra as a first violinist the year before, in 1938. Prior to that time he had been concertmaster of the Beacon Hill Symphonic Ensemble, of which Dr. Cook was the conductor. Readers of all this THINGS-PSO Timeline may recognize his name, but for important reasons other than his being a 20-year-old guest soloist with the PSO on this evening in 1939. Mr. Dickson would go on to a long career, remaining a member of the Boston Symphony for 49 years. He founded the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s youth concert series in 1959 and served as music director of the Boston Classical Orchestra after his retirement from the Boston symphony in 1987. He was also to become the father-in-law of Michael S. Dukakis, a Massachusetts governor and U.S. Presidential candidate. (HS: Googling reveals that he was a witty raconteur-- "during his father-in-law’s unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1988, Mr. Dickson was vocal about a desire to participate in the first-ever celebration of a Seder in the White House".) AND-------- Followers of the Boston Pops likely recall his name for another reason. Mr. Dickson would also go on to have an "enduring orchestral relationship, with the Boston Pops, beg(inning) when he stepped in to conduct as Arthur Fiedler’s assistant in 1955; it lasted 44 years" (Source: The New York Times).

Unusually, the names of the orchestra members are not included in this program. Listed, however, are the names of more than 250 "Sponsors and Members" of the PSO. Obviously, the PSO wanted to give recognition to financial supporters of the organization..... also to encourage them to continue being so. The P-H’s Caroline Stevens wrote that at the concert the Symphony “closed its season with distinction”.

Another March musical happening in Portland that year was at the State Street Parish House, when The Phillips Exeter Academy Musical Clubs and The Waynflete Glee Club joined forces for a concert.

The PSO, the Portland Men’s Singing Club and the Portland Women’s Chorus combined their talents to present another Spring Festival Concert, this year on May 3. At times, more than 150 people were assembled on the stage. The concert began with the orchestra playing Wagner’s Overture – Tannhäuser. Local choral conductor Arthur Wilson took the podium for the evening’s first grand work, four excerpts from Act III of Amilcare Ponchielli’s opera La Gioconda, including Dance of the Hours. The concert program noted that this work was “for Principals, Chorus and Orchestra”. Dr. Cook re-ascended the podium for the remainder of the concert.

Some well known arias and choruses from Bizet’s “Carmen” (a total of eight) comprised the post-intermission part of the program, with women’s chorus members Mrs. Lucille Lavin and Miss Marcia Merrill both returning to the PCHA stage as soloists. The former sang the Micaela aria, while the latter sang other excerpts from the opera. The Express reported that Pierce Francis sang Si! Morir ella de!(Alvise)b> from La Giocanda, while Elistad Smith sang excerpts from Carmen, including Don Jose’s Flower Song. Several P-H articles of that time carried the names of numerous soloists, and works they performed. (HS: A spread of "social-page" pictures taken of well-dressed attendees was featured the next day in the Press Herald; interestingly, everyone ‘snapped’ in the lobby was still wearing winter overcoats, so the early-May evening had a chill to it.)

The board this season decided to present a Pops Concerts,”as an experiment, in order to discover if the public would support such concerts”, state typewritten notes in one of Harold Lawrence’s scrapbooks. He continued, “By the evidence of the large crowd and the interest of the people it was unquestionably a success.” (HS: In years to come, many more “Pops” will be scheduled at the Eastland Hotel ballroom.)

The May 25 inaugural “Pops" performance featured Rhapsody in Blue by "the late George Gershwin", wrote the Evening Express. (HS: A program saved in Mr. Cook’s scrapbook lists Margaret Cristadoro as the piano soloist. She served as Dr. Cook’s Assistant Director at Waynflete.) The P-H reported that, “to aid the effectiveness of the music the (Eastland) ballroom was darkened and blue flood lights were thrown on the orchestra and soloist.” Fittingly for a Pops concert, overtures once again both began and concluded the works performed that evening, respectively Bizet’s Overture - Carmen and Rossini’s Overture - William Tell.

Other popular works played that evening were: Tales From the Vienna Woods and The Blue Danube, by Johann Strauss; Dance Chinoise and Dance des Mirlitons from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker; the fun-filled Bohemia Polka from Jaromir Weinberger’s opera Švanda the Bagpiper (HS: For a challenge, try pronouncing the opera’s name using the Czech spelling, Schwandaderdulesackpfeiffer!); Sousa’s march Washington Post (HS: The audience demanded an immediate encore of this brassy march, and Dr. Cook acceded to their request, with everyone joining in by rhythmic clapping of hands) and Meacham’s march American Patrol; and Waltzes from Emmerich Kálmán’s operetta Sari. A “bonus” at the affair was when Mrs. Lucille Potter Lavin (in the audience this evening, not on the stage where she often sang with the PSO and Portland chorales) led, at Dr. Cook’s request, a group-rendition of The Maine Stein Song! That Pops Concert was certainly a FUN evening. The names of four commercial advertisers were listed on the program’s back cover (HS: You go for a $ when you can!). The following Monday the P-H review concluded that “the orchestra played with spirit and fine interpretation”.

A close look at newspaper pictures in the PSO Archives reveals that one of the attendees at the Pops Concert was Mr. Royal Boston. Some 30 years later, the Wadsworth Boston architectural firm including his name would be selected to design major acoustical and stage improvements to City Hall Auditorium.

An orchestra policy was installed at about this time whereby interested prospective new members must audition, with the conductor present when possible, and also complete application forms. (minutes)

During the intermission of a rehearsal in May, the orchestra members again re-elected Harold M. Lawrence as PSO President. The organization’s annual dinner and meeting was held on June 8. At the dinner, respective Five, Ten and Fifteen-year certificates are presented to 11, 6 & 7 orchestra members. Members were advised that the PSO treasury balance stood at "$30 from the past season."

The Executive Board of Directors continues to consist of orchestra members only.

On June 6, the First-Chairs’ group, The Portland Symphonic Ensemble, assisted the Waynflete School (Women’s) Glee Club during a concert held at the State Street Parish House. There were no orchestral works perfomed. The concert featured seven groupings of songs or classical choral works sung by the 60-voice ensemble.

In July, Dr. Cook combined with Alfred Brinkler at a concert at City Hall Auditorium. The PSO opened the evening’s program with Glinka’s Overture - Russlan and Ludmilla, followed by three dances from Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Ballet Suite (Menuet from “Platee”, also Musette and Tambourin from “Les fêtes d’Hébé”). Mr. Brinkler, at the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ then was accompanied by the orchestra for Handel’s Concerto for Organ and Orchestra Opus 4, No. 2. Following was a Group for Organ, consisting of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, Charles Albert Stebbins’ The Swan, the Midsummer Caprice by Edward Johnston and Toccata-Caprice from Suite in G minor by R. Huntington Woodman (the latter had been dedicated to Mr. Brinkler). The orchestra then performed Russian Folk Songs for Orchestra Opus 58 (Christmas Carol, Humorous Song, Round Dance and Village Dance Song) by Anatoly Liadov, concluding the evening’s music with Wagner’s Prelude to Act III "Lohengrin".

In September, the PSO Board of Directors unanimously re-elected Mr. Cook as conductor for the upcoming season. The board also decided at this meeting “to give additional Pops concerts this (upcoming) season.”

Residing in the PSO Archives is a flyer sent to prospective association sustaining members of the PSO prior to the 1939-1940 season. A minimum of $5.00 would enroll subscribers as "members".

In October, minutes refer to “the absence of the president” at a board meeting. (HS: This appears to be the first reference to U.S. Army duties that frequently took Harold Lawrence away from Portland. Subsequent minutes show that he did attend a meeting in early December, but the next month would again be noted as absent from another meeting—then again attending a board meeting in March of 1940.)

This year, after largely unsuccessful on-and-off operations through the Depression years and a year of being “dark”, the closed Keith’s Theater, was “leased and refurbished by local businessmen and the Chamber of Commerce. The stage was brought up to date and a new marquee installed at the Congress Street entrance. It reopened as the Civic Theatre on November 20, with a grand opening featuring the San Carlo Opera Company. By 1941 the Civic’s cultural adventure was abandoned. The house was leased to an out-of-town motion picture chain.” (source: The Cinema Data Project)

Also in November, Anne and Guy Gannett hosted a musicale at Grayrocks, their home in Cape Elizabeth. An invitation, set out in “Old English” style that did not detail specifics of the program, rests in the PSO Archives. It states that "the CHAMBER ORCHESTRA will be an Assembly of 20 Players of the PORTLAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA and will be led by RUSSELL AMES COOK."

Another Portland Pops concert was held at the Eastland Ballroom, on December 1. Ten popular compositions comprised the program, including Sousa’s March- Stars and Stripes Forever (HS: This was the opening number, not the finale); Selection from "Sweethearts" by Victor Herbert; David Guion’s arrangement of Turkey in the Straw; Sousa’s March - El Capitan; and the Johann Strauss favorite, Overture to "Die Fledermaus". Other works performed were Brahms’ Hungarian Dances Nos. 5 and 6, Valse from “Coppelia by Delibes; Farandole from “L’Arlésienne” by Bizet; Armas Jarnefelt’s Prelude, and two “Melodies from South America”, Ay, Ay, Ay, then El Chirpa Pericon. One Portland newspaper column mentioned “A capacity audience”, that brought forth “prolonged applause” when Dr. Cook announced that “a series of Pop concerts (would) follow the upcoming winter (classical) season of the orchestra.”

Later in the month, on the 12th, the PSO performed what the program listed as the group’s "Seventieth Concert". The make-up of the 82-member orchestra at this point was 28 violins, 5 violas, 7 violoncellos, 4 string basses, 2-each for the flutes, oboes, bassoons and clarinets, single piccolo and English horn players, 6 trumpets, 5 trombones, 6 horns, a tuba, a harp and a tympani player, 3 percussion and an organist (HS: If those don’t add up to 82, don’t tell me.). The group totaled 74 instrumentalists. By now, the concertmaster was "a Concert Mistress", as Sara Silverman rose to that role (HS: upon the presumed retirement of David E. Fisher).

Orchestral works featured that evening were Mozart’s Overture "The Marriage of Figaro", Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4, in A major (“Italian”), and Brahms’ Overture "Academic Festival", Op. 80. Other compositions performed were Gluck’s Recitative and Aria “Che faro senza Euridice” from “Orpheus”, sung by contralto Martha Lipton, who also returned to the stage after intermission. She then sang Saint-Saëns’ aria “Amour, viens aider” from “Samson et Delilah”, and Verdi’s aira “O don fatale” from “Don Carlo”. Preceding the “Adademic” finale was Glazounov’s Autumn and Winter” from the ballet “The Seasons”. One newspaper article advised that an “enthusiastic audience of approximately 2000 people” attended. Dr. Cook’s work with the orchestra was commended, and Miss Lipton was headlined as “Contralto Captivates Listeners”. An interesting side note contained in the program: "The Ushers Are Members Of The Kotzschmar Club".


1940       Guests and attendees at a Deering High School band concert in January had a thrill when a 31 year-old guest unexpectedly “dropped in”. Making a surprise unannounced appearance in the gymnasium to guest-conduct the 80-piece Deering Band in Beer Barrel Polka and the Maine Stein Song, was “The King of Swing”! According to Press Herald articles of the time, the hero of that evening and his band “blew the lid off Portland restraint” in a performance at the Strand Theater that week. These events occurred during what was likely the first visit to Portland by Benny Goodman. And..... oh yes--- Mr. Goodman had his clarinet with him when he stopped by DHS, and thrilled the students, parents and other guests with some slick licks. (source: Portland Press Herald)

Regarding the visit to Deering High by Benny Goodman, while the background details are not known for certain, logical speculation leads to the suspicion that the fingerprints of Clinton W. Graffam, Jr., might have been on this wonderful surprise gig. It was unlikely a totally serendipitous or spontaneous drop-in by the great jazz artist. Fellow reed player Clint, a Deering grad himself and close to the music program at Deering, was then age 26 and shortly thereafter about to embark on a multi-decade career that would have him long-involved with DHS musical activities as a teacher. Family members of young Mr. Graffam were actively engaged operating a major music store in Portland not far away from the Strand Theater on Congress Street. Benny Goodman’s Strand Theater appearance with his band that week likely also had him involved in some promotional appearances that were arranged through his sponsor (HS: He represented Selmer for many years, although I don’t know precisely when that relationship started. Research shows that he played Selmer clarinets during the 1930s) If he hadn’t already become acquainted with Clinton Graffam before, it is hard to imagine that the always-imaginative Mr. Graffam would not have sought him out for some face-to-face time during this visit to Portland and “put a bug” into Benny Goodman’s ear about maybe “swinging” by the Deering concert as a never-to-be-forgotten reward-incentive for the aspiring high school musicians. After all, since he had already debuted jazz insofar as Carnegie Hall artists were concerned (HS: In 1938, at monumentally successful concert), maybe he thought that by now (1940) he was finally ready to debut at Deering High School.

While not specifically a Portland Symphony event, on February 1, several PSO musicians joined with Alfred Brinkler at an organ concert at PCHA. Oboist Clinton Graffam, violinists Sara Silverman and Muriel Mason, along with cellist Katherine Graffam, performed Allegro, Adagio and Rondo from Mozart’s Quartet for Oboe and Strings. Later in the program, Miss Silverman played two violin solos, Felix Borowski’s Adoration and Jules Massenet’s Meditation. City Municipal Organist Mr. Brinkler performed eight works at the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ.

About this time, one of the Portland newspapers (HS: Unfortunately, the specific publication is not specified on any of the clippings saved by Mr. Lawrence in his scrapbooks.) ran a series of features that explained the role of various orchestra instruments, a goup of articles designed to both educate the public and hopefully attract more ticket-buyer interest for PSO concerts. Each article also carried a picture of one of the Symphony’s musicians and his/her instrument. Featured were first bass Ralph E. Knight, first horn Arthur H. Stevens, first flutist Harold M. Lawrence, tuba player Sherman Little, oboist Clinton Graffam, Jr., solo clarinetist Donald W. Davis, and violoncellist Katherine Hatch Graffam. In decades to come, similar series of articles featuring PSO members would also appear in Portland newspapers.

An audience of 1600 people was in attendance for the PSO's second concert of the 1939-40 season, on February 14. (HS: Valentine’s Day love was not in the air that evening, it appears, for no “theme” numbers were listed on the concert program.) After the opening composition, Gioacchino Rossini's Overture "L 'Italiana in Algeri", the orchestra featured Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 5, in D minor (“Reformation Symphony”), which concluded the first half of the program. After intermission, the Symphony was joined by soprano soloist Miss Mae Taylor, who sang two compositions – Gustave Charpentier’s Depuis le jour from “Louise”; then Il est doux, it est bon from “Herodiade” by Jules Massenet. "Finlandia" -- Symphonic poem for Orchestra, Opus 26, No. 7, by Jean Sibelius ended the evening.

An interesting historic aspect of the concert this evening was that it was the first-ever PSO performance for which phonograph recordings were cut. An article reported that “microphones on the stage relayed the music to the recording device located backstage, and at intermission the players listened to the first part of their program played back to them.” Although such recordings (and critical listenings to them) had been done during rehearsals, this marked the first concert to be recorded.

Two weeks later, on February 28, City Organist Alfred Brinkler hosted the Portland Symphony Orchestra at a concert presented by the Municipal Organ Department. Mr. Brinkler played four compositions during the first half of the performance. After intermission, the orchestra played Overture – “The Merry Wives of Windsor”, by Otto Nicolai. Then came the “main event” of the evening, Félix Alexandre Guilmant’s Symphony No. 1 in D minor for Organ and Orchestra, Op. 42, an orchestral version of the great organ composer’s first organ sonata in d minor. (HS: Googling reveals a fun tidbit about him: “Although other great French organist-composers like Franck and Widor may now be better known, Guilmant become one of the most famous organists of his day; one critic calls him a "nineteenth century 'pop star'.") This work’s final movement has been described by others as a “virtuosic display of overpowering intensity.” The “show of power is only interrupted once”, with (later) a “sixteenth-note perpetual motion machine driv(ing) toward a shimmering conclusion, replete with resonant fanfares by the brass, and the first appearance of the cymbal and bass drum for emphasis.” The work was dedicated to "His Royal Highness King Leopold II, King of Belgium, and the ending has been described as a “final glorious cacophony of sound... ...a fitting tribute to a king, presented by orchestra and the king of Instruments.” Presumably Mr. Brinkler and Mr. Cook’s orchestra made City Hall Auditorium shake this evening.

Two days later (HS: After leap-day, if you noticed the year.), on the first of March, 1000 children attended the first Junior Concert of the season, in the Portland High School Auditorium. A newspaper article detailed how in those days the "audience became the stars" for one number; prior to the Junior Concerts, Dr. Cook would select a song that the students would learn in their schools. "For this program it was the old English folk song, John Peel. The orchestra was "greeted with enthusiasm" when it was announced that "the old fiddler's favorite, Turkey in the Straw" would also be played. Other works on the program, according to notes made and saved by Mr. Lawrence, were Overture to the Marriage of Figaro, by Mozart; four movements from a Gluck-Mottl Ballet Suite; and the Allegretto and Minuet movements from Haydn’s Symphony No. 11 in E-flat major, (“Military”). The performance concluded with the Overture to Carmen, by Georges Bizet.

Board minutes in mid March note that “the resignation of Howard Clark, pianist and organist with the orchestra, was accepted with regret.” There was no notation providing any explanation about possible ill health or other reason for the longtime active PSO musician having resigned.

The fourth-annual Spring Festival Concert, featuring a combination of the PSO, the Portland Men's Singing Club and the Portland Women's Chorus drew a crowd of 2500 to PCHA on March 26. (Press Herald)

At this concert, Arthur Wilson was now reigning over the men’s group, with John White Thomas conducting the Woman’s Chorus. The Symphony opened the concert with two numbers—first was Overture “Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss, and then a “big one”, Ravel's Boléro, featuring six percussionists. The Press Herald topped an article about the upcoming rendition of the highly popular then-12-year-old stirring composition, with a picture of the sextet "and their sticks". (HS: hmmmm, I thought that the "magic number" associated with Boléro was "10", not "6"; .................. sorry, but I just HAD to write that.) Then the Portland Men’s Singing Club took the stage and sang the English folk-song, Country Gardens. This was followed by the orchestra accompanying the men in Bach’s To Thee Alone Be Glory. Next the ladies’ chorus sang four numbers. Then, the three organizations combined musical voices and tones for two works. First was Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, and finally the conclusion, Handel's Let Their Celestial Concerts all Unite from the Oratorio "Samson".

The season’s final Youth Concert was held at the-then usual venue, Portland High School Auditorium, on April 2. Nicolai’s Overture to the Merry Wives of Windsor led off the program, followed by three of the four movements from Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46, Morning, Ase’s Death and In the Hall of the Mountain King. The audience sang Loch Lomand (HS: which they were supposed to have practiced beforehand). Finlandia by Jean Sibelius, and Brahms Hungarian Dances No. 5 and 6 concluded the performance. (HS: One P-H article referenced this concert as on April 12.)

The PSO's 76th concert was performed on Tuesday evening, April 23, at City Hall Auditorium, and was an all-American program. To open, the orchestra played Prelude to "Oedipus Tyrannus" by John Knowles Paine. Then, Dr. Cook had a pleasant surprise for the audience; he had brought a celeste with him from Boston (HS: This was the first appearance in Portland of that then-rarely heard instrument.), which would be played by Howard Clark. It was featured in two works, the Noel and Jubilee movements of George Whitefield Chadwick’s turn-of-the-century four-movement Suite for Orchestra “Symphonic Sketches”, L. 2/15; then Leo Sowerby’s 1916 work, his Overture “Comes Autumn Time”, based on a poem. The concert concluded with Peggy Stuart's Rhapsody No. 2 for Pianoforte and Orchestra, "Night-Froth", with the young (26 years old) composer as soloist. Program notes say that she had premiered her work two years earlier, "in May, 1938, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra during the 'Pops' season". A newspaper review headlined, “Portland Symphony Gives Thrilling Final Program.”

While the concert was underway, PCHA attendants spotted four roughly-dressed youths of grammar school age... the corridors”, who police (HS: “Uh, oh”, you’re now probably thinking.... where is this going?”) later thought gained entrance to the ladies cloak room “through a window from the second balcony”. The cloak room was ransacked and evening bags and money valued in excess of $50 was taken (HS: That’s $800+ in 2012-dollars.). Since the only women who a newspaper reported as missing items were PSO musicians (eight in total), it may be that the cloakroom that was broken into was exclusively used by ladies in the orchestra.

During the intermission of a May rehearsal, the orchestra membership once-again elected Harold M. Lawrence as PSO President.

On Wednesday, May 8, under the auspices of the city's Municipal Organ Department, the PSO again joined with organist Alfred Brinkler in a concert, initially featuring the municipal organist as he performed three solos, and then the PSO concluded the first half with the Allegretto, Trio and Minuet movements from Haydn’s Symphony No. 11 in E-flat major, (“Military”). Mr. Brinkler performed three more organ solos following the intermission,and then the PSO concluded the concert with Richard Wagner’s magnum opus, his Overture “Rienzi”.

A city-wide Associate Membership fund-raising campaign was launched. Participation by the PSO Women's Committee helped with this effort.

The PSO treasury balance stood at $130.46, with no bills outstanding.

Minutes show that the board formally took over responsibility "for the present year all arrangements" for Pops Concerts "owing to the emergency created by the (Executive Board) president and manager being in temporary military service.” (HS: Although away, Mr. Lawrence’s name periodically still continued to appear in subsequent PSO minutes; so repeating what was written earlier, perhaps during some months he was stationed nearby.)

A May 23 Pops concert at the Eastland Hotel was sponsored by the Waynflete Loyalty Fund. The Thursday evening affair began with David Wallace Reeves’ March – “Second Connecticut”, followed by Waltz – “Roses from the South” by Johann Strauss II. Tchaikowsky’s Andante Cantabile was next, then “The New Colonial” March by Robert Browne Hall, and Franz Liszt’s Liebestraum (HS: Actually, this was likely the well-known “No. 3” of three pieces the composer wrote under the cumulative title, “Liebesträume”.). Dr. Cook had the orchestra continue with Mozart’s Overture – “Marriage of Figaro”, then had the musicians jump several centuries to Ferde Grofé ’s descriptive On the Trail from “Grand Canyon Suite”. A tango was next, specifically the haunting Gypsy Tango “Jealousy”, by Jacob Gade. Back to the Nutmeg State again, the Symphony then played the March – “Battleship Connecticut”. The fun Pops concert concluded with three works, Franz Lehár’s Waltz – “Gold and Silver”; Sir Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance, and finally..... Richard Wagner’s Overture – “Rienzi”. No newspaper review is handy, but you can bet that the audience enthusiastically (HS: Note—the Eastland’s martini’s were only 25-cents.) demanded at least one encore, and most likely..... more than one.

The Press Herald reported a "fun gimmick" that was used to promote a follow-up June 4 "Gay Nineties" Pops Concert--- Dr. Cook arrived at the entrance of the Hotel Eastland Ballroom in an old car, built in 1904. A newspaper article reported that “throngs lined the sidewalks” to see the spectacular arrival of the Pops’ maestro. When everyone moved inside, the capacity of the hall “was taxed”. A pre-concert article reported that when attendees received their programs, they would be greeted with an unusual font-type, dating back to the middle of the Nineteenth Century, which by 1940 was extremely rare. It was procured after a long search by Dr. Cook from a Boston collector of ancient types, and was the only such type found in New England.

At this Pops "The Gay Nineties" concert, “Dedicated to a decade of remembered delights” read the top of the concert program, the PSO performed 12 popular favorites (HS: also, maybe an encore... or two? ... or three? ... or etc.?). The evening’s music began with P. Mario Costa’s March – Two Step, ‘A Frangesa. Then, two Strauss (Johann II) numbers were on tap, Waltz-"The Blue Danube“ and Waltz- “Thousand and One Nights". A collection of Waltzes (Tunes of the "Nineties") prior to the intermission likely had everyone happily swaying back and forth, if not up dancing. Von Suppé's Overture- "Poet and Peasant", also Jacques Offenbach's Overture- "Orpheus in the Underworld" were both undoubtedly well received by attendees. Among other numbers the crowd enjoyed were Selections from the “Gilbert and Sullivan” operas; Tell Me Pretty Maiden from “Floradora”, by Leslie Stuart; Friedrich von Flotow’s Overture – “Martha”; Franz Lehár’s Waltzes from “The Merry Widow”; and Ballet music from “Faust”, by Charles Gounod. Likely the rowdiest moments of the evening came when the Pops orchestra brought forth the popular beer hall favorite, with the crowd most certainly joining in song........ a rendition of There’ll be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight!!! (HS: I always enjoyed the Boy Scout legend that the Chicago-Fire’s Mrs. O’Leary was the first to sing that song, but Googling informs that the music was composed by Theodore August Metz with lyrics by Joe Hayden.)

In October, minutes show that the PSO Executive Board authorized the purchase of "a set of suitable chairs" for rehearsals and for use at concerts. For the past twelve years, the orchestra had on essentially permanent loan, 35 chairs that belonged to Burnham & Morrill. But, since B&M had recently enlarged its cafeteria, it now needed the chairs for the new area. The Board also purchased a tuba... for “$50 from Ralph Knight”, who PSO archives do not list as a member at that time -- however, later his name did appear among PSO playing members. A 1940 newspaper clipping showed PSO musician Sherman Little with a tuba; subsequent information confirmed that he was holding the tuba purchased from Ralph Knight. (HS wonders if the purchase of his bass might have been to allow another member to use it, the transfer possibly associated with military obligations that would require him to be away from Portland for a time?)

Board minutes show that in September, a total of 70 musicians attended the PSO's first rehearsal prior to the 1940-41 season. When the season’s first concert would be performed, the ensemble would total 82 players.

Sixteen new members completed auditions and were approved for membership in the PSO. (HS: Meanwhile, during the preceding several years respective board minutes reflect that board-directed increased tightening of attendance requirements had resulted in a substantial number of less-active members being "dropped from the rolls", usually for excessive unexcused absences from rehearsals or non-attendance at concerts. [Presumably the effect of both "firing" those members, combined with the new players resulted in a meaningful upgrade in the PSO's overall quality of musicianship.])

At this point in time, PSO President Harold M. Lawrence was often on leave from the Orchestra, but not on leave from the U.S. Army. Then a first lieutenant with the 240th Coast Artillery, based at Fort McKinley in Casco Bay, he was only sometimes able to attend PSO rehearsals or concerts. In his stead, PSO vice president John Fessenden was often in charge of the orchestra’s operating activities.

In October, the Executive Board of the PSO voted to retain Cr. Cook as conductor for the upcoming season.

Also in October, at the Maine Civic Theatre (HS: In earlier times, called Keith's Theatre), a production of "No, No, Nanette", starring Evelyn Wyckoff was presented to Portland theatergoers. About that same time, Victor Herbert's musical hit, Babes in Toyland, was also presented at the "Civic". PSO Archives contain a program from the former.

On November 29....... ANOTHER Pops concert was held, this one the first PSO performance of the 1940-1941 season. The sponsor was The Scholarship Fund Committee of the Dartmouth Alumni Association of Maine. The Dartmouth Club paid the PSO $175 and assumed all expenses. The Friday-evening Eastland Ballroom event began with Louis Ganne’s March – Lorraine, followed by Selection(s) from “The Vagabond King”, which the program credited to “Romberg” (HS: Since Rudolph Friml was the operetta’s composer, I assume that the piece performed was a Sigmund Romberg arrangement). Of course, several popular "Dartmouth Songs" were also included that evening, the first of which was Men of Dartmouth. Ernesto Lecuona’s Andalucia was followed by Sousa’s March – U.S. Field Artillery, leading to an intermission. The audience may have brayed a bit (HS: Remember.... mixed drinks and cocktails were served to the Eastland crowd that evening.) as it was welcomed back for the second half with another Friml work, this time his Donkey Song from “The Firefly”. Then a popular light work was followed by also-popular-but more traditional classical music: Lucien Cailliet’s Variations on the Theme Pop Goes The Weasel; and Autumn and Winter from the ballet – “The Seasons”, Op. 67, by Alexander Glazounov. Next was a song undoubtedly special to any friend of Keggy the Keg, the unofficial mascot of Dartmouth College. All those with Big Green connections likely joined in as the PSO played a traditional tribute to Eleazar Wheelock, the founder of Dartmouth College. Then the mood changed, as the Symphony played March of the Toys from – “Babes in Toyland”, by Victor Herbert. The final work listed on the program was Gioacchino Rossini’s Overture -- Semiramide. Looking at the concert program for the event, it is notable that one composition was not performed at the beginning of of the evening. Instead, the concert program listed it to be performed at the end of the evening. Against a then oft-worried mood in America with the devastating main onslaught of the Battle of Britain having subsided only 6 weeks earlier, the PSO concluded the concert by playing The Star Spangled Banner.

Dr. Cook led an ensemble of PSO musicians at a concert of chamber music, presented at the Sweat Memorial Art Museum on Sunday, December 8. This program was led off by three movements from Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 85 (“La Reine”): Adagio; Vivace; and Romaza / Allegretto (HS: A printer’s error incorrectly listed the work as Haydn’s Symphony No. 15.). All but the Overture from George Frideric Handel’s Suite “The Royal Fireworks” was next: La Réjouissance, Allegro; La Paix, Largo alla ; Bourrée; and Menuets I and II. Then the PSO music director turned to conduct four of the six movements of Mozart’s Divertimento No. 11 (K. 251): Molto allegro; Menuetto (Trio); Menuetto (Tema con variazioni); and Marcia alla Francese. Fourth on the program at the museum was William Boyce’s three-movement Symphony No. 1, which preceded Tschaikowsky’s gentle work for cello and strings, Andante cantabile – Op. 11. The concert closed with prolific Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf’s Allegro moderato movement from Symphony in F major.

By this point in time, Muriel Mason had supplanted Sara Silverman as Concert Mistress (HS: the latter had served as Concert Mistress the preceding season.). A program list of orchestra personnel still listed the latter first among the 1st violinists, so the two were likely sharing the first stand.

The Propeller Club made a proposal for it also to sponsor a Pops Concert (HS: Although PSO minutes reveal no subsequent mention of the Propeller Club holding such a concert, a program found shows that organization did sponsor one in February of 1941. Portland Pops Concert were obviously highly popular with audiences..... but minutes of Executive Board discussions unfortunately reveal that the PSO usually was not able to cover all expenses associated with Pops’ events, nor did they lead to more subscriptions or other additional classical patronage. For certain, the “Money-Maker” at Pops concerts was the Eastland Hotel).

At the PSO's December 13th classical concert, Dr. Cook featured the great work by Belgian composer César Franck, his haunting Symphony in D minor. The Franck symphony comprised the entire second half of the program. Also performed that evening were the Overture "Carneval", OP. 92, by Dvořák; Rimsky-Korsakoff's "rhapsodic oriental fairy tale" (so read the program notes), the Symphonic Suite "Scheherazade", Op. 35; and Ravel's Introduction and Allegro for solo harp, strings, flute and clarinet. Guest soloist Marjorie Pederson was the harp soloist, while Harold Lawrence and Maurice Lane were listed on the concert program as the PSO’s principal flute and principal clarinet. A newspaper clipping donated to the PSO by the estate of longtime subscriber Shirley Littlefield mentioned that 2000 concertgoers were in attendance, and also commented about Ms. Pederson’s “scintillating brilliance and complete command of the technicalities of her instrument”.

There were 88 members of the Portland Symphony Orchestra at this point in time. (Source: 12/13/40 newspaper clipping)

One information-source indicated that a Youth Concert was performed at about this time. However, no other references to such an event have been spotted (HS: And since two Youth Concerts were performed later this season, I’m skeptical of this single reference.) If, however, indeed such a concert for students was performed, it likely included some of the works included in the December 13 Classical concert, and also some played by the PSO during the Pops Concert sponsored by the Dartmouth Club.

An interesting item regarding this year: The Portland music store and music publisher with which members of the Graffam family had long been associated, Cressey and Allen, in 1940 published a piece titled Meet Me at Naples in Maine, composed by Leona Stephens Hollister. What is especially interesting about this published work is that the arranger named is Arthur F. Kendall (HS: It seems virtually certain that the arranger was the first conductor of the PSO when the original ensemble was the Strand Amateur Orchestra in 1924, who resigned within several years over a ticket-pricing policy dispute, but retained ties to Portland and the Graffam family. So far, nothing else regarding Arthur F. Kendall and Portland has been spotted while Googling, except for a reference to his marriage in Portland in 1923, his playing the organ at Portland churches in 1947, 1948 and 1950, his playing the organ at a Portland wedding in 1948, a death record for 1978 listing his age as 79.)


1941       At the beginning of this calendar year, the PSO consisted of "83 playing members, with vacancies in the following sections: viola, second violin, horn and brass".

On January 29, an all-English PSO program honored "the courageous spirit of the English people". Works featured included those of Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Henry Purcell and Eric Coates. Pomp and Circumstance was played to begin the concert, followed by the Vaughan Williams’ Suite “English Folk Songs”, Seventeen Come Sunday, My Bonny Boy and Folk Songs from Somerset. Next was Suite from the “Dramatick Musick” by Percell, arranged by John Barbirolli (HS: He then was not yet “Sir”, later becoming knighted in 1949.). Rounding out the first half of the program was a movement from Sir Hamilton Harty’s A John Field Suite, the Rondo “Midi”. After the intermission the Symphony was joined by guest soloist Einar Hansen, in a performance of The Lark Ascending, Romance for solo violin and orchestra by Vaughan Williams. Next were three of the four movements from Gustav Holst’s “St. Paul’s Suitefor String Orchestra, Op. 29, No. 2, H. 118, Jig, Intermezzo and Finale (“The Dargason”). The evening’s music concluded with two of the three movements from Eric Coates’ Suite for Orchestra “London Every Day”, Westminster – “Meditation" and Covent Garden – “Tarantelle". (HS: I wonder why Dr. Cook omitted one of my personal top favorites, Knightsbridge – “March"?  Darn!) The thoughts going through the minds of the PSO players that evening must certainly have been inspired by what the Press Herald writer referred to as "the sturdy, indomitable spirit of England", a subject that at that time was daily covered by newspapers. (HS: Looking at literally hundreds of long-yellowed newspaper articles while going through old scrapbooks in the PSO Archives became particularly poignant when I spotted articles about this concert. Through the 1939-1941 period there were dozens of war-related news reports on the back sides of PSO-related news clippings, many times just parts of those stories  -----since the reports about the PSO were clipped at respective column edges. My knowing "what was going to happen in Europe" created a most-surreal concoction in the juices of my consciousness.)

The aforementioned Pops Concert program sponsored by The Propeller Club (a nautical bunch, not an aeronautical group), was held on February 14. While some encores likely had melodies associated with red roses and love-arrow-pierced hearts, interestingly, the evening did not have a Valentine's Day theme. The club’s members and their friends heard Dr. Cook conduct a long list of 17 numbers. The Marine’s Hymn opened the evening. (HS: Noting that the concert program did not list a composer, I Googled to find out who had written this well known hymn. I discovered that the music is from the “Gendarmes' Duet” from an 1867 revision of the 1859 opera “Genevieve de Brabant” by Jacques Offenbach. Wow!  That’s certainly cool info.) Next was the Waltz, You and You from the operetta “The Bat”, by Johann Strauss II, followed by Edvard Grieg’s Triumphal March from “Sigurd Jorsalfar”. The traditional English folk song Nancy Lee (HS: frequently called “The Wreck of the Nancy Lee”), was preceded by the Waltz Over the Waves by Mexican composer Junventino Rosas. Sir Arthur Sullivan’s I’m Called Little Buttercup from “H.M.S. Pinafore” led to a dance, specifically Jaromir Weinberger’s Bohemian Polka from “Schwanda der Dudelsackpfeifer”. The first half of the program concluded with Georges Bizet’s Farandole from “L’Arlésienne” Suite.

After the intermission came Carl Maria von Weber’s Invitation to the Dance, then the Old English favorite based on a Ben Jonson poem, Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes. Franz Schubert’s Ballet Music “Rosamunde” was next, preceding a certainly patriotic salute, A Toast to America, by Roger Snow (HS: I Googled this work since I had not before known about it; that search turned up nothing particularly helpful, other than The Grand State of Maine, our state’s official song, was composed in 1937 by Roger Vinton Snow, a lawyer by trade.). Stephan Foster’s Way Down Upon the Swanee River likely brought some singing help from the audience, but then one wonders--- did any of the attendees then stand up to dance the next number, the Waltz, Wine, Women and Song by Johann Strauss II. Another Sir Arthur Sullivan favorite, Flowers That Bloom in the Spring led to the final work on the program, von Weber’s grand, heroic, romantic Overture: “Euryanthe”.

In those days, the PSO’s concert program cover pages always designated the chronological number for each concert, starting from back in 1927 when the Amateur Strand ensemble came under the wing of the Portland Music Commission. The preceding concert was listed as the 83rd, and the March 19 classical concert as the 85th. It is almost a certainty that at the “missing 84th concert” concertgoers did not receive printed programs, and that performance was a Youth Concert for Portland-area students. If this is correct (HS:  I’ll put 5-bucks on the line saying that nobody can prove otherwise.), the works performed were mostly selections taken from the February Pops concert lineup and the then-being-rehearsed upcoming March 19 classical concert.

The concert program for the March classical concert listed a new name for Concert Mistress Muriel Mason. Her new last name was now Ellis (HS: so it appears that at least somebody might have “cared” on Valentine's Day). Information written about her many years later that was found via Googling, revealed that she “was born in Cortland, N.Y., and was a violin prodigy at age 4. She attended Julliard School of Music, Fairfax Hall (Waynesboro, Va.) and the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music.” She had perfect pitch, and was long engaged in music education.

That evening, Dr. Cook Chose to open the program with the Ballet Suite, from “Céphale et Procris”, by André-Erneste-Modeste Grétry; arranged by Felix Mottl. Michelle Esposito’s arrangement of Bach’s Wach Auf, No. 4 of Church Cantata 160, “Sleepers Wake” followed, and last before intermission were three movements from Joseph Haydn’s Symphony in G major, No. 94, (“Surprise”), III-Menuetto, II-Andante and IV-Allegro di molto. During the second half of the program, Bach's Brandenburg Concerto, No. 2 in F major, for Violin, Flute, Oboe Trumpet and Strings was a featured work, with two PSO principals (Mrs. Ellis and oboist Clinton Graffam) listed as soloists along with two (ringers?) not listed on the cover as guest soloists nor on the back page of the program as members of the PSO (Flutist Harriett Peacock and Harry Herforth, trumpet). The evening's program concluded with the inspired composition by Franz Liszt, his Symphonic Poem, No. 3 "Les Preludes".

Harold Lawrence’s scrapbook suggests that another Youth Concert may have been performed about the time of the above-described March Classical Concert performance, the PSO’s 86th concert since 1927. That no program is contained withing his memorabilia is, once again, likely explained by the fact that the expense of printing programs for the students was reason enough for the PSO not to do so (HS: Also....... avoiding having squadrons of paper airplanes flying down from the balconies of City Hall Auditorium was probably another consideration made by school officials.).

A May 7 "National Music Week" PSO concert had several features. Katherine Hatch Graffam was the program-cover-designated soloist in Symphonic Variations for Violoncello and Orchestra, by Léon Boëllmann. This work was preceded by the Overture: Oberon by Carl Maria von Weber. The first half of the program ended with Haydn's Symphony No. 45, "The Farewell". After the intermission, the orchestra first performed Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik, k. 525. At that point, for the first time since becoming affiliated with the PSO, Dr. Cook became his own concertmaster and played and conducted at the same time. The second half concluded with two works by Richard Wagner, Magic Fire Music from "Die Walkure" and The Ride of the Valkyries, also from "Die Walkure".

Mid-May found the leaders of the Maine Federation of Music Clubs gathered in Portland for the group's annual convention. At the Municipal Auditorium the PSO assisted actors in what was a concert program billed as The Pilgrim's Progress, “A Musical Miracle Play", oratorio by Edgar Stillman Kelley. The text was based on the Allegory of John Bunyan, arranged by Elizabeth Hodgkinson. John Warren Erb conducted a chorus, with Dr. Russell Ames Cook leading the PSO. The program cover also listed John E. Fay as organist. The work was comprised of two sections, “The City of Destruction” and “The Celestial City”. Altogether at the May 13 concert, a full dozen movements were performed, with the grand ensemble consisting of members of twenty-five musical organizations.

At the main meeting of the Maine Federation of Music Clubs, Anne M. (Mrs. Guy P.) Gannett presented a resolution that was passed that opposed a proposal to include musical instruments under a federal luxury tax bill. The resolution included a declaration that "musical instruments are necessary tools of education, and that wholesome music is necessary for sane and balanced morale among soldiers, civilians and students everywhere."

May PSO board minutes note "concern of opinion that the orchestra had played too many concerts during the season to allow sufficient rehearsals between appearances for adequate preparation.” Subsequently, Dr. Cook wrote a letter to the playing membership-at-large, urging everyone to be sure to attend practices.... so that the PSO would be best prepared to give audiences top-quality concerts.

Then-treasurer of the PSO, Percy D. Mitchell resigned that office. His resignation was accepted, with board minutes noting "with regret". (HS:  Minutes contain no reference about what circumstances caused him to resign, although given the times, his entering active military service might have been the issue. A newspaper article more than a year later referred to him as then “resid(ing) in Worcester, Mass.”)  Board minutes show thatPresident Harold M. Lawrence presided at this meeting, although he was “Lieutenant Harold M. Lawrence”, on active duty with the United States Army, occasionally traveling back to Portland from a current posting in Georgia. (HS:  Although Mr. Lawrence presided at this and some other PSO Board meetings, he had earlier been "called up" for federal service as a member of the Maine National Guard. Preparing for WW II, the 240th Coast Artillery was "called up" for Federal service in 1940. By the following February, the remainder of the Maine National Guard was inducted to flesh out the Army of the United States in a General Mobilization. An explanation for Mr. Lawrence having presided at the meeting is that he was then stationed near Portland and was "on leave" at that time. During a conversation with HS in 2012, Mr. Lawrence's son advised that he was called up to serve during WW II, eventually involved in the landing in France with U.S. Forces. After the end of the war, Mr. Lawrence remained a member of the National Guard, and when he retired he held the rank of Brigadier General.)

Also at that meeting, the board decided to submit a proposal to the orchestra that "due to extenuating circumstances" (HS: no specifics noted, but presumably the "calling up" of Mr. Lawrence  -and possibly other PSO players-  for military service), "the annual election (of officers and directors, presumably) be deferred until fall.” However, a newspaper clipping from late May reports that Clinton Graffam was elected President of the PSO at the Annual Meeting. Since Mr. Lawrence was now on active duty with the United States Army, he was voted “Honorary President”, according to Board Secretary records.

Wednesday, May 28 brought another Portland Pops concert to the Eastland Ballroom. The PSO performed a total of twelve "Pop!"-ular numbers this evening. Dr. Cook led off with John Philip Sousa’s rousing March – “Washington Post”, followed by Waltzes from “Sari” by Emmerich Kalman. Next was David Guion’s Sheep and Goat, orchestrated from his original piano arrangement of the old folk song; then George Frederic Handel’s Menuet from “Berenice”. David W. Reeves’ March – “Second Connecticut” preceded two movements from Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov’s “Causacasion Sketches”, In the Village and Procession of the Sardar. In the second half of this Pops concert, the ensemble first played Robert Browne Hall’s March – “The New Colonial”; followed by the Waltz – “Southern Roses” by Johann Strauss. This was followed by another Guion arrangement of an old American tune, Turkey in the Straw; then Franz Lehár’s Waltz – “Gold and Silver”. Precedng the final work on the concert program for the evening (HS: With, for sure, several encores later on, the specifics of which are not now known.) were Three Dances from “Henry VIII”, Morris Dance, Shepherd’s Dance and Torch Dance, all composed in 1892 by Edward German for a production of Henry Irving's version of “Henry VIII” at the Lyceum Theatre, in London. The final scheduled number was Gioacchino Rossini’s Overture – Italian in Algiers. Table tickets were priced at 75-cents, with a limited number of balcony tickets available at 50-cents. (HS: of interest --to me, anyway-- is that a handbill for this concert listed "Miss Virginia Cook at Cressey & Allens" as making reservation arrangements. I wonder..... was she the daughter of the conductor?)

On Tuesday, June 17, there was yet-another "Pops" gathering at The Eastland. Once again, many (11) popular numbers were played, and also 'once again', the affair used "The Gay Nineties" theme. “Irresistable sparkle and an infectious spirit of merriment predominated” read the opening of the P-H article about the event, and “Many times throughout the evening was heard the tinkling of glasses in time with the music”. Popular soprano Lucille Potter Lavin was reported to have “captivated her listeners” with a rendition of Johann Strauss II’s beloved Blue Danube Waltz, accompanied by the orchestra. “The orchestra was heard in a well chosen and goodly selection of those pieces that so completely typify the spirit of that by-gone day.” Most popularly received were Kela- Vojtech Kéler Bela’s Hungarian Overture – Lustpiel; Juventino Rosas’ Over the Waves, and Sousa’s March – El Capitan. An M. L. Lake waltz utilized famed tunes of the period, including Sidewalks of New York, After the Ball Is Over, The Band Played On, and many others in which those in attendance joined in song. Theodore Metz’es   “There’ll Be A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight was met with zesty approval,” said the P-H. “Other works heard during the concert included the widely played concert march, Coronation March (from ‘The Prophet’), by (Giocamo) Myerbeer; the charming Merry Widow Waltz, (Franz) Lehár.... ...and Light Cavalry Overture, (by Franz) von Suppé.” The audience reportedly joined in singing Tell Me Pretty Maiden, from “Fioradora”, by Leslie Stuart. The “flowing melodic line” of the light opera overture Martha, by Frederich von Flotow caused nostalgic reflection among concertgoers. Jacques Offenbach’s Orpheous in the Underworld ended the evening. (HS: there is no mention in the local newspapers whether Dr. Cook's friend this year again started up his old '04 automobile.)

An undated old (non-PSO) program discovered in a personal scrapbook from this era contains a program of a production of Bizet's Carmen that was presented at the 1600-seat Maine Civic Theatre, then attached to the large 12-story tall Chapman Building constructed in 1924, at 477 Congress St. (HS: In 1964, two additional floors were built on #477, with a flashing display sign installed on the roof; the building was then renamed the Time and Temperature Building.)

That old scrapbook also contained two 1941 summer programs of productions by the Deertrees Opera Company, in Harrison (near Crystal Lake). Many vacationers enjoyed events at the 300-seat theatre that opened there in 1936. During the summers of 1940-1942, distinguished opera director and singing coach Enrica Clay Dillon (HS: who regularly summered in the area) directed operas there. The programs in the scrapbook are for stagings of Verdi's La Traviata, Leoncavallo's Pagliacci and Flotow's Martha. (HS:  Googling reveals fascinating stuff:  The Deertrees Theatre was built in 1936, originally to present entire Broadway casts from New York City every week as part of New England's "Straw Hat" circuit. Stars who played at Deertrees included Ethel Barrymore, Talullah Bankhead, Arthur Treacher, Joe E. Brown, Edward Everett Horton, Dame Mae Whitty, Helen Hayes, Humphrey Bogart and Rudy Vallée. A young David Merrick was a jack-of-all-trades apprentice and was credited on several playbills as being the associate producer.) (As for more-direct connections with the orchestra in Portland----  each summer the Sebago-Long Lake Music Festival, headed up by Executive Director Laurie Kennedy, the PSO's principal violist, is at Deertrees; 2014 was its 42nd season. Also, not that long ago, the PSO performed a run-out concert at the theatre.)

Dr. Cook became increasingly involved with the Portland community. Friendly and polished, he made firm connections with many of the leading families in the city, and was able to interest them in giving substantial support to the orchestra. This initiated the steadily increasing list of public donors, supporters and volunteers who played a tremendous part in helping the symphony during tenuous financial times, allowing the PSO to eventually achieve its present high standing in the life of the community and the world of music.

This year, Keith's Theatre (also by now known as the Civic Theatre) converted to become a movie theater.

Also, at some time this year, the Bell atop City Hall stopped on-the-hour ringing; it was broken). (source: newspaper article)

An early-October general letter to all the playing members from the PSO President Harold M. Lawrence subtly adds to Dr. Cook's earlier entreaties for good rehearsal attendance and urges everyone in the orchestra "to develop their combined talents to an even greater extent (so) that the organization may be considered worthy of...  ....generous civic support". Giving definition to his "civic support" reference, In that letter, Mr. Lawrence informed the PSO players that "The Portland City Council has (recently) very generously provided for the purchase of music and...  ...(provides) a rehearsal hall for use of the orchestra.” (HS: this is the first time I have spotted anything about any direct city subsidies for the PSO during this era.)

Light classics and Patriotic Airs were the feature at a late-November Pops Concert, on Friday the 21st, at the Hotel Eastland Ballroom. A newspaper article reported the audience as having "joined in singing as the orchestra played" tunes such as "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean and Yankee Doodle". Interestingly (HS: perhaps tellingly?), once again, the evening ended (HS: not "began" based on the program) with the playing of The Star Spangled Banner. A complete list of fist-half works on the program is: Sousa’s March – Stars and Stripes Forever; Waltzes from “Sari” by Emmerich Kálmán; the Gypsy Tango “Jealousy” by Jacob Gade; Chopin’s Polonaise Militaire; the Waltz – “Tales from the Vienna Woods” by Johann Strauss:  and La Cumparita by Gerardo Matos Rodriguez. Performed after the intermission: Covent Garden – “Tarantelle” and March -- “Knightsbridge” (HS:  A-ha!  THERE it is!) from Eric Coates Suite for Orchestra “London Every Day”; Frank W. Meacham’s classic march, American Patrol; The Donkey Serenade from “The Firefly” by Rudolp Friml; Sousa’s March – U.S. Field Artillery; Kammenni-Ostrow by Anton Rubenstein; and (HS: Before likely encores that are now-unknown as to specifics.) March of the Sardar from “Caucasian Sketches” by Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov.

Dr. Cook and the PSO’s Chamber Orchestra, comprised “of members of the Portland Symphony Orchestra” appeared at the L.D.M. Sweat Memorial Art Museum on Sunday, November 30, performing eight works. The museum sponsored the concert. A program of that performance saved by Harold Lawrence lists works performed: Bach’s Gavote and Musetto, from “Third English Suite”, and Sheep May Safely Graze from the “Birthday Cantata”; Muzio Clementi’s Sonatina in C major, Op. 36; the Lento movement from Bach’s Suite for String Orchestra in D major; Minuet by Handel, a Quartet for Oboe, Clarinet, Horn and Bassoon; Prelude, Allemande, Sarabande and Menuet from Couperin’s Louis XIV Suite, premier des “Concerts Rouaux”; Zwei deutche Tanz, in F major by Beethoven and Schubert’s C major, Opus 33; and a selected Suite of Classic Dances. The latter group was a Sarabande by Couperin, Bourrée by Johann Krebs, a Menuet by Gluck, a Gavotte by Gretry and Rigaudon by Rameau.

Dr. Cook decided that the Portland Symphony Orchestra would join many other U.S. orchestras, which this year were paying tribute to the centenary of the 1841 birth of Antonín Dvořák. At a December 5 performance in City Hall Auditorium, the PSO's Ninetieth Concert since its inception in 1924, three of the four works played by the PSO were late-Romantic-period compositions by the Czech composer. The program opened with Overture "Carneval", Op. 92 (HS: this was a reprise, since the work was performed before Portlanders two years earlier), followed by the great composer's most popular Symphony No. 5, in E minor " From the New World", originally commissioned by the New York Philharmonic (HS: which premiered the work in 1893). After several arias (not by Dvořák, but Mozart’s Porgi amar from “Marriage of Figaro” and Batti, batti from “Don Giovanni”, then Wagner’s Dich therure Halle from “Tannhäuser”) sung by guest soloist soprano Georgia Thomas, accompanied  by the PSO........ the orchestra concluded both the evening and the "Tribute" with Dvořák's Three Slavonic Dances. The last inside-page of the program listed an up-coming (nine days later, on December 14) concert for which the only admission was requirement that attendees bring "Bundles for Britain".

In the early afternoon of the first Sunday in December, several college glee clubs assembled on the stage of City Hall Auditorium for a performance of Handel's Messiah. This was not an official PSO event, and a program for that concert has not yet been located among the many boxes of the PSO Archives nor in Harold Lawrence bulging scrapbooks, but the assumption is that concert-goers were seated in time for a 2 PM performance. (A later, 1958, Sunday Telegram story refers to "a throng of 3,000 persons" that afternoon filling the auditorium, so a full house was on hand.) Some of the last to arrive must have heard some stark news on their car radios on the way to the concert; likely most attendees were then still unaware of what was happening some 5000 miles away. As the 1958 article reprised events in Portland on that infamous day in 1941, "The people who walked from Handel's Messiah that afternoon did so into a world that was suddenly, irrevocably changed" and that "Whether the new one was to be better or worse than the old (world) was a question which not even the most clairvoyant pretended to be able to answer.” The situation unfolding on that early-December Sunday afternoon in 1941, was of course, that at the moment when the conductor (HS: It’s not now known whether that was or wasn’t Dr. Charles Ames Cook.) raised his baton to signal to the glee clubs and the orchestra that "The Messiah" was about to begin.................. the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had begun raging about an hour earlier... and was then still underway. (HS:  It was later learned that one of the PSO’s former members, then serving at Pearl Harbor, was wounded during the Japanese attack.)

It is not known whether or not any PSO musicians were on stage for that afternoon’s performance of “Messiah”. However, it is a distinct possibility; years later a mid-December newspaper article requested that “volunteer instrumentalists were requested from the Symphony to augment a small orchestra to play at (a performance of) The Messiah.” It is not out of the question that a similar situation had occurred on December 7, 1941.

It is known from U.S. Army records that Clinton W. Graffam, Jr., voluntarily enlisted in the Coast Artillery Corps. on December 8, at Fort McKinley in Portland. However, since PSO records indicate that he remained active as a player during the war, even serving as president for several years, events might have been that his teaching services at Deering High School may have been deemed so important that he did not see active military duty .

A day later, on December 9, the Portland Community Concert Association presented the National Symphony Orchestra at PCHA. Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor and the Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23, by Tchaikovsky, were performed.


1942       The Executive Board "recommended to Dr. Cook that ... only three concerts, instead of the usual four (be held) for the coming season". (HS: Certainly, although the Executive Board some months earlier had decided that a reduction in the number of concerts was advisable, this official action was also in reflection of the war. Effects from gasoline rationing and lack of new automobiles being manufactured combined to often keep both musicians and concert patrons at home more than either might have wanted. For the musicians, fewer rehearsals and concerts would be a help; however, the effect of gas rationing likely reduced audience levels.) (source: minutes)

Concert-performance events played out slightly differently than the PSO Board’s recommendation to Dr. Cook, but not extensively so. By the end of 1942, four classical concerts would be performed, but during the year there were no other concerts---  no Youth concerts and no Pops concerts.
(HS: by coincidence, the PSO Archives contain programs for all four of those classical concerts. They are contained in the collection of scrapbooks accumulated by the Cook family-- which, after Dr. Cook’s death, it is believed were entrusted to the safekeeping of Katherine Graffam. Mrs. Graffam requested that Debby Hammond pick them up from her in the 1990s.)

This year, rehearsals are once again held at the Boy’s Club. In addition, "members voted to have section rehearsals in (various private) homes". (source: minutes)

Decades later, longtime PSO violoncellist Katherine Graffam would tell of another aspect from those days with the Symphony, telling an audience of PSO’ers “Due to the tremendous influx of people into this area to do war work, especially in the South Portland Shipyard which ran day and night, among the increased military service personnel we discovered many talented musicians who were welcomed into our unit to play. Audiences also were plentiful. With strict gas rationing, nightly blackouts and depressing daily war news on two continents, people welcomed a chance to find release in music or entertainment. Even top soloists, now limited in their travels, were available.” (HS:  Readers may find interesting a jpg-scan of a long-saved partially-used gas ration book of stamps – located among the photographs in The booklet was found among the memorabilia placed in PSO-related scrapbooks constructed by PSO’er Harold Lawrence.) The gas rationing regulations did have an adverse effect on attendance at PSO rehearsals, especially among members who had to travel longer distances. During that era, federal law read that “Persons who do not observe the gasoline rationing rules and regulations may be punished by as much as 10 YEARS IMPRISONMENT or $10,000, OR BOTH”. The rules and regulations applied to both gas station employees and customers.

The PSO consisted of 67 members at this time.

On February 11, Dr. Russell Ames Cook selected works by six composers for the orchestra to perform. The Wednesday evening performance opened with a number performed at the L.D.M. Sweat Museum several months earlier, Bach’s Sheep May Safely Graze. Then came one of two major compositions that evening, Symphony in G minor (K. 550), by Mozart. This was followed by Bedřich Smetana’s Symphonic Poem Vitava (“The Moldau”). After intermission came the Concerto in D major, No. 1, for Harpsichord and Orchestra, by Haydn. The concert featured Claude Jean Chiasson as soloist. (HS: Googling revealed that M. Chiasson was a "Pianist, organist, harpsichordist and scholar...", and that he ...", devoted many years to the interpretation of early keyboard music, especially of France”.) With the harpsichord already on the stage after the Mozart work, it was immediately again put to use for what the program listed as "Three for Harpsichord". The suite that Dr. Cook assembled were selections from the music of Jean-Philippe Rameau, Jean-François Dandrieu and Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti, respectively their Prelude and Gigue, Rondeau “La Favorite” and Sonata in E major “La Procession”. (HS: For some years M. Chaisson lived in Boston, so he and Dr. Cook, a Brookline resident, could easily have been acquaintances of each other.) (HS: Googleing also revealed that M. Chaisson made many harpsichord recordings; also that he was one of organist Daniel Pinkham’s teachers. He was also highly regarded for building harpsichords.) Also on the program this evening were works by Bach and Bedřich Smetana. Oh, yes...... Mussorgsky’s Fantasy for Orchestra "A Night On Bald Mountain" concluded this evening program. (HS:  Notes made on Janet Winslow’s program indicate that men from the U.S. Armed Services were in attendance at this concert.)

On March 25, the PSO performed another of its four concerts for the year. The Bach Chorale “Jesu, joy of man’s desiring” led off the program. Program credit for the full orchestra transcription was given to Rchard G. Appel. Next was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 "Haffner" (K.385). Then Clinton Graffam was featured as he and a chamber group played Concerto Grosso, No. 10 in G minor, for Solo Oboe and String Orchestra, by George Frederick Handel. After the intermission the PSO played three more-recent works, including the premiere performance of young composer-performer Peggy Stuart’s American Mood. Rounding out the evening’s music was Howard Hanson’s Symphony No. 2 "Romantic", and then John Powell’s Natchez on the Hill, a set of three country dances.

(HS: In May, 1940, Peggy Stuart had soloed with the PSO, in another premiere of a composition of hers. Program notes for the 1942 concert state that at this point the young [28 years old] composer/soloist was residing in Cambridge, MA. Putting 2 & 2 together, HS speculates that Dr. Cook, who himself resided in nearby Brookline, was acquainted with her and sought to champion her career. Googleing reveals that "She had studied at the New England Conservatory...[and was] of the first female American composers to have a recording devoted to her symphonic works"; also that "her compositional style (was) influenced by American folk idiom; and also by composers such as Charles Ives, Aaron Copland and George Gershwin". In 1952, "she married Joseph R. Coolidge, a freelance writer from Boston. Together they wrote a number of children’s stories with Peggy’s background music, and other songs in traditional folk style.” "She wrote her only film score for The Silken Affair, starring David Niven, in 1956." "In 1937 [well before becoming Peggy Stuart Coolidge], she wrote a ballet Cracked Ice, for the Boston Skating Club. This was the first ballet ever composed specifically for ice skating.” "The work was scored, at her request, by Ferde Grofé, who conducted it at Madison Square Garden; it was also played by the Boston Pops Orchestra under Arthur Fiedler.” She went on to compose more than three dozen works for either piano or orchestra. In Cushing, ME, Peggy Stuart Coolidge passed away in May, 1981, from cancer.) Based on the foregoing Google-check of her Curriculum Vitae, it appears that the PSO players, in 1942, premiered a work of someone who eventually went on to became a prominent composer.

The April 7 edition of the Press Herald carried an item noting that the Portland City Budget included a $1000 appropriation for the PSO.

The old personal scrapbook of a young Portland woman that has been referenced several times earlier, contains a May 4 program of the Spring Concert of the Student Rossini Club, held at Lekouses Studio. Listed 6th on the program (19 members performed that day) is Janet Winslow, who sang Puccini’s Un Bel Di from "Madama Butterfly". While this may seem an insignificant item in Portland’s (and the PSO’s) musical history.... she IS the young woman who filled the old scrapbook that ended up yielding interesting details about local performances that we’d likely otherwise not have learned about. (HS: By the way, from her saved membership card, we learn that the student membership dues in the club were $2.25 in 1941; that would be $35+ in 2012 dollars.)

The next board-minutes entry into a ledger book (begun in 1932), is posted exactly one year and six days after the May, 1941 entry when Mr. Mitchell resigned his position as PSO Treasurer and the board decided to recommend that the membership agree to hold off elections until the following fall. (HS: No record of any such membership decision, nor any vote for officers and directors appears in the ledger book containing [presumably] all PSO board minutes.) This May, 1942 set of minutes makes reference to "the recent election"; however, no listing of recently-elected officers or directors is shown therein, but a clipping from a local newspaper late in May reported that “Clinton W. Graffam, Jr., was elected president” of the PSO. Multi-term former president Percy Mitchell was elected "honorary president", as was then-U.S. Army Lieutenant Harold Lawrence (HS: Shortly thereafter he was promoted to Captain.), also three others. (HS: Again logical speculation leads to the conclusion that the unusual actions taken related to the war situation then involving the U.S. A program from May, 1942, shows Mr. Lawrence listed as president; he later was again re-elected as PSO President, from 1946-1951, eventually serving a total of an impressive ten Presidential terms.)

The May 13 concert performed by the PSO under the baton of Dr. Russell Ames Cook was listed on the program as the orchestra’s "Ninety-third Concert". Bach’s Suite for Orchestra, No. 3, in D major, and Roumanian Rhapsody, Opus 11, No. 1, by Georges Enescu were performed prior to the intermission. In the second half, with young (age 26) guest-artist Samuel Sorin at the keyboard, composer Franz Liszt’s Concerto for Pianoforte and Orchestra, No. 1, in E flat was followed by the Overture Fantasy "Romeo and Juliet", TH 42, ČW 39, by Tchaikovsky. (HS: Mr. Sorin would go on to a long career, and in 1958 would found the Hollywood Philharmonic Orchestra.)

Also in May, at a second meeting that month, board minutes state and confirm that Clinton W. Graffam, Jr. was, indeed, elected President of the PSO.

The PSO projected total expenses of $1000 for the then-upcoming 1942-43 season, with income estimated to fall short of making the enterprise profitable, at only $800.

Recognizing the changed (war-efforts) realities of the times, the Executive Board considered "putting out posters and contacting people who might be interested in the orchestra, such as.... employees at the ship-yards".

The Executive Board decided to sponsor a Junior Symphony.

This year, the first rehearsals of the 65-member Student Philharmonic Orchestra, sponsored by the Portland Symphony Orchestra, were held at the Chestnut Street Church. The group’s initial concert, on May 19 at Portland City Hall Auditorium, was sponsored as a benefit for the War Service Department by the Maine Federation of Music Clubs. In place of an admission fee, concert-goers donated sheet music and phonograph records, which were to be distributed to members of the Armed Forces throughout Maine.

At the concert, 15-year-old David Baker, from Cape Elizabeth, performed the Molto Allegro con fuoco (first movement) of the Concerto in G minor for Pianoforte and Orchestra, Op. 25, by Felix Mendelssohn. The program had begun with Introduction to Act III of Lohengrin, by Richard Wagner. Mr. Baker’s appearance was next, followed by an intermission. During the second half of the concert the Student Philharmonic Orchestra played three sections of Pyotr Ilyich Tschaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite:  Danse des Mirlitons; Danse russe Trepak; and Valse des Fleurs. The ensemble’s first-ever concert this Tuesday evening, concluded with a performance of Beethoven’s Overture-Egmont. A photograph taken that evening of Mr. Graffam and the students, all well-attired with the girls in formal gowns, is included in the Picture section of

To build and maintain morale, during World War II the Federal government sponsored a series of free home front concerts where patriotic songs were sung by local residents and War Bonds sold. A group of fifteen prominent conductors from around the country were chosen to give music lectures and lead and conduct these concerts. As one of those, Dr. Cook often traveled to other locations around the U.S., his tours designed around his schedules related to the PSO, Princeton and other advisory positions he held. The scrapbook that his family maintained during his Portland-years is among the PSO archives, and it includes many clippings showing his involvement at various locales. The government printed millions of song sheets containing music and/or words to patriotic songs that were provided to audiences. Dr. Cook’s scrapbook contains several such song sheets. The patriotic-song program was named "Music For Morale" and in the scrapbook are many local-paper clippings about the PSO director’s journeys that often referred to his many "Cook’s Tours".

The PSO’s promotional flyer for the 1942-1943 subscription series announced the respective dates for three concerts. It also contained the following--  "Other concerts, reflecting the patriotic feeling of our time will also be given. These will be announced through the press.” (HS: No record of any such additional concerts has yet been found [2012].) The flyer showed the price for a full season subscription to be $5.50 (accompanied by the notation: "$5.00 plus Tax").

In October, Dr. Russell Ames Cook was appointed to the faculty of Princeton University as conductor of the University Glee Club.

In December, the Portland Community Concert Association  (HS: The forerunner-name of the Portland Concert Association [PCA], subsequently Portland Ovations) presented a return engagement of the National Symphony Orchestra at City Hall Auditorium. Performed were Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture, Opus 80; Bedřich Smetana’s The Moldau, from "My Fatherland"; Mussorgsky’s Introduction, Coronation Scene and Love Music from "Boris Godounov"; and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2, in D major, Op. 43. (HS: At the bottom of each of the inside two pages of the concert program, in large bold script attendees are urged to, Buy War Bonds and Stamps.)

Also that year, the Portland Community Concert Association, presented separate concerts featuring the violinist Zino Francescatti, and on another date, the Metropolitan Opera Association’s "Prima Donna Soprano" Helen Traubel. PSO Archives retain programs from those appearances.

The guest soloist for the PSO’s December 11 concert was violinist Robert Brink, who the orchestra accompanied in Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnle, for Violin solo and Orchestra, Opus 21. A local newspaper reported that the young (18 years of age) Bostonian demonstrated "compelling maturity of style, warmth of tone and well grounded technique". This evening, the young virtuoso had brought to Portland a Stradivarius violin that was then on extended loan to him. (HS: A 2012 “Google” of Mr. Brink reveals that he went on to become professor of music at the New England Conservatory in Boston.) Earlier the program had begun with Glinka’s Overture "Ruslan and Ludmilla", followed by Virgil Thompson’s Suite for Orchestra "The Plow That Broke The Plains". This work comprised the music for one of two documentary films for the United States government. After the intermission the PSO performed Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, in F minor, Opus 36. Of the latter, the Press Herald printed "The final movement consisting of a series of dazzling scale passages played at a rapid tempo, lost all restraint, and projected itself upon the audience with electrifying effectiveness.” This evening the audience exceeded 1500 people.

A new Concertmaster was listed on the program for this concert. For the first time, Stanley Benson, who previously was not listed among the PSO violinists, called the orchestra to attention and to tune up before Dr. Cook came on stage. When the 23-year-old was in his native Boston area, he studied with the concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Richard Burgin. Marion Brousseau, who had been sharing the 1st stand with Muriel Mason Ellis, was now listed as Assistant Concertmaster. Mrs. Ellis was not listed among the musicians on the program. Mr. Benson was stationed in the Portland area, a member of the U.S. Navy. He would retain his PSO position until duties took him away from the area, a year later.

A newspaper clipping saved among Harold Lawrence’s scrapbook memorabilia refers to an “annual Christmas party held following a short rehearsal... the Chestnut Street Mehodist Church vestry.” The musicians presented Dr. Cook with “a newly published book on music interpretations, and Mrs. Cook was presented a gold candy dish. A presentation of the recording by the Boston Symphony Orchestra of the Tschaikowsky Symphony No. 4 was announced for Clinton W. Graffam, Jr., president of the orchestra who is a surgical patient at a local hospital.” (HS: It is presumed that he had not suffered a war-related injury; otherwise such an occurrence would most likely have been noted.) The clipping also resported that “Louis Rapaport, manager of the orchestra, was master of ceremonies and presented the gifts.”

Another event related to this point in time, found in Dr. Cook’s extensive collection of scrapbooks now housed in the PSO Archives, are the appearance of several notices of both Princeton University Orchestra and Glee Club performances conducted by Dr. Cook. Thus, in addition to his various commutes for Preparatory School music activities near both Boston and New York City, as well as his PSO activities, he was now also traveling to New Jersey. Dr. Cook was to remain a music professor at Princeton into the 1950s.

Sometime this year, the Portland Concert Association sponsored a performance by the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Hans Kindler. Over the years, PCA sponsored concerts by the NSO on five occasions, respectively during its 1940-1941 season, 1941-1942, 1942-1943, and 1944-1945,  On each visit, Maestro Kindler was the conductor.

Also this year the American Orchestra League was incorporated, to serve as a medum of exchange of information between community symphony orchestras (HS: The organization would some yearslater change its name to the League of American Orchestras.) The PSO would affiliate with the AOL four years later.


1943       The PSO-sponsored Student Philharmonic Orchestra’s second-ever concert was performed at PCHA on January 29, under the direction of Clinton W. Graffam, Jr. The concert began with Georges’ Bizet’s L'Arlésienne Suite No. 1. Next, Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 7 in C Major, Hob.I:7, (Le midi), was played (This was the first full symphony work ever performed by the student orchestra.). After intermission, local student David Baker was soloist during the Allegro Molto Moderato movement of Concerto in A Minor for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 16, by Edvard Grieg. Benjamin Godard’s Adagio Pathetique preceded Carl Maria von Weber’s Overture to Oberon, the latter being the final work of the evening.

The PSO's March 3 concert was held on the first Wednesday evening of the month. The orchestra led off with The Star Spangled Banner; then Beethoven's Overture "Egmont", op 84; followed by Haydn's Symphony in D major, No. 31. Regarding the latter, the program also listed the phrase "(With the Horn Call)" in reference to the work being nicknamed the "Hornsignal" symphony, because it gives a prominent role to an unusually large horn section, i.e. four players. Closing out the first half of the program was Saint-Saëns' Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra, in A minor, op. 33, with Jacobus Langendoen, guest soloist. Following the intermission, the PSO played Mr. Langendoen's Pastorale and Procession from "Improvizations for Orchestra", composed in 1932 and first performed in the U.S. in 1939 by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Serge Koussvitsky. The evening concluded with Rimsky-Korsakov's colorful Capriccio Espagnole, Opus 34.

The Portland Symphony Orchestra’s final performance of the shortened 1942-1943 season was on May 13, the second Wednesday of that month. The first copy of this program that I spotted was safely placed into one of his scrapbooks by Dr. Cook (HS: or.... maybe Mrs. Cook?), and listed this evening's concert as the Ninety-sixth by the PSO. The concert featured three orchestral works, also the PSO accompanying vocalist Edmund Boucher, bass (a member of The Boston Singers group), in arias composed by Ambroise Thomas, Charles Francois Gounod and Robert Shumann. Those compositions respectively were: Le Tambour Major from “Le Caid”, Que les songes heureux from “Philemon et Baucia”, and The Two Grenadiers. The Press Herald reported that "seldom has a guest artist been accorded such a genuine ovation as was that justifiably that of the distinguished basso". "He completely won his listeners.” Prior to the intermission, the PSO played Overture:  "The Roman Carnival", Opus 9, by Berlioz; and Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, in C Minor, Opus 67. The concert concluded with Richard Wagner's Overture "Rienzi".

Now, some 70 years later, a paragraph printed on the last page of the concert program "jumps" off the page to remind us of the difficult situations that faced the world in 1943. The paragraph reads, "In accordance with the government order to conserve paper, the Portland Symphony Orchestra regrets that it will not be able to include the names of the sustaining members in this program. Deep appreciation is extended to these members and patrons for their support, which, in a large part makes possible the continued life of the orchestra." (HS: I italicized this paragraph, for effect.)

In comparison to earlier-mentioned PSO projected total expenses of $1000 for the 1942-43 season, the combined receipts of the PSO and Student Philharmonic totaled $2325, with final income at about breakeven. This was better than the initial estimated shortfall of $200. The net income variance was entirely due to the profitable student group.

In October of this year, PSO board minutes show that Clinton W. Graffam, Jr. continued to serve as PSO president.

A mailing to the Student Philharmonic in October informed “members and prospective members” of that ensemble that 3:00 to 5:30 rehearsals would start on October 24 at the Chestnut Street Church. The communiqué referenced tentative plans for the group, with “two regular concerts and probably one or more children’s and Pops concerts (to be) played this year.” (HS:  If the Student Philharmonic did perform at Youth Concerts, that would explain how Portland children continued to hear live music in the absence of concerts previously performed by the “senior” Symphony.)

A newspaper advertisement for the upcoming 1943-1944 PSO season listed the names of all the PSO’s musicians, with asterisks (*) noted next to those members in the Armed Forces. Of the total of 85 members listed, 29 of those had an asterisk next to their names. The advertisement promoted subscriptions for the upcoming season’s three-concert series, entitling subscribers to four tickets to each concert...... for a total price of $5.50 including tax.

Board minutes note that "Mr. Merle Griffeth has kindly offered to pay $450 for the artist" at the December 7 concert at City Hall. That $450 was a LOT of money to pay a nineteen year-old artist, but no explanation as to who the soloist would be was (HS: It would turn out to be quite a justifiable fee.) referenced in the minutes. (Appreciation for Mr. Griffith's generosity was noted inside the program's front cover.)

By this time, twelve members of the student philharmonic symphony had also been accepted into the “senior symphony”, as Harold Lawrence wrote in notes contained in one of his scrapbooks.

Piano virtuoso Leonard Pennario (then a uniformed Pfc.) was the guest soloist with PSO, on the second anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He performed Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, opus 21 for Piano and Orchestra, by Chopin. (HS: Several weeks earlier, he had made a heralded Carnegie Hall debut, in uniform, with the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Artur Rodziński, playing Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1.) The concert had begun with The Star-Spangled Banner; then Beethoven’s Overture “Leonore,” No. 3, Opus 72-A. A Brahms work was next before the intermission, the composer’s Symphony No. 2 in D major, Opus 73. During a surprise intermission ceremony of the evening's Army and Navy Night Concert in Portland, 14 girls from the Portland area, all standing at attention in front of the stage, were sworn into the Woman's Army Corps (HS: A picture of the ceremony was spotted in a Press Herald clipping. Also, the picture was chosen this year for the PSO’s postcard-size Christmas card.). Pfc. Pennario’s performance began the second half of the concert. The cost of individual admission to concerts that year was 55-cents for adults and 28-cents for students; at this December 7 concert, members of the armed services and escorts were admitted free of charge. Somewhat ironically, the PSO concluded the evening's program playing music composed by Richard Wagner, his Prelude to “Die Meistersinger von Nurnburg”.

An interesting note regarding the 12/7/43 swearing-in ceremony mentioned above:  The PSO Woman's Committee likely arranged for special Christmas cards to be printed this year. One of those small (3.5x 5.5-inch) black-and-white cards was found somewhat later than re-discovery of the newspaper clipping, in the PSO Archives among artifacts saved in one of Dr. Cook's scrapbooks. On the cards was a standard Holiday-Season symbol, a sketch of three burning candles in front of a sprig of holly. Next to the sketch, taking up half of the card, was a picture of the PSO standing on the stage of City Hall Auditorium at the intermission of the December 7 concert. Also shown in the photo are the young women who that evening were sworn into the Women's Army Corp. The picture makes a strong, positive, impression..... a powerful reminder of the dangers, uncertainties and difficulties then facing families and what had been everyone’s  normal way of life before the war necessitated huge changes and sacrifices.

Stanley Benson continued to be listed as Concertmaster in the program for this concert, although Rebecca Garland  –who had joined the PSO a season earlier–  was now listed first among the other violinists, with Marion Brousseau’s name no longer appearing on the program.


1944       Precisely three months after last appearing before a Portland audience, on March 7, Dr. Cook and the PSO played a concert that began with Rossini’s Overture "La Gazza Ladra". Next came Handel’s Grand Concerto for Orchestra in B flat, Op. 4, No. 2, HWV 319–330, one of twelve of the prolific composer’s Twelve Grand Concertos. The first half of the program concluded with the Symphony No. 103 In E Flat Major "Mit Dem Paukenwirbel" (Drumroll), H. 1/103, by Joseph Haydn. (The program notes translate the subtitle more precisely, "with the roll on the kettledrum".) After the intermission, guest soloist Lucille Manners sang two arias with the orchestra: Il est doux, il est bon from “Herodiade” by Jules Massenet, and Chacun le sait, chacun le dit, from “La Fille du Regiment” by Gaetano Donizetti. The final orchestral composition performed that March evening by the PSO was the Tchaikovsky composition March Slav in B-flat minor, Opus 31.

A possibly-war-effort-related “musical chairs” game insofar as PSO concertmastering was concerned, continued at this performance. Recent Concertmaster Stanley Benson’s name does not appear on the program (HS:  Two years later, in 1946, he would join the Boston Symphony Orchestra for a 30-year career.). Having been absent from the PSO performing ranks for almost two years, Muriel Mason Ellis returned as Concert Mistress. Mary Sawyer was listed first among 1st violinists, while Rebecca Garland’s name was not listed at all (HS: Various PSO Archive references about her suggest that she was then an outstanding conservatory student in Boston, therefore likely often away from Portland.); Marion Brosseau also returned and was listed second among the 1st violinists.

Included among Dr. Cook’s memorabilia in his scrapbooks is a script from a WCSH radio interview done conducted and broadcast the previous evening. On those pages is background information about Miss Manners (HS: Her name sounds like one of an author who should have written etiquette books for young children, doesn’t it?) and a plea by her for listeners to "give as much as you can" to "support the Red Cross War Fund Drive", a cause she ardently supported. (HS: Googling her name since I was unfamiliar with who she was, revealed that she was a soprano star of radio. "She signed with the Cities Service Program in 1936 when an executive from that organization heard her voice. As her popularity spread throughout the airwaves, the public demanded "in person" shows. She was known for the power and control of her voice, her tones carrying vibrantly and richly to all sections of an auditorium.") The measure of her popularity was evidenced by the fact that an estimated record crowd was at City Hall Auditorium that night, many undoubtedly drawn to see who one advance local newspaper article headlined as the "Typical American Girl". (HS: a publicity snapshot of her that I saw in a newspaper clipping still residing in the PSO Archives was so perfectly cute that I might have been willing to pay double for a ticket had I been living in Portland then. Now..... even though full-disclosure requires me to advise that general admission tickets that evening were only 55-cents...... don’t think for a moment that she looked anything but great.)

The $500 fee to Miss Manners when she made her March 7 appearance in Portland, was underwritten by ten PSO patron guarantors who each put up $50. In return, by individual letters signed by then-President Graffam, the PSO agreed to “repay your guarantees in proportion to the box office receipts.” A second letter, mailed to each three days after the concert, advised that ticket sales at the performance were enough “to enable us to return herewith the guarantee which you so generously helped provide.” (sources: copies of two letters saved by Harold Lawrence; also Annual Financial Statements)

In May the PSO presented its 99th concert since inception, concluding its Twenty-First season. The composer Percy Grainger, then 62 years old, was pianist guest-soloist that evening, performing not only Grieg’s Concerto in A minor for piano and orchestra, Opus 16, but also three of his own compositions with the orchestra. Those were Handel in the Strand, Colonial Song and Spoon River. The Press Herald headlined that at this Friday-evening event on May 19, he performed an "Exuberant Concert". The other orchestral works that evening were the Overture "The Bartered Bride" by Bedřich Smetana, Newsreel by William Schuman (HS: Consisting of Horse Race, Fashion Show, Tribal Dance and Parade; one of the composer’s five Newsreel movements, Monkeys at the Zoo, was not performed. Incidentally, Newsreel was the composer’s first work for concert band, subsequently arranged for orchestras.) and Capriccio Italien, Opus 45 by Tchaikovsky.

Longtime PSO violoncellist, Katherine Graffam, many times told of memorable encounters she had with Mr. Grainger. The Anecdote Section of this THINGS-PSO retells some of her memories about his noted eccentricity.

In the concert program for the May concert, the back page listing of PSO musicians also contained a list of PSO members “Serving with Armed Forces of United States”. A total of sixty-four (64) people were listed as PSO musicians performing in this concert. By contrast, a group almost one-half the size of those playing that evening, totaling thirty-one (31) were listed as away serving with branches of the Services. The program did not list any PSO members so-far killed in military action.

So that concertgoers could look ahead to the next season, a notice in the program for the May concert advised that Roland Gundry would be the guest soloist on December 5, noting that “the twenty-two year old violinist, who was the outstanding Town Hall artist under thirty, for 1493 (sic-- obviously a typo re: 1943), will be the guest” at the opening concert of the 1944-1945 season. The notice also included, “In 1942 Gundry appeared before the Portland Rossini Club. He will again be sponsored by Merle R. Griffeth.” As events would later turn out, Mr. Gundry would not perform the next December. (HS: Googling reveals that he was drafted at age 21, and military service obligations might precluded him from performing as scheduled in Portland.)

Also in May, Clinton W. Graffam, Jr. was re-elected President of the PSO.

Total PSO and Student Philharmonic Orchestra receipts for the 1943-44 season were almost $4500, with a $442 annual profit.

Current (2012) PSO Maestro Robert Moody (a native from the Carolinas) will likely find it interesting to read about one of Dr. Cook’s activities during the summer of 1944. He attended the Second Annual Piedmont Festival of Music and Art during the July 19 through July 23 period of time, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. A page clipped from a Music Clubs Magazine in one of Dr. Cook’s scrapbooks contains a picture of him with some other leaders of the Piedmont Festival. In the caption for the picture, Dr. Cook is listed as Folk Festival director.

Spotted in one of Dr. Cook’s scrapbooks was a general letter sent to the PSO players in mid-September. It reveals that rehearsals would begin on September 18, and be held weekly leading up to the opening performance of the Portland Symphony Orchestra’s Twenty-second season and its One Hundredth Concert, on November 28. (HS: With the outcome of World War II still unsettled, the PSO’s 1944-1945 "Season" would again include only three concerts.)

On Monday and Tuesday, November 6 and 7, the San Carlo Opera Company respectively presented Bizet’s four-act opera Carmen and Verdi’s three-act opera La Traviata. The productions were performed at City Hall Auditorium. Listed on the handbill/program was the name of the opera company’s "Portland Representative", Eleanor L. Graffam. (HS: Hmmmm, that last name seems familiar.) There was no mention that any PSO musicians played in support of the singing artists from New York City. (HS: Googling reveals that when the group came to Portland, Italian-born impresario Fortune Gallo had then been owner and general manager of the traveling company since 1913. In 1927 he had built the Gallo Opera House on West 54th Street in NYC which would later become well known as Studio 54, the renowned nightclub that opened in 1977 [closing four tumultuous years later].)

Also on the San Carlo opera handbill was a notice of three upcoming PSO classical concerts, in November, February and May.

On Tuesday, November 28, the Portland Symphony Orchestra presented a milestone concert, its 100th since inception, inaugurating its Twenty-Second season. Great works performed that evening (in order) were Overture "The Hebrides" (Fingal’s Cave) by Mendelssohn; Mozart’s Symphony in E flat major (K 543); the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, Op. 35 by Tchaikovsky; Mussorgsky’s Fantasy for Orchestra "A Night on Bald Mountain"; and Bacchanale from “Samson and Delila” by Saint-Saëns.

Instead of the aforementioned Roland Gundry, the guest violin soloist for the Tchaikovsky concerto was Ruth Posselt, from Boston. At age nine, she had made her Carnegie Hall debut in 1923. She won the Schubert Memorial Prize in 1929, toured Europe in the early 1930s and made her first tour of the United States in 1935. She had performed with major national orchestras, and also the Columbia Symphony Orchestra. She was frequently a soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and was invited to perform at The White House by President and Mrs. Roosevelt in 1937. At her appearance in Portland, the Press Herald headlined that she "Wins Enthusiastic Acclaim At Symphony Concert."

(HS: I did a double-take when I first spotted the name of the guest violinist for this concert. With the benefit of perfect after-the-fact hindsight some 68 years later [and some Googling done earlier], I immediately recognized that Miss Posselt would later be spending more time in Portland. When she performed during the PSO’s 100th Concert, she was married to Boston Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster and Associate Conductor Richard Burgin. In 1951, Mr. Burgin would be hired to replace a "then-fired" Dr. Russell Ames Cook as Music Director and Conductor of the PSO. But---, I’m getting ahead of myself. Now, back to this THINGS-PSO Timeline......)

Reflecting War Taxes on tickets, cost of admission to PSO concerts increased to $1.00 for adults and 50-cents for students this year, reflecting respective per-ticket taxes of 17-cents and 8-cents.


1945       On February 27, the guest soloist at the second subscription concert of the 1944-1945 PSO season, mezzo-soprano Nan Merriman, was sponsored by a contribution from Mr. and Mrs. Guy P. Gannett. Miss Merriman was a well-known operatic and Hollywood sound-track vocalist, who sang many roles both live and on radio under the baton of Arturo Toscanini between 1944 and 1952, while he was conductor of the NBC Symphony Orchestra. At this PSO concert, she sang two arias with the orchestra, O mio Fernando from "La Favorita" by Gaetano Donizetti, and Habanera from "Carmen" by Goerges Bizet.

The concertgoers that evening also heard a strong selection of classical works from the orchestra, with Beethoven's Overture "Egmont" starting off the program. Following during the first half of the concert were two excerpts from "Damnation of Faust" by Hector Berlioz, Ballet of Sylphs and Minuet of Will-o’-the-Wisps. The orchestra also performed the In War Times movement of selections from "Indian" Suite, No. 2, in E minor by Edward MacDowell and Scherzo from William Grant Still's Afro-American Symphony. The concert concluded with certain excitement, as the PSO played Tchaikowsky’s “1812” Overture Solennelle. (HS: In a handwritten note signed by Dr. Cook [somehow it fell into Harold Lawrence’s scrapbook] after the concert, the conductor showed a sense of humor when commenting on the orchestra’s recent playing of “1812”. He referred to the work as “-- alias – ‘Gone with The Wind’ “.)

Undoubtedly wanting to once again enjoy some lighter music (HS: V/E Day was now less than 7 weeks away and daily news reports from the European warfront were largely about advances of Allied Forces), the Kiwanis Club of Portland sponsored a Portland Pops night at the Eastland Ballroom in late March, to benefit its Underprivileged Child Fund. This “Pops” was the first such evening after a lull of more than two years. With Dr. Cook starting off the program of 12 numbers with The Star Spangled Banner, immediately followed by John Philip Sousa's March- Stars and Stripes Forever, the crowd settled in for a fun evening. The lilting Overture – “Die Fledermaus” by Johann  Strauss II, was next; then Emmerich Kalman’s Waltzes from “Sari”. John Philip Sousa’s March – “El Capitan” preceded Jacob Gade’s Gypsy Tango: “Jealousy”, the latter featuring the popular, delicate introduction performed by Concert Mistress Muriel Mason Ellis (HS: A Press Herald review mentioned that the audience requested that Mrs. Ellis repeat her solo as an encore.). Another feature of the evening had to then be the Symphony playing  Selections from "Oklahoma", which had become an instant Broadway hit two years earlier and ran a then-unprecedented 2,212 performances, finally closing on May 29. 1948. The P-H reported that after intermission, “One of the highlights of the evening was the first presentation here of an original composition by Maine’s own G. Dana Holt, a resident of Dixfield. The work, Maine Festival Overture, is a brilliant and melodious writing which made a distinctly favorable impression. Mr. Holt was in the audience and acknowledged the warm applause.”

Franz Lehár’s Waltzes from “The Merry Widow” was next. Then, it is likely that not very many chairs remained occupied during a rousing Trio-Salute to branches of the U.S. Armed Services, when the PSO broke into the refrains of The Army Air Corps, Anchors Aweigh and The Marines' Hymn. With the evening nearing an end, the audience was then charmed with more Strauss, “Junior’s” Emperor Waltz, Op. 437. The festivities ended with Edward Elgar's ceremonial Pomp and Circumstances. (HS: Oh........ by now martini’s at the Eastland cost 45-cents.)

On what was a still-very-difficult fiscal front of the Portland Symphony Orchestra, a report at a March PSO Directors Meeting was the reading of a letter "regarding cancellation of our debt for rental of the Boy's Club" for rehearsals, also some commentary that the letter "expressed friendliness toward the orchestra". The size of the forgiven accumulated debt was not noted.

Looking through the almost-complete set of concert programs saved by (or for) Dr. Russell Ames Cook during his tenure as PSO conductor, a May 22, 1945, concert seems to have been a major event for Portland concert-goers. The Prima Ballerina of the Metropolitan Opera and the Leading Male Dancer at The Met, Marina Svetlova and Alexis Dolinoff, performed during six numbers played by the PSO. Altogether that evening, a total of fourteen (14!) works were played by the orchestra, most ballet music to accompany the guest-artist dancers or works that maintained a ballet atmosphere fitting for the evening. Three orchestral works comprised the pre-intermission portion of the concert, beginning with Domenico Cimaroso’s Overture – “The Secret Marriage”. Next was music from one of André Ernest Modeste Grétry’s operas, arranged by Felix Mottl, Ballet Suite from “Céphale et Procris”, the Tambourin, Menuetto (Les Nymphs de Diane), and Gigue sections. Bedřich Smetana’s Symphonic Poem “Vltava” (“The Moldau”) was followed by the intermission.

Dance numbers performed after the break started with Saint-Saëns' Rondo Capriccioso, with both Met stars on stage. Later the two returned and presented Consolation by Franz Liszt. Dance of the Elf was performed by Miss Svetlova, with both guests later returning to dance Vienese Valse by Johann Strauss. They also performed Jules Massenet’s Meditation from “Thais”. Intermixed with the above dance numbers, to allow the guest artists time to change costumes and/or to catch their breaths, the Symphony performed orchestral works, namely Christoph Willibald von Gluck’s Dance of The Happy Spirits of “Orpheus”; Bedřich Smetana’s Polka from the opera “The Bartered Bride”; the Bohemian Polka from “Schwanda, Der Dudlesackpfeiffer”, by Jaromir Weinberger; and Georges Bizet’s Adagietto from “L’Arlésienne Suite”.

The Symphony’s final orchestral work was Fandango Asturiano from “Cappricio Espagnole, Op. 34”, by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and then rejoined by Miss Svetlova and Mr. Dolinoff, the ensemble concluded with Gipsey Dance from “Mignon”, by Ambroise Thomas. Portland newspaper accounts, both before and after the performance, were MANY..... and full of acclaimations. (HS: The duo must have been very well received, for they again came to Portland in June of 1946, for a return engagement. Then, 15 selections would be performed, again six by the dancers.)

With the war in Europe concluded (three more months would go by before Japan surrendered), the May concert program once again listed the names of the PSO's roughly 275 subscribers. Also listed in the program were five dates beginning at the end of the year in December, all of which comprised the planned 1944-1945 PSO concert season. With the war now close to resolution, the program-list of PSO Armed Services members peaked at 35 individuals, each named in the program of this May 22 concert.

Clinton W. Graffam, Jr. was re-elected to remain President of the PSO for the 1945-1946 season.

A copy of the 1945-1946 budget for the PSO reveals that for the upcoming season, Russell Ames Cook would be paid $1,150. Other major items in a $3950 expense forecast were $1,112 for guest artists; $400 for stationery and printing; $250 for “Player Hire”; and $235 for admission taxes.

During this era, Ralph T. Gould was the PSO Business Manager, a post that Clinton Graffam had handled before being elected president to succeed Harold L. Lawrence, who frequently was away from Portland due to Army-related responsibilities. Among his duties (HS: As referenced in correspondence from Dr. Cook and later saved by Mr. Lawrence), the tuba-playing Mr. Gould, of Cape Elizabeth, contracted for guest-artists, acquired music for the Symphony, paid ASCAP fees and arranged for the orchestra’s rehearsal and concert venues.

In late June, Dr. Cook again participated in the Piedmont Festival of Music and Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

In Providence, Dr. Francis Madiera this year founded the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra. In years to come when so-called “Boston players” would commute to Portland to play with the PSO, similar gigs were available to this entourage in Providence. The RIPO initially covered five towns in three consecutive tours. Dr. Madiera was Director of Music at Brown University, and positively employed his skills at organizing. Many years later, Dr. Madiera and then-to-be PSO conductor Paul Vermel would once “switch” orchestras for a week, each taking over the other’s rehearsal podium to prepare for a guest-conducting appearance in “the other-guy’s town”.

Commenting to a meeting of the Women's Committee in October, minutes reflect that Dr. Cook observed that "men and women are returning from the Armed Services so that he hoped to have a full orchestra by the time of the first concert in December". Later, in early December, the Evening Express carried a photograph of 15 musicians new to the PSO, three of which were men, along with twelve women.

During this year, in Pennsylvania outside Philadelphia, The Main Line Symphony Orchestra began as a string orchestra under the direction of Philadelphia Orchestra violinist Arthur Bennett Lipkin (he stayed with the Philadelphia Orchestra after the Main Line ensemble was formed). After only a short amount of time sufficient funds were raised "from a few contributors" such that a full orchestra of 79 members could be established.

A November-dated item found in one of Harold Lawrence’s scrapbooks was an advisement that the cost of Subscriptions for the 1945-1946 season would be $6.00.

The Student Philharmonic Orchestra was booked for its first out-of-town concert, at Gould Academy in Bethel, in November.

The 1945-1946 PSO series began with a concert at City Hall Auditorium on Tuesday, December 11, 1945. The season began with Beethoven’s Overture – “Prometheus”. During the remainder of the first half of the concert, the Symphony played Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikowsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Opus 64. After the intermission, Baritone vocalist Richard Bonelli of the Metropolitan Opera Association took center stage and sang two arias with the orchestra. First was Eri tu macchiavi from “Un Ballo in Maschera” by Giussepe Verdi, then Gioacchino Rossini’s Largo al factotum from “The Barber of Seveille”. The PSO next performed The Swan of Tuonela Legend from the “Kalevala”, Opus 22, No.3 , one of four legends from Jean Sibelius’ Lemminkäinen Suite. Clinton Graffam played the English Horn solo. The program concluded with Georges Enescu’s Roumanian Rhapsody, Opus 11, No. 1 in A major.

While Muriel Mason Ellis continued as Concertmistress, Rebecca Garland returned to the PSO and settled into the assistant’s chair at the first stand. Mary Sawyer was now listed second among the 1st violinists. Also, a new name first appeared among the PSO violinists, 25-year-old Norman Balabas. Mr. Balabas, from New Jersey, was stationed in the Portland area with the U.S. navy. After his naval service was completed, he would settle in the Portland area and remain with the PSO for many years, eventually moving to Bangor where he continued orchestra and chamber concert activities.


1946       Early in January, PSO Busness Manager Ralph T. Gould formally requested in writing to the chairman of the Portland Planning Commission that “the erection of a performance (Band) shell at some suitable place in the Portland Park System” be considered and approved. The potential users of such a shell, he added, could be “Portland School Musical organizations, (the) Portland Symphony Orchestra, (the) Junior Philharmonic Orchestra, Portland Men’s and Women’s Singing Clubs, Children’s Theater and various other Portland dramatic and musical organizations.” The suggestion was made that “the natural slope of the lawn(s)”... ...”in either Deering Oaks or the Eastern Promenade area” would be ideal locations, and that “the only cost for a spot where many thousands may be entertained in the summer season” would be “the shell itself”. Since the letter makes reference to previous discussions between Mr. Gould and Mr. Allen, the Planning Commission’s chairman, it is likely that Mr. Gould and the PSO had reason to be hopeful that a band shell would be erected (HS:  Such hope was well placed, for such a structure was in use for the summer of 1947.).

The PSO performed its first two concerts of the new calendar year in February, on the 12th in Brunswick at Bowdoin College’s Memorial Hall, then repeating the entire program a week later at Portland City Hall Auditorium, on the 19th. At these performances, six works were played, beginning with Mozart's Overture – “The Marriage of Figaro”. Next was an arrangement by Eugene Ormandy of Bach’s Chorale from “Wacher auf!  Ruft uns dei Stimme”. The first half of each evening ended with Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 88, in G major, (Hoboken 1/88), "one of a set of six symphonies written by Haydn",  the program notes advise, "for a society in Paris known as the 'Concert de la Loge Olympique', a highly fashionable and decidedly exclusive institution.” After the intermission, Dr. Cook conducted the orchestra in Dmitri Shostakovich’s 1933 Concerto in C minor for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra, Op. 35. Bowdoin Music Professor Frederic Tillotson was the piano soloist at both performances. (HS:  Presumably the PSO’s principal trumpet, Ralph Jefferson, also solo-ed; although no credit is shown in the program.) This was followed by two excerpts from the Opera "The Fair at Sorochintzy", by Modest  Mussorgsky, the Introduction and the Gopak. Each evening's music concluded with the Overture: "Comes Autumn Time" by the American composer Leo Sowerby. (HS: Googling reveals that Mr. Sowerby "was often called the 'Dean of American church music' in the early to mid 20th century.” Later in 1946, he would win the Pulitzer Prize for music for another composition.)

On March 19, the Kiwanis Club of Portland again sponsored a Portland Pops Concert at the Eastland Hotel Ball Room. At this concert, an honored guest was 76-year-old Ralph E. Gould, a prominent Kiwanian from Madison, Maine, and a one-time general store proprietor. (HS: A fun anecdote about him and his reactions to this concert is contained within the Anecdote Section of this THINGS-PSO.) So..... what did Mr. Gould and the other 200 attendees hear this evening?  Once again a “Portland Pops” concert was led off with The Star Spangled Banner, immediately followed by John Philip Sousa’s charging March – Stars and Stripes Forever. Ferde Grofe’s On The Trail from “Grand Canyon Suite” was next, preceding Émile Waldteufel Waltz: “The Skaters”, Op. 183. Dr. Cook then led the musicians in Ernesto Lecuona’s La Comparsa from “Danzas Afro-Cubanas” Suite, and also Morton Gould’s Red Cavalry March. Then relying on past Pops’ winners, the Symphony played Kamennoi Ostrow by Anton Rubenstein, concluding the first half with Frank W. Meacham’s classic march, American Patrol. Irish Fantasia, arranged by the PSO’s own Leyland Whipple (HS: A Flutist) began the second half of the concert, followed by the tried-and-true Johann Strauss, Jr., favorite, his Waltz: “Tales from the Vienna Woods.”. Heading into the homestretch of the concert, next was Sousa’s March: “U.S. Field Artillery”; then the “Old Timers’ ” Waltz, arranged by Mayhew L. Lake. The concert program listed as the final number Selections from “Show Boat”, by Jerome Kern. The P-H reported that Dr. Cook suggested the audience join in singing two hit tunes from the popular 1927 musical, “Make Believe”. Those were Ol’ Man River; and Why Do I Love You. (HS: However, it’s virually a sure thing that the Kiwanians and their guests insisted upon, and got..... several encores.) After the concert, the P-H reported that “Dr. Cook displayed his versatility and wide knowledge of musical literature as he led the orchestra in a program of semi-classical and popular music.”

Also in March, 400+ miles away, the first-ever concert of "The Main Line Community Orchestra" was performed near Philadelphia, under the baton of Mr. Arthur Bennett Lipkin. (Source: Main Line Symphony Orchestra, (

Googling turned up a Lewiston Daily Sun article of Sunday, April 1, 1946, reporting that Dr. Cook “will lead group singing this morning at the Bates College chapel assembly.”

The PSO made its first-ever appearance in Biddeford, on April 7. A program saved among Dr. Cook's memorabilia (HS: Mr. Lawrence had also retained a copy.) shows that the concert was held at St. John's Hall ("Corner Main and Elm Streets"), under the auspices of the Schubert Men's Singing Club. Nine works were played by the orchestra, led off with the Overture to "The Marriage of Figaro", by Mozart. Next was Bach’s Chorale from “Wachet auf! Ruft uns die Stimme”, arranged by Eugene Ormandy. Georges Enescu's "Roumanian Rhapsody" Opus 11, No. 1 in A Major concluded the first half of the concert. The post-intermission selections were lighter works, all but one performed the previous month for the Portland Kiwanis Club-sponsored Pops Concert. Those selections were: Gould’s Red Cavalry March; Rubenstein’s Kamenni-Ostrow; the Strauss Waltz “Tales from The Vienna Woods”; Gade’s Gypsey Tango, “Jealousy”; and the Kern Selections from “Show Boat”.

On June 4, the Metropolitan Opera Association’s Prima Ballerina, Marina Svetlova, and Alexis Dolinoff, "The Met's" Leading Male Dancer, once again appeared with the Portland Symphony Orchestra. To open the concert, the PSO played four light classical works before the intermission. These were Mozart’s Overture “Lucio Silla”, K. 135; Tchaikowsky’s Polonaise from “Eugene Onégin”; Waltzes from “Der Rosenkavalier”, Strauss; and leading to the intermission, Chabrier’s Spanish Rhapsody – “España”. In the second half the PSO interspaced orchestral works with other compositions to accompany the dancers. The former were comprised of Borodin’s Polovetzian Dances; Farandole, from “L’Arlésienne Suite” by Bizet and later the Minuet movement; also Dance of the Sylphes, from “The Damnation of Faust” by Berlioz; and the Wolf-Ferrari Dance of the Camorrists, from “Jewels of The Madonna”. The six compositions the PSO played to accompany the dancers were: the Adagio and Coda movements of Dance of the Hours, from “La Gioconda” by Amilcare Ponicelli; Haydn’s Menuet; also Valse from “Faust” by Charles Gounod; from “Romeo and Juliet”, Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow by Tchaikowsky; Dancing School Recital by Felix Mendelssohn (HS: The program described this as “Impersonation of two rather nervous star pupils of a dancing school); and concluding with Georges Enescu’s Roumanian Rhapsody. (HS: Looking at the program, once again the dancers appeared in basically every other number this half [six in total], with the PSO "going-it-alone" for five dance-type compositions while the dancers either rested or changed costumes.)

A newspaper clipping after the performance said that, “Dancing with great charm and vitality, Marina Svetlova and Alexis Dolinoff, famous Russian ballet dancers, captivated the capacity audience which attended the final concert of the Portland Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Dr. Russell Ames Cook Tuesday evening in City Hall Auditorium.” The report correctly referred to the orchestra-only pieces played during the second half of the concert as “entre-act music separating the dance numbers”.

The back cover of this concert program included, as per usual, the respective musicians’ names and they instruments they played. This issue, for the first time in many years, also included the names of the PSO’s honorary members, who were: Frank Allen: Herbert W. Barnard, Jr.; Charles B. Cronham; Mrs. Guy P. Gannett; Harold M. Lawrence; Hon. Pres.; William S. Linnell; Percy Mitchell; H. Duncan Oliphant; Donald Payson; and Kenneth C. M. Sills. A complete list of the Symphony’s Sustaining Members (4), Associate Members (7), and Sponsors (176) was also shown.

An interesting tidbit about “Life In Portland” during this era is a small mention on the back of a newspaper clipping about the Svetlova-Dolinoff performance. It read, “No parking meters in Portland this Summer. So objectors will have a cooling off period while the City Council is fact-finding.” (HS: Not that I’m surprised to learn about civic displeasure with what is now just a routine-way-of-life issue when parking in the City.... but I actually was not aware that tempers about this money-raising mechanical invention had been so “hot”.)

Income during the 1945-46 concert season totaled $5643.14, with a profit of $1242.34. Subscriptions of almost $2200 were almost matched by box-office receipts of close to $2000. The heralded Russian dancers generated more than 60% of the box-office sales, a testament to their popularity.

This season, Dr. Cook was paid $490 for the three concerts (and associated rehearsals), plus reimbursed for $499 of expenses. Measured in equivalent 2012-dollars, he was paid more than $2000 for each concert, plus a roughly-equal amount for expenses.

Directors were advised that "a bill of $105 from ASCAP for performances during last year" had been received. It was decided "that the matter be taken up with Mr. Linnell, lawyer, (HS: maybe the former Music Commissioner?) to find out our status." (A followup mention of this item appears in this THINGS-PSO for 1947.)

A change was made regarding the election of PSO officers (except for the positions of Treasurer and Business Manager). The Directors approved the process by which two candidates for all other officer positions were listed on ballots distributed to members. Of the 57 playing members voting, the next PSO President was once again, Harold M. Lawrence, elected by a 36-21 majority (Louis Rapaport, second to Mr. Lawrence in the presidential voting and another longtime member of the organization, was elected a director.). Two other positions were decided by closer 32-27 majorities. A close reading of the minutes fails to allow detection of devisiveness among the members; however the split votes suggest that some differences about (HS: whatever??) may have existed within the ensemble. Thinking about the natural evolution of organizations leads to puzzlement that maybe an “old guard” versus the “new guard” split might be developing. Time will tell what, if anywhere, all this leads. (HS: Mr. Lawrence also served as PSO president from 1937-42, although in my early researching a dearth of direct references to him in minutes of meetings during parts of 1941 and 1942 were cause to speculate that he might have been away on Armed Forces duties during at least part of that time period. Subsequent information contained in his scrapbook pertaining to this 1946 PSO election, listed the following description: “Harold Lawrence, Ex-Lt. Col, USA...back in the flute section after five years service with Uncle Sam including two years in the European Theatre...charter member of orchestra...past manager...elected honorary president.)

The PSO’s annual end-of-season dinner party took place on June 17 at the Noraco Inn, in Raymond. A newspaper clipping about the event stated that 70 members attended. At the affair, it was announced that Dr. Cook would return to conduct the orchestra for a ninth season. Both he and Mrs. Cook were presented gifts from the musicians, and Mr. Graffam received a gift from the Student Philharmonic. .

The Directors decided to appoint a committee to prepare a history of the organization in time for publication and distribution on its 25th anniversary in 1949. (HS: hopefully this was prepared and a copy will someday be uncovered.)

The PSO’s first rehearsal of the season was held on September 30 in the vestry of the Chesnut Street Mehodist Church. A notice of the rehearsal date was accompanied by a friendly reminder for members to practice some beforehand, with the observation made that just “tak(ing) our instruments out of the moth-balls and striv(ing) for a nonchalance that deceives no one” would help ease embeouchures otherwise sure to “tremble” with a general sense of fatigue that first evening. (HS:  From my experience with volunteer groups, few or the PSO musicians did much of the recommended practicing.)

That notice to musicians also said, “it goes without daying that there is always an opening for competent string players, and any member knowing the whereabouts of such elusive articles is urged to communicate promptly with the proper authorities for action.”

The Student Philharmonic Orchestra was booked for its first out-of-town concert on November 17, at Gould Academy in Bethel. The 75-piece ensemble traveled in two buses, gave a lengthy and well-played concert before a large audience, and were entertained for supper at the academy prior to their return. .

The PSO joined the American Orchestra League this year.

In October, Ralph Gould advised that changes in “circumstances” precluded his continuing to serve as the PSO’s Business Manager. An exchange of letters suggests that there was no animosity involved. He also relinguished his role as PSO tuba player.

Early in its 1946-1947 season, the PCA sponsored a concert by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. That ensemble’s regular conductor, Erich Leinsdorf, directed the performance which featured pianist Artur Rubinstein as soloist.The schedule for the upcoming 1946-1947 season was set at three classical concerts and one Pops concert. Guests soloists were booked for the three classical performances. (HS: The Rochester symphony would return to Portland for concerts during both the PCA’s 1949-1950 and 1952-1953 seasons.)

Opening the 24th season's series in December, Dr. Cook conducted the PSO in what (HS: Googling reports) Beethoven considered "one of his best works", his Seventh Symphony. (HS: This symphony was premiered in "Vienna on 8 December 1813 at a charity concert" for wounded soldiers, "with Beethoven himself conducting". Whether or not Dr. Cook considered associating that fact with the just-completed World War II, nothing about that possibility has been found.) Also, the concert program that evening featured guest artist coloratura soprano Jean Dickenson, whom local papers referred to as the nationally known "Nightingale of the Airways". She must have been good, for the Press Herald reported that after she sang selections listed on the concert program, the audience "demanded two encores". (HS: Googling revealed that she was a star on the "Bayer Aspirin-sponsored The American Album of Familiar Music”, a radio program of popular music broadcast from 1931 to 1951, first on NBC and then on ABC.")

The two arias that she sang with the orchestra were Joseph Haydn's On mighty pens from "The Creation" and Giacomo Meyerbeer's Shadow Song, from "Dinorah". Her encores were the Soiree Polka by Stephen Foster, then César Franck’s Panis Angelicus. Earlier in the program, before the Beethoven work, the PSO opened the evening with the Overture "Euranthye" by Carl Maria von Weber. Two works by Richard Wagner closed out the program, Entrance of the guests into the Wartburg from "Tannhäuser" and Prelude to Act III, from "Lohengrin". Rendering a compliment, an article in the Portland Press Herald observed that the PSO’s “violin section (is) vastly improved this year on technical ability and tone”.


1947       A legal letter from Mr. Linnell to Mr. Lawrence explained that although ASCAP fees did not apply to performances without profit, the definition did not exhonorate volunteer community orchestras where members did not receive pay. The term “non profit”, he explained, referred to free concerts where no revenue is obtained. It was suggested that the PSO avoid likely unsuccessful litigation that actually might interrupt performances, and instead accep the yearly license at $60 to assure the freedom of playing anything which is covered by the copyright provisions administered by ASCAP. Mr. Linnell also proposed that ASCAP might consider a “discount” of the $105 bill tendered to the PSO in 1946.

Rehearsals were resumed on January 13.

The Student Philharmonic performed at PCHA on January 25. It also played Pops concerts at both Deering High School and South Portland High, with events scheduled for Sanford in March and another PCHA concert in the Spring, on May 12. Ironic laughs were likely heard from the student group when, during the year’s worst blizzard through which the members were reported to have “plowed through mountaineous snow drifts, battled wild winds of hurricane proportions and a ceiling zero to reach” the concert........ they found the affair sponsored by the Eskimo Club. Yikes!

Now further along in the Orchestra's 1946-1947 Twenty-fourth season, the PSO welcomed guest soloist Russian violinist Paul Makovsky at the February concert. He played twice for the Portland concertgoers that evening, first Mozart's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, No.3 in G major (K 216) before the intermission; then Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, for Violin and Orchestra by Saint-Saëns. On their own, the orchestra opened with the Overture "Oberon" by von Weber, followed by Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No.3, in G major, BWV 1048. Later the orchestra performed with three of the four-movement Village Music suite composed by Douglas Moore in 1941 --  Procession, Nocturne and Square Dance. The evening's program concluded with Aaron Copland's lively Buckeroo Holiday, from "Rodeo". This concert was held on February 18.

Planning for the PSO’s upcoming 25th season, the orchestra set plans to hold a contest in conjunction with the Maine Federation of Music Clubs to select a Maine artisit to appear with the orchestra at its Spring Concert to climax the years festivities. An award of $100 was also on the table, with contestants required to complete final auditions in April when Dr. Cook would determine the finalist. Categories were violin, cello, piano, harp and voice.

Seafaring music was featured at the March 11 Pops Concert at the Eastland Hotel Ball Room, an event sponsored by The Propeller Club. The sponsors announced that the concert would begin at “One Bell”, and on the program cover was added helpful information, “To Landlubbers, 8:30 pm”. The performance opened with The Marine Hymn, followed by Selections from “H.M. S. Pinafore”, by Sir Arthur Sullivan. Then Juventino Rosas’ Waltz “Over the Waves” preceded James M. Fulton’s March – “Battleship Connecticut”; which was followed by Thunder and Lightning by Johann Strauss II. F. W. Meacham’s classic march, American Patrol concluded the first half of the concert. After intermission the PSO launched into Sousa’s March – “Washington Post, followed by the Waltz “Village Swallows” by Joseph Strauss. The always-popular Selections from “Show Boat”, by Jerome Kern was next; then Franz Lehár’s Waltz “Gold and Silver”. Nearing the concert’s end, the Portland Pops Orchestra played Procession of the Sardar from “Caucasian Sketches” by Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov. John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever brought the audience to its feet..... and the evening to a close. (HS: Like virtually all of the fun Pops concerts, this evening’s efforts resulted in the PSO coffers being boosted by only $300. While the al-volunteer orchestra experienced little expense to present their show.... but when the complete season was over, the Symphony will have operated at a loss.)

The concluding subscription-series concert of the PSO was performed on May 6. Ray Lev was the guest piano soloist, playing Robert Schumann's Concerto in A minor for Pianoforte with orchestra, Opus 54. (HS: A Google search reveals that she was "born in 1912, and made her debut at age 17 in England performing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No.1 under Sir Landon Ronald. She traveled and performed extensively throughout Europe and America, including two command performances in London and a performance for U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Although she earned seven citations for patriotic service by extensively performing for U.S. and allied armed forces during World War II. However, [-in 1948, a year after appearing in Portland-] she took a step that would negate any benefit from these public-spirited activities and that effectively would put an end to the progress of her career:   she joined 31 other American musicians, artists, and writers in signing an open letter of solidarity with twelve Russian writers who had called for fellow Communists to declare themselves publicly.” Googling also disclosed that "little information about her appears thereafter, and her name is largely forgotten today.")

At this May concert, the PSO opened with Overture "The Roman Carnival", Opus 9 of Berlioz, and then concluded the first half with César Franck's haunting Symphony in D minor. The orchestra concluded the evening playing Franz Liszt's romantic Symphonic Poem, No. 3, "Les Preludes".

Ticket prices for admission to PSO concerts at City Hall Auditorium were now up to $1.00, students 50-cents, taxes included.

David Baker was a pianist then studying in New York City following two years of naval service. From Cape Elizabeth, he had appeared as a soloist with the PSO at the age of fourteen, at a children’s concert, and had also made several appearances as soloist with the Student Philharmonic. He was selected the winner of the contest held under the joint auspices of the Maine Federation of Music Clubs and the PSO.

The Student Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of Clinton W. Graffam performed a concert on Monday evening, May 12. Roland H. Austin, Baritone soloist, was featured.

The PSO members gathered for the last time this season at the annual dinner-party, held on May 26 in the Stroudwater Grange Hall. The dinner was served without charge to the musicians, with a $2.00 charge applying to guests.

Harold M. Lawrence was re-elected President of the PSO.

The PSO experienced a $225 operating loss for the previous season, with expenses of $4025 exceeding receipts during the year of $3800. During the year, a rehearsal piano was purchased for $100.

The 55-piece Portland Pops Orchestra was reunited and played a special concert under the direction of Clinton W. Graffam, Jr., on July 15. A near-capacity crowd of "More than 2000 crowded the Greater Portland War Memorial Music Shell at South Portland" for a premiere concert, stated a Press Herald picture caption. (HS: This may have been the new band-shell structure that several years earlier the PSO had encouraged elected officials to construct.) The caption also described the venue as a "new, pine-paneled shell", and “white with powerful floodlights”. The audience was treated to what the P-H referred to as “the usual marches”, unspecified but certainly descriptive to pops concert fans. Boston concert pianist Leo Litwin soloed in Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, and “made such a hit that he was obliged to play three encores.” They were Valse in E Minor by Frédéric Chopin, Malagueña from the Suite Andalucia by Ernesto Lecuona, and Fantasie, by Franz Stauss. On its own, the Pops ensemble performed Johann Strauss, Jr.’s Blue Danube Waltz; the Poet and Peasant Overture by Franz von Suppé; Jerome Kern’s  Smoke Gets In Your Eyes; the tango Jealousy, by Jacob Gade; and major hit tunes from Richard Rodgers’ musical hit Oklahoma. The orchestra played Amilcare Ponicelli’s Dance of the Hours before finishing with the always-thrilling march that PSO audiences would continue to enjoy during many July concerts throughout future decades----- of course...... John Philip Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever. The newspaper reported that “Local army authorities loaned a public address system for this first concert, aided by members of the Stewart P. Morrill Post” of the American Legion. Board minutes subsequently referred to this Pops group as the "Shell Orchestra".

Interesting historical information about the new music shell was was found (much later, in 2014) while searching on the internet. In November, 2012, Kathryn DiPhilippo of the South Portland Historical Society penned a "Window On The Past" article for the South Portland  -  Cape Elizabeth Sentry. She reported that the new shell was "built on the grounds of what is now Mahoney Middle School (although the school was South Portland High School at that time). The ground breaking was on May 17, 1947, and the completed music shell was dedicated on July 1 of that same year.” For perspective, she added that in 1945, "The shipyards on South Portland’s east end had all closed, putting thousands of people out of work in greater Portland. The city embarked on a plan to create economic development; improving the quality of life to entice businesses to move here to provide jobs.” The shell was sponsored by the Stewart P. Morrill Post 35, American Legion and the Stewart P. Morrill Post Auxiliary Unit 35. "The music shell was used frequently in its first three seasons when the post organized concerts in the 2,000-seat venue, but the shell was used only occasionally over the following 10 years after it had been deeded to the city. It was sold around 1960 and removed. The shell was later reassembled at Colby College and renamed in honor of Ralph T. Gould of Cape Elizabeth". (HS:  Mr. Gould, the owner of an equipment company who contributed funds to have the shell moved to Colby, had been a tuba player and Business Manager with the Portland Symphony Orchestra from 1944 until his retirement from the PSO in 1946.) In 2014, the shell remains in use on the Colby campus in Waterville.

At the December 16 Subscription Series classical concert, the Portland Symphony Orchestra welcomed Soprano Vivian Della Chiesa to the performance. The program notes advise that in 1936 "she entered a contest conducted by a Chicago radio station, and, among the 3600 contestants Miss Della Chiesa was declared the winner by the unanimous choice of the judges.” The notes went on to report that she "skyrocket(ed) to stardom on coast-to-coast broadcasts, followed by concert tours...” After "Arturo Toscanini presented her as soloist with The NBC Symphony Orchestra in two successive" concerts, she "appeared with many leading symphony orchestras" throughout the U.S.

At this, her first appearance in Portland, she sang two arias with the orchestra. Verdi's Ernani involami from "Ernani" was followed by his Pace, Pace, Mio Dio from "LaForza del Destino". The response of the audience was enthusiastic, so much so that she was called back for four encores. Earlier the PSO had led off with Mendelssohn's Overture "The Hebrides" ("Fingal's Cave"), and then Beethoven's Symphony No. 2, in D major. Following Miss Della Chiesa's solos, the orchestra closed out the evening with "Façade" (after poems of Edith Sitwel), composed by William Walton; and Richard Wagner's Prelude to "Die Meistersinger von Nurnburg". At this concert, for the first time the now-a-permanent Portland resident Norman Balabas was listed as Concertmaster, while Rebecca Garland remained listed first among the 1st violinists. There was no listing showing Muriel Mason Ellis still being a member of the PSO.

Prior to the 1947-1948 season, “Dramatic Soprano” (HS: This was a tribute attributed to Sir Thomas Beecham, quoted in a PSO publicity flyer.) Marjorie Lawrence was originally schedule to appear at a December 9 PSO Classical concert. However, an item in the PSO Archives refers to her having been engaged to sing Electra with the Chicago Symphony Orhcestra on that same night; thus the PSO engaged Miss Chiesa, advising patrons that she had “recently returned from a triumphal Australian tour and in order to arrange for her appearance it was necessary to change the date of the first concert.”

Early in its 1947-1948 season, the PCA sponsored a concert by the Minneapolis Symphony, Dimitri Mitropoulos conducting.

Bruce Hangen was born this year, in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.


1948       The PSO was joined for two concerts by the elite Bowdoin Glee Club, The Meddiebempsters, on the first two Tuesday evenings of March. While similar, the programs were not entirely identical. At a March 2 concert in Brunswick, the piano soloist was Frederic Tillotson (HS: who the Bowdoin website says was "a renowned concert pianist, composer, and conductor, who taught music at Bowdoin College from 1936 until his death in 1963."). This evening, Mr. Tillotson performed Franz Schubert's Fantasie (Wanderer) (Transcribed for Piano and Orchestra by Liszt). Earlier in the concert the PSO played Suite for Orchestra from the "Water Music", by George Frederick Handel, arranged by Sir Hamilton Harty. That was followed by Joseph Haydn's Symphony in D major, No. 101 (The Clock). The concert concluded with the Bowdoin a capella Meddiebempsters joining with the PSO in a performance of Randall Thompson's The Testament of Freedom. With Dr. Cook on the podium, the program also listed Dr. Tillotson as director of the unusually-named Bowdoin Glee Club.

A week later, on March 9, the two musical organizations joined together in City Hall Auditorium, but for this concert the piano soloist was 21-year-old Cape Elizabeth pianist, David Baker. He played Saint-Saën's Concerto for Pianoforte and Orchestra No.2, in G minor, Op. 22. With the Saint-Saën's work replacing the Schubert Fantasie of the previous Tuesday, and with Mr. Tillotson still at the helm of the Bowdoin singers, this was the only change from the program performed the previous week.

For a benefit concert sponsored by the American Association of University Women, on Friday, April 2, Clinton Graffam assembled a group primarily comprised of PSO musicians, named The Portland Symphonetta. This “First Annual Pop Concert” (HS:  Not “Pops”, as might be expected.) was presented by the York County Branch of AAUW, at St. Joseph’s Parish Hall in Biddeford, to benefit the arganization’s Scholarship Fund. The event began with Franz von Suppé’s Overture – Poet and Peasant, followed by three movements, Adagio-allegro, Andante and Vivace from Symphony No. 7 in C major, Hoboken I/7 ("Le midi" - “The Noon") , by Joseph Haydn. Sir Arthur Sullivan’s Selections from H.M.S. Pinafore was next, followed by the always-beguiling Tango – Jealousie by Jacob Gade. Mr. Graffam’s wife, Katherine was featured in this number. The first half of the program concluded with Waltz – Voices of Spring, by Johann Strauss, Jr.

Atop the musician’s stands when it was time for Part II of this concert was Overture – Der Fledermaus. Next violinist Norman Balabas and trumpeter James Gendron were the soloists when Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria was played. A work by Arthur Pryor followed, Novelty – The Whister and His Dog (HS:  Googling reveals that Mr. Pryor, who was a prolific composer, had earlier been a trombone virtuoso and member of John Philip Sousa’s band.). Another work by Johann Strauss, Jr., Waltz – On the Beautiful Blue Danube, was next--  obviously designed by Mr. Graffam to relax averyone at the concert...... and also relax their dogs. The evening concluded with Selections from Oklahoma, by Richard Rodgers. That Broadway musical had premiered five years earlier, in 1943. (HS:  No reference or information about this AAUW-sponsored “Pop Concert” in Biddeford had been located among the PSO Archives, nor had The final classical concert of the 1947-1948 PSO Subscription Series was performed at City Hall Auditorium on May 11. Dr. Cook and the orchestra led off the evening's program with Rossini's Overture--- "La Scala di seta". Next was Symphony in F major, No.8 by Beethoven. After the intermission, Ruggiero Ricci took center stage as soloist in Felix Mendelssohn's Concerto in E minor, opus 64, for violin and orchestra. Now age 30, the former child prodigy from near San Francisco performed the same work in Portland that, almost 20 years earlier, he had played in his first orchestral performance, then astounding an audience when he was age 11. During a career that would continue for another five decades, Mr. Ricci would perform over 6,000 concerts in 65 countries. (HS: see the Anecdote section for an item about Ruggerio Ricci.)

The PSO concluded the program that evening with Richard Wagner's Overture to "Tannhäuser".

Initially looking through the PSO Archives, the lack of programs or promotional material about PSO Pops concerts at the Eastland Hotel for this year suggested the possibility that none were held. Perhaps with Dr. Cook's numerous other conducting duties making it impossible for him to schedule both rehearsals and concert dates for such concerts, many of the PSO players made ready for a July-return Music Shell engagement.

However, recognizing a good opportunity to give his students another unique stage experience, on Friday, May 28 of this year (Memorial Day week-end), the Deering High School orchestra presented a "Pop" concert in the ball room of the Eastland Hotel to raise funds. Since Clinton Graffam (the PSO's oboist when wearing his tuxedo) was also the conductor of the Deering Orchestra, there's a 100+% chance that he was on the podium at the Eastland that evening. Indications were clear that Pops-type evenings were an "easier sell" than were classical concerts, but certainly not much in the way of being money-makers....... except for the Eastland management.

In mid July, on Thursday the 15th, Clinton Graffam gave his fellow PSO musicians a stage experience, bringing back the Music Shell Pops Orchestra to perform another outdoor concert in South Portland. The National Anthem led off the concert, followed by Edwin Franko Golman’s On The Mall March, “complete with vocal and whistling interludes that added a touch of novelty”, reported the P-H. Franz von Suppé’s Poet and Peasant Overture featured Mrs. Graffam on the cello. Also on the program were Manhattan Serenade by Louis Alter; Stephen Foster’s Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair; other Foster melodies; and Victor Herbert’s March Of The Toys from Babes in Toyland. Encores during the first half of the orchestra’s section werethe Bach/Gounod Ave Maria and Intermezzo from “Jewels Of The Madonna”, by Ermanno Wolf-Ferarri. The Shell Group’s closing number was Emperor Waltz, OP. 437 by Johann Strauss II, with Meadowlands -often known as Song of the Plains, by Russian composer Lev Knipper, as an encore. Contralto Olive Sibley was a featured soloist, and she sang a variety of numbers. Accompanied by the orchestra, she treated the audience to Camille Saint –Saëns’ My Heart At Thy Sweet Voice, from Samson and Deliiah; Ethelbert Nevin’s The Rosary; and the old favorite, Because. Her encores were Song of the Open, and Smilin’ Through. Overall, a “pleasing program of well known selections” was presented, said the newspaper. However, it was bemoaned that “the audience, unfortunately, was on the scant size.”

The PSO "borrowed $355 from the fund balances of The Student Philharmonic.... to avoid penalty." Subsequently the Directors voted to "borrow $200 at the Casco Bank and Trust Company" via a 90-day note with interest. (HS: Presumably proceeds from this note were used to reinstate previous funds borrowed from the Student group, although specifics in the Board minutes are lacking.)

Harold M. Lawrence remained PSO President (HS: although no record of any vote taking place is located among the board-meeting minutes.)

In September, Arthur Bennett Lipkin was elected President of the Board of Directors of the American Orchestra League.

Later (in May, 1950) reflective comments in minutes of a Women's Committee meeting cite 1948 as a year when a major PSO financial deficit occurred, primarily caused by "expensive guest artists... ...hired". Working down this particular deficit issue subsequently took several years.

A bill for the rental of City Hall Auditorium this year was saved among Harold Lawrence’s memorabilia. It makes interesting reading. The rental charge for a concert was $250. Adding other costs for an on-site police officer  and two firemen, plus the services of a matron, took the total to $275. Among “Restrictions” insofar as use of the hall was concerned, “No gum, ice cream or food was allowed in the Auditorium”. An additional restriction was “No smoking in any part of the Auditorium.” Another restriction likely wasn’t a problem for the PSO: “No piano in the hall for dancing.”

The PCA opened its 1948-1949 season with an appearance by The New York Philharmonic, Leopold Stokowski, conducting. It is likely that virtually every member of the PSO attended that “master class” for insights as to what separated the Portland Symphony from the world-renowned NY ensemble.

The 1948-1949 PSO season would include four concerts, three at PCHA and one in Brunswick.

The PSO's December 14 concert featured violinist Dorotha Powers as guest soloist. Starting off the second half of the program, she played Tchaikovsky’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, in D major, Op. 35. A Portland newspaper clipping from the evening reported that she “really stole the show”. Continuing, “The brunette violinist, making her first appearance in Portland, took seven bows and could have had as many more, particularly had she seen fit to play one or more encores. Her selection, however, was a long one, so much so that a break was seized upon by the audience for substantial applause.” The program notes for this concert mention that Miss Powers that evening played "the famous 'Earl of Plymouth' Stradivari, dated 1711". It also mentioned that earlier in the season she had appeared as soloist with the New York Philharmonic, Dmitri Mitropoulos conducting at Carnegie Hall. Presumably, her performance in Portland involved a significant appearance fee. (HS: for some more information about Miss Powers, see the Anecdote section.)

Also, orchestrally that evening, the PSO had led off the program with Overture "Der Freischutz" by Carl Maria von Weber, followed by Serge Prokofiev's Classical Symphony, Op. 25, and also Virgil Thompson's Suite for Orchestra, “The Plow That Broke The Plains”. The PSO concluded the evening's music with Sinfonia "Il viaggio a Reims" by Gioacchino Rossini.

At this concert a new musican was seated toward the back of the violin section, a Wells High School junior from North Berwick named Arthur Hussey --  who had been recruited over the summer by bass viol player Dr. John Colton Myer, M.D., who taught psychology at Nasson College in Springdale. That summer the lad had moved to Maine from Aliquippa, PA, where he had participated in a small string ensemble. (HS:  In Maine, Wells H.S. was too small to have an orchestra; Arthur’s 1950 class totaled only 31.) Arthur would remain a PSO’er for two seasons before heading off to Pennsylvania State University to study geology. A decade later he would return to Maine and have a 39-year career as a Geology Professor at Bowdoin (HS: And an even longer tenure as a PSO subscriber!). Why this young lad’s two-season participation with the PSO deserves mention is that I  would meet Arthur Hussey in 2014 as this THINGS-PSO history of the Portland Symphony Orchestra was being drafted. He is the only musician to have performed under the baton of Dr. Russell Ames Cook who I have located, and with whom I have had person-to-person contact.

Arthur Hussey recalled Dr. Cook as always being “very, very patient” with the orchestra, especially as it was  comprised of amateurs in those days (HS:  Arthur added, “Dr. Cook knew that he couldn’t be impatient with the group”, for showing his frustrations would not have accomplished anything.). “He was always a very pleasant person...... always cordial.” Mr. Hussey recalled that Dr. Cook would drive up to Portland from Princeton on Mondays, where he would tend to whatever Waynflete and PSO issues were on his calendar. Arthur passed along a fun tidbit:  “Dr. Cook drove a big Buick”.


1949       The PSO started off with two March concerts, the first in Brunswick on March 8. Opening the program was Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 4, in A major, 'Italian'. The orchestra concluded the first half with Mozart's Concerto in E flat for two Pianos and Orchestra, (K.363). The duo guest pianists featured were Frederic (HS: from Bowdoin, he had solo'd with the PSO the previous March) and Marjory Tillotson, his wife. After the intermission, contralto Olive Sibley sang the Donizetti aria O mio Fernando, from "La Favorita". (HS:  Researching turned up a modest amount of information about the Rossini Club’s Miss Sibley. She had won the Pine Tree Artist Award in 1949 in the annual contest jointly sponsored by the PSO and the Maine Federation of Music Clubs; --there were also several references to her as being in small vocal ensembles supporting New York stage show stars. Born and early-raised in China by missionery parents, he had begun her formal voice training in NYC when her father was transferred to that region. Her teacher had coached Caruso and other famous singers. She had also been featured the previous July with the Portland Pops Shell Orchestra in Deering Park)

The orchestra concluded their concert in Brunswick with two additional compositions. First were two movements from the satirical Sergei Prokofiev audience-favorite, Suite Symphonique, Op. 60, "Lieutenant Kije", The Birth of Kije and Troika. These were followed by Polka and Fugue from "Schwanda, Der Dudelsackpfeifer" by Yaromir Weinberger.

Exactly a week later, on March 15, the "Brunswick concert" was repeated at City Hall Auditorium. Since she was a Portland resident, the orchestra incurred no travel-reimbursement costs as Miss Sibley returned home after the Bowdoin concert. had other nearby engagements during the preceding seven days, the fact that she again appeared with the PSO to sing the Donizetti work with the PSO this evening in Portland suggests that she might have been a resident of the area (HS: lending further support to this speculation on my part.)

In April, Arthur Bennett Lipkin was named conductor of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, in Birmingham. Warmly recommended by Eugene Ormandy, Lipkin conducted his first concert on November 1.

For another benefit concert sponsored by the American Association of University Women, on Wednesday, April 20, Clinton Graffam again assembled a group primarily comprised of PSO musicians, again named The Portland Symphonetta. Also once again, the concert was presented at St. Joseph’s Parish Hall in Biddeford, to benefit the AAUW Scholarship Fund. Edwin Franko Goldman’s March – On the Mall opened the evening’s music, followed by Jacques Offenbach’s Overture to “Orpheus in the Underworld”. Two movements of Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 6 (“Surprise”), Andante and Minuetto, were next. John Fay was then featured in a piano solo, Peter de Rose’s Deep Purple. The conductor’s wife, Katherine Graffam, undoubtedly charmed the audience with a rendition of Camille Saint-Saëns’ Cello Solo – “The Swan”. Next was Iosif Ivanovici’s Waltz – Danube Waves, one of the most famous tunes in the world. (HS: Googling reveals that it is frequently referred to as "The Anniversary Song", a title given by Al Jolson when he and Saul Chaplin released an adaptation of the song in 1946.) An intermission then gave everyone a break. The second half of the concert resumed with Selection(s) from “The Fortune Teller” by Victor Herbert. A Trumpet Solo – “Serenade” by Franz Schubert then preceded the always-popular Novelty – Turkey in the Straw by David Guion. Waltz – Tales from the Vienna Woods, by Johann Strauss, Jr., was next. The scheduled portion of the concert ended with Reinhold Glière’s Russian Sailors’ Dance from “The Red Poppy”.

Percy Grainger returned to City Hall Auditorium four days later for a PSO concert on Tuesday, May 24. By now 67 years old (HS: he still looked young and vibrant in the picture that a local news photographer took of him during a rehearsal with the PSO), he performed Tchaikovsky’s famous Piano Concerto No. 1, in B flat minor. The Press Herald's Otis Williams reported that he also played during two of his own compositions-- To A Nordic Princess – A Bridal Song for Orchestra and Spoon River—An American Folk-Dance. The P-H article described his appearance as that of an artist who was "as informal and delightful a concert artist as ever", especially it appears, when he energetically and passionately responded to an enthusiastic audience of more than 1000 people with three encores. Of those, the concertgoers were reported as most delighted with his rendition of George Gershwin's The Man I Love, and also his own well-known composition, Country Gardens. After the intermission he and his wife took seats in the balcony and enjoyed the orchestra playing his English Dance – for Orchestra and Organ, during which organist John Fay augmented the PSO. By the way, Mr. Grainger and the orchestra had some help during the performance of To A Nordic Princess..... Mrs. Grainger alternated on stage between playing a small organ and taking some stints in the percussion section. The newspaper review observed that she was recognized by Dr. Cook and the audience after the work ended. To get it on record, to begin the evening’s performance, the PSO opened with Glinka’s Overture “Russlan and Ludilla”. (HS:  the P-H reported that Mr. Grainger had written "Princess" as a wedding present to his wife.)

The concert program for this performance saved among Harold Lawrence’s memorabilia is autographed by both Mr. Grainger and his wife. Also, then second violinist Arthur Hussey for decades retained a snapshot that he took of Dr. Cook informally chatting with Mr. and Mrs. Grainger during a rehearsal break, along with a letter that Mr. Grainger attached when the composer-pianist returned the photograph to Mr. Hussey after autographing it. The letter was most complimentary about the “excellent photo” and requested Arthur to lend him the negative for a few days so that he could make a copy for the Grainger Museum at the University of Melbourne in Australia; “charge me a rental for it” he added regarding his request.

Another facet of Percy Grainger’s 1949 appearance with the PSO passed along by Arthur Hussey concerned the tremendous down-to-earth ways of the man. Arthur recalled one point during a rehearsal when the console of Kotzschmar Memorial Organ was in the way...... advising “so----- he moved it” himself.

Harold M. Lawrence is again re-elected to serve as PSO President, by a 32-12 vote. In a very close vote, PSO players also closely voted to elect Norman Balabas as 1st Vice President, 24-23.

When the financial books were closed on the 1948-1949 season, total receipts for subscribtions, box-office sales and other items had fallen $900 from the previous year (about 20%), but approximately matched total expenses for the fiscal year. Expense fees for guest artists substantially declined from the previous year, a planned goal by the PSO Executive Board to reign in an expense category that required attention. The Board remained concerned about lower overall attendance trends, recognizing that the “star power” of visiting artists that boosted crowds in previous years had a double-edged-sword influence. (HS:  Rebuilding audience levels while primarily relying on PSO orchestral concert offerings would prove to be a challenge.)

Minutes of a mid-year PSO Women's Committee meeting states "There are 60 in the orchestra to start the season. There are 6 or 7 members... ...who have been in the orchestra for 27 years."

Friday evening, November 4, found the PSO back for another popular-with-audiences' Pops Concert, but this time presented in City Hall Auditorium by the Greater Portland Junior Chamber of Commerce. Following a rousing start with Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever, the crowd enjoyed many light-classical works-- mixed with some waltzes, a polka, and from Broadway, the Selection "Oklahoma" (again). Dr. Cook also inserted into the evening's program three numbers, Trepak, Danse des Mirlitons and Valse des Fleurs, from Tchaikovsky’s Suite "Nutcracker"; Wagner's Overture "Rienzi"; and the Final Movement from Dvořák's Symphony No. 5, in E minor, “From The New World”. The classical-music-leaning Dr. Cook also (HS: I'm guessing he did so reluctantly) led the orchestra in a novelty number (HS: "pop"-ular appeal likely forced him into this one), Variations on the theme "Pop! Goes The Weasel". Other works performed that evening were: Franz Lehár’s Waltzes from “The Merry Widow”; Georges Bizet’s Farandole from “L’Arlésienne Suite”; Andante Cantabile by Tchaikowsky; another Lehár work, his Waltz – “Gold and Silver”; Weinberger’s Polka from "Schwanda, Der Dudelsackpfeifer"; two works by Johan Strauss II, his Waltz “Blue Danube” and Waltz “Roses from the South”; another Strauss II composition, his Overture “Die Fledermaus”; and Louis Ganne’s March “Lorraine” . The Press Herald's Otis Williams reported that "about 850 persons attended the concert, the greater part of them sitting at tables arranged on the floor of the auditorium to smoke or sip soft drinks during the music.” Newspaper clippings indicated that the crowd went home very happy.

The young pre-college second-season 2nd violinist in 1949-1950, Arthur Hussey, remembers that during a short rehearsal for this concert Dr. Cook said that he would not take any repeats during “Roses from the South”. ”However, at the concert he forgot his own instructions to the orchestra; -- but the orchestra didn’t. When Dr. Cook went back to the repeat sign, we all moved to the sext section....... and then everything just died.” Mr. Hussey said that Dr. Cook quickly called out, “We’re at FIVE; take ALL REPEATS!” My bet is that no one in the audience remembered the musical gaffe five minutes later, .........but Mr. Hussey still reminisces about it 65 years later; and I am glad that he does--- and that he shared it for this PSO history.

Elsewhere in November, in Mobile, Alabama,   ----Arthur Bennett Lipkin conducted his first concert as music director of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. He would remain as conductor until 1960. Reportedly warmly recommended to the Alabama orchestra's board by Eugene Ormandy, Lipkin moved south after having been a conductor of suburban orchestras on Philadelphia's Main Line, a long-time violinist in the Philadelphia Orchestra (under Maestro Ormandy), and president of the American Orchestra League. (HS:  A dozen years later, he would become the PSO’s resident conductor.)


1950       On January 24, the orchestra got back to the classics at City Hall Auditorium, beginning its One Hundred Twenty-Second concert with Bach's Chorale from "Wachut auf, Ruft uns die Stimma". The first half of the program also brought forth the three-movement Symphony in C major, No. 34 (K338) by Mozart. After the intermission Madeline Foley was the featured guest soloist as the orchestra accompanied her in the Concerto in B minor, Op. 104, for Violoncello and Orchestra, by Dvořák. A newspaper review published the next day referred to her performance as “without any question, the musical feat of the evening”. Miss Foley had graduated from both Smith and Julliard (the latter in 1947)eafter won a fellowship in a competition that enabled her to travel abroad and study with Pablo Casals. Several PSO members had heard her perform at Colby College in 1949 and persuaded Dr. Cook and the Executive Board that she should also appear with the PSO. The music for the evening concluded with the orchestra performing Beethoven's Overture "Dedication of the House", Op. 124. A clipping found in the PSO Archives mentioned that the audience was held to under 600 that evening by bad weather. The reviewer Otis Williams stated that "an interesting sidelight on the concert was the fact that although many of the orchestra's members must come from as much as 35 and 40 miles away from Portland not a member of the 65-piece ensemble was missing despite the day's snowstorm."

Five decades later, Arthur Hussey would recall this concert as the most memorable of his brief pre-college career with the PSO. He passed along that “Katherine Graffam had played the solo part during several months of rehearsals of the Dvořák concerto, before Ms. Foley came to Portland for the concert”. He added the recollection that Mrs. Graffam was a “very good cellist”.

Operatic arias were featured at the PSO's March concert, on Tuesday evening the 14th. The orchestra began the evening with the Overture "The Marriage of Figaro" by Mozart. For the second number, soprano Chloë Owen took center stage for another Mozart composition, the Aria with Orchestra Come Scaglio, from "Cosi Fan Tutti". Prior to intermission, the PSO performed Symphony No. 99 in E-flat major by Joseph Haydn. Baritone Lloyd Knight opened the second half of the program, singing the Aria with Orchestra, Wher'er You Walk from "Semele" by Handel. Miss Owen and Mr. Knight then sang two Mozart duets with the orchestra. First was La ci darem la mano from “Don Giovanni”, followed by Se a caso Madama from "The Marriage of Figaro". A Mussorgsky work completed the evening, the well-known Fantasy for Orchestra, "A Night on Bald Mountain."

Regarding the soloists that evening, Miss Owen, a Peabody graduate a year later would perform an acclaimed Town Hall concert in New York City, and for several decades would travel widely throughout America and Wurope as a touring soloist. She would eventually teach at Boston University, the Berkshire Music Festival, Tanglewood, the American Institute of Westminster College, and the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria. Mr. Knight, a Maine native and Bowdoin graduate (1945) also studied at The Curtis Institute and subsequently appeared extensively in radio and light opera productions, also performing Broadway theater roles.

Decades later, Arthur Hussey told me that he had difficulty getting to this concert on time. “I had to borrow a 5-ton truck, that was governed at 40 mph. I was a bit late, and chatted with Lloyd Knight offstage, before slipping in after the first piece.”

After the March concert, Portland's local newspapers reported that the PSO concluded its 1949-50 three-concert Subscription Series with its largest audience for the season, "almost 1000 people". Considering that the-then capacity of PCHA exceeded 3000, that was still considerably less than what a full-house would have been. Arthur Hussey (in 2014) recalled that “the auditorium was never too full” when he was a member of the Orchestra.

Notwithstanding the earlier-reported March attendance report, in May Directors would be advised of a checking account balance of $378.30 as being insufficient to allow for payment of all outstanding bills, then totaling $744.00. Not enough was being taken in at the PSO's box office.

Arthur Rubinstein performed in March at another concert at City Hall Auditorium (HS: likely a production among those presented this year by the Portland Community Concert Association).

Dr. Cook injected particularly good-humor into an April Women's Committee meeting. The minutes state that he said: "The weatherman had not cooperated in giving good weather for the concerts, and suggested that hereafter all 'weather reports be held back over the radio stations until after the hour scheduled for the opening of each concert' ".

In both late April and mid-May, the Press Herald and the Telegram Magazine Section respectively published articles encouraging Portlanders to better support the PSO by becoming subscribers and/or attending more concerts. Bringing out more concertgoers and signing up more subscribers were issues that the PSO’s Treasurer and Executive Board clearly understood needed to be accomplished.

According to Directors' minutes for May of 1950, the board's President advised "of his talk with Mr. Cook... ...indicating an awareness of tension regarding re-election (as conductor) for the coming season.” The Directors were then advised that "a written resignation from Mr. Cook (had been) ...received". A vote was taken on requesting that Dr. Cook withdraw the letter; with mixed opinions, the motion passed,  6 in favor - 3 against - 2 abstain. Subsequently, a Vote of Confidence vote was passed, "intended to mean that the Officers and Directors of the Portland Symphony Orchestra will do their utmost to insure that the coming season is overwhelmingly successful.” (HS: The tensions regarding concert attendance and what was required insofar as compositions played to attract larger audiences played a part in this activity. With such a close vote, the question remained whether there would be a box-office turnaround or a change in who would stand on the podium. Keep reading.)

The May 16 subscription series concert featured pianist Eunice Podis. This season's four-page handbill that promoted the orchestra's twenty-seventh season described her as a "brilliant young pianist", noting her as the 1945 winner of the "Biennial (Young) Artists' Award of National Federation of Music Clubs" (HS: Since this was at the time that Mrs. Guy Gannett was national federation President, the local PSO patron’s “imprint” was clearly in evidence regarding Miss Podis’ appearance with the PSO.). Miss Podis had subsequently played more than 100 concerts for Federation audiences alone. She had also appeared as "soloist with (the) Chicago, Cleveland and NBC Symphony Orchestras". Her concerts at both "Town Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York.... Won her high critical acclaim.” At the May PSO concert, the orchestra accompanied her performance of Beethoven's Concerto in C minor, No. 3, Opus 37 for Pianoforte and Orchestra. Local newspaper critic Otis Williams cited her reading of the work "clean as a whistle" and that "her vibrant handling of the cadenza was piano playing worth remembering for a long time.” The headline above his article stated that the PSO closed its season in a “Blaze Of Glory”. (Sources: newspaper articles)

The orchestral works played at the May concert were Felix Mendelssohn’s Overture "Ruy Blas" Opus 95, the first, third and fourth movements of Symphony No. 2, in D major, Opus 43 by Jean Sibelius, and four of the five movements of Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakoff's festive and energetic Capriccio Espagnol, Opus 34.

Likely at a June dinner meeting at the Pine Point Inn, Mr. Lawrence advised the membership in a “Presidents’ Report on the State of the Orchestra”, a copy of which still resides in one of the scrapbooks he long retained. Among the items he advised the board, was that the PSO Library consisted of 425 numbers, with an estimated aggregate worth of $10,500. Instruments, chairs and stands owned were worth almost $2000. Reviewing income and expense trends of the preceding half-dozen years, he pointed out that general declines had occurred in both columns, with the last four years all having generated operating losses. He then moved toward a vein best described as a “pep talk”, entreating the musicians to realize that they were collectively better than they considered themselves to be. He also spoke of new plans to make what had largely been a dormant Men’s Committee more active, with the objective of making it as successful and helpful as the Women’s Committee. (HS: I laughed out loud when reading Mr. Lawrence’s prepared comments to the board when he made reference to the Depression Era and the PSO having to move rehearsals from the Boys’ Club to the Chamber of Commerce [see 1937 in this THINGS-PSO]. Referring to the PSO’s 1950 fiscal situation, he said, “Now some of you are probably thinking that with the” PSO’s current “shrinking income, Clinton and I will again soon be hauling equipment in his new car [HS emphasis added] in order to save moving bills.”)

As yours truly assessed information about this era of the PSO’s history, indications are spotty buy nonetheless clear that Symphony musicians’ collective membership levels had dwindled somewhat during the past several years and part of the reason was less interest by many of the departed in continuing to play under Dr. Cook’s podium leadership.

Harold M. Lawrence continued to serve as PSO President, as members deferred electing new officers pending further evaluation of changing the orchestra's annual meeting date from May to December. (HS: Other problems were still afoot. Although a public announcement was made that Dr. Cook would stay on as conductor, the Board was not in unanimous agreement whether to retain Dr. Cook or to request his resignation. Without incurring added costs for guest artists who wouldn’t necessarily fill enough extra seats for the PSO to make money; without the orchestra alone [and Dr. Cook at the podium]  being an attractive enough theater experience to draw sufficient audiences to make money; without any assurance that whoever might be available to replace Dr. Cook would bring larger audiences and thus allow the PSO to make money........ the PSO was caught between several rocks and several hard places. So.... where would the chips eventually fall for the orchestra and Dr. Cook?  Stay tuned.)

In line with the Board’s determination to reign in costs and return the PSO to solvency, only a three-program concert series was scheduled for the next season, with each of the concerts to be performed in 1951, none during the fall of 1950.


1951       In January the Officers and Directors voted, 5-3, to advise the full Board (the playing members) of their recommendation that Dr. Cook should not be re-engaged after the end of the current 1951 season, although they held back from immediately making such an advisement. Later in January, Dr. Cook requested a meeting with the Officers and Directors. At that meeting Dr. Cook submitted a lengthy list of all compositions played during the seasons of 1937 to March, 1950. He read the entire list of 216 works, aloud (HS-added emphases) to the group (HS: certainly a very tedious, time-consuming repetition of history, but evidently a self-epitaph the conductor wanted to leave; the original list remains stapled to minutes of that meeting), commenting that it covered a total of 70 PSO concerts that he had conducted, starting with "your 55th concert of the orchestra. The last concert three weeks ago, was our 125th." He reflected on criticisms that his selections were " 'too meaty' - and that is a quote’ ", he emphasized. Dr. Cook then went on to state his belief that he had succeeded by "giving you music to study, to learn, to represent your musical credo, as worthy of your presentation - and your dignity.” He concluded his resignation comments with two main thoughts:

First, that           "You have given your time in playing the great music of the ages -
and this is time well spent."

Second, that    "I know of no Orchestra such as ours, that consistently has kept its standards as high and commendable as ours. In that lies our glory. Cherish this zest for learning - no matter what your age may be - it's a glorious adventure and worthy of your best."

Dr. Cook encouraged the Directors not to "publish to the public the news of my resignation until later in the season", urging everyone to (and assuring that he would likewise) "keep our shoulder(s) to the wheel" by "giving your best  -  and you shall be certain of my sincerest and highest endeavor for you until we close at the final concert in May.” (HS:  Not pre-supposing in any way what his deepest negative feelings otherwise might have been at this time, his valedictory certainly demonstrated..................    Style.)

Agreeing with Dr. Cook about keeping confidential his resignation, the Directors tabled any vote about accepting his notice and decided not to advise the entire orchestra of their earlier decision to recommend to the ensemble that Dr. Cook not be re-hired after the conclusion of the season. Later, in March, an 8-1 vote would be cast to accept his resignation, with it then also to be decided to leave the timing and announcement to the public left to "his own discretion and wishes."

The Portland Symphony Orchestra consisted of 65 members this year.

Knowing that the January 9 concert would be close to his last as conductor of the Portland Symphony Orchestra, Dr. Cook led the PSO in performances of works by Handel, Beethoven, Mozart and Rimsky-Korsakoff. The Suite "The Royal Fireworks", a Sir Hamilton Harty arrangement of the Handel composition was first on the program. Beethoven's glorious Symphony No. 6, in F Major "Pastoral", Op. 68, completed the first half of the evening's music. After the intermission, Giovanni Bagarotti was guest soloist, playing Mozart's Concerto No. 5, in A major, (K.219) with the orchestra. Mr. Bagarotti had performed throughout the European countries before the outbreak of World War II. A professorship of music at the Conservatory of Lausanne was his occupation for several years before he resumed his tours. Emigrating to the U.S. in 1948, he debuted under the baton of Pierre Monteux in New York City, resulting in unanimous praise from the New York critics. Following his appearance with the PSO, the orchestra concluded the January concert with the fourth movement The Festival at Bagdad segment, sub-titled "The Sea", of Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakoff's Symphonic Suite "Scheherazade" Op. 35. (HS: the program notes offer that this movement describes when the ship goes to pieces on a rock surmounted by a bronze warrior).

March marked what Dr. Cook knew would be his next-to-last time on the podium before the Portland Symphony Orchestra. The evening's guest soloist was Angelene Collins, soprano. She sang two arias with orchestra accompaniment, Mozart’s Deh vieni from "The Marriage of Figaro" and L'altra notre infande al mare from "Mefisto fele", by Arrigo Boito. Substituting on short notice for another soloist, Joan Brainard, Portland newspaper critics labeled the award-winning Julliard graduate a "happy choice". When on their own, the orchestra concentrated on romantic classics this evening, the "most pretentious selection was the Bizet Symphony No. 1 in C major (HS: a newspaper labeled the work "pretentious", not me), also Bedřich Smetana's symphonic poem The Moldau. The PSO had opened the program two hours earlier with Verdi's Overture, “I Vespri Sicilian” (Sicilian Vespers). (HS:  The PSO’s pre-season brochure listed this evening’s soprano soloist as Joan Brainard; however, searches through the PSO Archives have yielded no hint of why the change occurred such that Ms. Collins appeared.)

In March, Concertmaster Norman Balabas was elected PSO President. Mr. Balabas had no competition for votes. Harold Lawrence did not stand for another re-election as president, and was elected as 1st Vice President.

On April 30, following a rehearsal that was two weeks prior to what would be his final concert with the PSO, Dr. Cook announced to the members of the symphony that he had tendered his resignation as PSO conductor. The news was published in the P-H the next day. He told the members that he had chosen one of his particular favorites as the final number of the concert, Richard Wagner’s Prelude to “Die Meistersinger”. The newspaper reported that this was “with the knowledge that this would mark his last appearance with the organization”.

Dr. Russell Ames Cook conducted his final PSO concert on May 15, for which he chose a particular favorite of his as the concluding work, Wagner's Prelude to 'Die Meistersinger von Nurnburg'. The Press Herald report said "this was plainly Cook's night. With his final appearance, orchestra and audience alike gave full measure to the conductor who has enriched the local musical horizon and carved a niche for himself, in the life of the community at large, for Cook has served as conductor during half of the years the symphony has functioned, and under his leadership the orchestra has found its greatest measure of achievement."

Other works in Dr. Cook's 73rd and final concert on the PSO podium included Overture to the Ballet "The Creatures of Prometheus” by Beethoven, which opened the evening. This was followed by Symphony in D major, No. 93 by Haydn. The guest soloist this evening, Jean Graham, played the Mozart Concerto in D major (K537) "Coronation" for Piano and Orchestra. The next day, the Press-Herald headline championed that “Miss Graham Sparkles As Soloist”. A Julliard Graduate, she was soloist with the New York Philharmonic in 1949 and a year later made her New York debut at Town Hall. She toured for the remainder of the decade of the 1950s, and toured for another decade during which, in 1960, she joined the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music. The penultimate work of the concert was Prokofiev's March and Scherzo from the Opera "The Love of Three Oranges.

PSO cellist Katharine Graffam, writing in the Portland Press Herald the next day, felt that Cr. Cook's final appearance was "unquestionably the best-played concert yet to be given by the Portland Symphony Orchestra.” On the editorial page, the editor commended Dr. Cook for what his leadership had provided to enable the PSO to progress during his tenure, titling the column "A Loss To Portland."

The members of the symphony honored Dr. and Mrs. Cook at a party at Portland Junior College following the concert. Dr. John Myer, a bass violin member of the orchestra, presented the guest of honor with a painting which he had recently completed of the conductor.

(As noted earlier, and also in the Anecdotes, an almost complete set of original programs when he conducted the Portland Symphony Orchestra is maintained in the PSO Archives. A perfectly-preserved copy of the program for this May, 1951, concert resides in that collection.) (HS: So far it is unclear how Dr. Cook's scrapbooks became the property of the PSO, an especially intriguing happening since a number of the saved programs involve events away in both Boston and in Princeton, following his dismissal by the Portland Symphony Orchestra. There is some reason to speculate that he or his family later gave the scrapbooks to Katherine Graffam for permanent safekeeping on behalf of the Portland Symphony Orchestra.)

Dr. Cook continued with his orchestral and choral responsibilities at Princeton University, also his orchestral responsibilities in Boston, as well as various summer music programs at several colleges and universities, as well as frequent involvement with summer music camps (as far west as Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and California), also other conducting activities.

Earlier this year (HS: or more likely, sometime during 1950), Dr. Cook OK'd a brief professional CV of himself that would be included in a Miami (Ohio) University brochure for a then-upcoming Summer Music Workshop for high school musicians, college music students, school music teachers and supervisors. The professional achievements that he selected to be shown on that brochure are listed below. (HS: it is assumed that those were the ones he considered most significant among the many musical endeavors he had pursued during his career.):

Conductor, Portland Symphony Orchestra
Conductor, Princeton University Symphony Orchestra
Conductor, Symphonic Ensemble of Boston
Faculty Member, Harvard University Graduate School of Education, 1931-1938
Consultant on Music to the Board of Education, Bronxville, New York
Member of the Music Faculty, Beaver Country Day School, Brookline, Mass.,   1926-1946
Director, International Music Festivals, Boston, 1932-1936

The financial records for the 1950-1951 PSO season list total net receipts of $2434 (before ticket taxes, $2736 in total). The stagnation of the previous half-decade is evidenced here, with no growth in sales having occurred during the preceding 6-year period. Ticket prices for the upcoming season were set at $5.00, $4.00 and $3.00.

At the Directors meeting in early May, a committee was elected for engaging a new conductor and artists for the 1951-52 season. Then soon to be without a podium leader, a month later the Directors would name PSO oboist Clinton Graffam to be Assistant Conductor.

This year Arthur Bennett Lipkin retired as President of the Board of Directors of the American Orchestra League. During his service as the league's senior-most officer, he presided over four national conventions. It is believed that he still remained very active in the league.

The Portland Symphony Orchestra during the 1951-1952 season consisted of 65 members.

The Chestnut Street Church decided that PSO rehearsals being held there interfered with the regular activities of the church, and requested that the orchestra rehearse elsewhere. Three already-scheduled rehearsals at the church were permitted prior to the opening of the '51-'52 season. (HS: The PSO subsequently found accommodations at King Junior High School, and then later shifted the rehearsal venue to the Portland Junior College Auditorium.)

In July Directors voted to offer Richard Burgin the conductorship of the PSO for the 1951-1952 season. It was agreed that he would be offered the sum of $1500 plus expenses, to rehearse and conduct four concerts. (HS: Later board minutes don't specifically refer to his accepting the offer [although he did begin conducting the orchestra, starting that next season]). As has already been done in this Timeline regarding Dr. Cook's concerts, as many details as possible regarding PSO concerts that Mr. Burgin conducted are included in this THINGS-PSO Timeline history section of the Portland Symphony Orchestra, and scans of sections of concert programs during his tenure are available at

During his 1975-era interviews with USM Masters Candidate Darryl A. Card, the PSO’s former longtime principal flutist, Harold Lawrence, recalled that Mr. Burgin would “drive to Portland, two days a week, for rehearsals and performances” during his tenure with the PSO. “And what he brought with him, in addition to his own high degree of talent, was the invaluable experience that he had gained as assistant conductor in Boston.”

Decades later, longtime PSO violoncellist Katherine Graffam spoke to a social gathering of Symphony musicians about her years with the Symphony, recalling Richard Burgin as “a splendid musician who did a great job in improving the string section. He was also a very busy man and many times arrived here for rehearsals in the nick of time, still in his concert dress (from a Boston Symphony performance). Often he sent his colleague, Harry Ellis Dickson, first violinist and assistant conductor of the (Boston) Pops as a rehearsal substitute. Harry was very well liked among us.”

Another recollection of Richard Burgin came during a long 2014 interview with Leon Gregorian, son of the the PSO’s later conductor, from 1958 to 1962, Rouben Gregorian. Leon thought back to times he interfaced with Mr. Burgin as a student in Boston, which included rehearsals and concerts he played under the conductor during summer programs at Tanglewood. He fondly described Richard Burgin as “an absent-minded professor”, and also a “wonderful man”. The younger Mr. Gregorian also told of an important talent that Richard Burgin possessed, that of being able to precisely know when longtime BSO music director Serge Koussevitsky meant for works to begin  ---  the great conductor reportedly had a very difficult-to-interpret downbeat. While one time relaxing in the Berkshires with young Tanglewood Fellows, Mr. Burgin explained to Leon Gregorian and others that the BSO looked to him when the great maestro began, as the concertmaster would always make a nod at the right moment, “when Mr. Koussevitsky’s baton ‘reached the third stud’ of his tuxedo shirt”.

Announcement of Mr. Burgin's appointment was made on Wednesday afternoon, September 12, at a meeting in the Gannett Building penthouse. One of his immediate objectives outlined to people at that meeting was to see that the musical prowess of the PSO be improved as much as possible. Later, associated with that goal, in November the orchestra's board voted that "the conductor be permitted to call such extra rehearsals as he may find necessary".

Since he was a top-level musician himself, there is no surprise that Mr. Burgin held a high standard that he expected the musicians he was conducting to achieve and maintain. Late in his life and by then retired from the Boston Symphony, he would teach at several universities and often give master classes, also serving as director, and/or conductor in various seminars, workshops, and string congresses in the United States and Canada. He held students to his high standards in those posts, as witness a quote remembered by his daughter after his death; she wrote that  he once said, “The Dean once asked me why all my students got A’s and I answered: ‘Either they get A’s or they stop studying with me’.”

There were no PSO concerts during the remainder of this calendar year, however a four-concert season series was set to begin in January of 1952.

During the 1951-52 season the PSO had 309 season patrons. The annual subscription then cost the grand total of $5.00. PSO Archive records list that among nine Sustaining Members ($60 annual subscription) at that time........... were Mr. and Mrs. Paul E. Merrill.

Toshiyuki Shimada was born this year in Tokyo.


1952       Richard Burgin, Concertmaster and Associate Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, began his tenure as conductor of the PSO, a post he continued to hold until 1956. A violinist born in Poland of well-to-do parents before the turn of the century, he solo’d with the Warsaw Philharmonic at the age of ten, and later studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory – where he graduated with honors. In his twenties he had the good fortune to have Pierre Monteaux hear him play. The Boston maestro immediately engaged Mr. Burgin as concertmaster of the Boston Symphony (his predecessor, Fredric Fradkin, publicly embarrassed Maestro Monteaux and had been summarily dismissed!). Mr. Burgin had been concertmaster in Boston for 32 years. Prior to accepting the Portland Symphony post, he also had been Associate Conductor of the BSO since 1927. During his tenure in Portland, Mr. Burgin would continue to hold those two posts with the Boston Symphony. Mr. Burgin’s educational credentials were exemplary, having graduated from Petrograd Conservatory with highest honors. (Be sure to read an anecdote about "someone else" the PSO board attempted to lure into permanently accept the PSO baton.)

At this point in time, there were five charter members of the PSO still playing with the orchestra, clarinetist Donald Davis, flutist Harold Lawrence, percussionist Carl Liberty, violinist Louis Rapaport, and French horn player Arthur Stevens.

One of the first things Mr. Burgin did was name PSO oboist Clinton W. Graffam as Assistant Director of the orchestra, thus continuing him in a position that he had previously held under Dr. Cook. The plan of the new conductor was to assure that he had an on-the-spot aide, since he would be commuting to rehearsals in Portland (HS: There’s a fun item in the Anecdotes Section of this THINGS-PSO about one of those commuting drives.) but would have to miss some when his duties with the Boston Symphony called. When such occasions Burgin occurred, Mr. Graffam was ready to climb the podium to lead the Portland musicians through rehearsals.

The Harold Lawrence collection of PSO memorabilia contains programs both before and after the time that Mr. Burgin became conductor of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. The format of the printed programs was not changed, and the fact that each program cover listed the sequential classical-concert number since the orchestra’s founding helped (decades later) develop a highly accurate list of PSO concerts.

A Portland newspaper article from January or 1952 mentions that “the largest membership in a number of years turned out for the... ...opening rehearsal” under Dr. Burgin, with more than 70 members turned out. The clipping also reports that “five former members were reinstated by the membership committee” and “four members of the Student Philharmonic” were accepted into the PSO. (HS:  I naturally wondered whether the four reinstates had previously left the orchestra due to dissatisfactions with Dr. Cook. That level of detail is not something now [2013] known.)

The first Portland concert conducted by Mr. Burgin was on January 14, with Norman Balabas continuing to serve as Concertmaster. For his first baton downbeat before a Portland audience, he chose Czech composer Antonín Leopold Dvořák’s Symphony No. 4 in D minor Op. 13, B. 41, to open the performance. After intermission, a variety of musical tastes were sated, led off by Irish Tune From County Derry, arranged by Percy Grainger and then Aaron Copland’s 1942-work, Hoe-Down from “Rodeo”. Three Seventeenth Century Dutch Tunes followed, by Adriaen Valerius and arranged by Hans Kindler: O Ongeluckighe Tydt (In Times of Stress); Merck Toch Hoe Sterck (See How Strong); and Wilt Heden No Treden (With Now Walk Before The Lord). The program concluded with Marche Slave in B-flat minor, Op. 31, by Pyotr llyich Tchaikovsky. Reviewer Marshall Bryant (HS: Many years later, Mr. Bryant would purchase advertising-space in a PSO program listing himself as a “Teacher of Singing and Vocal Coach.) wrote positively that, “A revitalized Portland Symphony Orchestra gave the first concert of its seasonal series Monday night in City Hall Auditorium under its new conductor, Richard Burgin. The playing that was unfolded should be a forecast of the excellence of the concerts yet to come and indicates a bright future for orchestra and audience alike. It was an exhilarating concert and rates unqualified approval.” The concluding paragraph or the review was, “The audience was highly enthusiastic—and justly so. In every respect, it was a remarkably fine concert.”

Unfortunately, the size of the highly-enthusiastic audience was sparse, according to news reports. In a Guy Gannett Publishing Company editorial, titled “Does Portland Want An Orchestra?”, the statement was made that “the community has shamefully let its orchestra down”, also, “let’s hope the weather was to blame, or a combination of other minor factors. We would hate to think that the city has decided to ignore the cultural asset which has meant so much to us for so many years.” The final summary observation was “A big attendance at the next concert is the only way to prove to officials and members of Portland Symphony Orchestra that they are still wanted.”

The next PSO concert came soon thereafter, although since no follow-up newspaper article has yet been found among the PSO archives, it is uncertain what size audience was in attendance or how well the orchestra was then thought to have played. The opening selection on February 11 was the Overture “Oberon” by Carl Maria von Weber, followed by Joseph Haydn’s Symphony in G major, Hoboken 1/88. The latter work was praised the next day in a newspaper review, “If there was any part of the program that stood out above the other items, it was” this, “sunny, tender and gay in turn, with many a meltingly turned phrase.” As for the symphonic poem Finlandia, Op. 26, by Jean Sibelius, the reviewer wrote that it “was brought to new life and lifted out of the vacuum of the commpnplace with a stirring reading by Burgin.” After the intermission, a suite by George Frederic Handel was on the program (HS: Unfortunately, no other specifics regarding this work are noted on an original concert program that was saved.). Lastly, George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess”, a Symphonic Picture, arranged by Robert Russell Bennett (HS: Based on portions of the opera selected by Dr. Fritz Reiner; a pretty good composer & arranger & conductor; certainly a winning trimverate... that’s for sure.) was performed.

At a late-March concert on the 31st, violinist Ruth Posselt returned as soloist on the PCHA stage (HS: She had appeared under Dr. Cook, back in 1944.). First, Mr. Burgin led the PSO in a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64. Then the PSO accompanied Miss Posselt as she played another work by the great Russian composer, his Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 35, which reviewer Bryant wrote was a “thrilling performance...[;] ...very few violinists offer her combination of brilliant technique and evident mastery of the instrument, and a warm lustrous tone with great emotional warmth.” The article reported that she performed two encores, each with the “excellent” accompaniment of PSO pianist John Fay. The first of these was the longtime popular standard by Ethelbert Nevin, Mighty Like A Rose. This was followed by The Ghost Dance for Violin and Piano, Op. 15, by Ellis Levy. (HS: It is of interest [perhaps a bit unusual?] to mention that in neither the program nor newspaper review was it noted that Ruth Posselt was the wife of conductor Burgin.) The All-Tchaikovsky concert concluded with (HS: what appears to be) a followup performance of Marche Slave (HS: This had been played at the January concert. Why it was again performed just two months later is not mentioned in either the program or the review of the March concert.) Marshall Bryant did note in his review that “the audience was a large one and most enthusiastic”, but once again—no specific attendance numbers were reported. He also praised Conductor Burgin, writing that “the orchestra became a fluid unit in the hands of Richard Burgin, the skillful and musical conductor. Burgin’s interpretations throughout the concert were high-minded and of the best”.

The last page of the concert program included an expression of “sincere appreciation and thanks to The Burrowes Corporation (HS: At first I thought this was a typo, with the intention being to refer to The Burroughs Corporation. However, some Googling revealed that a Portland-based company by the as-spelled name manufactured all-aluminum combination windows, and also pool tables.) for their generosity in making possible the appearance of our soloist this evening”. (HS: Googling reveals that Portland’s “E.T. Burrowes Company was primarily a maker of a sliding wire screen patented in 1878; the tools he marked were special types used to install that screen, including a sliding and patented folding rule. Burrowes made one plane in particular in large quantities, which frequently appeared in tool chests.) Whether Burrowes or Burroughs, arranging any company’s sponsorship was significant, for the meagher PSO bank account would not have been able to alone handle guest-artist fees. Also on this page of the concert program was a brief promotional announcement of what would be the season’s final concert: Next Concert April 24th ........ Music in the lighter vein”.

Twenty-three year old pianist Gerson Yessin was guest soloist with the PSO for the final concert (HS: Let’s see what Mr. Burgin’s definition of “lighter vein” would result in this evening.) of the 1951-1952 season, on April 24. He performed Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23. (HS: Googling reveals that Mr. Yessin, son of Russian immigrants in Malden, MA, had won a youth piano contest to earn his first performance with the Boston Pops in 1946. He played a Beethoven concerto. Shortly thereafter, Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler took Yessin under his wing at Boston Symphony Hall and brought him back for 40 classical soloist performances over six years. After ten years of accepting solo-perfrmance work when he could get it, he had paid his way through conservatory and graduated from Julliard. He then entered what would be a multi-decade career as a teacher and music administrator at universities in Florida.) Also on the program that evening was an unspecifed Polonaise by Chopin; Grieg’s “Peer Gynt” Suite No. 1; Handel’s Aria for Strings; Hungarian March by Hector Berlioz, Suite from Carmen by Georges Bizet and unspecified Hungarian Dances by Johannes Brahms. The works listed on the concert program also included what would have been a repeat performance of Finlandia by Jean Sibelius (HS: The February program also listed this composition. Once again, no explanation has so far been found as to why [again] a work from a prior program was repeated; maybe the purpose was to demonstrate improvement by the symphony. HS’es guess is that the typesetter erred, since notes about the work were included in the February program, but not in the April program.)

Readers of the History section on the PSO website might recall reading the reference that during his tenure, Burgin was considered particularly effective in improving the string section. With the Boston Symphony Orchestra, he had been the soloist for many performances. Arguably, he may have been the most accomplished musician ever to regularly command the podium of the PSO. Until retiring from the Boston Symphony in 1962, he remained concertmaster--- an incredible career spanning 42 years.

In April the Directors voted to extend Mr. Burgin’s conductorship of the PSO for a second season. (HS:  A lengthy anecdote in the section following this PSO Timeline goes into some momentous requests that Mr. Burgin made at the time of this meeting he had with the PSO Directors---  he solicited them to institute significant organizational changes that could lead to the PSO becoming a “professional” orchestra. Although at the time the directors [who were all players under his baton] resisted his entreaties....... discussions at this session might correctly be said to have been a significant “catalyst moment” in the history of the PSO.)

Board minutes for this year contain no record of any membership votes taken for officers or directors. The minutes continue to refer to Norman Balabas as President of the PSO.

Dr. Alfred Brinkler retired as Portland’s municipal organist. Bowdoin College awarded him an honorary degree of doctor of music this year.

PSO playing member John Fay, organist at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Portland, was appointed Municipal Organist. Mr. Fay gave delightful children’s concerts each summer and thus built an audience who continued to attend Kotzschmar Organ concerts for many years.

A mid-November Evening Express article attempted to portray some of Mr. Burgin’s musical qualities. One item mentioned was that “during the two-hour rehearsal you may not hear more than three or four parts of one composition... ...Over and over and over, he may repeat the same measure a dozen times, until he gets the effect he wants.” Those observations suggest that he was a bit of a perfectionist. Another section of the article is concerned with how his perfect pitch enables him to “detect one wrong note and single out the offender from some 60 musicians all playing together. ‘That’s a 1/16th, not a 1/4-note’ he’ll say, pointing an accusing baton at the unhappy musician.” The reporter continues, “A stern taskmaster, he is nevertheless quick to praise and encourage. And you can’t help noticing that the musicians, many experienced, respect Burgin. For all his seriousness, Burgin has a keen sense of humor, never fails to poke fun at someone or something. While listening to the music, he often cups one ear in his hand. If the passage pleases him, he shouts ‘Bravo!’ If he finds something amiss, it must be repeated until it meets with his approval.”

One of the PSO musicians from that era recently (2012) recalled Richard Burgin as sort of eccentric and a perfectionist, saying that although he was demanding he never raised his voice and carried on like so many conductors are known to have behaved. “I’m not sure he knew exactly what to ‘make of us’, since we were amateur musicians and he was the concertmaster of and frequently conducted one of the world’s top orchestras.” This musician recalled that Mr. Burgin was a heavy smoker, and that may have made him a bit jumpy at times....although he was never unpleasant.

The late-November start to the 1952-53 Classical Series season marked the beginning of the 30th anniversary of the legal organization known as the PSO (since the organization, although started in 1923-1924, was incorporated in 1932).

A newspaper advertisement listed concert ticket prices as $1.25, $1.00, 75-cents and 50-cents, with all seats reserved.

After several years of consideration, the player-member-controlled PSO Board for the first time agrees to admit non-players to full-fledged membership roles. Although Women’s and Men’s Committees had heretofore given support to the symphony, “under the new plan ... the non-players will take an active part in the business procedure and will be eligible to hold office either as directors or officers.” The change reportedly “will bring the organization into sharper focus as a ‘whole community’ project.” (Portland Sunday Telegram)

The opening concert of the 1952-1953 four-concert PSO season was performed on November 24. Mr. Burgin began this concert as he had his inaugural PSO concert the previous January, with a Dvořák symphony, --this time his Symphony No. 9 in E Minor “From the New World”, Op. 95, B. 178. (HS: Typos in both the program listing and the program notes mistakenly refer to this work as “Symphony No. 5”; ----these things happen [please forgive all my typos in THINGS-PSO].) In the second half of the concert, the conductor was joined by Boston native, contralto Eunice Alberts, who with the symphony sang the Andalusian El Amor Brujo “Love, the Magician” by Manuel de Falla. The concert program listed that she also sang Delilah’s aria Mon Cœur S’ouvre à ta Voix "My Heart at Thy Sweet Voice" by Saint-Saëns, with a newspaper review mentioning that number, plus an aria from Bizet’s “Carmen”, were with piano accompaniment, presumably by Mr. Fay. (HS: Miss Alberts had made her debut with Dr. Serge Koussevitsky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1946, subsequently recalled to appear with that orchestra 17 times prior to singing before this Portland audience.) Other orchestral works on the November program, also both performed after the intermission, were Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto in D Minor, Op. 3, No. 11, transcribed for Orchestra with Organ by Alexander Siloti; and March from Le Coq D’or “The Golden Cockerel” by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, derived from Alexander Pushkin’s 1834 poem ”The Tale of the Golden Cockerel”. Reviewer Marshall Bryant referred to the evening as “an excellent concert”, commenting that the orchestra was not only playing more difficult music, but “play(ing) it better”.


1953       The first concert of calendar year 1953 was held on Monday, January 12. Narrating Aaron Copland’s A Lincoln Portrait that evening was noted stage and film actor Walter Abel, who before his death in 1987 had a career extending over seven decades. (HS:  This Copland classic became a PSO staple that pleased audiences many times over the years. No record of any previous performance has been spotted among PSO Archives prior to Mr. Abel’s 1953 narration.) Prior to intermission (the Copland work was in the second half of the concert), the symphony played Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2, in D major, Op. 43. The other orchestral works during this PSO performance were Handel’s Trumpet Voluntary; Andante Cantabile by Tchaikowski (HS: this work was likely played by the PSO’s strings, assuming it was his  movement taken from his String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Op. 11), and Selections from Oklahoma, by Richard Rodgers. The concert program expressed “appreciation and thanks to the Burrowes Corporation, Mr. John K. Ames, Treas., for their generosity in making possible the appearance of Mr. Walter Abel”.

In his newspaper report following the concert, reviewer Bryant referred to a “highly successful and enjoyable” concert, with the orchestra demonstrating “balance, apparent sense of security, and flexibility it had lacked before. The playing had a definite sense of authority and conciseness that was gratifying.” The review headline read, “Portland Symphony Shows Marked Improvement In Unusual Concert”. Mr. Bryant’s article also made reference to “the addition of extra players”. (HS: presumably some Boston musicians who rounded out several sections.)

Richard Burgin’s seventh concert as PSO conductor was held on Monday evening, March 9. Works by Jean-Philippe Rameau and Franz Schubert were the first half of the program. The former’s three-movement Ballet Suite was comprised of Muenuett, Mussette and Tambourin sections. In the Schubert work, the PSO was joined by three vocalists, also the 34-voice Portland Women’s Chorus and the 39-voice Portland Men’s Singing Club. Performed was the Mass No. 2 in G major, D.167. (HS: Googling reveals that it is thought to be the best known of the three "shorter" mass compositions which Schubert composed between the more elaborate first and fifth masses; his ultimate sixth mass would be longer. Records left by the psalmist indicate that it took him less than a week in 1815 to compose this Mass.) After the intermission, the symphony played Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, followed by that composer’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73,  popularly known as the “Emperor Concerto”. Young Chinese pianist Miss Tung Kwong-Kwong, who had come to the United States in 1947, performed the latter work with the PSO. (HS: She went on to both an international touring career and a long teaching career in Ohio, where her husband [earlier a student of Mr. Burgin at the New England Conservatory] was in the 1950s a first violinist in the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell.) P-H reviewer Marshall Bryant wrote, “In every respect the concert can be considered a tremendous success. There was most enthusiastic applause by the unusually large and appreciative audience.”

The final concert of the 1952-1953 season, on April 13, was listed on the program cover as the PSO’s “One Hundred and Thirty-fifth Concert”, during the ensemble’s “Thirtieth Season”. The Monday evening featured works by six well-known composers. The audience should have found lots to enjoy that evening, much of which was truly in the “lighter vein”. Opening the program, Conductor Burgin selected George Frederic Handel’s Suite for Orchestra From the Watermusic, consisting of five sections. Next was Franz Schubert’s Symphony in B minor “Unfinished”, followed by the Overture to “Semiramide” by Gioacchino Rossini. Compositions by Tchaikovsky, Gershwin and Ravel comprised the post-intermission section of the concert. Those were three movements from Nutcracker Suite; the always-popular Rhapsody in Blue, with a guest soloist familiar to Portland audiences, David Baker. The program concluded with the by-now classic concert-closer by Maurice Ravel, Boléro. The Press Herald commented that the Tchaikovsky suite was performed “with great charm and effect”, and described the concert as showing that “the musical horizon of the Portland Symphony Orchestra was once again expanded in an impressive final concert”. (HS: At this time, individual tickets were priced at $1.25, $1.00, 75-cents and 50 cents.)

Sometime during April, Benny Goodman made what is believed to have been his second visit to Portland, performing with his band at the South Portland Armory.

At the Portland Symphony Orchestra Annual Meeting that year, it was carried that “the Board of Directors consist of twelve members, eight from the orchestra and four from the two Committees (referring to the Men’s and Women’s Committees). While the change away from a “players only” board to a 2/3rd-to-1/3rd ratio wasn’t as much non-player board involvement as Mr. Burgin had urged, it nonetheless marked a significant step (with more to follow six years later) toward an eventual independent community-majority PSO board.

Again this year, the board minutes for this year contain no record of any membership votes taken for officers or directors. The minutes continue to refer to Norman Balabas as PSO President.

In October, one of the PSO’s original members, Harold M. Lawrence, drafted a four-page typewritten brief history of the orchestra. A carbon copy (HS: remember those?) remains in the multi-scrapbook memorabilia collection preserved by the family of the late Mr. Lawrence.

The 1953-54 Classical Series season of four concerts opened on November 27, as Richard Burgin began his second season on the PSO podium. (HS: For an unknown reason, concert programs were now printed on lessor-quality paper, with a revised-but-similar-the-former-style cover format. Perhaps the objective was lower printing expenses.) This season-opener concert featured works by Rossini, Schumann, Bach, Liszt and Berlioz. In order, respectively performed were Overture to La Gazza Ladra; the Symphony No. 1 in B flat major, Op. 38, (HS: This was the first symphonic work composed by Robert Schumann) "Spring"; Concerto in A major for Pianoforte, BWV 1055  (HS: The fourth of Bach’s 14 concertos for harpsichord, strings and continuo); Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major, No. 1, S.124 (HS: This was composed by Franz Liszt over a 26-year period), and the Hungarian March “Rákóczi”. The Bach and Liszt piano concertos were performed by guest-soloist Luise Vosgerchian. (HS: She was a pianist with whom Mr. Burgin’s wife, Ruth Posselt, had collaborated for a series of U.S. and European recitals.) Once again, in the concert program The Burrowes Corporation was credited and thanked for making Miss Vosgerchian’s appearance possible. The program cover listed this performance as the PSO’s “One Hundred and Thirty-sixth Concert”.

A December Portland Press Herald article reported that “more than 300 voices, accompanied by string orchestra, piano and organ, joined forces under the able direction of Marshall Bryant” (HS: He was Director of the Greater Portland Community Chorus.) to present a thrilling performance of Handel’s Messiah last night in City Hall Auditorium before 2500 persons.The performance “was presented under the auspices of the Greater Portland Community Chorus”, and was “sponsored by the Maine Federation of Music Clubs and the Greater Portland Junior Chamber of Commerce.” “Participating choruses were Bates College Concert Choir, Colby College Choir, the Greater Portland Community Chorus, Portland Men’s Singing Club, Portland Women’s Chorus, Waterville Area Chorus and Westbrook Junior College Glee Club”. (HS: after seeing that list, it’s easy to say “no wonder!” that the PH headline was what it was.) The headline was “2,500 Applaud Thrilling Performance Of Christmas Portion Of Messiah Here”. (HS: There maybe could have been “uncles and aunts and children and grandchildren” totaling even more than 2500.)

The article was written by PSO cellist Katherine Graffam. The orchestra for the performance was from the Portland Symphony Orchestra; also, John Fay was cited for “especial mention for his skill at the organ”.


1954       The January 22 PSO concert under Richard Burgin consisted of an all-Tchaikovsky program. (HS: This was Mr. Burgin’s tenth time atop the PSO podium; his third appearance had also been an All-Tchaikovsky program.) Guest-pianist soloist Bernard Kritzman was featured, performing the great composer’s Piano Concerto No.1 in B flat minor, Op. 23. Orchestral works played by the symphony were Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op.74, Pathétique (HS: This was Tchaikovsky’s final completed symphony), which opened the program; and Italian Capriccio, Op. 45, which was the finale. (HS: For reasons unexplained, both the concert list in the printed program and the program notes, listed this work using the composer’s work title, not the more commonly seen “Capriccio Italien”.) Newspaper reviewer Bryant wrote positively about continuing development of the symphony: “The orchestra as a whole continues to settle down to a more knowing and satisfying manner of playing with greater resource in the way of flexibility and body of tone. More polish is noticeable in every department.”

No program has yet (HS: as of 2012) been located for the PSO’s “One Hundred and Thirty-eighth Concert”, performed on Friday, March 5 (HS:  Yeah - finally got one! [it’s 2013]). However, an advance newspaper article revealed that young American tenor Gene Cox was to be the guest soloist; also a post-concert P-H article provided information on the program content. Mr. Cox was a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music and had appeared with the New England Opera Company and Opera Department at Tanglewood. A clipping reads, “In his two opera arias, Gene Cox displayed a promising voice of good timbre and size as well as agreeable quality. Young and personable, he sang with taste and understanding.” He first sang Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin’s Farewell aria from the opera inspired by the epic of Garin le Loherain; and also the Flower Song from “Carmen”, by Georges Bizet. Featured among orchestral works performed under Richard Bergin this evening were the Johannes Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 1 in G Minor, and also the Hungarian Dance No. 6 in D major. Also played were Modest Mussorgsky’s A Night On Bald Mountain; and Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 88 in G major, (Hoboken 1/88), which although it doesn’t have a descriptive nickname, is occasionally referred to as “The Letter V”, referring to an older method of cataloguing Haydn’s symphonic output. It was labeled “one of the triumphs of the concert” by reviewer Bryant. The Symphony left the audience wanting more, with Gioacchino Rossini’s Overture to Semiramide, which “brought the concert to a brilliant close.” Maestro Burgin obliged an enthusiastic audience with two encores, the identity of which were not specified in the newspaper article. Mr. Bryant observed that a “large audience exhibited real and enthusiastic pleasure in the entire performance”. (HS: By now, individual tickets were priced somewhat higher overall, at $2.00, $1.50, $1.25, 75-cents and 50 cents for students.)

The April concert was followed by a reception at the Eastland Hotel that honored Charles G. Steinway, a director of the famous piano manufacturing company. This year was the centennial of the company’s founding in America, in a small loft in lower Manhatten. (HS: Googling reveals that eighteen years earlier, Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg first began making pianos from his house in Seesen, Germany. Herr Steinweg produced 482 pianos under the Steinweg brand until he emigrated to America in 1850 with his wife and eight of his nine children. The eldest son, C.F. Theodor Steinweg, remained in Germany, and continued making the Steinweg brand of pianos.) Mr. Steinway had earlier this evening attended the concert at which he spoke, and during which he enjoyed Mr. Burgin and the orchestra open the program with a work published in 1840, Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 7 in C Major. (HS: Googling reveals that for a long time there has been some controversy over the numbering of this symphony, with German-speaking scholars sometimes numbering it as symphony No. 7, the most recent version of the Deutsch catalog [the standard catalogue of Schubert’s works, compiled by Otto Erich Deutsch] listing it as No. 8, and English-speaking scholars often listing it as No. 9.) After the intermission, guest-artist soprano Margo Willauer sang Carl Maria von Weber’s Scene and Aria from Der Freishutz and Jewel Song from Faust by Charles Gounod. (HS:  Googling revealed very little about Miss Willauer, although the majority of concerts in which she was randomly reported to have sung were in the Boston area; so.... the logical guess is that she lived nearby.) The concert concluded with what the program listed as Hungarian March by Hector Berlioz (HS: I’m guessing that this was likely a reprise from the season-opening concert the previous November, the composer’s march, “Rákóczi”.).

The format of the printed program for the concert in Portland this evening differed from normal. On full-size 8.5x11-inch glossy paper, and featuring the Steinway name and the company’s tradional Gold-Medal(s) display logo, it was produced by the New York Steinway offices. Similar programs were also prepared by the Steinway sales-and-marketing organization for dozens of 100th Steinway Anniversary concert-celebrations held this year throughout America. (HS: It should come as no surprise to readers of this THINGS-PSO to learn that in the early 1950s, Steinway pianos were the official pianos of the PSO.)

According to a “We Need Your Help” hand-out plea at the final concert in April, the full-season deficit for the 1953-54 season was about $1,000.

During the summer of 1954, one of two co-winners presented the inaugural Koussevitzky Memorial Prize for Conductors at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood was Paul Vermel. Subsequently, in some but not all years, this award would be granted to the most promising of the Conducting Fellows attending the center at Tanglewood, a scholarship award from the Koussevitzky Memorial Scholarship fund. The young conductor, who later would become the PSO’s ninth music director and conductor, had first studied at the Berkshire Music Center in 1949 as a conducting auditor, when he emigrated from his native Paris to America to attend the Julliard School of Music. He joined the Julliard faculty upon graduating from the famed conservatory.

Mr. Burgin agreed to return to conduct the 1954-55 PSO season, which would begin in December. A change was made to schedule the four concerts on Sunday evenings, with a rehearsal on the respective Sunday afternoons. The change was from previously-usual Wednesday evening concerts. (HS: A decade later, this policy-change would revert back to week-night concerts due to poor attendance on Sundays.) Also, plans were announced to have “a number of musicians... (regularly) accompany Richard Burgin... here from Boston”. (HS:  This step, although a further departure from the PSO’s long-traditional emphasis to consist of virtually all “local players” [including areas from where volunteer musicians could commute to/from Portland] was in accordance with one of the primary objectives that several years earlier the conductor had outlined for the board, in order to improve the overall quality, musically-speaking, of the Symphony.)

In October a newspaper article reported that openings were available in each section of the orchestra, with a large number of candidates for membership expected for the ensemble’s opening rehearsal later that week.

Sunday, December 5, found the Portland Symphony Orchestra playing under the baton of Marshall F. Bryant at PCHA. On their stands was George Frideric Handel’s Messiah, and on their feet were hundreds of vocalists. The Sponsoring Organization was listed as the Maine Foundation of Music Clubs. The concert program noted participants as “Combined Choruses Under the Auspices of” Greater Portland Community Chorus, the Portland Women’s Chorus and the Portland Men’s Singing Club. Members of other regional choruses participating were affiliated with the Bowdoin College Glee Club, the Brunswick Choral Society, the Colby College Choir, the Porsmouth N.H. Community Chorus, and the Westbrook Junior College Glee Club. Soloists were soprano Eunice Soule de Sánchez, contralto Ellen Knight, tenor Philip Stuart, and bass John H. McDonough. John Fay was at the organ and Dorothy Doe Hicks at the piano. The concert program also advised that “This performance of The Messiah is dedicated to the memory of Kenneth C. M. Sills, one of Maine’s most beloved citizens.”

Ironically the day of the the PSO’s initial official “Sunday concert” was actually a Friday, as a late change-of-plans by the Boston Symphony required Mr. Burgin to be on the podium at the United Nations Headquarters in New York the preceding Sunday, when he conducted the Boston ensemble in a concert broadcast worldwide. When he returned to Portland and the PSO podium the following Friday, December 17, the Express review headline reported that the orchestra gave a “Pleasing Concert”, featuring Haydn’s Symphony No. 100 (The Military Symphony) and Tchaikovsky’s romantic Romeo and Juliet fantasy. Also performed that evening were Wagner’s Overture to “Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg” (HS: This had been the final work that Dr. Russell Ames Cook, his predecessor  atop the PSO podium, had conducted.). French Baroque composer Louis Couperin’s Introduction and Allegro from “Suite Sultana”, and Swan of Tuonela by Sibelius were also on the concert program. Reviewer Marshall Bryant praised Mr. Burgin’s conducting in his newspaper report about the concert.

This year City Hall Auditorium received some painting, and some waterproofing.
                  (-above from Portland Press Herald look-back article, 2/3/60—page 1)

(HS:  Various newspaper articles from various decades that were reviewed at Portland Room of the City Public Library or at the Maine Historical Society reported that much of the auditorium’s original 1912 rich decorative detail had been painted out over the years---; so, based on the immediately-above information, it is known for sure that some such painting (out) occurred in 1954.)

Also in December, the PSO membership elected Lawrence Hatch as PSO President. (HS: A longtime member of the orchestra, bass-player Mr. Hatch was the brother of cellist Katherine Hatch Graffam and therefore the brother-in-law of Clinton W. Graffam, Jr.) A bio-note about Mr. Hatch that some years later appeared in a PSO concert-program mentioned that he had joined the PSO in 1938. “He left during the war and was connected with several Air Forcebands and orchestras, both as conductor and musician. He rejoined the orchestra in the bass section on his return in 1945”, and became principal bassist in 1950. Each of the officer candidates who had been placed on the ballot by a Board Nominating Committee faced no opposition, although board minutes note that 1st violinist Rebecca Garland did receive one vote for president. Eventually, she would become Concertmistress of the PSO.


1955       On January 24 of this year, Ruth Posselt, Mr. Burgin’s wife, returned to City Hall Auditorium to perform with the Portland Symphony Orchestra. Before she came onto the stage, the orchestra opened the concert with Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for Orchestra in D minor, op.3, No.11. Then, to conclude the first half of the program, the highly regarded guest soloist played the Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26, by Max Bruch. Following the intermission, accompanied by PSO pianist John Fay, she played Nigun (Improvisation) No. 2 from "Baal Shem" (Three Pictures of Chassidic Life), by Ernest Bloch. This was followed by Tango Espagnole by Enrique Fernandez Arbos, again with Mr. Fay. No newspaper clipping regarding this concert has been located, which if there had been any encores, would likely have provided specifics as to what Miss Posselt also played. The orchestra returned with Mr. Burgin to conclude the program with Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A Major, Op. 90, commonly known as the “Italian” Symphony.

A Sunday Telegram page-3 article featured eight candid photographs taken in early March during a rehearsal of the PSO at the King Junior High School gymnasium. The first picture at the top of the page showed the orchestra president at that time, Lawrence E. Hatch, talking over a piece of music with the lady in charge of the orchestra’s big music library. (HS: Anyway, “that’s” what the caption says, but additional information in the caption might make some folks wonder if he was being asked “did you take the trash out?”; You ask why?  ... Well, read on.) “The lady” in the picture who was  identified as being the PSO librarian WAS ALSO Mrs. Hatch. And... while we’re talking ‘family relationships’, remember-------  Lawrence Hatch is cellist Katherine Graffam’s brother AND therefore, also oboist Clinton Graffam’s brother-in-law. (HS: The PSO... It was a real family affair!)

The Bowdoin Glee Club joined the PSO for the March 13 concert at PCHA, with the two groups together performing several classical works. Those compositions were Irving Fine’s Father William Chorus from “Alice in Wonderland”, Edvard Grieg’s Land Eckennung and Bedřich Smetana’s Dance of the Comedians from “The Battered Bride”. With Frederic Tillotson conducting, on their own the Bowoin men sang two popular compositions from Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin: “It Ain’t Necessarily So” and “I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin”. Then, the Glee Club likely “took the roof off” City Hall Auditorium with a rendition of There is Nothin’ Like A Dame from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific. Also with the Symphony that evening, two instrumental guest soloists performed Johannes Brahms’ Concerto for Violin and Cello in A Minor, Op. 102, with violinist George Zazofsky and cellist Samuel Mayes (HS: Both musicians were colleagues of Mr. Burgin in the Boston Symphony Orchestra.). Listed as opening the program was the single word, “Suite”, by Jean Sibelius. Unusal for this era, no concert notes were included within a small basic program. (HS: However, Googling the three movements noted on the program, also “Sibelius”, reveals that almost certainly what was performed this evening was his Karelia Suite, Op. 11.) During the evening the Symphony played three audience-favorite movements from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite: Valse des Fleurs, Danse des Mirlitons and Gopak. The PSO concluded the concert with March Lorraine by French composer Louis-Gaston Ganne, a work which the Press Herald reviewer felt was “a rather dull piece”. The P-H’s final paragraph about the concert concluded with “The large audience was most enthusiastic, which attested to thorough enjoyment. It was an extremely fine concert.”

An added artistic advantage of having brought Richard Burgin onto the scene with the Portland Symphony Orchestra (besides his obvious talent and experience as both a musician and a conductor) were his many contacts with highly-capable musicians who would accept invitations to guest-solo with the PSO. Prime examples were the appearances during the prior two concerts, first by his wife and subsequently by Mssrs. Zazofsky and Mayes. Portland audiences benefited from being able to enjoy the talents of such high-quality musicians. Whether he might also have been able to entice artists to perform at “bargain” fees is now not readily available information; however, if so—that certainly would have aided the meager PSO coffers. Unfortunately, despite the musical advancements made by the PSO members under Mr. Burgin, far too many seats in PCHA remained empty during concerts. This nagging economic reality was an issue that promotional efforts were not seriously denting.

Former PSO Conductor Russell Ames Cook passed away in March, in Bangor. The Board of Directors authorized a resolution commemorating the life of Dr. Cook. Also, a Portland newspaper tribute to him after his death observed that “the orchestra had its lean years, but one reason it didn’t have more was because conductor Cook didn’t see his job solely as that of a maestro on the dais; he spent much time acquainting people with the orchestra project and persuading citizens to support it.” The saved clipping also gave him high credit, concluding---- he “gave to Maine much more than he ever was thanked for.” For the concert following his death, on the upcoming May 1, a decision was made to alter the program to include a musical memoriam to Dr. Cook and also to honor recently passed-away longtime PSO violinist Mr. Elwyn T. Ricker.

On the printed program for that May concert at PCHA, notice of the special musical tribute “to the memory of these two faithful men” was highlighted with a black border (and the audience was requested not to applaud after this number). It is virtually certain that everyone in the auditorium was in a respectful, somber mood as the PSO chamber players opened the concert by playing the gentle, familiar Bach Aria for strings from Suite No. 3, "Air on the G String".

Two orchestral works followed, comprising the remainder of the evening’s first half. Initially, Mr. Burgin conducted the PSO in Beethoven’s Overture to Egmont, Op. 84. Next was Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 in B flat major, D. 485. After the intermission, the 59-voice Colby College Glee Club joined the PSO in performances of works by both Johannes Brahms and Alexander Borodin. To sing first after the intermission, they had prepared an elegy that requested comfort after the death of someone close; ironically, the Colby men and women had rehearsed this composition well before the death of Dr. Cook. The Brahms work was his difficult 15-minute-long Nänie, Op. 82, (HS: Googling reveals that the title word is the German form of Latin nenia, meaning "a funeral song". The composition is based on a poem by Friedrich Schiller which Brahms set to music. The difficult work is a lamentation on the inevitability of death; the first sentence, Auch das Schöne muß sterben, translates to "Even the beautiful must die.") The concert closed with the Symphony and the Glee Club combining to perform the always stirring Polovetsian Dances from “Prince Igor”. (HS: Professor Peter Re directed the Colby Glee Club; several years later the former Julliard, Yale and Columbia student would aggressively, but unsuccessfully, seek the PSO conductor position.)

It was certainly reasonable for the PSO board to assume that adding works by various area college glee clubs to the PSO’s regular classical works also provided the benefit of bringing more concertgoers with affiliations to Bowdoin, Colby and Bates, into City Hall Auditorium..... while also retaining the loyalty of regular PSO subscribers and attendees.

The Portland Kiwanis Club sponsored the PSO performing a Pops Concert at the Eastland Hotel Ballroom, under the baton of PSO oboist Clinton Graffam, Jr. The evening was set to help the Kiwanis Underpriveleged Child Fund. At this June 3 evening of light music, the program opened with Edwin Franko Goldman’s long-popular traditional opening number at decades of Central Park Mall summer concerts, On the Mall March. (HS: It brought back special memories when I found a PSO program of this concert:  Moving to NYC several years later than this PSO Pops concert, in the early 1960s, I was then a regular attendee at the Goldman Band’s open-air concerts [hey!  I had a low-paying summer job when in college, and the Goldman Band concerts were free!]. I fondly recall the band, then under what sould be a many-years career by his son Richard Franko Goldman, and the audience always happily la-la-la-ing and whistling through two strains of the trio of this catchy march. Ironically, Mr. Goldman retired only two months after this Portland-Pops evening [he died the subsequent February], following an amazing 2146-consecutive “never-missed-a-downbeat” career as conductor of the band he founded in 1918.)

The Portland Pops concert this June night included a number of well-known, popular musical “war horses”. (HS: It had to have been a F-U-N time!). Before the intermission, played were Franz von Suppé’s Overture to “Poet and Peasant”, Ernesto Lecuona’s Andalucia, Leroy Anderson’s Trumpet Trio — Bugler’s Holiday, then Dance of the Hours from “LaGionconda” by Amilcare Ponchielli, and finally Kéler Béla’s Marimba Solo — Hungarian Lustpiel Overture. 15-year-old PSO timpanist Norman Fickett (HS: There’s a neat item about him in the Anecdote section of this THINGS-PSO.) was soloist in the Kéler Béla work. After the intermission, the audience was treated to the traditional Old Timer’s Waltz, George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (played by piano-soloist Thomas Bucci [who in 2013 when this THINGS-PSO is being written, would be on the music faculty of USM), a Selection from Oklahoma by Richard Rodgers and finally........... of course, it’s “POPS” in New England!— Mahlon Merrick’s snappy favorite, the march Look Sharp, Be Sharp!. The program, of course, didn’t list specific encore numbers....... but if there weren’t at least several-- then either Mr. Graffam or the audience were in grouchy moods this evening, which is highly doubtful.

When he chose the Kéler Béla Lustpiel work for the PSO to prepare for this concert, it is unlikely that Mr. Graffam was aware of a significant fact about that work insofar as the Portland Symphony’s past was concerned. During the week of six performances that the Portland Orchestral Society performed in May of 1925 (HS: The young ensemble’s second year in existence), that composition was the closing number for the nighttime concerts played for audiences at The Strand Theatre (HS: Built in 1918).

The Student Philharmonic Orchestra disbanded this year due to lack of enough qualified string players.

The City Hall Auditorium received roof repairs. (Portland Press Herald, 2/3/60—page 1)

This year PSO Directors announced that the personnel of the Men’s and Women’s committees were admitted to the Portland Symphony Orchestra Association as members.

Board minutes show that a three-member committee from the Board went to “the City Manager to investigate possibilities of an increased appropriation from the city.” No follow-up minutes about any such meeting occurring were spotted in the PSO Archives (so HS presumes that no additional funds were then forthcoming). Despite what was a reasonably-priced locale to perform, the fact that the PSO was continually “broke” from a P&L standpoint was an issue that just couldn’t seem to be corrected—and attendance levels (and ticket sales) were to remain way too low to allow the organization’s financial books to get anywhere close to breakeven.

At several Board meetings this year discussions were held about the subject of whether the orchestra “[1] should be (put) on a more professional basis, with an increased number of hired professional players or [2] should it hold to the original purpose noted in the by-laws: namely, to advance and encourage the study of music through public performances without monetary profit to its members.” Each time these discussions were held, the issue was tabled for later consideration. In the end, the minutes never do reflect any formal proposal being voted upon by either the Board or the membership. (HS: this non-action regarding by-law changes appears likely due to both resistance among the members and the fact that it was uncertain whether the prime mover for engaging additional hired players, Mr. Burgin, would continue on as conductor. Another issue was “where will the additional $$ come from to pay more professional musicians”, since levels of ticket sales for concerts remained unsatisfactory.)

This year the board minutes contain no record of any membership votes taken for officers or directors. The minutes continue to refer to Lawrence Hatch as PSO President.

What in effect was a “premium seats at premium prices” policy was in effect for the 1955-1956 season. Tickets for Floor-level seats were available at $5, $4, or $3, depending on location. Specific details were provided on the inside-cover of the season’s first concert program. The “Best Seats in the House” were $7, in rows A-C of the First Balcony.

In September, both the Press Herald and the Evening Express, carried editorials beseeching Portlanders to support ticket-sale drives then starting for the upcoming season. Both papers decried the “poverty-like” financial condition of the PSO, each suggesting that the orchestra might not survive much longer unless more local support was forthcoming. The P-H encouraged readers to subscribe for season tickets, commenting that “the orchestra needs more than luck to survive another year of poverty. It needs... ...cold hard cash.”

The Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36 of Tchaikovsky was the featured work when the PSO opened its 33rd Season at PCHA on Wednesday, November 9, with Richard Burgin continuing on as conductor. That work comprised the entire second half of the program. Before the intermission, the PSO opened the concert by reprising a Rossini classic (last performed in April of 1953), his Overture to Semiramide. This was followed by Mozart’s Serenade for Orchestra in D major, K. 250, named after the prominent Haffner Salzburg family. Hiroshi Harayama was the guest violin soloist for the Mozart composition. The first half concluded with the Roumanian Rhapsody No. 1 by Georges Enescu. The P-H headline above the newspaper’s review of this concert was “Symphony’s Opening Concert Well Received”.

In December the PSO prepared to honor Jean Sibelius for his 90th year, readying to perform one of the composer’s works, Finlandia. Mr. Sibelius sent a personal letter of thanks to the members of the orchestra, which Conductor Burgin read to the group at a rehearsal. That moment was captured by a Press Herald photographer, and carried in the P-H issue published on December 13.


1956       Monday, January 9 was the date of the first concert of this year, performed at City Hall Auditorium. The evening’s music began with a reprise of a work that Mr. Burgin had included in his inaugural conducting appearance with the PSO, four years earlier: Three Seventeenth Century Dutch Tunes, by Adriaen Valerius and arranged by Hans Kindler. The three movements were In Times of Stress; See How Strong; and Wilt Now Walk Before the Lord. The first half of the program consisted of Beethoven’s Incidental Music to Egmont, inspired by the historical play by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (HS: In addition to the familiar Overture, four other sections of the work were performed.) Summer Cape Elizabieth resident, and stage, film & television character actor Gary Merrill narrated stanzas from the tragic drama’s Sturm und Drang text, joined by local Portland soprano Barbara Hardy. During the second half of the program, Mr. Merrill, who had endured a tiring trip from Hollywood to Portland (HS: his plane was grounded four times!) also narrated a performance of Prokofiev’s Peter And The Wolf, with the P-H reporting that his contributions were a “delightful addition”. At this concert Miss Hardy also performed ‘Ach, Ich Fuhl’s’ from “The Magic Flute” by Mozart and Ritorna Vincitor from “Aïda”, by Giuseppe Verdi. The Symphony concluded the program with a the work it had carefully rehearsed to salute recently-turned-90 Jean Sibelius, playing his Finlandia, Op. 26. (HS: This was another reprise, from Mr. Burgin’s second PSO concert in 1952.) The headline above Press Herald reviewer Marshall Bryant’s article about the evening expressed the viewpoint that the “Symphony Orchestra Gives Most Rewarding Concert of Season”. There was no reference to crowd size in the clipping.

The March 7 concert, the third in that season’s series, featured three meaty compositions by The Three B’s. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F, BWV 1047, was followed by Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58. This Wecnesday evening, Miss Tung Kwong-Kwong returned to the PCHA stage as guest piano soloist. The Press Herald reviewer particularly favored the Symphony musicians’ performance of the evening’s final work, Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 in C minor, citing it a “triumph for Burgin and the orchestra”.

The Colby College Concert Choir returned to City Hall Auditorium on Wednesday, April 18, with the re-engagement featuring the chorus and the PSO in Anton Bruckner’s Psalm 150, later described by the Press Herald as “brilliant and exciting music”. Four vocalists from Colby also appeared with a PSO chamber orchestra, singing Four Selections from “Verperae Solennes de Confessore” by Mozart. The movements were Dixit Deminus, Laudate Pueri, Laudate Dominum and Beatus Vir. After the intermission, the Symphony performed Tchaikovsky’s joyful composition based on three Ukranian folk songs, Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 17. As later events would occur, this concert turned out to be Richard Burgin’s final time as PSO conductor.

What local newspapers called “scanty support” was the general description for the average size of audiences for PSO concerts this past season. What might be labeled editorial “scoldings” of Portlanders for not better supporting the orchestra continued from time to time during this era. Those pleadings seemed to be falling on many deaf ears, however. The symphony’s financial statements continued to be unpleasant reading among board members.

A news clip from a Springfield, MA, paper provides information that Richard Burgin also conducted the Springfield Symphony in 1956. That appearance may have been as a guest-conductor, since Googling the website of the Springfield ensemble shows only: “Richard Burgin, Concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, finished the remainder of the 1954-1955 season” as a fill-in at Springfield.

In May, the Board considered requests made by Mr. Burgin, during conversations concerning his willingness to return as conductor for the following season: that the number of what the minutes referred to as “imported players” (from Boston) be 30-35 in number, compared to 30 local players. Mr. Burgin had also proposed a $500 reduction in his own salary to help the PSO bear some of the expenses of the additional outside musicians. The Board agreed to offer Mr. Burgin an overall budget of $6000 to cover both his salary and travel expenses in addition to costs to procure outside musicians. (Although there is no specific mention in Board minutes about any response that Mr. Burgin might have made to that proposal, events yet to unfold would show that it obviously “didn’t cut it” with him.)

Also in May, the orchestra membership elected its first non-musician to the Symphony’s top-most management post, as Mrs. Jean Gannett Williams became PSO President.

Six weeks after the classical-season-ending April concert, Clinton W. Graffam, Jr. again returned to a Frye Hall podium to conduct a PSO Pops Concert on June 1. This program was presented by the Council of Churches of Greater Portland. During the first half of this Friday evening performance the PSO Pops Orchestra played Bless This House, by May H. Brahe; Overture – The Beautiful Galatea from the light opera by Franz von Suppé; a duet for flute and French horn, Serenade by Anton Emil Titl; the vibrant Iberian-themed El Relicario by José Padilla; the Clarinet solo – Concertino by Carl Maria von Weber; and Jacques Offenbach’s Suite from La Gaîté Parisienne, featuring Overture; Valse; Galop; and Valse and Finale (HS:  H-m-m-m?  I wonder—did the Council of Churches allow an impromptu audience-participation can-can that evening?). Following the intermission, the musicians returned with Thomas Bucci at the Steinway to perform Edward Grieg’s Concerto in A Minor for Piano and Orchestra Allegro, Op. 16. This was followed with the always-popular Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss; the marimiba solo Csárdás by Vittorio Monti (HS: As usual, young Norman Ficket was undoubtedly brilliant with his marimba sticks in that number. In the Anecdote section of this THINGS-PSO, read about his later career successes.), and Carousel Selection by Richard Rodgers. Were there any encores? --- while no clipping of a review has yet been spotted, you can bet that the audience was treated to more than one; everyone had to be having too much fun to go home without more.

On the back of the June 6 Pops concert program was an advertisement for the Eastland, claiming itself as “Maine’s Largest Hotel”, with 750 rooms and three restaurants. What jumped off the page some 50+ years later when it was read in 2012, however, was the following “ROOM RATES START AT $3.25 SINGLE”. (HS:  For sure, that’s an item of evidence regarding “the good’ol days”.)

In July, the Board, then likely largely reflecting on its longtime unwillingness to fully agree to Mr. Burgin’s entreaties to improve the orchestra’s musical quality via the augmented use of imported players, diplomatically constructed reasons to be included in a letter to him advising that the PSO wished to “do without his services for the coming year”. Those reasons were concerned with: “programming, fewer rehearsal schedules (sic), budget necessary” (presumably the word “necessities” was intended).

As this section of THINGS-PSO is being written (in 2013), there seems little reason for disagreement that as a musician, Mr. Burgin was the most talented and accomplished among the PSO’s twelve conductors/music directors. What additional evidence for such a claim could be asked for ---other than his 42-year tenure as concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, under most of the term of Pierre Monteux, and all of the reigns of Serge Koussevitzky and Charles Munch?  His more than 300 conducting stints of the BSO after being appointed Assistant Conductor in 1927 by Maestro Koussevitxky, also stand as significant testimonials to his overall musical abilities.

The Board voted to ask The City for $1500 to help with the budget (no follow-up comments about this topic, success or failure, were found in Board-meeting minutes).

Before autumn, Richard Burgin returned to Boston and his duties with The Boston Symphony Orchestra for several more years. He then also increased his involvement teaching and conducting at the New England Conservatory (HS: a Portland newspaper, five years later in 1962, referred to Mr. Burgin as then “recently retired as concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra”). (HS: Googling his bio reveals that his 42-year service as BSO concertmaster did end in May of 1962; ----he was followed in that position by Joseph Silverstein, who held it for 22 years.) Mr. Burgin later taught at both Boston University and Florida State University. At the Tanglewood Berkshire Music Center he taught conducting for many years. He retired from all his Massachusetts responsibilities in the mid-1970s and passed away in 1981. He must have been highly regarded as both a musician and an individual insofar as the Boston Symphony was concerned, for currently (in 2012) one of the Chamber Music “chairs” for Resident Artist Faculty at the Tanglewood Music Center is named—the “Richard Burgin Master Teacher Chair”. (HS: only four of the nine Chamber Music Faculty members who instruct Tanglewood Fellows each summer hold “Chair” positions).

It was decided by the trustees that during the ensuing two years, into 1958, the PSO would engage several  guest conductors, with the hope that one clear candidate from among that group would emerge as a new PSO music director.

For this transitional 1956-57 Classical Season Series the Board set a maximum $500 fee for each of four individual guest conductors, with the ratio of travel expenses and services left to the discrimination of the individuals. (minutes)

Members were informed by the PSO president that “it is the decision of the Board of Directors to try something entirely new in the history of the Portland Symphony.... A season of guest conductors. Four prominent Boston conductors have been engaged who will each conduct one concert.” Also, “it is the express purpose of the Board to select from this group the conductor who best suits the majority of the playing members and audience both as to personality and musical ability.” Lastly, “our membership, has fallen far below our usual numbers. It is advisable for financial reasons to limit the employment of out-of-town players.” (source: mailing from Mrs. Gannett)

Prior to the season, Rebecca Garland was named Concert Mistress. Maxine Webber was listed first among the other violinists. The previous season she had been a PSO member. The name of Norman Balabas, immediately-former concertmaster and a longtime PSO-member no longer appeared in the concert program among those of members of the symphony. (HS: It is quite possible that he moved away from the Portland area, as it is known that in later years Mr. Balabas was co-concertmaster of the Bangor Symphony, also that he passed away in Bangor in 1988, at the age of 69.)

Rebecca Garland had first joined the Portland Symphony Orchestra in 1943, prior to entering The Julliard School in New York City, from which she would later graduate. She was a longtime teacher in the Portland area, and would eventually be appointed to the applied facultry at UMP-Gorham. During her eventual decades-long career with the PSO (HS: She first became a 1st-stand violinist in 1945.), Mrs. Garland would also teach at both Bates College and Waynflete. Her daughter, Joan, would also grow to become an excellent violinist, serving as PYSO concertmistress and soon thereafter a multi-year member of the PSO as well.

Deering High School Band Director Clinton W. Graffam, Jr., started a year-long sabattical this fall, to study at Boston University through the following spring. His Deering duties were split up, with one new face involved on a part-time basis. Some band activities were handled by the regular second band conductor, Arthur W. Stevens, while Andrew J. McMullan contributed (HS: and likely voluntarily so, considering his reputation for helpfulness and cooperation.... not to omit talent) some new style techniques to the group for use on the marching field that were still retained years later by the Deering Marching Band. Certainly, it was far from coincidence that each of the three instructors “moonlighted” as PSO regulars. (source: Deering Yearbook of 1957)

The PCA’s 1956–1957 season opened with a concert appearance by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy -  conductor. The featured soloist that evening was William Kincaid, flutist.

On Wednesday, November 28, Samuel Seiniger guest-conducted the PSO. Mr. Seiniger, then age 66 years of age, had been a violinist with the Boston Symphony between 1912 and 1943. As an arranger, his compositions had been played by the New York Philharmonic, the Telephone Hour Orchestra and Jascha Heifetz. He had conducted the Boston Pops Orchestra and other ensembles in the Boston area. A Harvard graduate, he also attended the New England Conservatory of Music.

The evening that Mr. Seiniger held the baton before the PSO, famed violinist Joseph Silverstein, then a young (24 years old) member of the Boston Symphony, was guest soloist performing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64; that composition was played just prior to the intermission. For his appearance in Portland, the conductor chose to earlier open the concert with three Bach works, two by J.S. and a middle composition by Philipp Emanuel. Those selections were Preludium from Partita in E major, BWV 1006 (which Mr. Seiniger had orchestrated), Andante Lento Molto, and Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 (he had also orchestrated the latter work). Before Mr. Silverstein took center stage for the Mendelssohn concerto, the orchestra played the romantic Overture to Romeo and Juliet, TH 42, ČW 39 by Tchaikovsky (HS: I continue to be amazed at how many incorrect ways program-typesetters “murder” the correct spelling of the great Russian composer’s name.). After Mr. Silverstein’s performance, which was followed by the intermission, the symphony performed Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95, B. 178, “From the New World”. (HS: The concert program for that evening listed the work as “Symphony No. 5”, which Googling reveals has frequently often been the case “in older literature and recordings”.) (HS: So far, no newspaper reviews of this concert have been found among the PSO Archives.... but who knows “what will be there” when yet-another crinkly-and-faded scrapbook page might be gently turned?)


1957       Wednesday, January 23, found Rouben Gregorian on the PSO podium to guest-conduct a Classical Concert. (HS: Substantial biographical information regarding Mr. Gregorian is contained within the 1958-section of this THINGS-PSO.) The opening number on the program was Rosamunde, Op. 26, Overture by Franz Schubert. This was followed by a major work, Symphony No. 4 in A, Op. 90 “Italian” by Felix Mendelssohn. After intermission, lighter but-still-solid classical works were presented, Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky; Capriccio Espagnol, Op. 34, by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov; and three of the eleven sections of Aram Khachaturian’s Gayne Suite, led off by Song of the Rose Maidens and Lullaby. The PSO’s rendition of the Khachaturian composition concluded the evening with a very popular and spirited number from the ballet. (HS: Read on.)

It turns out that this evening was especially notable, for as the Evening Express reported, “there was a moment of hush after the orchestra completed its work with the thunderous and abrupt climax to the Sabre Dance. Then the audience replied with a thunder of its own. Shouts and cheers were heard among the clapping.” And “Gregorian was called back to the stage three times as the excitement mounted. Finally the orchestra itself joined in an unprecedented demonstration of enthusiasm for the conductor.” (HS: paraphrasing horse-raising parlance----- insofar as the conductor-audition process.... it appears that “Gregorian is leading as they round the first turn.”)

About this time, an automatic elevator was installed in City Hall Auditorium. (Portland Press Herald, 2/3/60—page 1)

Two down, two to go-----  PSO guest-conductor Francis Findlay was the next-to-last candidate, an honors graduate at the New England Conservatory of Music, and now a faculty member both there and at Boston University. Two decades earlier, he was particularly well known in Maine music circles as musical director of the Eastern Music Camp when it opened in 1931 (that camp ceased operations during the Depression, and the still-operating [2013] New England Music Camp was founded in 1937 on the site of the defunct camp.) A highlight of the Wednesday, March 13, evening when the Boston-based conductor held the baton, came toward the end of the program when Mr. Findlay led the orchestra in one of his own compositions, a Latin-American folk fantasy titled Latin-Americana (A Folk Song Fantasy), a work previously performed by both the Boston Pops and the Boston University Symphony Orchestra. Earlier he had the symphony perform Carl Maria von Weber’s Der Freischutz Overture, followed by Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 in G, Op. 68 “Pastoral”. After intermission the orchestra first played Dove sono (Recitative and Aria), Act III, The Marriage of Figaro, by Mozart. This was followed by two arias from Giacomo Puccini’s opera “La Boheme”:   Addio, Senza Rancore, Act III; and Quando Me’n vo (Waltz Song), Act II. Young Boston soprano, Norma Cleary, sang the arias. She had earned music degrees from both Boston University and the New England Conservatory, and was a member of the New England Opera Theatre. Concluding the concert this evening was one of the most famous among the many Viennese-tradition triple-time dances, Der Rosenkavalier Waltz by Richard Strauss. (HS: Unfortunately, no newspaper reviews of this concert have been found among the PSO Archives.)

The fourth, and final, PSO guest conductor this season was Attilio Poto, then a member of the faculty of the Boston Conservatory of Music, where he was conductor of both the Conservatory Orchestra and the Conservatory Band. A clarinet player, he played the instrument as a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 1939-40 and the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1948-50. At the time of his appearance with the PSO he was also conductor of the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra. (HS:  Previously he had directed the Massachusetts State Symphony Orchestra and also both the Glouster and Medford Symphony Orchestras.) Mr. Poto’s selections for a May Day Wednesday evening concert began with Toccata by Girolamo Frescobaldi, transcribed for orchestra by the American cellist and conductor, Hans Kindler. Next followed Claude Debussy’s Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (HS: Or..... to mono-linguists like me, better known as “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun”.) The first half of the program culminated with the duo-pianists, Victoria Markowski and Francesco Cedrone performing Francis Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in D minor, FP 61. The single work following intermission was Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 In D major, Op. 73, a composition with a cheery and almost pastoral mood. (HS: An EE editorial published prior to the kick-off concert for the next 1957-1958 season, looked back upon this concert. It referred to the PSO’s performance as one that was “under the baton of... ...a gifted young Boston conductor whose skilled direction of last season’s closing concert won critical and popular acclaim.” So--- might it be a two-horse race?  Read on for a quick answer to that question.)

An unusual “sponsorship” issue arose at this concert. Manufacturer credits in the program were given to both Steinway (piano provided courtesy of Cressy and Allen) and Baldwin (piano courtesy of Clements Music Shop). It’s possible that there were not two matching concert grand pianos in Portland, so the duo pianists may have had to “flip a coin” to determine who got which.

Following the season, a poll of the PSO playing members showed strong support for both Mr. Poto and Mr. Gregorian. Their support for these two conductors would coincide with the leanings of the PSO board, once the latter group met to decide on what further action to take.

Three weeks later, the Council of Churches of Greater Portland once-again presented a PSO Pops Concert, this year holding the event in City Hall Auditorium. Clinton W. Graffam was again wielding the baton. The concert opened with The Lord’s Prayer by Albert Hay Malotte, featuring the Presumpscot Union Parish Rhythmic Choir. Other first-half numbers were Richard Wagner’s March from Tannhäuser; Giuseppe Verdi’s Overture – Sicilian Vespers; two selections from Léo Delibes Ballet Sylvia, Pizzicato Polka and Valse Lente; Richard Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto for Piano and Orchestra with Thomas Bucci as soloist; and the violin section featured in Vittorio Monti’s Csárdás, a type of “reprise”, since this was a well-received piece by the 1956 Pops audience. (HS: Googling reveals that “Csárdás” was a recruiting dance for the Hungarian Army. I can’t help but smile and wonder---- hopefully this night at the Pops it served as a recruiting number for more PSO ticket sales?)

Following the intermission (HS: During which, the program prominently stated, “Cott’s Famous Beverages served in Lobby”.), Dr. Malcolm W. Cass was organ soloist for Richard Purvis’ Suite – Dubious Conceit, with Cantilena, The Little Bells and Marche Grotesque (HS: Not familiar with this work, I Google-ed and learned that the complete name is Four Dubious Conceits; the “Nocturne” was not performed by Dr. Cass at this Pops Concert.). Selection from “The King and I” by Rodgers led to two of the many, but always-magical, compositions by Johann Strauss II. Those were Perpetual Motion, and the Waltz – Voices of Spring. The audience was surely wanting encores after what had to be a rousing final scheduled number, a rendition of Reinhold Gliere’s Russian Sailors Dance – from The Red Poppy. (HS: Unfortunately, no review of this fun concert has been found in the PSO Archives, however it’s a certainty that some now-unknown bouncy encores must have closed out the evening.)

Board minutes this year contain no reference to the orchestra membership voting for officers or for directors. Minutes do make continual reference to Mrs. Jean Gannett Williams as PSO President.

The P&L summary for the 1956-57 season listed total receipts (of all types) of almost $7200, about $350 in excess of total payments of $6825. The significant accumulated deficit remained on the books.

In June the Board decided to offer half-season proposals to both Mr. Poto and Mr. Gregorian, with “Mr. Poto (being) offered the first half” of the 1957-58 season. The remuneration rate was maintained at “$500 for each concert and preparation” (HS: thus including rehearsals). Both Mr. Poto and Mr. Gregorian sent letters accepting the Board’s invitations.

Subscription prices to attend the entire 1957-58 season were set at $7 for the first two rows of the balcony and $5 for all other seats ($3 for students).

This year the City of Portland allotted $1100 to the orchestra for its season.

An early-November P-H article reported that “ten new members have joined the Portland Symphony this season”, four violinists, a violist, a cellist, a clarinetist, two French horn players and a percussionist. The newspaper said that several vacancies remained in the string section. Although personnel policy then still in place called for the Symphony to “use competent local players who wish to play before outside performers can be used”, the article made no mention of where the ten new musicians resided.

A full-page advertisement in the Press-Herald detailed the outlook and plan for the then soon-to-begin 1957-1958 season, billing the two scheduled guest conductors as having “established an unusually high degree of rapport with the orchestra (during the previous season and who also) won the special acclaim of Portland critics and audiences”. Season tickets for the four-concert classical series ranged from a high of $7.00 to a low of $3.00 (for students).

Mr. Poto re-ascended the podium for a concert on November 20. The first classical downbeat of the season began Leonore Overture No. 3 in C Major, Op. 72A, by Ludwig van Beethoven. Then, highly-regarded guest-soloist Jesús María Sanromá took center stage for a performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major (K-488). Newspaper reviewer Bryant wrote, “An exceptionally fine pianist, he conveyed the spirit of the music with vigor, a rounded sense of style and a crisp tone that was full but retained its sparkle.” Puerto-Rico-born Mr. Sanromá had received his college musical education at the New England Conservatory, sent there by the government of Puerto Rico, which had recognized his potential. He graduated at sixteen with highest honors. By then 55 when he performed at PCHA, he had extensively toured and performed throughout the world for four decades, the concert program notes informed that he had been “soloist over four hundred times with 75 orchestras and 83 conductors, playing 53 major works.”

Following the intermission, PSO member Clinton W. Graffam was English Horn soloist in Jean Sibelius’ The Swan of Tuonela, Op. 22 No. 3. This performance was also praised by the paper. The program concluded with beautiful and memorable themes as the symphony performed Symphony in D minor, by César Franck, the composer’s only symphony. The headline to the newspaper article was “Poto Conducts Symphony In Auspicious Opener”. (HS: The PSO candidate was likely hopeful that the beginning words of the headline were “auspicious” regarding a possible future for him with the Symphony.)

The November PSO Season-Opening concert was attended by an audience that local newspapers reported as close to 2000, “the largest and most responsive Portland Symphony audience in the memory of veteran concert goers” reported one paper. Under an editorial headline “Something New Has Been Added”, one paper commented that what wasn’t new was the usual high quality of the music produced, nor only guest-maestro Poti, nor the guest soloist. “What was new was the audience --- ... place of row-on-row of empty seats of other years, the orchestra looked out last night on a sea of faces.” The commentary concluded, “As the orchestra wound up its program with a melodic crescendo, a thunder of applause came rolling down onto the stage from the three tiers of seats in City Hall Auditorium. It must have been music to the ears of the too long neglected musicians.” This concert was the 152nd for the PSO. (HS: Might this season-opener surprise be a positive harbinger of, finally, continuing success at the box office?  You can be sure that lots of fingers were crossed for that to happen...... especially the fingers of the trustees.)

On December 28, the Women’s Committee made arrangements for the matinee performance of “Around The World In Eighty Days”at the Strand Theater to be a benefit for the Symphony. (source: Press Herald, 11/14/57) (HS: If you weren’t around in those days, this super-wide-screen Michael Todd production, using what was named Todd-AO 70 mm cinematography, was a big deal in the late 1950s. It was a huge hit.)


1958       On Wednesday, January 22, Attilio Poto concluded his two-concert conductor-candidate stint for the 1957-1958 PSO Classical Season. This concert opened with Mozart’s Symphony No. 33 in D, K. 385, “Haffner”. Next, renowned violinist Carroll Glenn, then rated by many as the world’s most celebrated woman violinist, joined with the Symphony in Tchaikovsky’s Concerto in D major for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 35. The following day the P-H review stated that “she played the exceedingly difficult Tchaikovsky (concerto)... ...with exceptional sweep and power. The fine, warm tone found full release in the passions of Tchaikovsky’s music.” After intermission, the PSO performed the premiere of Colby Professor Peter Re’s Variations on Airs by Supply Belcher. (HS: In this Timeline Section of THINGS-PSO I will refrain from the obvious temptation to make wise-guy comments about such a name; he was a post-Revolutionary War composer who had moved to Farmington after serving as an Army officer. However, if you check the Anecdote Section you will see that I did attempt there to poke some fun.) The reviewer seemed to “sort-of like” this work, however he did write that, “Undoubtedly a second hearing would reveal a measure of substance that would linger in the memory. It was definitely interesting, if not compelling.” The concert concluded with A Strauss Ball (Johann II composed them all), a grouping of five of the Viennese composer’s “all-time hits”: Emperor Waltz, Thunder and Lightning Polka, Tales From The Vienna Woods, Tritsch-Tratsch Polka, and The Blue Danube Waltz. The P-H review stated that this was a “spirited performance”, and that “(Mr.) Poto easily persuaded the orchestra to play with vigor and a sonorous quality yet put a lift in the waltzes.” The writer rated the conductor-candidate’s combined several times with the PSO musicians as having “had a beneficial effect on the orchestra and their playing ability.”

Rouben Gregorian guest-conducted the PSO in March, selecting works exclusively by Maine composers. Compositions by John Knowles Paine, Walter Piston, Paul White and himself were performed. Mr. Payne’s As You Like It Overture, Op. 28, followed by his four-division Spring Symphony, Op. 34, opened the concert. After the intermission Mr. Piston’s Prelude and Allegro for Organ and Strings was played, with John Fay at the keyboard of the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ. Next was a second Piston work, Suite from the Ballet “The Incredible Flutist”, with PSO principal Frances Snow Drinker the soloist. The Symphony musicians then put forth two compositions of Mr. White with humor, first-- Five Miniatures, which included By The Lake; Caravan Song; Waltz for Teenie’s Doll; Hippo Dance; and Mosquito Dance. The second piece by Mr. White had a puzzling name, College Caprice on the Maine YMCA., which the composer had dedicated to the University of Maine. P-H reviewer Bryant wrote positively that he enjoyed both the variety and the theme of the conductor’s choices for the evening.

Mr. Gregorian’s work “HEGA was composed especially for this concert” and was based on music original to “The Indians Of Maine”. The program notes included: “Hega is a Penobscot word meaning hello and together with the other words of this melody form a song of welcome used by Maine’s native Indians of this tribe.” Alluding to the work’s including a melody similar to Old Man River, a local newspaper carried an article titled “ ‘Ol’ Man River’ Theme—It’s Maine Yankee, Not Dixieland”.

As scheduled, Rouben Gregorian also guest-conducted the final concert of the 1957-58 Classical Series, on Wednesday, April 30. (HS: Obviously, this was also the final “beauty-contest” concert before the PSO board would decide on a new conductor for the Symphony.) The evening’s opening selection was Symphony No. 1 in D major, Op. 25 by Sergei Prokofiev, widely known as the “Classical Symphony”, a name given to it by the composer. Guest soloist Alfred Mirovitch, then on his ninth world tour as a performer, performed Anton Rubinstein’s romantic Concerto No. 4 in D Minor for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 70. (HS: The Russian-born virtuoso was on the faculty of the Boston Conservatory of Music, following a seven-year post-war stint at Julliard.) After intermission, the orchestra played Claude Debussy’s Petite Suite, originally composed when he was 29 as a piano work for four hands, then later arranged by him for orchestra. Certainly a number that sold some extra tickets that night, for listed next on the program was L’apprenti sorcier, composed by Paul Dukas. (HS: By now [2012], that work was first heard by almost everyone courtesy of Walt Disney’s 1940 film anination “Fantasia”..... as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice). Certainly the PSO swept away everyone in the audience when they played that popular composition this evening (HS: .... Sorry, I couldn’t hold myself back.) The evening concluded with Invitation to the Dance by Carl Maria von Weber. The P-H headline following the concert read, “Symphony Hits Pinnacle In Season’s Final Concert”, with the final summary paragraph, “There was high enthusiasm for the orchestra, soloist and conductor. The approval was well founded.”

Three Governors of Maine were in attendance that evening, then-governor Edmund S. Muskie and former governors Sumner Sewall and Horace A. Hildreth. Another reason that this was a special evening was that three members of the PSO completed their 25th season that night. USM Masters Candidate Darryl A. Card recorded that the “three charter members were Harold M. Lawrence, first flute and piccolo player; Arthur H. Stevens, first French horn player; and Louis Rapaport, who played at the first stand of second violins. All three had entered the orchestra in their high school days, had held almost every office in the orchestra, and had contributed largely in its development from a small civic music venture to a technically proficient, well-disciplined unit.”

Tickets for this past-season’s concerts were priced at $2.00 and $1.50 for adults, 50-cents for students. (HS: Let’s see what next season’s rates will be. And “No”, I don’t already know the answer as I type this.)

The P&L summary for the 1957-58 season listed total receipts (of all types) of almost $9800, about $200 in excess of total payments of almost $9600, although a long-term deficit remained on the books.

At the end of the classical season in May, the Board “voted to (re)engage Rouben Gregorian as conductor for one year.” (minutes)

Again this year, board minutes contain no reference to the orchestra membership voting for officers or directors, although a newspaper clipping in the PSO Archives report the re-election of Mrs. Jean Gannett Williams as PSO President. Then still a year away from retirement as a PSO musician, Harold M. Lawrence remained on the board, having been re-elected to First Vice President.

The PSO Women’s Committee staged the Symphony’s largest-ever fund-raising event in late June. A “Fashion Fiesta” was held at the Charles Shipman Payson estate (HS: For a chuckle, see the Anecdote section of this THINGS-PSO for a sidelight about this affair.), featuring an Isetta sports car as the “Symphony Showcase” grand prize. The event raised over $4500 for the PSO (HS: Adjusted for the effects of 50+ years of inflation, a comparable total in 2012-dollars would be more than $34,000.)

Rouben Gregorian, from the Boston Symphony Conservatory, began his tenure as PSO conductor, a career which continued until 1962. The Orchestra would become fully paid under Conductor Gregorian in 1959. (HS:  A PSO pre-season promotional brochure published nearly a decade later, in 1967, contained a one-page history of the Portland Symphony referred to Mr. Gregorian’s selection as an “appointment of a full time ‘suitcase’ Conductor”, a phrase that I have not spotted elsewhere in the PSO Archives.)

Googling reveals many interesting facts about Rouben Gregorian, some “lifted” and included herein: He was born into an Armenian family of musicians in Tiflis, Georgia, in 1915. His family moved to Iran a year later, returning to their native Tabriz, the “citadel of the Armenian culture.” Son of a prominent musician, he played an instrumental role in the musical artistic scene in Iran, and then later, in Greater Boston. He attended the Tehran Conservatory (1938-45), and the Paris Conservatory (1952-54). At age 33, he became Music Director and Conductor of the Tehran Symphony Orchestra (1948-51). He joined the music faculty of the Boston Conservatory of Music soon after his arrival to the United States in 1952. For twenty-seven years he taught violin, coached chamber music, and conducted both the Conservatory Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

In the Fall, a positive Press Herald editorial alerted readers to expect a lot from the person who it respectfully referred to as “This fellow Gregorian!” Commenting about having eavesdropped on a PSO rehearsal, the paper wrote that the new conductor had “set the local musicians afire in a thrilling finale to last year’s concert series. Take it from us, the orchestra is still playing with fire --- with Gregorian, that is.”

Then-young timpanist Norman Fickett, not yet graduated from high school and off to Eastman School of Music--  and after that further off, to Detroit and a 40-year career with that city’s orchestra, commented to yours truly during a much-later conversation in 2012, “I remember working with Rouben Gregorian... ... I recall that he was quite jovial and more relaxed than Burgin. Less stress for us, especially the string section.” Mr. Fickett added that ”I remember that he was an extremely enthusiastic conductor.” Perhaps a comment passed along by Mr. Fickett some 55 years later says the most about his PSO experiences as a youngster, “those were good years in which I learned a lot.”

At a Board meeting in September, [1] Mr. Gregorian “requested a permanent Boston agent for extra players. This was refused for lack of funds. Also, [2] Mr. Gregorian requested a permanent librarian to act as stage manager at concerts and arrange (sic) music for rehearsals.” This was authorized. Lastly, [3] the Board limited the “budget for extra players: $2000 per year. Recommended $2800 as annual maximum.” (HS: the $-discrepancy is not clear, perhaps the “apples & oranges” difference reflects a calendar-year vs. the full-season?)

In October, Maestro Gregorian told the Sunday Telegram that “Paying the musicians for rehearsals and performances would not only attract more fine musicians from the Portland area, but raise the symphony into the ‘professional ranks’.” He commented to the paper that amateur musicians too often have calendar conflicts that cause them to miss important rehearsals, whereas professionals are contracted to always appear. Making the PSO a paid orchestra was a mission for Gregorian when he first appeared on the Portland scene. While still a season away from seeing his goal come to pass, he was obviously interested in arguing for his cause whenever the opportunity presented itself. (HS: I cannont help but wonder how much Mr. Burgin, albeit unsuccessful in similar earlier efforts, might have smoothed the way for Mr. Gregorian’s arguments to fall on receptive ears.)

A decision was made that the second balcony would be closed for the first concert of the 1958-59 season. (HS: Presumably this was done to “concentrate” the audience closer together in a large group, thereby accentuating the sound of hoped-for heavy applause...... also to give concertgoers a sense that they were part of a “packed house”—although everyone of course knew that the steep top level of City Hall Auditorium was not open.)

There so-far have not been any programs or clippings about a PSO Pops concert in 1958. While that, by itself, does not mean that none were presented (HS: Recall that the “Pops” events in the previous three years were sponsored by outside organizations, thus assuring that the Symphony organization was not at any financial risk.), it is reasonable to assume that explanations for no such concert might possibly relate to either general P&L considerations or perhaps the board wanting Mr. Gregorian to start with a ”clean slate”.

Also, related to entries in this THINGS-PSO, there have been no mentions for many years of any Youth Concerts. Once again, nothing for-certain can be determined from the absence of any clippings or programs in the PSO Archives about youth concerts. However, it may be that none had been held following the conductor-tenure of Dr. Cook. Prior to the 1958-1959 season, the P-H reported that a Youth Concert was scheduled for the the-then upcoming February. Information as to whether it was eventually held at City Hall Auditorium, at Portland High School, or at another school has so far (2012) not been spotted.

Paul E. Melrose passed away on October 20, in Tennessee. He lived to age 74. Nothing is known (by HS, that is) regarding his activities and various whereabouts after resigning as PSO conductor in 1937.

Two of the PSO’s four Classical Concerts of the 1958-1959 season occurred this year, The first, at the end of October, would of course, mark Mr. Gregorian’s inaugural time as no longer a “guest”-conductor,

For his opening number for his October 30 inaugural program as PSO Conductor, Mr. Gregorian chose Felix Mendelssohn’s 1830 concert overture The Hebrides, Op. 26, also known as “Fingal’s Cave”. (HS: Googling for musicology insights reveals that this is not an overture in the sense that it precedes a play or opera; the piece is a concert overture, a stand-alone musical selection, something common with Romantic era pieces. I’ll have to admit that I didn’t previously know that. [Hopefully you’re now not saying “where’s this HS-guy been?]) This Mendelssohn work was inspired by a sea cavern known as Fingal’s Cave along the coast of Staffa, a small island in the Hebridesarchipelago located off the west coast of Scotland.

The first half of the concert also included was a major work, Camille Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 2 in A minor, Op. 55. (HS: At the moment this is being typed, no news clipping of this concert is at hand; my fingers are crossed that one will be found in another scrapbook.)

After intermission, Mr. Gregorian conducted the Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff. Portland native and Westbrook Junior College faculty member Richard Roberts was guest-soloist. He held a master’s degree in piano from the Julliard School of Music in New York City, from which he had graduated. The program notes mention that there he was a pupil of Katherine Bacon (HS: HEY!  My wife, Sue, studied with her!) The music for the evening concluded with the orchestral suite The Comedians, Op. 26, by Dmitri Kabalevsky. It is considered one of his best known and best-loved works. The Symphony performed all ten sections.

A close look at the cover of the program provided to concertgoers on Mr. Gregorian’s inaugural night might have set some people aback (HS: Not to omit Rouben Gregorian, who also might have been taken aback!). The typesetter had probably “built” the die for this program cover from that used on a prior date, when Mr. Gregorian would have been auditioning for the job. Likely borrowed from that prior set-out of type..... was a massive ‘carryover’ typo thus used again for this evening. Immediately following his name......were the words “Guest Conductor”!  (HS: What might his first thought have been?  Maybe: “YIKES!  I’ve been fired already!” – Really, no harm done..... but nonetheless a fun-item to spot 50+ years later.)

The program cover for the mid-December concert showed “Christmas Concert” above the symphony’s name. First presented was Arcangelo Corelli’s seven-section Concerto Grosso in G minor, Opus 6 No. 8, widely known as the “Christmas Concerto”. Concertmmistress Rebecca Garland and violinist Maxine Webber, along with cellist Katherine Graffam, were soloists. For the remainder of the concert’s first half, the PSO was joined by the South Portland High School Mixed Chorus and the South Portland Community Chorus. The instrumental and choral ensembles, along with five professional vocal soloists, combined to perform the 10-segment Oratorio de Noël, Opus 12, by Camille Saint-Saëns, also known as the “Christmas Oratorio”. (HS: A catchy observation about this work is found in The Community Orchestra: A Handbook for Conductors, Managers and Boards [Greenwood Press], which comments that it is “a delightful substitute for endless Messiah performances”.)

After intermission, the Symphony musicians played Christmas Eve Suite by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakoff, another lengthy work that consists of seven sections prepared for his four-act opera “Christmas Eve”, composed in 1895. The program concluded with A Christmas Fantasie, arrangements of familiar Christmas-season numbers assembled by American F. Karl Grossman, who in 1938 and then already in his 50s began what would be a 25-year career as Music Director of the Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra. According to the program notes provided to concertgoers, for the closing section of his “Fantasie”, the choruses “join(ed) with the orchestra for a brilliant finale”,  The names of 125 chorus members filled an entire page of the program (HS:  HEY!  You bet that a LOT of extra tickets that night were purchased by family members.).

A performance at Portland’s Civic Theater in December featured several Big-Time movie stars. Gary Cooper performed his great impersonations, “Sgt. York” (with “also-rans” [Hah!] Joan Leslie and Walter Brennan in supporting roles). Later on the bill, James Cagney enacted George M. Cohan, with his famous “Yankee Doodle Dandy”. It’s a good thing that the PSO didn’t have THAT to compete with for an audience the same day.


1959       Wednesday evening, February 18, marked the date for the first PSO Classical Concert of this calendar year, with the program listing the event as the Symphony’s “One Hundred and Fifty-Eighth Concert”. Conductor Gregorian first led the orchestra in Ludwig van Beethoven’s Overture to "Prometheus", Op. 43. The next work performed was also by that composer, Symphony No. 41 in C major,K. 551, often nicknamed the “Jupiter Symphony”. (HS: Googling reveals that the name “Jupiter” is not derived from LvB, but was coined by the composer and impresario Johann Peter Salomon in an early arrangement for piano.) Closing out the first half of the evening was Franz Joseph Haydn’s Concerto for Violin, Harpsichord and Strings in F major (Hob. XVIII: 6). Harpsichordist Daniel Pinkam and violinist Robert Brink solo-ed during this work. Two Bizet compositions comprised the post-intermission orchestral selections, L'Arlésienne Suite No. 1, followed by L'Arlésienne Suite No. 2.

The Press Herald reported that “90 lusty horns and woodwinds of the Deering High School Band join(ed) the Portland Symphony Orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s resounding 1812 Overture”, at the Classical Concert on April 15. An article written in advance of the performance concluded that “Those in the balcony may be well advised to hold onto their hats when Maestro Gregorian raises his baton for 1812.” (HS: The Band Director at Deering H.S. at that time was longtime PSO oboist Clinton W. Graffam, Jr.) Before the cannon-shot(s)-aided finale, the orchestra opened with George Frederic Handel’s Water Music Suite, an arrangement by Sir Hamilton Harty in 1922 (that consists of six of the original series of 22 pieces). The other work during the first half of the program was by Joseph Haydn, his Symphony No. 101 in D major (Hoboken 1/101), popularly known as “The Clock” (because of the "ticking" rhythm throughout the second movement).

Two other compositions were performed prior to what assuredly would be the usual audience “Standing O.” following the thunderous Tchaikovsky work. Richard Kapuscinski (HS: He had been a student of Leonard Rose, and was to go on to become a longtime prominent teacher himself at Boston University, later at the Oberlin Conservatory.) was guest soloist in Luigi Boccerini’s Cello Concerto No.9, G.482, B-flat major. This was followed with Slavonic Dances, Op. 46, Nos. 1 and 3 by Antonín Dvořák, from his first (of two.... the Program Notes stating that his second series was not as fresh-sounding as the first) groupings of such dances.

The Women’s Committee is advised that “the Springfield Orchestra is trying to recruit players from the Portland Orchestra”. (minutes)

At another Women’s Club meeting, the minutes contain: “the conductor could not count on amateurs to rehearse regularly. Mr. Gregorian refused to deal with amateurs another year. It is too frustrating. He wants a professional orchestra. He thinks he can find players for every instrument in the Portland area if they are paid.”

The PSO Board elected Horace K. Sowles Jr., President of the organization.

The P&L summary for the four-classical-concert 1958-1959 season listed total receipts (of all types) of $8419, essentially the same as total payments of almost $8404. (Once again, a long-term accumulated deficit was not reduced.)

A May Sunday Telegram article about the PSO was titled “Portland Symphony Virtually All-Maine”, with “only a handful ‘imported’ from Boston to fill key spots”. This headline must have greatly rankled Mr. Gregorian, since from the first moment, when he arrived in Portland, behind the scenes he had always aggressively urged that a greater numbers of “Boston professionals” be hired as PSO players.

During a June interview reported in the Sunday Telegram, PSO President Horace Sowles, Jr., spoke about advantages to the Portland Symphony Orchestra were it to “turn pro”. One major point regarded the decades-old problem of not all musicians attending each practice session, thus lowering the chances of the entire ensemble maximizing the quality of performances. He said, “When a person is paid, he has a responsibility to the director to appear for rehearsals and engagements. It’s most important that a conductor have control over his musicians if he’s to build a good orchestra.” Mr. Sowles also expressed the belief that there were numerous professional musicians, within Maine and elsewhere down toward Boston, who while not wanting to participate with a volunteer amateur ensemble would now be interested in becoming members of a paid symphony orchestra.

The Press Herald edition of September 29 reported that “Cecil K. Drinker had been named full-time business manager to guide the PSO’s affairs.”

The Board agreed to a plan whereby the PSO’s playing members, previously unpaid volunteers with the exception of “a scattering of Boston artists who strengthened sections of the orchestra as needed”, would all be paid. The “musicians will get slightly less than union minimums, but considerably more than the national average for such musical groups.” “The pay scale .... Has been unanimously approved by the executive board of Local 384, American Federation of Musicians.” “Under the new setup, a minimum core of 58 musicians will be selected on audition or approval of the conductor. Present players don’t have to audition.” Also, “Players aren’t required to join the union. But the cost for those who do will be picked up by the orchestra”, board member Cecil Drinker was quoted as saying. (Press Herald and other articles)

Also approved this year was that a manager or a team of managers would be hired to handle the business matters now being handled by the board of directors. A part-time secretary would be hired to assist.

Obviously, the trustees and also the musicians (HS:  Whoever they respectively turned out to be, since some turnover was inevitable) were all headed into uncharted waters. In order to pay the PSO players, more $$ would need to flow into the Symphony’s bank account, requiring higher average concertgoer attendance, higher box-office receipts (a combination of more ticket sales, and likely higher ticket prices) and more contributions from individual patrons and the business community (HS:  Help from some government funding programs was also in the mix, but obtaining those was always chancy.... and many years later, would virtually totally disappear). Also, the PSO’s overall marketing programs would need to successfully promote the expected higher caliber of musical performances that would come about--- meaning convincing substantially more people to become regular paying attendees. While there were many among those on the PSO scene who hoped and believed that higher musical quality would lead to a big-time boost in revenues..... having things turn out so that the calculus of all these developments positively meshing involved risks of fiscal derailment. In reality, while the agreement with the union and the commitment to a better stage product were big steps for the trustees to take---- LOTS of “Heavy Lifting” among non-musicians in the PSO community needed to start, NOW.

Gross receipts for the season just ended were $8,419, and after adding in funds raised by the Women’s Committee and endowment contributions total gross income was about $17,000. But now, to pay for players, the PSO board felt that it needed to triple its receipts, a goal to be helped somewhat by duplicating its Portland concerts in several Maine cities. (source: Evening Express)

So now...... let’s consider something potentially very significant:  Q- With substantially higher wage-related costs to pay, would there be a loss the next 1959-1960 season?   A- You bet there would..... and a big one, too.

An August newspaper article confirmed for the public that “PSO musicians, heretofore unpaid amateurs, will be paid”. “The rate was slightly less than union minimums, but substantially more than the national average for such groups. A minimum of 58 musicians would be selected based on auditions or approval of the conductor.” (HS: As events played out, instead of the Maine-proportion of PSO members diminishing as greater numbers of “imported” Boston players joined the ensemble, now-being-paid members from Maine and New Hampshire ended up taking the place of 20-or-so positions formerly filled by players from Boston. Also, with the musicians now being paid for “services” [both rehearsals and concerts], and with rehearsals now much more productive since previously many players “had conflicts”, considerably more than the old “15 to 20 faithful” no longer were the only musicians practicing with the conductor.)

The Portland Expo was substantially renovated this year.

The formal legal organization of The Portland Symphony Orchestra was changed and amended so that the Executive Board would consist of non-playing individuals, with “playing (PSO) members be(ing) allowed to sit in on Board meeting(s) but their number to be limited.” The over-riding objective was to “better serve the community.” An approving  quorum was declared present at a Special Meeting. Since the orchestra’s incorporation in 1932, up until the two-thirds/one-third adjustment made in 1953, the board had long been exclusively comprised of, then after the 1953-change still-controlled by, PSO players. The By-Laws now entitled votes to anyone who had contributed at least $10 to the PSO, as well as Life Members who had made at least a $1000 single-payment contribution at any time. The new voting-power arrangement removed control from the PSO players. Unfortunately, as time had worn on and on, the playing group’s fiscal and business management achievements rarely equaled their admirable immense dedication or pretty-good-to-occasionally-excellent musical prowess.

The size of the PSO Board of Directors was increased from 12 to 18 members.

The minutes of the PSO Annual Meeting reveal that the performing organization consisted of “58 players, all paid for services; scale low to start (estimated $30-35 for one concert and rehearsals).” The organization’s by-laws and corporate purposes were redesigned to give the PSO a more educational role in the community and also set the stage for the PSO to expand its cultural influence.

One then-young player who joined the PSO shortly after it went professional, commented to HS about a human-interest aspect of the orchestra’s pay-policy change that made a positive impact on her life, “The cash, which seems meager now, helped a lot with my college expenses.” In another nice-to-hear “direct-touch with the past”, she also fondly recalled Rouben Gregorian as her violin teacher. This lady eventually moved to the west coast and remained a community-orchestra player for decades --- a solid legacy from her Portland and PSO days.

The Portland City Hall Auditorium received more roof repairs this year.

No surprise: Single-concert ticket prices were increased at the start of the 1959-60 Classical Season, from $1.50 and $2.00 for adults the prior year to $1.75, $2.50 & $3.00..... and for students from 50-cents to 75-cents, $1.25 & $1.50. Newspaper advertisements featuring headlines saying “Save Approximately 30%” also list season-ticket rates, that ranged from as high as $12.50 for adults to as low as $3.00 for students.

There has been no program or other information found regarding any PSO Pops Concert being presented this year.

The theme of the five-concert 1959-1960 Classical Season, the PSO’s 36th, was named the “Season of Distinction”.

In September, the Portland City Council granted permission for the PSO to rehearse at PCHA, as well as concerts. In addition, the symphony was provided rooms in the building for an office and to store scores, records, instruments and music racks in the auditorium. City Manager Julian H. Orr said that there would be no additional cost to the city for what he described as “a reasonable way” to help “this excellent cultural activity.”

Two months before the new season would begin, the entire PSO community was suddenly saddened by the accidental death of Mr. Gregorian’s 4-year-old son, Rouben, Jr.

Auditions for PSO openings were held on Friday/Saturday, September 18/19, to fill openings in the bassoon and clarinet sections, also for string instrumentalists interested in joining the orchestra.

On the evenings of both October 12 and 13 in Portland, the husband-wife team of Gary Merrill and Bette Davis performed “The World of Carl Sandburg”, a dramatic presentation of selected works of the so-called prairie poet. The PSO Women’s Committee was one of the sponsors of the performance, although the orchestra expected to benefit only slightly. These two appearances were the beginning of a 16-week nationwide tour for the famous Cape Elizabeth show-business couple. Held at the State Theater, 1500 people attended the premiere. Mr. Sandburg was at both performances, and after each Mr. Merrill came down from the stage to escort him back up so that he could speak to the audience.

Prior to the first concert of the new 1959-1960 season, a pre-performance newspaper article contained several pictures taken while the PSO rehearsed in “the Council Chambers at City Hall.” While one might now puzzle as to why this locale was used as rehearsal space, there was no explanation or mention as to why the rehearsal was not held in the City Hall Auditorium.

Before the start of the 1959-1960 season, the printing company for the PSO’s programs might have placed a call to the Symphony offices to be sure something regarding the printer’s proof of the November concert wasn’t an oversight. Among the members of the Portland Symphony Orchestra, one name was missing. Day#1 Co-Founder, multi-year orchestra president, and longtime PSO flutist/piccolo-player Harold M. Lawrence, retired from the orchestra after a 35-year career that began when the Amateur Strand Orchestra was formed by Arthur Kendall. During those three-plus decades he also held positions as board member, president (numerous years), and as unpaid business manager. Throughout most of his life he had either an active or reserve Army military career, eventually retiring with the rank of Brigadier General. His professional life saw him engaged as business manager of the Portland campus of the University of Maine. Based on descriptions and some examination of various multi-volume scrapbook collections he assembled, he was an impressively organized man. His ten-volume set of notebooks containing PSO memorabilia holds more than 160 PSO Concert Programs, in the majority of cases the only known remaining copies from those respective performances. Thanks to the cooperation of his family, the PSO Archives contain pdf-scans of many dozens of the programs he saved. Everyone associated with the PSO during its first 40 years OWED MUCH to him; in fact the same is still an appropriate statement regarding current PSO musicians and supporters (in 2012). (HS: Mr. Lawrence passed away in 1993.)

The new Classical Season opened on Tuesday, November 10, at City Hall Auditorium. A “large audience (would be) generous in its acknowledgement of an excellent first concert” under Rouben Gregorian, wrote newspaper reviewer Marshall Bryant. The audience total was “close to 1000” wrote reviewer Harrison Brown, and “Electricity” surrounding the official debut of the now-permanent conductor, as well as anticipation of higher-caliber play of the orchestra – sparked by “better balanced sections through increased proficiency of personnel” undoubtedly stimulated interest among concertgoers.

Mr. Gregorian raised his baton and the orchestra responded by playing the grand-and-colorful Suite Provencale, Op. 152A, by Darius Milhaud. Next, guest one-armed soloist Austrian Paul Wittgenstein performed the challenging Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D major, by Maurice Ravel. (HS: The performer had originally commissioned Ravel to write this work, since he had lost his right arm during World War I.) His performance was rated the “high point of the evening” by one reviewer. After the intermission, Antonín Dvorák’s Symphony No. 4 In G Major, OP. 88 was performed by the Symphony musicians. The program concluded with Manuel DeFalla’s Spanish Dance No. 1 from La Vida Breve (translation: “Life is Short”), his two-act opera. One newspaper article stated that “The opening concert made it very evident that this season we shall hear playing of greater brilliance from a more spirited orchestra than last year’s.”

An interesting observation (HS: portending significant future events [in decades to come] for the physical environment at City Hall Auditorium) by one newspaper was that the 1000 attendees “settled the downstairs only sparsely but filled the (first) balcony, where acoustics are better and seats softer...”

A new “dress code” was in effect when the musicians took the stage this evening. An unattributed newspaper clipping found in the PSO Archives mentioned that “Pastel colors in the women’s evening gowns and assorted styles of dinner jackets among the men (were now) mere memories. Instead the symphony players... ...present a visual symphony of somber black and gleaming white. It (was) tails and white ties for the men and black formals for the girls.” Symphony Manager Cecil K. Drinker admitted to “a little worry as to where all the tailcoats (would be) coming from. Anyone owning one of these rather archaic and fantastically impractical garments now has a chance to make a welcome donation to the orchestra.” (HS:  A “tale” in the Anecdote Section of this THINGS-PSO tells how the PSO came to wear “tails” for the first time at this concert. Hint:  Mr. Gregorian was the hero.)

A final comment about newspaper clippings regarding this concert: Harrison Brown was to-the-point harsh in his criticism about usher supervision and the public’s concert manners. “Late comers were seated noisily throughout the opening number, a condition which seems to reflect poor usher supervision and worse public manners and which would be ruled out ruthlessly in many less sophisticated places. Shuffling and clicks of spike heels on the concrete floor did little to help the orchestra and even after most of the tardy were seated the ushers had very audible girlish conservations among themselves.” (HS: That’s an interesting report, one that certainly then-challenged the audience to become “more professional” during a time when the orchestra was already doing so.)

Prior to the next concert, symphony officials “announced that latecomers will not be seated while the orchestra playing”. Reviewer HB celebrated the action, later writing after the concert that “latecomers were kept where they belonged – in the lobby with doors to the auditorium closed.” (source: newspaper articles)

A Tuesday evening, December 15, concert featured PSO principal flutist Frances Snow Drinker in the romantic  Concertino for Flute and Orchestra, Op. 107 by Cecile Chaminade. This woman’s work (HS: She was a rare composer, inasmuch as during her time [1857-1944] she was “virtually the only one of her sex to have achieved renown in the field of creative music.”) was performed prior to the intermission. A reviewer praised beautifully mannered and the scale passages rippled faultlessly.” As for the orchestra, the review went on to say that it “provided an accompaniment that was generated by (conductor) Gregorian’s sensitiveness to the ideas of the soloist”. After the intermission the orchestra performed Symphony No. 5 in E minor by Johannes Brahms, which the paper said was “played with a measure of assurance that proves” the ensemble “is rapidly establishing the capacity to encompass sturdy fare.” Also during the first half of the concert program that evening was the seasonally-appropriate Faithful Shepherd Suite for Orchestra by George Frederic Handel, arranged by Sir Thomas Beecham. In the second half of the concert, the orchestra performed Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98 by Johannes Brahms, and concluded with Antonín Dvořák’s Slavonic Dance No. 7 in C Major, Op. 72.

The Symphony began this concert standing, when their instruments would allow (i.e., no cellists). The reason for the ensemble standing was a resumption of a tradition that had lapsed after the WWII-years, the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner. A decision was made to have the National Anthem open every concert. Also at this concert, yuletide greens gave a holiday atmosphere to the stagefront.

On the concert program for this performance, below the list of compositions, is the following: “The Baldwin is the official piano of the Portland Symphony Orchestra and of Rouben Gregoroian.” (HS: I suspect that Mr. Charles G. Steinway didn’t have any more PSO concerts on his calendar!)


1960       A Young People’s Concert program (HS: So.... A-Ha!  There sometimes were programs handed out at youth concerts, after all. Although, after further examination...... this instead appears to be a concert aimed at young people accompanying adults [perhaps much like the PSO Discovery Series Youth concerts in 2012], as opposed to a PCHA Youth Concert to which students were bused.) was retained in the PSO Archives of a February 7 Sunday-afternoon concert at City Hall Auditorium. The opening work was the always-popular  Overture To William Tell, by Gioacchino Rossini. Other works performed that day included Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, by Franz Liszt; Polonaise, Op. 40, No. 1 by Frederic Chopin; and a work by pianist-virtuoso Louis Moreau Gottschalk --- the Suite From The Ballet “Cakewalk”, arranged from the composer’s music by Hershey Kay. (HS: Regarding the Gottschalk/Kay composition, it was not included on a pre-season handout brochure listing concert works for upcoming months. Instead, Khachaturian’s Gayne Ballet Suite was originally scheduled to conclude the program.) At the concert, literally promoting the “youth” focus of the afternoon, third-year Curtis Institute student (HS: He was only 16 years old at this time!) James Keene, from Newcastle, performed Henri Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in D-minor. A newspaper article reported Maine Governor and Mrs. John H. Reed as having brought their two daughters to the concert.

Both newspaper reviewers wrote favorably about the concert and its reception among the many enthusiastic children in attendance (HS: The downstairs and first balcony were filled, with the audience spilling up into the second balcony.). Helping define the kids’ reaction to part of the concert (HS: This won’t come as a surprise to anyone, but was fun to read in a review.), during the William Tell, “some younger concert-goers made like the Lone Ranger right in their seats, entirely without benefit of chaps or sixguns in their Sunday outfits.”

Following the concert, a new so-called Stub Club policy was instrumented, whereby simply by showing their ticket-stubs concertgoers could attend a reception in the Old City Council Chambers and meet and mingle with the conductor and orchestra members.

Little has been found describing a March 1 run-out concert to Nasson College in Springvale. However, it is likely that works performed were ones among the 1959-1960 Classical Season Series repetoire of the PSO. A probable safe bet is that PSO principal flutist Frances Snow Drinker reprised the romantic Concertino for Flute and Orchestra, Op. 107, by Cecile Chaminade, a work that she and the PSO had played at the earlier December concert in Portland. Since during this era Mrs. Drinker was a member of the faculty at the Berkeley Summer Music School at Nasson College, featuring her on the program would have been a perfect decision for Mr. Gregorian to make. (HS:  A-HA!  An old clipping about this concert was found after the above was written, and indeed, Mrs. Drinker did perform the Chaminade concerto.) Other performed works detailed in the found same-day clipping regarding this Nasson concert included: Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 4 in D minor Op. 13, B. 41; Otto Nicolai’s Merry Wives of Windsor Overture; and the Hershy Kay arrangement of Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s Cakewalk Ballet.

On March 22, Richard H. Roberts, a Julliard School of Music graduate and then-member of the faculty of Westbrook Junior College, was the piano soloist when the Symphony gave its fourth Portland concert of the season. To conclude the first half of the concert, he played Piano Concerto No. 4 In G Major, by Ludwig Van Beethoven. After the intermission the Westbrook Junior College Chorus under Marshall Bryant sang Claude Debussy’s Demoiselle Elue (“Blessed Damozel”), accompanied by the orchestra. The PSO played sans soloist in performances of Carl Otto Nicolai’s Overture from the “Merry Wives of Windsor” and the tone poem legend for orchestra, Kikimora, OP. 63, by Anatoli Ljadow. The concert concluded with three pieces from “Suite from Peer Gynt”, by Edvard Grieg. The three were Anita’s Dance, Morning and In the Hall of the Mountain King. The headline above normally-supportive newspaper reviewer Marshall Bryant’s article referred to the concert as a “Sterling Concert”. A local newspaper noted that “the audience was not large”, unfortunately somewhat of a turnback from the trend of the past several concerts, and a frequent situation that kept recurring throughout much of the period when Rouben Gregorian was conducting the orchestra.

Orchestra Manager Cecil Drucker announced in late March that annual talent auditions among young Maine musicians would start the next month to select awardees to receive a full scholarship at a Maine summer music school. “The first place winner also will appear as a soloist with the Portland Symphony Orchestra during a concert” the next January, he was quoted in a local newspaper article. The competition prize would be named after and paid for from the estate of the late PSO violist, John T. Gorman.

An advance article before the final concert of the classical season, Tuesday evening, April 26, carried the line that it would feature “the dean of today’s classical saxophone players”, Sigurd Rascher. He performed Concerto for Saxophone and String Orchestra by Lars-Erik Larsson. He next was joined by his daughter, Karin Rasher, as some of the orchestra accompanied them in a performance of Concertino for Two Saxophones and String Orchestra, by Johann Quantz (fourteen year-old Karin played the soprano saxophone with her father in this work; it had originally been written for flute, oboe and strings). The PSO compositions played included works by Brahms, Shostakokovich and Khatchaturian. They were Academic Festival Overture; the Russian composer’s Symphony No.1 in F, Opus 10; and both the Waltz and Galop from the Masquerade Suite, respectively. Mr. Harrison Brown’s newspaper review cited the evening as the orchestra’s “best playing of the season.” During his stay in Portland, Mr. Rascher gave recitals and clinics in three local schools over two days, also meeting with a group of woodwind players at Deering High School. His daughter also participated in those activities. (HS: the high school appearances were undoubtedly arranged by Deering’s, and the PSO’s, Clinton Graffam; one can be sure that Clint certainly hoped young Karin’s playing might “light a fire” under some of his students).

Including hall-rental and payroll costs for musicians, board minutes from this time state that expenses for individual concerts approximated $3,500. A local newspaper reported that, unfortunately, the concert “drew the smallest audience of (the PSO’s) 36th season.”

Board minutes show that doubt and concerns regarding the PSO’s ability to “earn its way” through ticket sales was pervasive at this point in time, so much so that discussions included consideration of having the PSO go back to its roots..... and be 100% comprised of amateur musicians (thus eliminating labor costs). That, of course, would have had an adverse effect on the music-quality offered to concert-goers. Fortunately, no U-turn of  this nature occurred, and efforts were concentrated on developing  plans to do a better job of selling more tickets—to concerts performed by professional-level players. The fact that the board gave any consideration to such a revision reveals the group’s comprehension of the orchestra organization’s dire financial straits during this era.

An architect was hired to study improvements at City Hall Auditorium. An article makes the claim that the auditorium has remained...”Unpainted for two decades”. (Press Herald)
                (Maine Historical files suggest architect was Douglas K. Goodspeed, Portland)

“Condition of the auditorium is a ‘disgrace’..”

  ...looking at staging, sightlines and seating arrangement

  ...”being studied is possibility of a tilted floor” —for years “the flat floor had been maintained for dancing”
        (-above from Portland Press Herald, 2/3/60—page 1)

Another article, contained in the Public Library’s Portland Room, referred to City Hall Auditorium’s drab appearance:   ....”peeling paint on ceilings and walls, worn floorboards, patched-up ceilings, cracked window s, cracks in the plaster and general shabbiness.” In a subsequent response in the paper, City Manager Julian H. Orr, “declined to agree with critics that the auditorium verged on the disgraceful” ..... but said “it certainly doesn’t look as bright and spic and span as when it was repainted” (which the paper, quoting the City Hall custodian, said “the auditorium got its last full-scale painting in the early 1930s.” (HS  wonders if the custodian received a tongue-lashing and a “make no future comments” command from Mr. Orr?) The paper also wrote “Orr said a general repainting would be a major expenditure for the city” and that “widespread leaking was stopped last summer when the city put on a new roof surface”.

Anyway..... although not much developed from these PR skirmishes in 1960, grumbling-rumbling about the conditions at City Hall Auditorium, from musicians and patrons alike, was to build in future years such that the citizens and their fourth-estate newspapers would eventually lead to attempts to get the city to attempt significant improvements.

Note #1: two longtime PSO patrons mentioned that the Auditorium seats had sometimes been removed (HS: on at least one occasion, if not more) to accommodate a Boy Scout Jamboree

Note #2: one longtime PSO patron mentioned a Roy Rogers show at the Auditorium when the cowboy descended (HS: precisely how wasn’t discussed) from the balcony, onto his palomino (HS: Trigger..... in case you’re too young to know about his famous horse; incidentally,  while Googling I learned that Trigger was originally named Golden Cloud--- which nobody remembers)

Note #3: Paul E. Merrill, in a conversation with Toshi Shimada published in the 1991 April-May issue of Greater Portland Magazine, recalled a 1950’s visit by Gene Autry and his horse, Champion. After “The Singing Cowboy” crooned several tunes on the stage, a side door of PCHA opened and in came the horse, up a ramp over the stairs and did his act on the stage. (HS: So.... did both Gene and Roy separately appear at PCHA?  Hm-m-m-m?)

Note #4: on the positive side regarding then conditions at the auditorium, one longtime PSO player     praised the stage floor as having “beautiful wood”.

Horace K. Sowles Jr., was re-elected PSO Board President.

Arthur Bennett Lipkin resigned his position as Music Director and Conductor of the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (later, the orchestra changed its name in 1956, and became fully professional).

In August, four of the PSO’s first-chair players joined as the Portland Symphony Quartet, and presented a program of four selections at the Portland Museum of Art. Concertmistress Rebecca Garland; Dana Cecil Carter, viola; Katherine Graffam, cello; and Frances Snow Drinker, flute, performed.

The PSO opened the five-concert 1960-61 Classical Season with an ensemble of 68 musicians. (Source:  Portland Press Herald, 2/3/60—page 1)

The 1960-1961 Classical Season began on Sunday afternoon, November 6, with Rouben Gregorian on the podium for a 3pm concert. This concert opened with (HS: if you were a “Sergeant Preston of The Yukon” radio fan you’d instantly recognize this theme) Donna Diana Overture, by Emil Nilolaus von Reznicek. It was followed by four of the five sections of Edward MacDowell’s Second Suite Op. 48 (Indian). The featured work after the intermission was Symphony No. 2 In C Major, by Carl Maria Von Weber. The final two works were Georges Enescu’s Rumanian Rhapsody No. 1, Op. 11; and Bostonia Suite by Keith Crosby Brown. Originally written and dedicated to Arthur Feidler, the latter’s three movements are each descriptively named: On Boston Common, Sunday Morning on Beacon Hill and On The Esplanade. A local newspaper reported that “It was an auspicious opening concert for there was a substantial improvement in the sound of the orchestra that augers well for future programs. Reinforcement in various sections seem to have opened the door to greater sonority, clarity and precision in the playing of the entire orchestra.” Unfortunately, the final sentence of the article begins with “The audience, though not large..........” The orchestra’s slogan for the ‘60-‘61 season was “Season of Note”. Unfortunately, the problem of not enough concertgoers actually going to concerts was continuing.

Shirley and Robert Davis both joined the PSO this fall. Mrs. Davis, who had studied in Boston under Ruth Possalt (HS: Richard Burgin’s wife, remember.) was named to the new position of Principal violinist, with Rebecca Garland continuing on as concert mistress. Mr. Davis was a Portland native, and was a scholarship student at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied bass trombone. Moving from Texas, where they had each been members of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, both took new teaching positions in Portland schools.

The season’s second concert was unique in that six classical works performed in Portland on Sunday afternoon,  December 4 (entirely repeated the next evening in Lewiston) were actually music accompaniment to ballet dancers then enrolled in professional courses at the Boston Conservatory. The choregraphy was under the direction of Austrian-born Jan Veen, assisted by Ballet Mistress Ruth Ambrose, from the Conservatory. In the first half of the concert members of the troupe danced ballet interpretations to Beethoven’s Prometheus Overture, Op. 43; Handel’s Concerto Grosso in F Major, Op. 6, No. 2; the Felix Mottl arrangement of Christoph von Gluck’s Eighteenth Century Frolics; and Johann Strauss II’s Viennese Carnival music from his “Wine, Women and Song”. In the second half of the concert, Mr. Gregorian conducted the Symphony players as the ensemble accompanied ballet choreographies to Camille Saint-Saëns’ Dance Macabre, Op. 40; and The Princess and the Frog King by Adolphe Adam. The ballet concert culminated with all members of the ballet ensemble on stage in a presentation adapted to the music of Giacomo Meyerbeer, his Entr’acte Music from “Les Patineurs”, arranged by Constant Lambert. Newspaper articles after the performances indicate that this holiday-season diversion was well received by both adult and young people in attendance.


1961       A late-January Sunday-afternoon Youth Concert by the PSO, on the 29th , was rated “a success by” the Evening Express. (HS: There’s a fun anecdote about why the date of this concert needed to be changed from an originally-scheduled January 22---; see the separate section of this THINGS-PSO.) The newspaper’s reviewer favorably commented on the fact that “there was absolutely no condescension on the part of Rouben Gregorian or of any of the players toward their audience, in spite of a program which with a couple of exceptions, was extremely light and delightfully gooey, (as) the orchestra played superbly.” Overture to Raymond by Amboise Thomas opened the program. Bach’s Little Fugue in G Minor followed. After intermission, 16 year-old Phillip M. Simonds, a winner of the John T. Gorman talent auditions, was the piano soloist with the PSO. He performed the first movement of the Grieg Piano Concerto in A-minor, reportedly handling well “the showy pyrotechnics” needed to best show off parts of the work. Governor John H. Reed came up to the stage to present Mr. Gorman with his award. Harl McDonald’s A Children’s Symphony was also listed on the concert program. The young audience was most enthusiastic  for the two closing numbers of the afternoon, the Lucien Caillet Variations on Pop Goes the Weasel (HS: Amazing!--- the tune just ‘pop-d’ back into my head after a lapse of....... oh maybe...... 50+ years) and Kenneth J. Alford’s Colonel Bogey March. It was fun to read (HS: And laugh at-) some literary pomposity in the Express clipping about the concert that has been long-saved in the PSO Archives, “in the former—with its inconsequential theme dressed richly in lachrymose strings, pompous brasses, trumpet on a crying lag and sardonic guffawing tuba—juvenile interest seemed to center on the orchestra gentleman who made the weasel pop by means of a loud blank cartridge in a handgun.” “Youngsters’ feet tapped irresistibly in the closing rousing march.” (HS: as, I’d bet..... so did those of oldsters, too.) Reviewer Marshall Bryant described the audience as “sizable and enthusiastic”, although specific reference to attendance was not made.

Efforts to rename the PSO as the Maine Symphony Orchestra were thwarted in both the Maine Senate and the Maine House in Augusta. The original purpose of the PSO board’s request to authorize use of this name related to hopefully gain a loophole to escape effects of a 1913 state law that “provid(ed) that a nonprofit organization forfeits its right to state funds by use of the word ‘Maine’ in its corporate name. Under its broadened bylaws and a new statement of corporate purpose”, the PSO unsuccessfully attempted to gain legislative action to become eligible to seek state funds in changing its name. (source: Evening Express)

The Colby College Glee Club and the Waterville Community Chorus joined the PSO for a combined February 26 concert on a Sunday afternoon in City Hall Auditorium that was repeated the next evening at the Opera House in Waterville. Dr. Robert E. L. Strider, president of Colby and a director of the PSO, was a baritone soloist at the concerts. He was joined by soprano Florence Cross during a performance of Cantata for Soprano, Baritone, Chorus and Orchestra: Dona Nobis Pacem, by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Earlier the program had begun with the Richard Yardumian modern idiom Chorale-Prelude on Plainsong “Veni, Sancte Spiritus”. For its only orchestral work of the program, Mr. Gregorian chose to feature the PSO personnel by selecting Charles Gounod’s Symphony No. 1 in D major. The EE’s Harrison Brown essentially summed up his impression of the Sunday-afternoon Portland performance, when he penned “There must be many who, like this reviewer, would like to take the night off to hear such superb music again.” His P-H counterpart, Marshall Bryant commented favorably on the concert, but mentioned that the audience “was smaller than it should be for such a performance.” (HS: Attendance continues to be a problem.)

For many years, high school girls had served as ushers at PSO concerts in city Hall Auditorium. At the February concert, for the first time local high school boys also joined that service team. (HS: A P-H article made no reference as to whether this change was designed to help change PSO-concert-atmospheres away from having too many previously-criticized chatty girls. In fact, concerns prior to the concert might have been raised that this change might have made matters worse.)

Dover, NH, was the destination of the Mr. Gregorian and the Symphony musicians on Tuesday, March 7. The Dover Kiwanis Club presented a concert by the PSO at Woodman Park Auditorium. Ludwig van Beethoven’s Prometheus Overture was the first classical work performed this evening, followed by Charles Gounod’s Symphony No. 1 in D Major. Following the intermission, the concert program (HS: An original copy of which has long been retained in the PSO Archives.) listed the Rumanian Rhapsody No. 1, Op. 11, by Georges Enesco. The final work performed was Keith Crosby Brown’s Bostonia Suite, earlier performed for a Portland audience at the PSO’s season-opening concert in November. This work, was written in 1945 --  dedicated to Arthur Fiedler, and was orchestrated by Boston Symphony cellist Jacobus Langendoen. At this concert, four members of the Dover Public School String Development Program played as guests of the PSO. The violin section of the school orchestra performed four short unison solos with the Symphony, Daisy Belle; Battle Hymn of the Republic; Red River Valley; and Amaryllis. The concert program noted that the PSO was “well known for supporting and encouraging young musicians”. Shirley Davis prepared the highlight notes contained in the six-page programs provided to concertgoers.

In mid March, the Indianapolis Symphony appeared in Portland on a Thursday evening. (HS: Although the lone clipping mentioning this event in the PSO Archives doesn’t say, presumably this was a concert presented under the auspices of the Portland Concert Association.) It would be interesting to know what kind of attendance greeted the Indiana musicians, especially as that might tell a comparative tale to the size of recent not-well-attended PSO concerts.

The last of the 1960-1961 Season PSO concerts was performed on Wednesday night, April 12. It featured the “United States premiere of Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in E Major with [husband-wife team] (Allison) Nelson and (Harry) Neal Duo Pianist(s) as Guest Artists.” The two received a top-rank headline in the next day’s Evening Express: “Duo-Pianists Confirm Top-Rank Status Playing Mendelssohn With Symphony Here”. The great composer had been only 15 years old when he composed the work in 1824. The reason that the work had never before been performed in the U.S. was that the score had been in the hands of the East German Communist government. A newspaper article reported that “Microfilm of the music was released by ...[that group]... only after years of frustrating negotiation.” (HS: So far, nothing in the PSO Archives indicates how the PSO [or Mr. Gregorian] ended up in the position to premiere the Concerto, although the concert-program contained the following credit:  “Music through kindness of George Mendelssohn, President Vox Productions, Inc., New York City”.)
(source:  Evening Express and other Portland area newspapers, April, 1961)

Years later during a conversation, Mr. Gregorian’s son, Leon, recalled that his father was “very excited” when the PSO premiered the Mendelssohn double concerto.

What the P-H review described as a “stirring and often noisy” Il Guarnay Overture , by Antonio Carlos Gomez, opened the program. That review also said that Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 in F major “was the real meat of the concert”, with the orchestra playing “assiduously in meeting the demands of rapidly changing moods and contrasts which abound in the work”, thus “deserving high credit.” Hungarian March by Hector Berlioz provided what was described as “a brilliant climax to the concert symphony season.”

The U.S. Navy Band, under Conductor Commander Charles Brendler, USN, appeared at City Hall Auditorium in late April, the group’s first Portland concert since 1955. The ensemble gave both an afternoon performance (aimed at younger people) and an evening concert (tailored more to adult tastes). Among the 14 offerings that evening were Leonard Bernstein’s Candide Overture, Richard Rodgers’ Allies On The March from “Victory At Sea”, a member playing a post horn solo Tally Ho!, and a Suite of favorites composed by Leroy Anderson. The concerts featuring the Navy Band were sponsored by the Portland Symphony Women’s Committee.

Board members gave further review to the auditor’s report for the prior year (ending May, 1960). A Statement of Income and Expense for the fiscal year listed income of about $17,000 and expenses of almost $30,000. There was no question that some material changes would have to occur.

Consideration was given to whether the size of the orchestra should be reduced to lower costs. Consideration was given to going from five concerts to four. The orchestra was “at a crossroads”, and that it was imperative that the PSO must not spend way beyond its means.

Reflecting the unsatisfactory P&L, the board decided that the “Position of Business Manager (be) vacated for a time for financial reasons” —noted as so-voted in minutes from a November meeting. (HS: While it is possible that the general overall competency of that business manager may also have been an issue considered by the board, there is no such reference or motion in the minutes. Suspicion that some lack of confidence in the manager might have been a consideration is raised by the fact that the board, to help reduce expenses, could have considered reducing the manager’s work week by a day or more; but this didn’t happen.)

The PSO announced that “to give orchestra members ‘the psychological lift” of playing before a crowded house” (HS: Unsaid, but presumably also to further reduce costs), the board decided to engage the Portland High School Auditorium for all concerts during the 1961-62 season. Also, the article mentioned, another “reason given for the move were ‘more comfortable and better seats and generally better décor’ “. (HS:  The move away from PCHA turned out to be a very short-lived experiment; read details below.) However, board minutes from this era make it clear that “everything was on the table” insofar as being eliminated to reduce costs was concerned; tight financial controls were applied on PSO staff areas of responsibility.

This year, the Press Herald reported that the bell above City Hall has “been silent 20 years”.

The PSO Board was examining the possibility of a resident conductor and ways that this might be financed. (minutes)

Related to that directly above, a late-July Sunday Telegram reported that new PSO Board President Mrs. Sidney W. Thaxter made an announcement after making public details on the next season’s concert series that the PSO would have its own resident conductor, starting the season after next (meaning 1962-1963). The newspaper wrote that “she said the move was in line with a program started two years ago to create for Portland a symphony orchestra of professional caliber musicians whose music would add stature to the cultural life of the city.” The article went on, “A resident conductor would be better able to improve the orchestra than non-resident directors and could serve the community in other capacities.” Mrs. Thaxter indicated that it would be another year before a resident-conductor post could be filled.

The Women’s Committee placed one thousand (1,000) dozen Christmas cards on sale to raise funds.

The annual fund-raising auction of the Women’s Committee included an unusual item: one of his traditional olive-drab chapeau’s was donated by Fidel Castro (based on a Portland Press Herald article published that May). The chapeau fetched a $25 winning bid, from screen star Bette Davis, who was a Cape Elizabeth resident. Altogether, more than $3000 was raised at the event (HS: This was equivalent to $27,000 in 2012-dollars.) During a 2014 conversation, Leon Gregorian recalled that his father had met Bette Davis at some Portland-area event, and subsequently encouraged the PSO to attempt to “do something ‘big’ and engage the  movie star to help out to gain support for the Orchestra”. The auction, he said, was what came from that suggestion.

The PSO this year resumed sponsorship of a Youth Symphony, made up of students from Portland and a wide surrounding area. PSO oboist Clinton Graffam, former director of the Portland Junior Philharmonic Orchestra (that was disbanded in 1955 due to a lack of enough quality string players) was named conductor of the Youth Symphony.

The PSO made a formal request to the Portland City Council to gain permission to serve beer and/or punch (HS: Not described in a newspaper report, but presumably of the “spiked” variety; otherwise why would “permission” be requested?) at a fund-raising concert then being planned for either PCHA or the Expo. “Councilors turned down” the application. In a tart and sarcastic editorial the P-H took a shot at the “lofty purposes and noble ideals reflected in the City Council’s proud action”. The editorial included the lines, “our faithful watchdogs stand taut at the battlements of civic respectability. We’re not running some rip-roaring frontier town here, you know.” Also, “We’re not opening any of our public buildings to any such bacchanal as a pops concert with beer. That may go in some iniquitous den such as Symphony Hall in Boston but it’s not going to corrupt Portland.” It added, “here in Portland we have certain standard, don’tcha know?” Commenting on the (HS: maybe career-risky) and “bold” support for the PSO’s denied-proposal by City Manager Julian Orr, the P-H declared, “That’s a pretty daring thing for a city official to say to the council”, continuing, “but the councilmen remembered that Mr. Orr has been to New York and Chicago –to Europe even– and some of that big city sophistication probably rubbed off on him.” One councilman reportedly said in chambers that “They had a hell of a lot of nerve to even ask us”, an utterance that the paper commented on, saying in reference to the PSO request, “which, we trust, was phrased more politely than the councilman’s declaration.” (HS: In an indication that the bar [sorry, that was too good to let pass by] was raised too high for the PSO request ever to have had a chance of gaining council approval, another councilman is quoted as having said during the formal meeting, “There are plenty of places in this city with a license to sell beer. If we want a beer we should go to one of those places to get it”. About this comment the editor wrote, it was “with incredible sensitivity to the Symphony Orchestra’s mission.”) The editorial concluded with a salute to the “tireless efforts of the councilmen who protect our welfare. We would raise a foaming stein to their good health but the root beer is all gone.”

Periodically during this period, smaller ensembles made up from the PSO would give concerts at local schools. (HS: While these later would take on the name “KinderKonzerts”, they were not called by that name in the early 1960s, and the performances would be mentioned in small newspaper articles.)

Just prior to the start of the 1961-1962 season, PSO Business Manager Cecil Drinker shifted his attentions to Opera promotional work in Boston. (HS: When I first read this, I thought that it may have been use of polite euphemisms, considering that the PSO’s attendance and financial accomplishments were not good, thus suggesting the possibility that he may have “been shown the door”. However, I later learned that although the husband of PSO principal flutist Frances Snow Drinker was PSO Business Manager, that assignment was a spare-time occupation; professionally he was an insurance executive who was likely transferred back to Boston.)

Also prior to the season, Shirley Davis was appointed Concertmistress of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. Then 32, she had been been playing professionally for 12 years. A music graduate at the University of Houston, she had studied with Ruth Posselt (wife of former PSO conductor Richard Burgin) in Boston and with Paul Stassevitch in Chicago. She had toured with the Metz String Quartet and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, also two separate four- year periods with the Houston Symphony. She had joined the PSO the previous season. Her husband, Robert Davis, was bass trombonist with the PSO. In the new PSO first-violin section, Rebecca Garland was now Assistant Concertmistress.

The Women’s Committee sponsored an Autumn Swing Festival to benefit the PSO. This year bandleader Sammy Kay brought his “Swing and Sway” music to the Exposition Building in late November. The local newspapers reported that Mr. Kaye and his orchestra drew a capacity crowd to the affair, nearly 2000 people. A large number of those attending enjoyed dancing to his “Big Band” sound.

A Portland Press Herald Article reports that after only one concert (in November) at Portland High School auditorium, the decision was made to move that season’s PSO series back to City Hall Auditorium; this was despite the fact that the entire season was originally planned for PHS. The Press Herald article got right to the point, reporting aspects such as: “stage was too cold, instruments were stored pre-concert in cafeteria but had to be moved outdoors to get to the stage- with exposure to cold night air making many badly out of tune” and “steel grating steps outside stage door were tricky for spike-heel wearing cellists”..... in addition, that “acoustics also not as good as City Hall”. From a-the-man-in-the-street-type column the next day was added, “cramped quarters (for the musicians) must have been most inconvenient.” (HS: Case Closed!)

The soloist at the abortive Wednesday-night Portland High School Auditorium concert was Joseph Silverstein, about to begin a 22-year career as Concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. A former student of Efram Zimbalist at the Curtis Institute, also of William Primrose, the young 30-year-old violinist was greatly heralded. (HS: of local interest, he later was artistic advisor to the Portland Symphony Orchestra in the 2007-2008 season.) Mr. Silverstein performed the Violin Concerto In D Major, Op. 61 by Ludwig van Beethoven. The concerto was the entire second half of the concert. In the opening half, the five-movement Purcellianna Suite for Orchestra, a transcription of a Henry Purcell work by Alfred Akon, a then often-played work by orchestras (206 performances in the prior six years) led off the concert. Next played was Walter Piston’s 13-segment orchestral suite based on ballet music he composed in 1938, The Incredible Flutist. PSO principal flutist Frances Drinker starred throughout the Piston work, certainly not a surprise to regular PSO patrons. A pre-concert article stated that Mr. Piston’s Fantasy for English Horn and Strings would also be performed, however post-concert reviews failed to comment on this work (HS: So... it may not have been played?)

The day after the PSO concert in the Portland High School Auditorium, the Press Herald carried a picture of several wintry-dressed concert-goers who were reading a hand-written sign on a closed door at City Hall Auditorium advising about the performance being at Portland High School. Obviously, hadn’t “heard the news” about the venue change.

The holiday season brought concertgoers to City Hall Auditorium on Tuesday, December 5, with a Christmas Concert beginning with Christmas Concerto Opus 8, No. 6 by Giuseppe Torelli. Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantata No. 140 “Sleepers Awake” was then followed by Stabat Mater by Giuseppe Verdi. Participating in the latter work were the the 70 mixed voices of the Gorham Chorale from Gorham Teachers College, directed by Gerard G. Chamberlain, with the director also singing a solo baritone role with soprano Elizabeth Gallison. The EE reported that the PSO was well complemented, with a headline referring to the performance as an “Outstanding Concert”. For the entire second half of the program Mr. Gregorian selected the Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Pathétique, by Tchaikovsky. This concert, of course, marked the PSO’s return to City Hall Auditorium after the abortive travails in the nearby high school auditorium. A newspaper report described the audience as “sizable and enthusiastic”, although no specific estimate of attendance was given. The concert-program listed this Second Concert of the Thirty-eighth Season as Gorham College Night.

About this time, architect Douglas Goodspeed proposed reducing the total number of seats in City Hall Auditorium, since many had obstructed views. The architect’s before-and-after comparisons were:


1962       PSO archives contain a large number of newspaper clippings about a January 31 “Winter Concert” when Arthur Fiedler guest-conducted the PSO, sponsored by the Lions Club of Portland. Treacherous driving conditions and near-zero temperatures did not keep to many (if any) people away, and City Hall Auditorium was packed almost to the eaves with the largest PSO crowd in four years. (source” Harrison Brown) One report stated that the evening resulted in “the highest PSO box office receipts ever taken in” for a concert at City Hall Auditorium. (HS: THAT experience could ONLY have further confirmed to the board that shifting the orchestra’s performing focus to more well known works [versus Gregorian-choices] assuredly was the best way to proceed.) This concert was part of the full-season schedule, and  brought a “packed house”, reported Evening Express reviewer Harrison Brown.

When the white-mustachiod maestro stepped onto the podium this Wednesday evening, he began with the Overture To “Marriage of Figaro” by Mozart. The hero from Boston next conducted the orchestra in Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21 by Beethoven. After the intermission, Portland resident and guest soloist Virginia Rubottom played the Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor by Sergei Rachmaninoff. The final selection moved away from the purely-classical genre, although it certainly wasn’t 100%-Pops’ stuff...... as the PSO performed classical- yet-Broadway music composed by long-time New York Philharmonic conductor Leonard Bernstein. Seven Selections from “West Side Story” rounded out the evening. After several waving returns to respond to an adoring crowd, Conductor Fiedler stepped back up onto the podium for his traditional encore by John Phillip Sousa, Stars and Stripes Forever!   The EE reviewer wrote that it “was complete with standing brasses and delightfully-squealing piccolos.”

Although specific details have not been found among the PSO Achives, it appears that sometime prior to his January ’62 guest-conducting appearance with the PSO, on its own the Lions Club had previously sponsored a concert where Mr. Fiedler and the entire Boston Pops ensemble had appeared in Portland. With this sell-out appearance turning out to be a huge smash hit, it is entirely within reason to conclude that the PSO board subsequently decided to invite Mr. Fiedler to return alone to City Hall Auditorium to guest-conduct the Portland Symphony musicians. By doing so in coordination with the Lions Club, the PSO didn’t step on any toes.

More than $5000 of “painful expense cutting” versus the preceding season resulted in roughly a break-even year (cash-flow wise) for the PSO. Versus the $13,000 operating loss two years earlier, the loss for fiscal 1961-62 was less than $1400. Comparing those same two periods, revenue generated rose from less than $17,000 to almost $28,000. (HS: In the following fiscal year, 1962-63, revenue jumped to above $44,000, with an operating loss near breakeven of $146. Then in 1963-64 a $1300 profit was achieved.) Overall, this nearly half-decade was a period of important financial-management progress.

A bit earlier in January, local newspapers reported that Mr. Rouben Gregorian would be leaving the Portland Symphony at the end of the season, and that announcement of a successor would be made shortly. (HS: several items in the PSO Archives make reference to signs that he wanted to remain as conductor, even agreeing to the condition that he move to Portland, although he put “a condition” of his own on the table- that he also be placed in a music position in a college in the area. There is no reference to any such positions being available. Years later during an interview in 2014, his son, Leon, recalled that regarding the possibility of simply moving to Portland and then waiting for “whatever” to maybe also develop, the conductor said to his family, “but what else would I do” if they all moved to Maine.) Until 1981 Mr. Gregorian remained on the music faculty of the Boston Conservatory of Music which he had joined soon after his arrival to the United States. During a long twenty-seven year career there, he taught violin, coached chamber music, and conducted both the Conservatory Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

In early February (before Mr. Gregorian concluded his tenure), the PSO Board selected and publicly named Mr. Arthur Bennett Lipkin to become the PSO’s eighth conductor (see below for more details). He also would be a resident conductor, committed to active involvement with the Portland community and region. Several PSO board members had interfaced with him at meetings of the American Orchestra League, and minutes show that they felt that he would be someone able to meet the PSO’s two stated major objectives----- “to build an orchestra (and) to get wider audience support.” A key sentence in the minutes of one late-1961 meeting essentially predicted what would, in fact, eventually happen: “Mr. Lipkin will be his own best public relations worker.” (HS: See an anecdote about Mr. Lipkin’s first salary negotiation, via which he cleverly managed to have his and his wife’s names always listed among the PSO’s major donors...... using the PSO’s own dollars!)

Ironically, sometime during February it was announced that PSO ticket sales for the 1961-1962 season had increased 34 percent from the prior season. (HS: It is likely that most, if not all, of the higher ticket sale growth was due to the Arthur-Fiedler concert.) The fact that subscriptions and overall ticket sales wouldn’t nudge high enough during Mr. Gregorian’s reign on the PSO podium, was the most significant issue dealing with the decision not to renew his contract.

As an example of the Young People’s Concerts performed by the PSO during this era, the 38th Season’s fourth and final concert was performed on Sunday, March 4. A formal 26-page program of that concert was found among the PSO Archives, containing the program list and program notes for each work: Light Calvary Overture, Franz von Suppé; Piano Concerto E Flat Major, No. 1, Franz Liszt, performed by Leon Gregorian (19-year-old son of Conductor Rouben Gregorian); Habanera -- L’Amour Est (“Carmen”), Georges Bizet; Sommi Dei (“Radamisto”), George Frederic Handel; The Old Folks At Home, Stephen Collins Foster, with contralto Bonnie Godfrey; Fantasie and Fugue on “Oh Susannah”, Lucien Cailliet; Fantasie for Harp, by Franz Clement Dubois, with Nellie Zimmer, Soloist; and Stars and Stripes Forever, John Philip Sousa.

While a skeptic might think that the younger Mr. Gregorian was the beneficiary of nepotism, future events would prove that the 1962 PSO guest soloist was then on his way to a successful career in music. He would earn degrees from both the New England Conservatory of Music and also Michgan State University. The Boston Pops would feature the pianist on nine occasions. After a 12-year stint as Music Director and Conductor of the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra in Kentucky, at MSU he would rebuild a moribund ensemble into a dynamic orchestral program, eventually retiring from posts at the university in Lansing, where he was the Director of Orchestras and head of the Graduate Orchestral Conducting Program, concluding a 27-year career. His many guest-conducting assignments included orchestras on four continents. (HS:  During a much-later conversation in 2014, Leon Gregorian thought back to this 1962 Young People’s Concert and reminisced that “this was the first time that I ever wore tails.”)

Many decades later, in the 1990s, Leon Gregorian would be married and his wife would be a public school music teacher in Michigan. There, Linda Gregorian would be the first person to ever put a violin in the hands of a ten-year-old girl named Carolyn Nishon, who went on to become an accomplished violinist and concertmistress of the Michigan Pops Orchestra at the University of Michigan. As wonderful coincidence would have it, by 2013 and for five years having worked in Portland, Carolyn would be promoted to the position of General Manager of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. Subsequently in 2015, she would be appointed the PSO’s Executive Director. Musicians have a saying: “The music profession is a small world”. Once again that phrase is proven true.

On April 11 the Symphony under Conductor Rouben Gregorian presented a concert in Auburn. A Lewiston Evening Journal article that was found via a Google-search confirms that the works perforformed this evening were the same as on the upcoming (two days later) concert in Portland. Some members of the Auburn audience were likely drawn by friendships with a local music teacher and composer. A work composed by Auburn’s Anton E. Mainente, also scheduled for the upcoming Portland concert, was played by the Symphony on this Wednesday evening.

In his final podium appearance with the PSO in Portland at City Hall Auditorium, on Friday evening, April 13, Rouben Gregorian opened the program conducting his composition, Hega  (I Greet You), which he had dedicated to the orchestra (he and the musicians played from manuscripts). A Portland newspaper reported that the PSO “musicians found something hauntingly familiar at the first run-through of the Indian tribal music on which composer Rouben Gregorian based his composition.” The music included “Ol’ Man River in slow cadence, but Maine’s Penobscot Indians were humming it a couple of centuries pre-Jerome Kern.” (HS: Subsequently, Mr. Gregorian led other musicians of his “Hega” composition, during one of numerous guest-conducting appearances with the Boston Pops Orchestra. Leon Gregorian was a personal friend of Arthur Fiedler, and a photograph of the two is included in the Pictures Section of

HS’ interviews with players who performed under his baton revealed, without exception, genuine respect and affection for Mr. Gregorian. One person said that he “was a fantastic conductor”, and several others also had very warm personal things to say about him. (See Anecdotes for additional perspectives about his relationship with the musicians.)

After performing their conductor’s composition, the orchestra played Symphony No. 1 in B flat major, Op. 38 (“Spring Symphony”), the first symphonic work composed by Robert Schumann. Following came Auburn composer Anton E. Mainente guest-conducting his Balade (“Reminiscences”). The P-H review declared the composition to be “a pleasantly and nostalgic piece memorable for its link to the lush-lined melodic inventiveness of the days of pure romanticism in music.” The final work that Rouben Gregorian had selected to direct as conductor of the PSO, thus his farewell, was Capriccio Espanole, by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The P-H’s Marshal Bryant wrote a positive and complimentary review, titled “Gregorian  Gets Standing Ovation At Final Concert”. The article concluded by saying that the final “number was played with exhilarating vigor”, also adding that “it was a brilliant close to a well-played concert.” Counterpart EE reviewer Harrison Brown almost seemed nostalgic, concluding with this notation: “In the past few seasons the Portland Symphony Orchestra has made a great deal of shining and magnificent sound and... ...a lion’s share of the honor must go to a dedicated Rouben Gregorian who has builded wisely and well.”

The PSO was about to officially gain its first resident conductor, Arthur Bennett Lipkin, who would serve until 1967. (Somewhat jokingly, HS was told that although some people thought him “deaf in one ear” and “not all that good insofar as musicology was concerned, ----he was considered to be a dynamic and powerful promoter”.) One longtime PSO patron strongly asserted to HS that “The quality of the orchestra changed a lot in the sixties.” When Lipkin became the initial PSO resident conductor, he initiated the orchestra’s commissioning of new works. Prior to his PSO appointment, from 1922-49 he was first violinist with the Philadelphia Orchestra and leader of the Philadelphia String Quartet. During part of that time he represented the players on the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Board of Directors, and was a moving force in the establishment of the organization’s summer concerts in that city’s  Robin Hood Dell in expansive and lush Fairmount Park. From 1949 until retiring in 1960, he had been conductor of the Alabama Symphony in Birmingham (name changed to Birmingham Symphony in 1956), and for a time served as president of the American Orchestra League. (HS:  Be sure to read an Anecdote in this THINGS-PSO regarding Mr. Lipkin’s first salary negotiations.) Lipkin’s bio stated that he originally was a native of London, England. (Note: the announcement of Mr. Lipkin’s appointment was made in early February, prior to the conclusion of Mr. Gregorian’s final season with the PSO. There was no time to waste in introducing him to Portland.)

Based on various interviews and discussions with people involved with the PSO back in the 1960s, contacts at the League of American Orchestras were key to identifying Mr. Lipkin as someone who the Board should seriously consider to lead the Portland Symphony. (HS:  Over the decades to come, many PSO staff positions would be filled via contacts made at the Orchestra League.)

At about the time of this concert, concert mistress Shirley Davis and her husband, Robert Davis, bass trombonist with the PSO, accepted positions in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Because of their move, both musicians resigned from the PSO.

Upon first arriving in Portland (HS: An item in the PSO files notes that he arrived on April 9. That evening was Mr. Gregorian’s final appearance conducting the PSO. There is no mention to be found as to whether [a then-unrecognizable-to-the-Portland-public Mr. Lipkin attended that concert to “size up the situation” first-hand, but my guess is that he unobtrousively slipped into a seat to observe the “What’s-whats” about the orchestra, City Hall Auditorium, and the audience.), Mr. Lipkin really “hit the ground running” with an aggressive promotional game plan to boost the stature of the PSO, as well as attendance and ticket sales. Reading back over a sheaf of newspaper articles, files including some of his personal letters, and board minutes from that era, he continually exercised a kinetic combination of energy, imagination, talent and supreme self confidence..... always appearing distinguished and well attired. Within his first month, he had met with the Governor of Maine in Augusta, Senator Margaret Chase Smith in Washington; and in Brunswick, Waterville and Orono---  with the presidents of Bowdoin, Colby and the University of Maine. AND....... he was successful in getting pictures of himself, taken with each of them at these meetings (HS: --and eventually literally hundreds of others) spread among the newspapers of Portland. (Looking through scrapbooks of clippings in the orchestra’s archives, Mr. Lipkin was so active that it almost seems as though the new PSO orchestra conductor “somehow even squeezed in” a visit with the Mayor of Portland..... when HIS whirlwind schedule  -not the mayor’s-  had an opening.) It is likely that within a month there wasn’t a person in Portland who was unaware of his name or that PSO Conductor Arthur Bennett Lipkin was on the scene......... and ................ the music hadn’t even started!  (HS:  Incidentally, more than one longtime PSO patron who commented about Mr. Lipkin referred to him as being “quite full of himself”. One person’s first recollection of him generated a deep “Hrrrummph!”; ----when I pressed for more elaboration, that former patron’s one-word response was “Arrogant!”)

(HS: BUT........ watch--- he’ll end up bowing to full houses!)

All the PSO concert program covers and newspaper promotional advertisements during several of Mr. Lipkin’s years carried a well-designed, distinguished and handsome, ink-sketch caricature of a tuxedo-attired, baton-holding conductor that was unmistakably “ABL”. The purpose was certainly to convey to the Portland public an image of professionalism and orchestral elegance about the new conductor and his ensemble. The fact that this flattering “new logo-signature” of Mr. Lipkin also must have undoubtedly inflated his ego.... was certainly something from which he gained much satisfaction.

A hint as to what was coming insofar as the orchestra members were concerned was summarized in a short to-the-point exclamatory comment made to me in 2012 by someone who was a PSO player during the Lipkin era............:   “Then------ hell on wheels showed up.”

Mrs. Sidney W. Thaxter was re-elected PSO Board President.

In August, the Women’s Committee of the PSO sponsored an exhibition golf match at the Portland Country Club. The main attraction of the affair to benefit the orchestra was a true “gold maestro”, Sam Snead. An estimated crowd of 2000 spectators saw Slammin’ Sammy become at that time only the sixth person ever to eagle the Club’s par-5 sixth hole. The net proceeds from the event totaled $2350 (almost $18,500 in inflation-adjusted 2015 dollars), a tidy sum for the PSO.

Prior to the start of the PSO’s 1962-1963 Season, 44 year-old Dr. Andrew Galos was named concertmaster. An outstanding violinist, he had an extensive career, playing ten years in the first violin section of the NBC Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Arturo Toscanini. During his years with the PSO he was on the faculty at the University of New Hampshire. He held degrees from Julliard and Columbia University. Dr. Galos had taught violin and chamber music at the Peabody Conservatory, was assistant concertmaster of the Baltimore Symphony, assistant concert master of the Radio City Music Hall Symphony and director of the University of Utah State Symphony, also concert master of the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra. During his years in New York City, he played in the New York City Center Ballet and Opera Orchestra, as well as a member of the Mischakoff String Quartet. On Broadway, he served as concert master of “Guys and Dolls”.

An indication of the cash-squeeze under which the PSO was then operating:    minutes from a mid-October Women’s Club meeting notes a report “that most of the orchestra has not been paid for last...(season’s May, ‘62) concert.” (A longtime PSO player told HS that the board had not been aware of this pay hold-back, but when informed saw to it that checks to remedy the situation were cut the next day.)

The 1962-63 PSO season began with new fanfare, as a week-long series of music events heralded Symphony Week. The October 2rd Opening-Night reviews for both Mr. Lipkin and the PSO were highly favorable (see below), and a huge crowd was in attendance. For his inaugural concert, Mr. Lipkin chose to have the PSO perform with Hungarian pianist Gyorgy Sandor, who had studied with both Bela Bartok and Zoltán Kodaly. (Note: MR. Sandor had twice played under Mr. Lipkin’s baton when the latter was conductor of the Birmingham orchestra in Alabama.) Traveling to Portland from Ann Arbor, MI, where he was in charge of the doctoral program and performance for pianists at the University of Michigan, Mr. Sandor agreed to >not only play one concerto, a classic by Mozart.... BUT TWO.... also a concerto by Liszt!

The solo selections were Mozart’s Concerto No. 2 in D minor and Liszt’s No. 1 Concerto in E-flat minor, S.124.

But first....... here’s the entire program----- how Mr. Lipkin’s conducting career in Portland began:

         A trumpet fanfare brought the audience to a sitting attention position

         next, a smartly-uniformed military color guard brought everyone to their feet
....with the Stars and Stripes displayed with precision,

         next, The Star-Spangled-Banner was played

         The orchestra played J.S. Bach’s Cantata No. 140 “Sleepers Wake”
....the “strings sang in quiet reverence” and “creamy smooth were the brasses”, penned the P-H reporter

         Mr. Sandor performed the Mozart Concerto
....”playing of the lovely singing Ramanze second movement left nothing, just nothing at all, to be desired”, the P-H reported

         The orchestra played Sibelius’ Finlandia

         The orchestra played Mussorgsky’s Night On Bald Mountain

         Mr. Sandor performed the Liszt Concerto

Two noticeable comments in the Press Herald review certainly prepared audiences for more: “There never was the slightest doubt that Lipkin was in charge of things. His despotism may have been benevolent, but it was complete. His cues were clear, his downbeat imperious.” And... “If that new sound by Conductor Lipkin and his old pros continues, it’s going to be a great season.” The P-H headline offered the view that “Portland Symphony Starts New Era In City’s Culture”. Looking at the EE review, all that is required to sense the tone is the headline, “Symphony, Conductor Lipkin ‘Great’ In Season’s Opener”. Presumably the new Maestro went to bed that evening in a very happy mood; presumably the PSO concertgoers did also.

Interestingly, the works performed at the concert substantially differed from those listed on a pre-season promotional brochure. Omitted were Richard Wagner’s Overture to “Die Meistersinger”; Beethoven’s Concerto No. 5 “Emperor”, with Mr. Sandor; and Elegy “To My Friend Serge Koussevitsky”, by Howard Hanson. Only the Missorgsky and Sibelius works “made the final cut” (HS: In all fairness, the brochure did state that “all programs subject to change”).

At the beginning of his tenure as PSO Conductor, publicity notices regarding Arthur Bennet Lipkin frequently referred to him as the Symphony’s “New Resident Conductor”.

The PCA presented the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at City Hall Auditorium. The ensemble played the Prelude to the third act of “Lohengrin”, by Richard Wagner, as an encore.

Quite a few people who were around the PSO in the Lipkin days recall him as often being unnecessarily arrogant and demanding, with a tendency to frequently criticize both the players and staff in front of other people. He “would always crucify somebody” that he’d criticize. “It was pitiful”... “you always lived in terror that you’d be next” were comments made to me. One player from that era pulled no punches, describing him as “a perfect swine to the section head players, but smarmily charming to the ladies on the board”. (HS: talk about to-the-point quotes!) Several other longtime PSO observers said they thought of him as having an inferiority complex; thus the overly-aggressive “I’m In Control Here” style.

Decades later in conversation at a PSO-sponsored social event, Richard Merrill, a trombonist who was a PSO musician during part of Mr. Lipkin’s tenure during the 1960’s, spoke about the usual tensions that occurred during virtually every rehearsal under Mr. Lipkin. He recounted that it was not uncommon for local-based musicians who the conductor chewed out and embarrassed during rehearsals - to “on the spot” open their cases, place their instruments inside, and walk out... permanently. He said that after Mr. Lipkin was gone from Portland, creation and PSO sponsorship of the Portland Community Orchestra under Paul Vermel was a widely-popular, and needed, move. Many of the former PSO musicians who had resigned in embarrassment following tirades by Mr. Lipkin were once again united with one another in the Portland Community Orchestra.

Without exception, there remains universal agreement among former players who expressed their recollections to me, that most of the members of the orchestra did not like the man, nor his rude —considered vindictive by some— style.

Two members of the current (2014) PSO, contrabassist George Rubino and violist Ann Stepp, were Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra members in high school during Arthur Bennett Lipkin’s years with the PSO. Each also played with the Portland Symphony Orchestra in that era, along with another half-dozen or so high-achieving PYSO’ers. George and Ann are thus the only current musicians to have played under the consecutive batons of Mesrrs. Lipkin, Vermel, Hangen, Shimada and Moody. Regarding her high school days with the PSO, Ann tells of once having lost her music when Arthur Bennet Lipkin was conducting a rehearsal, a miscue for which she was awarded an unforgettable tirade (HS:  My guess is that she wishes she would long ago have forgotten the experience.) from the conductor............... in front of the entire orchestra. Ouch!

During rehearsals throughout the Lipkin years, there would be constant tension between the players and Mr. Lipkin; the members of the orchestra bristled under his martinet style. The conductor constantly publicly singled out and embarrassed individuals for mistakes; this style kept low the group’s opinions of the man. The players did not consider his musicality to be anywhere near what either his predecessor, Mr. Gregorian, nor his successor, Mr. Vermel, possessed. Players’ estimations of him as both a professional and as a person remained low. One observer from those times said he thought Lipkin considered himself as the “second coming of Ormandy”; the players most definitely did not. “He wasn’t the musician he thought he was”, one PSO player of that era told HS. That person strongly asserted about Lipkin, “in his mind maybe he wanted to prove he was important --  but he never did!”.

There is great irony in the fact that Arthur Bennett Lipkin obviously wanted to make an impression on people; in that regard, his energetic efforts toward the public never ceased...... and during his PSO tenure seemed to work to boost his image. However, insofar as the orchestra musicians under his baton were concerned, those contacted by HS universally held disdainful impressions of him, without exception. And.......  these are impressions that have been retained for FIFTY YEARS!   Anyway.... the players’ point of view is duly recorded here.

One last observation:  reportedly Mr. Lipkin was especially unpopular with “the Boston players”, certainly when the demanding maestro ran rehearsals overtime. (HS was told that frequently happened).

The November 20 concert under the baton of Mr. Lipkin featured violin soloist Hyman Bress, a graduate of the prestigious Curtis Institute. He performed both Bach Violin Concerto No. 1 in D minor, BWV 1052; and the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 (HS: Felix Mendelssohn composed only a single violin concerto.). Orchestral works featured that evening were Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8, in B minor (“Unfinished”); Pytor llyich Tchaikovsky’s lively Cappricio Italien, Op. 45; and........ (since the new PSO maestro undoubtedly loved the chance to show that his orchestra could play like the “Big Boys” – see the reference to the Pittsburgh Symphony  Orchestra several paragraphs earlier), also Richard Wagner’s Prelude to Act III of “Lohengrin”. A pre-concert article stated that during the latter, (HS: Maybe to tweak the “Pennsylvania PSO”?) Conductor Lipkin would “borrow an ending from Wagner’s ‘Die Götterdämmerung’”. A different newspaper reporter than last month, in his first paragraph, wrote about the PSO that “it is plain that an orchestra of real stature is emerging.”

After the intermission this November evening, an unscheduled work was performed. Mr. Lipkin “announced that as a tribute to the late Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt the Bach Chorale – Come Sweet Death would be played to honor her for her great humanitarian principles and accomplishments.”

Trombonist Buddy Morrow and his orchestra played for the second annual Autumn Swing Festival for the benefit of the PSO at the Exposition Building. The Women’s Committee sponsored this November 24 event.

While Mr. Morrow was at the Expo, Mr. Lipkin flew to southern California to conduct the Inglewood Philharmonic, credited (HS: My guess is that ABL supplied this info.) as “an orchestra made up of some of the many first-rank musicians in the film capital.” The local headline was “Lipkin Leaves For Concert In Hollywood, Calif.”

On December 1, a service rededicating the organ of the historic First Parish Church was held. The 1910 instrument had had extensive additions and changes, and the improved organ was being used in a public performance for the first time. Several organists performed, and the picture accompanying a pre-concert article in the Press Herald that Sunday morning was............ of course — Arthur B. Lipkin (he was on the program, giving a lecture on “Music in the Life of the Community).

On December 11, a Monday, the PSO performed two concerts on the same day...... a first. A sell-out 2 pm afternoon crowd of nearly 3000 students (and some teachers and parents, of course), allowed time off from school to attend (also a first), enjoyed a school-day Youth Concert that was partially underwritten by the A. H. Benoit & Co. men’s clothing chain of stores (this was the first time that a Youth Concert had been sponsored). Included were Mikhail  Glinka’s Russlan and Ludmilla; a Mozart Minuet for the string section; George Frederic Handel’s Concerto for Orchestra in D major, HWV 355a, arranged by Eugene Ormandy (HS:  This work was not listed in the concert program found in the PSO Archives.); and Harl McDonald’s Legend of the Arkansas Traveler. Of course, Conductor Lipkin chose pieces certain to please kids of all ages, and other than the classics, included Joseph “Haydn’s captivating Toy Symphony, during which seven youngsters participated and “not a single one missed a beat or an entrance”. Before an encore, the concert-program concluded with two of Leroy Anderson’s clever descriptive pieces, Sleigh Ride and The Waltzing Cat. Oh....... do you want to guess at what was the encore?  If you chose Stars and Stripes Forever, you were right. (Press Herald)

In the evening concert, the orchestra featured a Christmas theme, joined by the Bowdoin College’s Glee Club, Robert Beckwith, Director; and also the college’s elite a cappella Meddiebemsters vocal group. On its own, the PSO performed several works that were played during the afternoon: Glinka’s Russlan and Ludmilla and the Handel/Ormandy Handel’s Concerto for Orchestra in D major. Latvian-born composer Louis Gesenway’s Suite, Five Russian Melodies, was next  -- a chamber suite that in 1945 had been dedicated to Mr. Lipkin (back then, the composer and Mr. Lipkin had long been sharing a first-violin stand  in the Philadelphia Orchestra). Following a short break for the vocalists to set up came four works, led off by Norman Dello Joio’s three-part chorus for male voices--- therefore the Meddiebempsters this evening, who sang Psalm 98 – O sing unto the Lord; and then Ruggero Vene’s Balulalow. Frederick S. Converse’s Laudate Dominum preceded the final work on the Bowdoin Ensembles’ portion of the program, Five Appalachian Carols, an arrangement by Steven Hays, Bowdoin ’61. included compositions by Glinka, Handel and Johann Strauss. After an intermission, the program called for the Symphony to perform three Strauss family works, Emperor Waltz, Pizzicato Polka and Radetsky March. The final work listed on the program was Symphonic Scenario- “My Fair Lady” by Frederick Loewe, orchestrated by Robert Russell Bennett. But with the familiar strong, giant, ending chords of   MY!   FAIR!   LADY!   .....likely already having brought the audience on their feet...... “without pause, came a rousing Stars and Stripes Forever”.... reported the Evening Express. “Showmanship”........  Lipkin definitely had it.

The next day the review headline in the Press Herald said it all, “Holiday Festival Program Turns Out To Be Just That”. Looking back on their decision to hire Mr. Lipkin, with their financial hats on---- the PSO board might have been loudly humming “Here Comes Santa Claus”!

This year the PSO board voted to have the PSO join the recently-formed Portland Arts Council.


1963       On January 14, local newspaper readers learned that Miss Joan Garland was named concertmistress of the newly reconstituted 72-piece Youth Symphony of Portland (HS: Miss Joan Garland was at that time a member of the PSO violin section.). A graduate of Deering High School and now enrolled at the University of Maine. She was a winner of the Gould Award and was also a member of the PSO, in which her mother, Rebecca Garland, was assistant concertmistress, having earlier served as the PSO’s concertmistress.

Certainly responsibly reflecting P&L concerns, the PSO board seriously considered scheduling four classical concerts for the orchestra during the upcoming season, a reduction from five in 1962-63. Mr. Lipkin suggested “raising our sights” and going to SIX  ---  ‘six it is’; so voted the board. Four Youth Concerts were also scheduled, up from two. The conductor wanted to intensify the focus on the quality of PSO performances, insisting that “We should at least have another rehearsal eac week”..... citing by comparison that “The Boston Symphony (a Rolls-Royce of an orchestra) in its first week ---- had seven rehearsals”.

On a stormy February 13 evening, famed organist E. Power Biggs was guest soloist with the PSO for the season’s fourth concert in the classical series. He performed the Handel Concerto No. 10 in D minor and the Francois Poulenc Concerto in G minor, for Organ Strings and Tympani. Another feature of the concert was the orchestra playing A Lincoln Portrait, by Aaron Copland, in honor of the Emancipator’s 154th birthday. U.S. District Judge Edward T. Gignoux narrated, “with authority and resonant vocal splendor that was perfectly suited to the portrayal” wrote newspaper reviewer Bryant. The orchestra also played compositions by Wagner, Beethoven and Rimsky-Korsakoff, respectively Prelude to “Die Meistersinger”, Overture to “Prometheus” and Capriccio Espagnol. That evening, both concertgoers and performers were forced to brave sleet and snow, but the next day one of the city’s newspapers noted that “a large and enthusiastic audience” heard the orchestra’s “best playing of any season”.... “defying the blustery winter weather”.

A March 13 info-letter from Mr. Lipkin to the Board referenced a recent performance of what the conductor called a “miniature” Pops concert by an unspecified number of PSO players. (HS: Nothing has been spotted to identify the precise date when such an event occurred.) He conveyed a recommendation to the trustees that they “schedule one ‘Family Pop(s) Concert’ (the next season) on a Sunday afternoon or a Saturday evening”. This, he continued, “could be given for the benefit of a club or organization. It could even pay for itself.” He concluded with the report that the result of the CofC program “was very gratifying”. Although the program-schedule for the remainder of the 1962-1963 season was already established, a Pops concert did get included in the PSO’s 1963-1964 schedule. (HS: In future years, many Portlanders would again end up having lots of “Pops” fun as a result of the PSO’s  decision to renew this type of concert.

March 26 was another double-barreled pair of concerts for the PSO. In the afternoon a crowd of 2685 kids jammed PCHA (HS: “By actual count”, read an EE story.) for a concert that included that evening’s soloist, petite Japanese soprano Atsuko Kano. Reviewer Harrison Brown advised that, “dressed in the gay but demure costume of her native land, she gave the youngsters three little songs in Japanese, and the aria Un bel di vedremo from Puccini’s ‘Madame Butterfly’”. Several of the orchestra’s musicians played musical snippets that showed off their instruments, and three youthful guest conductors took over the podium for respective numbers (HS: One also took over Mr. Lipkin’s baton, as the youngster had forgotten to bring one along.). Principal percussionist Everett Beale brought the house down as soloist in Adolph Schreiner’s The Worried Drummer, “but as conductor Lipkin explained afterward, he wasn’t really worried but just extremely competent,” read the EE clipping. Accompanied by the PSO, Miss Donna Trefry of the Westbrook School music department “played the typewriter” in Leroy Anderson’s well known clever piece, The Typewriter. The newspaper also said that “A fine afternoon wound up with the Farandole from Bizet’s L’Arlésienne Suite No. 2. The announcement that there would be four youth concerts next season instead of two brought forth what was probably the most deafening approval of the entire session.” Over in the Press Herald, the March 27 headline about the event was “Small Fry Jam City Hall for Second Youth Concert”. A look in the PSO Archives at the concert program shows other works performed that afternoon: Sergei Prokofiev’s March – from the Opera “The Love for Three Oranges”; Morton Gould’s American Salute; and a demonstration of percussion instruments. Also, demonstrations of brass instruments were done using Aaron Copland’s Fan Fare No. I, which was presumably Fanfare for the Common Man; and also Walter Piston’s Fan Fare No. II, which presumably was one of the several fanfares that he composed.

The classical season concluded with that evening’s concert, featuring Atsuko Kano singing three songs, Excerpts from the Opera “Madame Butterfly”, by Giacomo Puccini. The South Portland Community Chorus and the St. Gregory Chorale, “Mass in G” for Chorus and Orchestra by Franz Schubert. On its own, the PSO performed Weber’s Overture to “Oberon”; Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 in D Major “Haffner”; Bedřich Smetana’s  Symphonic Poem, “The Moldau”, and last—Incidental Music to Daudet’s play, “L’Arlésienne” by Bizet. The largest audience of the season was in attendance, to hear and see a concert about which the P-H headlined “Symphony’s Season Closes Triumphantly”.

Another of the city’s newspapers carried an article the next day that said the PSO under Mr. Lipkin “brought its season to a triumphant close”. (HS:  Reading the words “triumphant” and “Triumphantly” in two separate season-end reviews must certainly have had Mr. Lipkin beaming.)

On Sunday afternoon, April 7, Mr. Lipkin led thirty-two members of the PSO in a post-season concert in the Sargent gymnasium of Hebron Academy. The group was dubbed The Portland Symphony “Little Orchestra”. Relying on the Symphony’s repertoire from the last two seasons, works the ensemble played included Wachet Auf Ruft Uns die Stimme, from Cantata No. 140, “Sleepers Awake” by Bach, transcribed by Eugene Ormandy; Beethoven’s titan Overture to “Prometheus”; the Mozart Symphony No. 35 in D major, “Haffner”; Georges Bizet’s L’Arlésienne Suite No. 2 (HS: The program noted that the work was “Incidental Music to Daudet’s play); Louis Gesensway’s Suite on Five Russian Melodies; and Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride (HS: Come on now.... it’s April!) and The Typewriter. The program concluded with the Symphonic Scenerio of “My Fair Lady” by Frederick Loewe, arranged by Robert Russell Bennett.

At the end of the season the board elected young Portland lawyer, Leonard M. Nelson, to become the PSO’s 12th president. His leadership, during what would eventually be a three-year tenure, would make positive and lasting marks on the orchestra.

Mr. and Mrs. Lipkin traveled extensively during the off season, leaving in May and returning in mid September. With the enthusiastic approval of local Portland city officials, during his international travels he engaged in PR work to promote Portland, himself and the PSO. Official ceremonial keys were presented to the mayors of many overseas cities, which generated press coverage in those locales. At each presentation he “pointed out the ties which the honored cities of the Old World had with Portland in the New.” The mother city of Portland, England, was on the list. (source: article by Portland reporter Harrison Brown)

During Symphony Week in the fall, attendance at the opening concert of the 1963-64 season would be almost 2300, followed by almost 2400 at the second concert, some 500 more than the previous year.

The October 22 opening classical concert of Mr. Lipkin’s second season featured Jean Sibelius’ Karelia Suite and also Concerto for Piano in A minor by Edvard Grieg. The guest soloist for the concerto was pianist Ania Dorfman, who the program pointed out held “the distinction of being the only woman instrumentalist ever to have appeared as soloist with a symphony orchestra conducted by Arturo Toscanini (in 1944)”. (HS: Post-concert reviews about her performance were complimentary, but not overly enthusiastic.) Other crowd-pleasers that concert were the Overture to Die Meistersinger by Richard Wagner and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93. That was certainly a full evening...... for a full house of 2300+.

Positive reviewer comments following the concert likely helped maintain “this new PSO” as a topic of conversation among Portlanders. Those included “If the Portland Symphony Orchestra finishes up next spring with playing as inspired as it did last night, its 1963-64 season –the second under conductor Arthur Bennett Lipkin– is going to be the most brilliant on record.”; and “Lipkin has worked wonders in bringing a new sonority, security and cohesiveness to the orchestra which elevates its playing to a high level of performance. With these virtues the orchestra has never appeared to better advantage.”

Back in mid-fall, Life Magazine referenced the PSO. Since this was one of those “big-feather-in-their-cap” situations, the EE resported on the event, on November 5. The Evening Express commented on the Portland Symphony Orchestra rating “a fat paragraph of its very own among such illustrious contemporaries as the San Francisco, Boston and St. Louis symphonies; the LA, Buffalo and New York philharmonics; and the Philadelphia and Cleveland orchestras. The local players are in the limelight” because of the then-upcoming would premiere of Mr. Kay’s Fantasy Variations.

At this concert, a promotional tie-in to Mr. Lipkin’s summer international trip was made. An advance newspaper article by Harrison Brown reported that “each of the four numbers will honor some European city which received Portland keys this summer.”

Later in November, on the afternoon of Tuesday the 19th, several small old newspaper clippings in the PSO Archives note that more than 3000 students attended a Youth Concert. Although no specific information was detailed on the concert program found in the PSO Archives, one article mentioned that Mr. Lipkin had “arranged for a surprise guest soloist from New York City to appear”. Since Metropolitan Opera bass-baritone Norman Scott would appear with the Symphony that evening, logic leads to the conclusion that he was on hand to sing for the students. Works performed for the students were a portion of Richard Wagner’s Overture to “The Meistersinger” that featured the strings; Bach’s Chorale Prelude; Camille Saint-Saëns’s cello solo Allegro Appassionata, with Andrea Graffam; Russian Dance by Louis Gesensway; and Ulysses Kay’s Fantasy Variations (Theme). Mr. Scott was the likely vocalist during Johannes Hanssen’s Valdres March that celebrates the beautiful Valdres region in Norway that lies between Oslo and Bergen. The work’s main theme is the signature fanfare for the Valdres Battalion. The students heard a final work likely to have been a topic of dinner conversation in many a Portland home that evening, John Philip Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever.

A concert program from this era lists the dates of three other Youth Concerts during the 1963-1964 Season: December 10, January 28 and February 25. All were at 2:00 p.m., and series tickets cost $1.50.

The evening of November 19, the classical season’s second concert opened with Bach’s Choral Prelude — Wachet Auf Ruft Uns die Stimme. This was followed by Icelandic composer Jón Leifs’ Icelandic Overture, the first performance in America. (HS: The Ambassador of Iceland, Thor Thors, attended this concert as a guest.) A featured performance that evening was the World Premiere of Fantasy Variations, by Ulysses Kay, commissioned by Arthur Bennett Lipkin. An American composer, Mr. Kay had studied under several prominent composers, notably Howard Hanson and Paul Hindemith. He was proud to be a nephew of the great New Orleans’ jazz cornetist Joe “King” Oliver. Earlier, Metropolitan Opera baritone Norman Scott was guest soloist, singing two Mozart arias and two Verdi arias. Respectively, those works were In diesen heil’gen hallen from “Magic Flute”, Non piu andrai from “Marriage of Figaro”, Il lacerato spirito from “Simon Boccanegra” and Ella giammai m’amo from “Don Carlos”. The program concluded with Symphony No. VII, opus 95 — in E Minor “The New World” by Antonín Dvořák. The P-H headline regarding the evening was “Portland Symphony’s Salute To Iceland Is Superb Concert”. (This concert was recorded for the Voice of America and was a Salute to Iceland, obviously appropriate with the American premiere of Jón Leifs’ “Icelandic Overture”.)

That season Mr. Lipkin outlined his objectives for the orchestra:

  -  Perform great music for as many people as possible

  -  Help create and stimulate interest in all forms of music

  -  Present fine music to young people of an impressionable age

  -  Give youth an opportunity for orchestral training in the Junior Orchestra

  -  Provide continuity in Music Education

  -  Attract and offer positions of importance to outstanding musicians

  -  Enhance the prestige of Portland and Maine

He had certainly “hit the ground running” in 1962, with an always up-tempo “promote the PSO wherever and whenever possible” approach. His second season was set up for more of the same.

Season-ticket prices were increased from $12 to $15. For the entire 1963-64 season, the budget for adult concert ticket sales was $12,000; a goal exceeded by $3500 (!) at the conclusion of the season.

At a Youth concert on December 10, it’s a “for-certain” that the kids had extra fun when Donna Trefry, music instructor in the Westbrook schools, once-again played something that she had not specifically studied in pursuit of her music degree--  she was seated stage front as principal typewritist when the PSO reprised the clever Leroy Anderson stacatto work, The Typewriter song. In total, four soloists were featured that afternoon. The previous-March winner of the John T. Gorham Music Award, Virginia McGann of Portland and then a senior at the New England Conservatory of Music, played the Allegro from Mozart’s Flute Concerto No.2 In D Major, K 314. Also on the program was an excerpt from George Frideric Handel’s Water Music, and later a performance of Camille Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, featuring duo-pianists David Baker and Richard Roberts, with City Manager Graham W. Watt as narrator. (HS: That work was performed again in the evening [when certainly..... all the kids would be sound asleep] at the regular-PSO-season Holiday Festival program concert.) The remainder of the youth concert program included Offenbach’s Overture to Orpheus, (HS:  Oops!  The typesetter goofed with “Offfenback” on the program) featuring a demonstration of woodwinds; the second movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 and Anderson’s Christmas Festival.

At the start of the evening concert on that same day, the audience was brilliantly called to order with the PSO’s trumpeters sending forth the brilliance of composer Henry Purcell’s Trumpet Voluntary. J.S. Bach’s Komm Süsser Tod (“Come Sweet Death”) was also performed at this December PSO Gala Holiday Festival concert. Not originally scheduled on the program, the solemn work was chosen to honor the memory of President Kennedy, who only weeks before had been assassinated. It was played immediately following the intermission. Two Portland-born pianists were a guest duo at this Holiday concert. David Baker and Richard Roberts teamed in a performance of Francis Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in D minor, FP 61. Other Holiday-season works that also entertained a near-capacity audience were Saint-Saëns’ “Carnival” classic (HS: With, it was reported by reviewer Bryant, “the two pianists... ...sharply concise in their portrayal of parading animals”), Handel’s “Water Music” Suite, The Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss, and Jacques Offenbach’s Orpheus in Hades. Sousa’s march Stars and Stripes Forever was played as an encore, followed by two traditional Christmas Carols, during which the PSO was accompanied by 2000 voices from the audience. The two Portland newspapers’ respective headlines were “Portland Symphony Gives A Rewarding Concert” and “Portland Symphony Pleases With Noel-ish Pops Concert”.


1964       The Junior Symphony, under the baton of PSO oboist Clinton W. Graffam performed at City Hall Auditorium on Sunday, January 19. The group had been rehearsing for that concert since October. The program included six works, and was enthusiastically reviewed by Harrison Brown. Wintry elements unfortunately kept many people home tending their fireplaces. Two months later, The Junior Symphony performed its second concert for that season.

According to records in the PSO Archives, it was known that a January 28 Youth Concert was performed during the daytime. It took a while, but eventually a concert program was also uncovered in those archives. This Tuesday afternoon concert at PCHA started off with Johannes Brahms’ Academic Fesitval Overture. Next Robert Pettipaw solo-ed in Joseph Haydn’s Concerto for Trumpet in E flat Major, first movement. The PSO’s Richard Greenfield then performed Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 1 in D major, K. 412/386b, second movement. The third PSO brass player to perform was trombonist Charles Anderson, who played a section from Giacchino Rossini’s  Stabat Mater. The final brass instrument demonstrated was handled by Carlton Greely, who performed a tuba solo from Bach’s Bourrée in E Minor. Finally, Paul Dukas’ Three Fanfares for Brasses for the Ballet “La Péri” featured all the PSO brass players. Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man was followed by Walter Piston’s Fanfare for the Fighting French. Next was Josef Kaartinen’s Finland Aurora March. Beethoven’s Minuetto from Symphony No. 8 in F, Op. 93, was followed by Georges Bizet’s Suite from “Carmen”. (HS:  Obviously, limited time available required that only excerpts from most of the above works could be performed.)

A regular classical concert that evening was almost cancelled because of an unwelcome snowstorm. Despite the terrible weather, in the end, almost 850 people still managed to attend. The PSO began with Three Fanfares for Brass and Percussion, works by three different composers—Paul Dukas, Aaron Copland and Walter Piston. They were, respectively the fanfares for: the ballet, “La Péri”; for the “Common Man”; and for the “Fighting French”. A major work at this concert was designed by Mr. Lipkin to feature four soloists from the PSO: Andrew Galos, violin; Frances Drinker and Sandra Hoffman, flutists; and John Geller, French horn. The Evening Express music critic felt that Dr. Galos’ playing of Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26 was the “high point of the evening”. Also played that evening were Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G major, BWV 1049,  which was originally scored for two recorders (HS: Hence the two PSO flautists on stage), and Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 1 in D major, K. (412+514)/386b. (HS: Googling reveals what all “the extra stuff” is----  unusually, each movement has a distinct number in the Köchel catalogue.) The concert concluded with the Bizet Suite from the opera “Carmen”. (HS: With a full concert involving this opera set for March, presumably Mr. Lipkin this night served up the “Suite” as a promotional teaser.)

During this era, some PSO concertgoers feasted at so-called “Candlelight Dinners” that were, in rotation, served before concerts by various hotels around Portland. This evening the dinner was sponsored by The Lafayette Hotel. Other pre-concert Candlelight Dinners that season were enjoyed at The Eastland Motor Hotel and The Portlander In-Town Motel.

What Dr. Lipkin named “The Little Symphony”, a chamber group of PSO musicians, on February 8 traveled to Nasson College in Springvale. Mozart’s Overture to “The Impressario” opened the program, followed by Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G major, BWV 1049 (featuring the PSO flautist-duo who performed at the January PSO concert in Portland), then Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93. After the intermission were several other works in the then-current PSO repertoire, Bizet’s Carmen Suite; the Blue Danube by Strauss; and Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld. A pre-concert newspaper clipping note that Concertmaster Andrew Galos, and flutists Frances Snow Drinker and Sandra Hoffman would play solos.

Young Julliard pianist, Yee-Ha Chiu of Hong Kong performed at a Youth Concert on Feb 25. She performed the first movement of the Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16. Attending Portland students were also treated to a percussion demonstration of percussion instruments. Other features included Mozart’s Overture to “The Impressario”; Henry Purcell’s Sonata for Trumpets; the last movement of “Beethoven’s Eighth” and a novelty number, The Elephant and the Fly, by Rudolf Huber. A copy of the program hand-out resides in the PSO Archives.

That Tuesday evening at the February PSO classical concert in PCHA, acclaimed Curtis-trained violoncellist Leslie Parnas played both Joseph Haydn’s Concerto No.2 in D Major, Hob. VIIb/2 (Op. 101) and Max Bruch’s Hebraic tone poem for cello, Kol Nidrei, Op. 47 (also known as “All Vows”, the meaning of the phrase in Hebrew, the work is a Yom Kippur plea for forgiveness of broken vows). Reviewer Bryant praised his playing within a report titled “Symphony Orchestra Gives Stirring Concert”. Another work on this program was Mozart’s comic Overture to “The Impressario”, K 486 (HS: In the original German-language score, thus before translation, this was “der Schauspieldirektor”. THAT’s just too neat a word not to specifically mention.) Also performed this evening was Wallingford Riegger’s Dance Rhythms and the much-loved great warhorse from Tchaikovsky, his Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Opus 64.

The Portland Junior Symphony Orchestra performed a well-attended concert in City Hall Auditorium on March 19. Some works performed during that concert are known: Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, with Lester Kallas; also Saint-Saëns’ Allegro Appasianato, featuring cellist Andrea Graffam. An earlier concert this season, in Bath, had drawn 600 attendees. Both events were directed by Clinton W. Graffam.

Featured at the March 31 classical concert were four guest opera vocalists, two from the New York City Center Opera company (mezzo-soprano Marlina Kleinman as Carmen and lyric coloratura soprano Patricia Brooks as Micaela), and one each from the Metropolitan Opera (Robert Nagy, tenor, as Don Jose) and the San Francisco Opera (Eugene Green, baritone, as Escamillo). This high-powered group, along with the 38-voice Portland Symphony chorus under the direction of Adeline Perazzi, rounded out the PSO’s concert-version presentation of Georges Bizet’s famous opera, Carmen.

An interesting sidelight about that performance was that it began half-an-hour earlier than usual, at 7:45. The reason was to allow attendees to be able to get home at not too late a time, since the singing of the opera would require two-and-one-half hours including a single intermission. The Press Herald headline proclaimed the concert version of the opera “A Triumph”, with the reviewer reporting that “the largest audience in memory crowded the auditorium and was stormy in its applause”. (HS: as a parent of a toddler myself in those days —although then not living in the Portland area- but knowing the “rules of the times”, my bet is that the time-change to allow attendees to be able to get home at not too late a time ---- also dealt with keeping baby sitters -and the baby sitters’ parents....... happy.)

On Sunday afternoon, April 5, Mr. Lipkin once again traveled with the compact Portland Symphony Orchestra “Little Orchestra” to perform a concert at Hebron Academy in Hebron, Maine. The program duplicated that performed two months earlier at Nasson College. In the academy’s Sargent Gymnasium Auditorium, the program led off with Mozart’s Overture to “The Impressario”. Next, the PSO’s leading two flutists, Frances Drinker and Sandra Hoffman, joined with Concertmaster Andrew Galos as the three solo-ed during Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major, BWV 1049, which was listed on the concert program as “for two flutes and solo violin”. Before intermission the music director conducted the ensemble in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93. (HS:  Thus, the “Little Orchestra” performed what the composer reportedly referred to as his “Little Symphony in F”.) In the second half of the concert, the Hebron audience enjoyed the remainder of the program heard two months earlier by the Nasson College audience: Bizet’s Carmen Suite; the Blue Danube by Strauss; and Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld.

The next evening, April 6, Jose Greco and his Company of Spanish Dancers appeared at the State Theater.

In early April, City Manager Graham W. Watt announced that on the heels of Mr. Lipkin’s successful summer-’63 “Keys to Portland” self-financed international touring, the conductor again had the city’s encouragement for an encore (so to speak...). This 1964-summer, Mr. and Mrs. Lipkin would travel to Asia, including stops to call on respective city officials in Tokyo, Hiroshima, Yokohama, Kyoto, Osaka, Kamakura and Hakone in Japan; also Bangkok in Thailand, Hong Kong and Honolulu. A Portland newspaper quoted Mr. Watt, “We believe this publicity aids our tourist promotion and economic development efforts while contributing to international understanding and friendship on a people-to-people basis.” (HS: The conductor was of course aware that stories about his many visits with foreign dignitaries would keep his name “front-and-center” before Portlanders.)

A week later, a local article reported that the couple had just returned from Washington, D.C., where they had lunched with the Ambassador of Thailand to discuss their upcoming trip. The clipping also mentioned that they met with several other foreign dignitaries (HS: No “shrinking violet”, this guy!).

Reviving a tradition often previously enjoyed by local concertgoers, a mid-April Sunday evening Pops Concert by the Portland Symphony Orchestra, sponsored by the College Club of Portland to benefit its scholarship fund, reprised several of the works performed during the preceding classical season, also mixing in some additional favorites. Mr. Lipkin selected Offenbach’s Overture - Orpheous in The Underworld and Finlandia by Sibelius to open this concert. Guest artist Yee-Ha-Chiu, then a Julliard student, performed the first movement, the Allegro molto moderato, of Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16. A grouping entitled “The World Marches” closed out the first section. These included Sir Eward Elgar’s Pomp & Circumstance; Johannes Hanssen’s Valdres “Norwegian March”; Sergei  Prokofiev’s March – “Love for Three Oranges”, from his satirical opera; and Felix Mendelssohn’s Wedding March – “Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

After an intermission came the Finale to Symphony No. 5 by Tchaikowsky, which preceded a grouping entitled “Old Vienna” comprising the remainder of the second section of the evening. Performed were Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart; Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria; three Strauss works (Radetsky Gallop, Pizzicato Polka and Blue Danube); Franz Lehár’s Villa – “Merry Widow”; and Rudolf Sieczyński’s Vienna – City of My Dreams. Another intermission led to Portland-native and then Julliard-studying guest contralto Bonnie Godfrey singing Georges Bizet’s Prelude to “Carmen” with the orchestra. She also sang Seguidilla and Habanera from that famous Bizet opera. An “Americana” grouping comprised the remainder of the concert’s third section, led off with Morton Gould’s American Salute. Next came three always-popular Leroy Anderson novelty works, the melodic Trumpeter’s Lullaby, a mechanically staccato rendition The Typewriter, and the meowing Waltzing Cat. Harl McDonald’s Legend of the Arkansas Traveler led to a popular closing trio. That grouping was Richard Rodgers’ March of the Siamese Children, followed by Irving Berlin’s Easter Parade, and then the Loewe-Bennett Symphonic Scenario - “My Fair Lady”, which closed out the evening. Reviewer Bryant rated the final work, also the evening, “tremendously successful”.

The April 12 Pops Concert was held in City Hall Auditorium, with as often occurred back then, a large number of orchestra-level seats removed so that tables could be brought into the hall and patrons could enjoy the fun music and also the camaraderie of friends also seated at their table. Subscribers who had renewed for the following season were provided carnations for the event (HS: Well..... at least the ladies received carnations).

On April 25, the Portland Junior Symphony Orchestra combined with the New Hampshire Youth Symphony in the adjoining state, under the direction of Dr. Andrew Galos, the NH ensemble’s regular conductor—who was also the regular Concertmaster of the PSO.

Late in the month, popular pianist Roger Williams appeared at City Hall Auditorium (HS: This was likely a PCA presentation.). Another competitor for Portlander’s spending-money budgets in October was the Elks Hootenanny (HS: About which no clippings survive amont the PSO Archives; however, I “just had to” somehow get the word “hootenanny” [TWICE!] into this THINGS-PSO!).

On May 15, The Portland Junior Symphony Orchestra presented a concert of ballet music, at which time the Dorothy Mason School of the Dance collaborated with the musicians.

The PSO Board re-elected Leonard Nelson to as President.

Sometime this year, John R. Thornton was hired as manager of the PSO, a tenure that would last about one year. Mr. Thornton had been a concert reviewer for the Gannett newspapers.

The regular classical series played to an average audience exceeding 2000 people during the 1963-1964 season. Including all PSO classical and Youth performances, the orchestra played to 25,000 people.

Offered the opportunity to continue conducting for the 1964-1965 season, Mr. Lipkin suggested that he cut back somewhat and that the board invite several guest conductors (who could then be evaluated as possible successors). The PSO board decided to adopt this approach, although this season only Francis Madiera, Music Director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra took the podium for a concert. A similar “cut back” arrangement- agreement would also occur the subsequent 1965-1966 season. That following season two out-of-town guest conductors would appear. (HS: In retrospect decades later, some people interviewed by HS said they thought at the time that he was less than sincere, instead simply maneuvering to hold on to his position to reduce possibilities of being asked to resign.)

In June, longtime PSO back-office stalwart Dorothy Rideout accepted a job as administrative assistant at Waynflete School. The Symphony’s well-respected executive secretary was given a grand send-off by PSO supporters, players and trustees at a commemorative affair. She received gifts and the reading of a humorous poem by Mrs. John Barney, wife of the board secretary.

The PSO slimmed down by about 5 players before the 1964-1965 season, to an ensemble of 55-60 players, depending on the composition required for respective orchestral works. The board felt that de-emphasizing quantity and seeking more quality, would serve both the musicianship side of the PSO equation as well as the financial side. An early pre-season report from one newspaper reviewer who sat in on a rehearsal was that the PSO was “already playing in mid-season form”; and a solid start to the orchestra’s 40th season was forecast.

E. Power Biggs appeared as organ soloist with the PSO at the 1964-1965 season’s 40th Season Gala Opening, on October 13. One of Handel’s sixteen concertos, Concerto No. 13 for Organ and Orchestra “The Nightingale”, was later followed by a Saint-Saëns classic, his Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78 “The Organ Symphony”. The latter concluded the program, and calls for the organ to be played during two of the four movements, a work that was completed during a time that is considered to probably have been the artistic zenith of Saint-Saëns career. Earlier, Norman Dello Joio’s 1949 four-movement suite New York Profiles was performed by the Symphony. Also selected by Mr. Lipkin, to commemorate Shakespeare’s 4th Centenary, was Otto Nicolai’s Overture “The Merry Wives of Windsor”. That was certainly a busy concert, for the conductor, the PSO players and the audience. A Sunday Telegram article preceding the performance by “the people’s” organist” referred to his rarely publicized full name: Edward George Power Biggs. Old file records show that Mr. Biggs was paid $500 (HS: more than $3500 in 2012 dollars) for his appearance.

By now the PSO, adjudged to have rapidly improved under Mr. Lipkin, performed in a concert taped for a Voice of America broadcast. This November 10 program was a salute to Norway, and the orchestra of the Norwegian capital in Oslo later reciprocated by also taping a return program for broadcast. Both the American National Anthem and the Norwegian National Anthem were played by the Symphony at the beginning of the concert. Musical highlights of the evening were Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 3 in D major, D. 200 and Capriccio Italien, Op. 45, the popular fantasy for orchestra composed by Tchaikovsky. Also performed was Norwegian composer Eiven Groven’s rhythmic 1950 composition, his Hjalar Ljod Overture (“Goatherd’s Song”). That same concert, Signs of the Zodiac, a new work composed by Daniel Pinkham, and commissioned by Mr. Lipkin, was premiered. American poet “David McCord, who had composed 12 poems under the heading ‘Signs of the Zodiac’... narrat(ed them).. in conjunction with Pinkham’s score”, reported a Portland newspaper the next day.

The Symphony presented a Youth Concert earlier in the day on November 10. From examination of a hand-out program in the PSO Archives, there is confirmation that works performed included: Eivind Groven’s Overture “Hjalarlord”; Louis Gesensway’s Pizzicato for Strings; a demonstration of string instruments employing Mozart’s Minuetto from Eine Kleine Nachtmusik; Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 3 (first movement); Johannes Hanssen’s Valdres March; Leroy Anderson’s Waltzing Cat; and Daniel Pinkham’s Welcome To A Living Composer. With the orchestra, soloist John Fay performed the Finale, Symphony No. 3 with Organ, by Camille Saint-Saëns.

This season, PSO concert programs listed four other concerts that the PSO would present for students at City Hall Auditorium-- on December 8, and then in 1965, on February 2 (HS: this concert was added late to an originally-set series of four Youth Concerts), March 9 and April 13. In a change from earlier Lipkin years, this season Clinton Graffam conducted the PSO Youth Concerts. (HS: No announcement about Mr. Graffam taking over the Youth Concert podium from Mr. Lipkin has been spotted among the PSO Archives, nor was any specific mention included in Board minutes from those years. However, Mr. Lipkin relinguishing his Youth baton would have been consistenct with his springtime suggestion about cutting back.)

In early November the PSO Women’s Committee, in conjunction with Martin’s Discount Foods, sponsored a series of five gourmet cooking demonstrations by the well-known food authority, James Beard. Special features included cheese tasting, wine tasting, daily door prizes, free recipe books, and a baby sitting service. Held at State Street Congregational Church in Portland, daily sessions were conducted on Tuesday the 3rd through Friday the 5th. Titled “The Art of Fine Cooking”, the respective two-hour demonstrations were “Menus for Entertaining”, “Grilling, Roasting and Flaming”, “Gourmet Cooking Made Easy”, “Regional Food and Outdoor Cooking”, and “Souffles, Omelets, and Fondues”. Tickets for the full series cost $12, or $3 for each demonstration. Charges for baby sitting services were 25 cents for each child, per session (HS: Adjusted for inflation, the charge in 2015 would be a meager $1.92. If anyone reading this in 2015 knows of a baby-sitting service charging that amount, please immediately call my daughter or her husband about such a bargain!)

Once again the Symphony presented a Youth Concert under the baton of Mr. Lipkin, on December 8. A copy of the hand-out program is contained in the PSO Archives. A look at it revealed that among the works performed for the students were Otto Nicolai’s Overture, “Merry Wives of Windsor”; Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride; and Tchaikovsky’s Music from the ballet “Nutcracker”. The Symphony Chorus was accompanied by the orchestra for three numbers: Bach’s A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, and Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring; also George Frideric Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.

The PSO’s Christmas Festival Concert on Tuesday, December 8 in 1964 featured classical works by Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Bach and Nicolai Berezowsky. Respectively, the orchestra performed Mass in G Major, No. 2, the Nutcracker Ballet Suite, Symphony No. 35 in D “Haffner”, several Bach chorales with the Portland Symphony Chorus (A Mighty Fortress is Our God, and Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring), and the orchestral Christmas Festival Overture. Under the direction of Madeline Perazzi, the 45-voice chorus also supplemented the PSO that evening to an unlisted-on-the-program encore which greatly pleased the audience – Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. Fitting for the season, Conductor Lipkin then turned toward the audience and the crowd treated the orchestra and chorus by singing four beloved carols of Christmastide.

On Sunday, December 13, the PSO’s concertmaster, Dr. Andrew Galos, performed a recital at Bowdoin College, in Brunswick.

Get Right To The Point:  A paragraph in the minutes of one 1964 board meeting immediately did just exactly that. Board Secretary John B. Barney entered onto the records that the group was advised: “The tympani are decrepit.” Mr. Barney also entered onto the minutes that one board member was tasked to arrange for the PSO to accept an offer from a local musical instrument company and that the person designated should “obtain a $1400 set of four tympani for us at a price of $700”. The minutes went on to say that “the board appointed him tympani-procurer”. That was a super tongue-in-cheek reference to a so-tasked board member; in fact....... the reference to “him” was to............. Mr. Barney. After smiling at his board entry, later it was extra fun for me to find a newspaper photo from that year that referred to the PSO having then recently acquired two timps, built by Slingerland.

A pair of Sunday Telegram articles that year portrayed the two major competing issues surrounding the PSO. On the musical side, a Sunday-section Page#1 feature dealt with how the quality of the orchestra had continued to improve during the past several years. Audience response to the PSO also increased over this time, certainly reflecting the quality of the group’s musical offerings. That was the “bright side”; Opposite was the “dark side”. While the higher attendance was favorably measured in larger box-office and donor income columns, the growth of the PSO’s expenses had, year-after-year, caused a series of losses and accumulating deficits that...... if not reversed—threatened to be so severe that continuation of the PSO could have been in severe jeopardy. For so long a time that it had essentially become business-as-normal---, the PSO was paying last year’s bills with “next year’s” advance ticket sales. Fortunately, the financial-conflict theme story of this late-1964 article then shifted in a favorable direction, discussing how the musically-better “Lipkin years” had been accompanied by more effective years in the boardroom, resulting in better financial results for the immediately-past several years.... but still LOTS more to go. The numbers presented in a chart accompanying the Sunday Telegram told “the story” more effectively than could words written by any reporter:

This Section C story filled Page-1, and was titled “Facing The Financial Music” (sub-titled “A Nagging Problem For Orchestra As Symphony Week Opens”).

The financial severity under which the Board had had to operate following the 1959 decision to make the PSO a paid orchestra was extreme--- that new policy was a “Game-Changer”. The essence of the above fiscal chart is that the Board’s “Path To Recovery”, while arduous (also to the extreme) seemed to be heading in the proper direction. At the 1964 Annual Meeting, PSO President Leonard Nelson commented on important progress achieved over the preceding several years, emphasizing the areas of business efficiency (strides in building attendance and tightening cost-controls) and upgrading the musical quality of the orchestra (more-competitive pay helped recruitment of better musicians). Naysayers several years earlier had said the PSO couldn’t be saved; Mr. Nelson labeled the turn-around “a minor miracle”.....  but in his next sentence promised that both the Board and the Women’s Committee were committed “to preserve this miracle, to nourish it, and to make certain that it becomes part and parcel of the fabric of life in Portland.”

Certainly LOTS more work had to be done, but to steal a musical metaphor—‘the stage was set’ for the PSO to continue on dual upward future paths, both on stage and in the financial department...... IF one major additional thing could happen. What the article aptly ‘set the stage’ for, of course..... was a major fund-raising excursion.


1965       On January 5, David Bar-Illan presented a piano concert at City Hall Auditorium as part of the Community concert Series.

Francis Madeira, Founder and Music Director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra (first performance, 1944) was guest conductor of the PSO for a February 2 concert. He had studied both piano and conducting at the Julliard School in New York City, and he also enjoyed a close mentor relationship with Pierre Monteaux, also with Dr. Howard Hanson (HS: He would retire from the orchestra and the Brown University faculty in 1978, moving to Maine where he still resides in 2014.). Colby associate music professor Peter Re stepped onto the podium during that concert to conduct the premiere of his composition A Maine Profile; the work had been commissioned by the PSO under an active program overseen by Arthur Bennett Lipkin earlier during his tenure. This evening the orchestra also performed Symphony No. 2 in D major, Opus 43, the best known symphony of Jean Sibelius, with Mr. Madiera holding the baton. Music of Richard Wagner and Alexander Borodin was also on this evening’s program, the former’s Prelude to “Lohengrin” and the latter’s PolovetzianDances from “Prince Igor”.

A two-page salute to the Portland Symphony Chorus for its fine work during the Christmas Festival Concert the previous December was contained in the February 2 program (HS: An oversight was thereby corrected; no listing of the personnel was contained in the December program, and that was now rectified.). John Fay was also recognized for his rehearsal help and concert participation with the Chorus. A second notice in the program advised that “WE HAVE MOVED” and that the “PSO office now located on the Northeast side of the City Hall Auditorium stage on the second floor.” (HS: Later-to-be PSO Manager Andy Holmes, whose hiring was announced in in June of the following  year, decades later described this spot to HS as “dark and cold”; presumably Mr. Thornton found it better than a desk in a crowded newspaperoom bullpen.)

Earlier in the day of February 2, Clinton Graffam conducted a Youth Concert at PCHA. Unfortunately, no details regarding the program content have been located (as of 2014).

Later in February, on the 16th, the 75-strong Portland Junior Symphony Orchestra was joined for a Tuesday evening concert by an equal number of students engaged at the Dorothy Mason School of the Dance. After intermission, the Junior orchestra re-assembled in front of the stage so that the dancers could command most of the audience’s attention. The musicians played various popular classical works written for the dance, as the junior-high and high school age dancers engaged in displays of classical ballet, character and modern dance. The compositions included Carl Maria von Weber’s  Invitation to the Dance, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies from the Tchaikovsky “Nutcracker Suite”, and Richard Roger’s classic Slaughter on 10th Avenue—a scene that occurs near the end of the Rodgers and Hart 1936 Broadway musical comedy “On Your Toes”.

On March 9, a Youth Concert was presented for students, with Mr. Lipkin conducting. Since a copy of the hand-out program was retained in the PSO Archives, it is known that the following works were performed: Mozart’s Overture, “The Music Director”; Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54 (First Movement); respective Fanfares for Brasses by both Albert Roussel and Walter Piston; Henry Purcell’s Trumpet Voluntary; Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 3 (Minuetto); and Music from the ballet, “The Incredible Flutist”, by Walter Piston (HS: The composer attended this Youth Concert and spoke to the students); and Morton Gould’s American Salute.

The headline of an article by Press Herald reviewer Harrison Brown, proclaimed “Piston Night At PSO Merits Congratulations All ‘Round”. A PSO concert the prior evening, March 9 at City Hall Auditorium, had featured three pieces by the 91-year-old composer, Variations On A Theme By Edward Burlingame Hill; the ballet Suite from The Incredible Flutist, featuring the PSO principal Frances Drinker; and his Concertino for piano, performed by Luise Vosgerchian, who the concert program listed as “preceptor in music at Harvard University”. All the Piston works were performed after the intermission. Opening the Tuesday concert was Johannes Brahms Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80. This was followed by Beethoven’s Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 61, with the Symphony’s concertmaster, Dr. Andrew Galos, as soloist.

Mr. Piston attended this March concert, and in a hand-written thank-you letter published in a subsequent concert program, lavished praise on the Portland Symphony Orchestra, writing “with its unususually excellent individual players, with its marked determination on the part of all to do their very best, and, perhaps most important, with an evident affection for music, (the PSO) is indeed outstanding among civic orchestras.”

Also some other time during March, the orchestras from both Deering High School and Portland High School were combined in concert at City Hall Auditorium. This marked the first time such an endeavor had been attempted. The group primarily performed under the baton of Clinton W. Graffam, also that of Thomas V. Bucci, Supervisor of Music for the Portland schools. While it is presumed that the concert was presented sometime during school hours, precise details regarding all of what was played have not been located, with the exception that one work was Tchaikovsky’s “1812” Overture.

The first two works performed at the PSO’s final Classical Series Season concert on April 13 at PCHA were by two giant composers, Richard Wagner and Ludwig van Beethoven. Respectively, the PSO led off with Prelude to Act III, “Lohengrin”, followed by Concerto No. 5 in E Flat major (Op. 73) “The Emperor”, featuring the winner of the First International Van Cliburn Competition in 1962, Ralph Votapek (HS: The concert program noted that in the previous season he had performed 50 concerts in North America. Googling revealed that he went on to a long career as both a concert artist and that after 36 years he retired as Professor Emeritus of Piano at Michigan State University College of Music.). After intermission, the Symphony played Anatoly Liadov’s Suite of Eight Russian Folk Songs, Op. 58. Those were: Religious Chant, Christmas Song, Lament, Mosquito Dance, Legend of the Birds, Cradle Song, Dance, and Village Dance Song. Next was Elinor Remick Warren’s American Impressionism Tone Poem, “Crystal Lake”. The evening concluded with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Easter Overture. A hand-out flyer spotted in the PSO Archives indicates that this concert was dubbed “Carnation Night”, and presumably flowers were awaiting ticketholders when they met PCHA ushers ready to escort them to their seats.

Another PSO Youth Concert at City Hall Auditorium was performed on Tuesday, April 13. Clinton Graffam held the baton this afternoon, beginning the program with Jaromir Weinberger’s Czech Rhapsody. The Portland Junior Symphony Orchestra then performed David Guion’s Sheep and Goat Walking to Pasture. A portion of Richard Wagner’s Introduction to Act III of “Lohengrin” was next, followed by Adolph Schreiner’s The Worried Drummer, with the PSO’s Everett Beale the worried soloist. Music by Russian composer Anatoly Lyadov introduced the students to more of the percussion section’s talents: with Mosquito – Birds – and Village Dance on the program. Morton Gould’s American Salute led to the Emperor Waltz, Op. 437, by Johann Strauss II. The program concluded with Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakoff’s Russian Easter Overture, Op. 36. (HS:  Once again, it is likely that time only excerpts from many of these works to be played.)

At a Pops Concert on Saturday, April 24, both the Colby College Chorus and the Bates College Choral Society were featured. Also on the “Pops Menu” that evening, (food-wise and snack-wise) ham sandwiches cost 30-cents, brownies and cupcakes were 25-cents, ice cream sundae cups cost 15-cents, with hot coffee priced at 20-cents. In a then “sign of the times”, the program listed free cigarettes that were given away by a major tobacco company.

The Symphony opened the evening with Georges Bizet’s Prelude to “Carmen”, followed by Otto Nicolai’s Overture – “The Merry Wives of Windsor”. Next came a four-segment reprise of the eight Russian Folk Songs by Anatoly Liadov that were earlier performed at the April Classical Concert:  Chant; Mosquito; Birds; and Village Song ---. PSO tympanist Everett Beale then showed off lots of percussioning talents with the amusing and wonderfully-foolish Adolph Schreiner novelty piece, The Worried Drummer. The Colby College Chorus, directed by Peter Re, then sang William Schuman’s Holiday Song, Ernest Toch’s Geographical Fugue, two American Folk Songs, He’s Going Away (arr. Gail Kubik) and Old Joe Clark (arr. George Kleinsinger). Colby’s Arthur Beveridge showed off his trumpet skills as the PSO played Norman Dello Joio’s Song of the Open Road. The Symphony musicians then played the Minuet from “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” by Mozart, before finishing with a can’t-beat-‘em trio of popular Strauss-family dances, Radetsky March, Pizzicato Polka and Emperor Waltz. After a second intermission, the orchestra returned to perform Richard Wagner’s Introduction to Act III, “Lohengrin”, and was then replaced on the stage by the Bates Choral Society for three works. First of these was William Billings’ Modern Music, from the “Psalm-Singers Amusement”, Boston, 1781. Next were The Staff Necromancer and Loveli-Lines, both by Randall Thompson. Last were Five Love Songs by Johannes Brahms (HS:  Looks like “Six” songs to me.): A Tremor’s In The Branches; Nightingale; Thy Sweetest Song; Bird In Air Will Stray Afar; From Yon Hills The Torrent Speeds; and Locksmith Ho! A Hundred Padlocks! (HS: Try Googling the last one. You’ll have locksmith salesmen from 51 states sending you bothersome email pop-ups!). The Symphony “almost” concluded the long concert, with two numbers: Morton Gould’s American Salute and Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever. However, the grand finale involved both the college vocal ensembles along with the PSO, as the combined choruses and orchestra performed Finlandia, by Jean Sibelius.

Not that “Pops” concerts aren’t almost-automatically “hits” with audiences, the Press Herald headline following the concert confirmed this as true, saying “Symphony ‘Pops Concert’ Hailed as Happy Success”.

Once again, the Board re-elected Leonard Nelson as PSO President.

In June, Dr. Anthony Galos, concertmaster of the PSO since 1952, was named to the newly-created post of Assistant Conductor. This had been a post temporarily held in the past by Clinton Graffam when the PSO did not have a permanent conductor, although programs during the remainder of Mr. Lipkin’s tenure continued to listed the PSO oboist as Conductor of the Junior Symphony Orchestra.

Also in June, local businessman S. Allen Howes was named manager of the PSO. (HS: Apparently he didn’t “fit the bill”, for less than a year later he was replaced.)

Examination of PSO Archive materials and minutes leaves it unclear whether Mr. Graffam continued to conduct at the student Youth Concerts, or whether Mr. Lipkin again resumed presentation of those events. (HS:  My bet is that Mr. Lipkin continued to ease back and left that responsibility with Mr. Graffam. Later, some of the guest conductors did also handle Youth Concert duties.)

Sometime during this year, the City of Portland purchased the corner lot at Cumberland Avenue and Myrtle Street for $6000 (HS: These days, that certainly seems like a bargain-basement price!). That “squared off” the City Hall corner at that section of the big block. In 1968 this corner would become the location for the Portland Symphony Orchestra extension and a parking lot. A “The Way It Was” article in the Evening Express that ran some 15 years later mentioned that “Tenants on the day the property changed hands included a meat market that advertised hamburger at 49 cents a pound, and a small apartment house.” A 2013 “Flashback” before-and-after picture comparison in the Press Herald showed the Meatland Market on the corner, sporting a red Coca-Cola sign and round disk on the sides of a white “GROCERIES” sign atop the large corner window facing Cumberland Avenue. A two-step-up diagonal entry to the ground-level store was from the corner, with the three-story building set between a pair of two-story buildings, one on Cumberland (definitely the apartment house mentioned in the EE article) and the other on Myrtle (HS: It is not clear what purpose the latter building may have served; it might have housed a business or two.).

During the summer of 1965, Mr. and Mrs. Lipkin again traveled to Europe, where in Norway the PSO conductor did recordings with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. Since the couple was diligent in sending reports about their travels to Portland newspapers, even while he was “away”....... employing his PR skills, the conductor assured that his name remained in the news.

The PSO set an $80,000 budget target for the 1965-1966 season, its 41st. A program notice listed “playing personnel” costs as the item absorbing most of the total budget. Only about 50% of the total was forecast to be provided by ticket sales. At this time, on the PSO financial books was an accumulated deficit of about $12,000 that had built up over prior years. (Please see the Anecdotes section regarding a major matching contribution offer from the longtime owner of the Sampson’s supermarket chain that was stimulated when Mr. Sampson, of Skowhegan, read an article about the deficit. Thanks to his generosity, by the following Spring, enough others had also stepped forward and the near-$12,000 accumulated deficit was eliminated. A fun “pitch” written to encourage contributions said “where else can you double your money and your listening pleasure so easily?”) (Note: At that point in time, the pledge was the largest in the PSO’s history, equivalent to more than $42,000  in 2012-dollars.)

“The Women’s Committee of the Portland Maine Symphony Orchestra... present(ed) a series of six lectures entitled ‘Music  for the Listener’ “, closing out a total six-lecture program begun late in 1964. The series featured talks by Bowdoin College music professors and were held at the Portland Museum of Art. Among the Women’s Committee members whose names HS spotted again and again and again, were Mrs. Guy Gannett, Jane Moody, Rachel Armstrong and Wilma Redmond. Those ladies worked tirelessly on behalf of the PSO.

Keith’s Theatre is demolished (after the bank holding the defaulted mortgage offered it to any taker --- as a gift; but there were “no takers”). The property becomes a parking lot.

This fall, Bruce Hangen enrolled as a freshman at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.

The 1965-1966 season opened with an October 12 concert, dedicated to the United Nations. Joining Mr. Lipkin at the front of the stage was twenty-one year-old Lorin Hollander, from Long Island. He was guest piano soloist, first performing Beethoven’s Concerto No. 2 For Piano and Orchestra in B flat Major, Opus 19. Mr. Hollander later also performed Burleske for Piano and Orchestra, by Richard Strauss (composed when he was 21). The program notes described it as “a work of great charm, wit and imagination”. (Note: Mr. Hollander’s father, Max, “was first violinist with Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony.”) The PSO’s first-half orchestral parts of the program included Bach’s Fugue in G Minor (“the little”), BWV 578; and Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 88 in G major (Hoboken 1/88). This concert concluded with the Overture to Semiramide, Rossini’s final Italian opera.

On November 10, Arthur Fiedler and members of the Boston “Pops” Orchestra performed a benefit concert to help the Maine Medical Center Centennial Building Fund. This event was held at City Hall Auditorium.

A Youth Concert was performed at PCHA during the afternoon of Tuesday, November 16. Following a segment of Bach’s Fugue in G Minor, BMV 578, much of the program featured the PSO string instrument players. The Allegro from Eine Kleine Nachtmusik was followed by Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 88 – first movement. Frederick Loewe’s Selections from “My Fair Lady” were followed by Leroy Anderson’s Waltzing Cat. John Philip Sousa’s always-a-winner march, The Stars and Stripes Forever, concluded the program. (HS:  This concert was repeated the next day for students in Lewiston.)

Following the intermission of a Classical Concert that Tuesday evening in Portland, the PSO premiered noted Maine-born (Rockland) composer Walter Piston’s Pine Tree Fantasy (HS: Most of this concert was repeated in the next evening in Lewiston, although the Piston work was not included.). The work was commissioned by Mary Castleman Lipkin, and dedicated by the composer to her husband—Arthur Bennett Lipkin, who ..of course.. conducted the orchestra that evening (Source regarding the dedication--  The Boston Composers Project: A Bibliography of Contemporary Music.). Interestingly, the program did not refer to Mr. Piston having dedicated the work to Mr. Lipkin. Earlier in the concert, the Symphony led off with Carl Maria von Weber’s Overture to “Der Freischutz”, which was followed by Komei Abe’s Symphony. The concert was recorded and later broadcast throughout the composer’s home country of Japan, a Voice of America Musical Salute to Kyoto. A recent (post-2000) article about Mr. Abe described his music as “very straightforwardly tonal, melodic, and well-formed. It is also lighter than air, and even the more aggressive gestures in (his) Symphony are pretty friendly.”

The orchestra concluded the pre-intermission segment of the concert with the Suite – Royal Fireworks Music by George Frederic Handel, transcribed by Sir Hamilton Harty. The evening’s music concluded with Capriccio Espagnole, Op. 34, by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

Although the following quote was contained in an article about the earlier-that-year concert when three of Dr. Piston’s works were performed, it seems especially apropos at this part of the ThingsPSO Timeline since it deals with his view of reviewers. “Press music critics should be knowledgeable about music certainly, but mostly they need ‘the gift of gab’, to which they sometimes add “colossal nerve and complete irresponsibility,” Dr. Piston maintained. “After all, he added, the critic’s primary function is to have his stuff read, which will sell more of his boss’(es) papers.” (HS: I wonder how he’d critique the current P-H reviewer?)

Another, wonderful quote, was offered by Mr. Piston to a Portland Newspaper reviewer. In response to a conversational comment the reviewer made to the composer about where a listener would “hear the pine tree” in is work, the response came back, “If you hear a pine tree, it’s yours..... not mine.”

The next afternoon the PSO performed a Youth Concert in Lewiston. In the evening, under the auspices of the Lewiston Parent-Teacher Association, a largely adult group of concertgoers enjoyed much of the program performed the previous evening in Portland. Music in the first half was from the previous night’s performance in Portland, although the order of the compositions was changed, reversing the von Weber and Handel works. In the second half Mr. Lipkin led the ensemble in Bach’s Fugue in G minor (“the little”), BWV 578; and then Rimsky-Korsakoff’s  Capriccio Espagnole, Op. 34. The final work on this program was a symphonic arrangement of songs from Frederick Loewe’s “My Fair Lady”, arranged by Robert Russell Bennett (HS:  Googling reveals that some people friendly to Mr. Loewe called him Fritz; I bet you didn’t know that either.). After lengthy applause from the estimated 1000 attendees, the conductor again ascended the podium--- the orchestra was ready and a rendition of Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever resounded through the Lewiston Armory. (HS: The evening’s entertainment was a bargain; Lewiston residents paid $2 for tickets, versus the $4.50 top price for seats at Portland’s City Hall Auditorium.)

The PCA, on Saturday evening, November 27, presented the folk-singing trio Peter, Paul and Mary in concert at City Hall Auditorium. This late in the fall, Portlanders could easily answer the musical question that audiences always wanted them to sing, “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?”.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, December 7, Mr. Lipkin conducted the Symphony musicians in a Youth Concert at Portland High School Auditorium. The program was an all-orchestral one, with the PSO’s Music Director and Conductor starting off with Bach’s Fugue in G Minor. Mozart’s Overture to “The Marriage of Figaro” was next, followed by the First Movement of Symphony No. 8 “Unfinished”, D.759, by Franz Schubert. A copy of an original program found in the PSO Archives shows that the concert concluded with Tchaikovsky’s Overture solennelle “1812”. (HS:  The following happening would not be “OK” in 2013 [when this paragraph is being written]:  The public-school concert was partially underwritten and co-sponsored by Seltzer and Rydholm, Inc. Bottlers of Pepsi-Cola and Seven-Up.)

Harp soloist Mildred Dilling played with the PSO that evening. She was featured twice, initially during the first half of the concert in a performance with the PSO of George Frideric Handel’s Concerto for Harp and Orchestra in B flat Major, HWV 294. During the second half, she played the Introduction and Allegro for Harp, Flute, Clarinet and String Orchestra, by Maurice Ravel. The program notes mention that she then owned “what is probably the world’s largest collection of harps”; unfortunately, her PR agent neglected to mention how many. (HS: be sure to see an amusing PSO Anecdote regarding her that involves one of the Marx Brothers [immediately go to the back of the class if you can’t guess which one!].) The concert had begun with the Symphony performing the romantic Ballet Suite – “Céphale et Procris”, by André Gretry. The PSO players ended the pre-intermission segment of the concert performing the Allegro moderato and Andante movements of Symphony No. 8 in B minor, the famous “Unfinished” work by Schubert. Also on this program in the second segment was the World Premiere of Bowdoin music professor Elliot Schwartz’ Music for Orchestra (with electronic tape). This December classical series concert concluded with something that the concert program listed as Tchaikowsky’s Overture solennelle Op. 49 – “1812”.

By December the PSO had already raised $3500 in its drive to match the Challenge of Richard Sampson.


1966       On January 24, the “Big Kids” came to perform at City Hall Auditorium. The Bowdoin-affiliated Ruggles Institute sponsored a performance by The Boston Symphony Orchestra at City Hall Auditorium. The institute championed Charles Ruggles’ artistic accomplishments, and this year (1966) he was awarded an honorary degree by Bowdoin College. (HS: Googling reveals that Charles Ruggles, 1876-1971, was a violinist-composer and friend of Charles Ives. He had studied with George Knowles Paine and major works were begun and first performed during years he lived in New York [1917-37]. After a period [1938-43] during which he taught composition at the University of Miami, he settled into a converted schoolhouse in Vermont, where he had been spending his summers since the 1920s. His musical activities during this time consisted mostly of ruthless and painstaking revision of his earlier works. He started few new works there, instead primarily turning to painting.)

Sunday afternoon, January 30, saw the Portland Junior Symphony Orchestra on stage presenting a concert at City Hall Auditorium. This performance marked the youth organization’s 24th consecutive season, all under the baton of Clinton W. Graffam (HS: Having been so close to Mr. Graffam throughout their school careers, the kids probably thought that he “moonlighted” as PSO oboist.)

The 39-year-old Hungarian conductor, Dr. Charles Gabor, guest-conducted the PSO on Tuesday evening, February 8. Dr. Gabor had studied medicine and music simultaneously in Budapest, at separate universities. The Press Herald review was very complimentary, especially about two major works, the first being Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major, D. 485. The reviewer concluded, saying that “Portland’s City Hall Auditorium has never heard such a production of sound from our symphony, nor as expert playing...... The evening was a resounding success.” The other work heralded by the P-H was Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. “Pictures” was originally a piano composition, later (almost 50 years after it was composed) arranged for orchestra by Maurice Ravel, in 1922. The PSO performed that work, which the program notes described as an orchestration that “fits the music so well that it makes the original piano version seem like a sketch”.

The first half of the concert ended with the Symphony performing Johannes Brahms’ Variations of a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56a. After the intermission, guest-soprano artist Judith Cornell (HS: She had earlier sung with the PSO during the Christmas Festival Concert in December of 1964.) joined with the orchestra in a performance of Ottorino Repighi’s lyric poem for soprano and string orchestra, Il Tramonto (“The Sunset”), P. 101 (1914). Dr. Gabor was at the time the regular director of the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra. His appearance in Portland was likely championed by Mr. Lipkin, as he had been a conductor of the Main Line Youth Orchestra (HS: Mr. Lipkin had founded the adult Main Orchestra in 1945.) and had Philadelphia teaching stints at both Haverford and the Curtis Institute.

One source in the PSO Archives listed a Youth Concert at PCHA on Tuesday, March 8. However, no concert programs have been uncovered, nor have any newspaper articles that made reference to any such concert. If at least one concert for students was performed on this day, it is possible that Kalman Novak conducted. The guest conductor was in Portland for a Classical Concert that evening. It is also possible that Clinton Graffam conducted. Since Mr. Novak was on hand for the evening concert, it is likely that Mr. Lipkin was out of town on this date.

Harvard Music Department graduate (’45) Kalman Novak guest-conducted the PSO at a Classical Concert on Tuesday, March 8. For many years a concert pianist, he turned to conducting and at the time of his Portland appearance was Music Director and Conductor of the Civic Symphony Orchestra of Boston. He later would be director of three different music schools over a 25-year period, concluding a long teaching career as founder of what would eventually be named the Music Institute of Chicago, in the prosperous suburb of Winnetka, Illinois. The concert opened with Beethoven’s Overture to “Leonore”, No. 2, Op. 72b. Next, then-concertmaster of the Symphony, Andrew Galos, was solo violinist in a performance of Mozart’s Concerto No. 3 in G major, I.V. 216, for Violin and Orchestra. Rounding out the concert was a work that others have (by-now, 2012) written is a 1937 “piece to have become possibly the most debated and discussed piece of classical music written in the 20th century. Nonetheless, in the three quarters of a century since it was composed, it has never failed to divide opinion or inspire debate.” So..... have you guessed it?  A musicologist wrote about the controversial work: “At the end of the (premiere) performance, the audience burst into an ovation so passionate and stormy that it nearly eclipsed the 45 minute symphony in duration.” Got it now?

The tragic symphony that the PSO performed that wintry March evening in 1966 was Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Opus 47, by Dmitri Shostakovich. (HS: Furry ushanka winter hats-off (!) to Kalman Novak for sending me off on a Google search about a symphony, that in the late 1950’s I never understood when my high school concert band performed the angry first movement.)

Arthur Bennett Lipkin’s season-ending conducting role, in what would be his next-to-final season atop the podium with the PSO, was in mid-April, on Tuesday the 12th. (HS: A copy of a pre-season PSO hand-out found in the PSO Archives originally referred to this concert as scheduled for April 8. No explanation for the change in date has been noticed [as of 2013].) The 38-voice Portland Symphony Chorus, under the direction of Madeline Parazzi, and four guest operatic-soloists shared the stage with the Portland Symphony Orchestra in a program that featured the music of Guiseppe Verdi. The guest vocalists were tenor James McCray, baritone David Clatworthy and sopranos Mary Munroe and Barbara Hardy. The next day the P-H contained a headline, “Mary Munroe Captivates Audience.” Other newspaper reports after the performance said that the audience was thrilled by the operatic version of Alexandre Dumas’ play “Camille”........ Verdi’s La Traviata. Research reveals that “The title... means literally, ‘Fallen Woman’, or perhaps more figuratively, ‘The Woman Who Goes Astray’.” It is easy to picture that Maestro Lipkin worked very hard that evening to be sure that none of the PSO players “went astray” from the parts on their music stands. Again this year, the PSO’s opera concert began earlier than usual (at 8 pm) so that concert-goers could arrive back home at their accustomed times.

This year Arthur Bennett Lipkin was presented with an Honorary Doctor of Music degree by Nasson College, in Springvale, Maine.

In between seasons, it was publicly announced that the Board of the Symphony would engage four guest-conductors for alternate concerts during the PSO’s upcoming 1966-67 schedule. Mr. Lipkin would also conduct some performances during this season. (HS:  Unannounced was the fact that the Board and Mr. Lipkin had signed a revised employment contract, calling for him to be paid at half the rate during earlier years when he served full-time and conducted all of the PSO’s concerts. Both his original contract and his final contract now reside among the PSO Archives.) Named by the board to handle guest-conducting posts were Charles Gabor, Elyakum Shapira, Maurice Kaplow, Andrew Galos and Paul Vermel. (HS: events would evolve such that Mr. Vermel did not actually guest-conduct the PSO at an open concert) .

The previous season, it appears that the number of Youth Concerts presented for students at City Hall Auditorium was reduced by one from the levels of previous years. (HS: This is uncertain, but likely, since the detailed source information about the Youth Concerts —scrapbooks created and saved by Katherine Graffam—were articles or notices of upcoming youth concerts. During the final two years of Mr. Lipkin’s tenure, when he was away for extended periods, there is a dearth of such clippings.)

Jeremiah Newbury was elected by the Board to become President of the PSO organization.

An article in the Evening Express by PSO president Jerry Newbury includes a report of orchestra’s first above-$100,000 budget. Crossing into that “financial territory” changed the PSO’s classification from a U.S. Community Orchestra to a Metropolitan Orchestra, joining 37 other U.S. metropolitan orchestras.

The PSO Board set a $55,000 fund-raising campaign goal for the upcoming season.

In mid June, Andy Holmes succeeded S. Allen Howes as PSO Manager and Fund Coordinator.

When Jerry Newbury hired Andy Holmes to come to Portland to be PSO Manager, Andy recalls that he set out “to romance the city” about what was then generally looked upon as a “forlorn organization, not much good for the town”. Andy was provided a small office on the second floor of City Hall (there was not enough office space behind the stage), that he said was “dark, cold and lonely”,  (then he quickly added with a sly wink) but it was there.” Andy would stay in the role of Manager and Fund Coordinator for several years before returning to take another headmaster position at a private school. The continuity that his several-year stint would bring to the PSO was important, for the employee roles of the organization show that the board had to deal with replacing  quite a few new managers during the early ‘60s. The average tenure for the half-dozen or so managers who preceded Mr. Holmes appears to have only been about one season (HS: if that!).

Also in June, Dr. Anthony Galos resigned his position as concertmaster of the PSO, to take a newly-created position in the music department at the University of Akron. The shoes he left were big ones for the board to fill.

In late August, Boston-based Maynard Goldman, who had held the 2nd chair in the first violin section next to Dr. Galos, was named Acting Concertmaster of the PSO. It was announced that a survey would be undertaken to find a “permanent concert master who will live within a short traveling distance of Portland.”

Hardly a month had gone by (HS: and “zero” PSO concerts, since the season hadn’t yet begun , when Mr. Goldman’s “acting” title was removed, and his position for the upcoming season instead was designated Assistant Concertmaster. The change was due to the fact that on September 29 the Press Herald carried an article reporting that a group consisting of several Julliard graduates, the Vághy String Quartet, had been engaged as a PSO “In-Residence” unit for a year, including being part of the Symphony. Named concertmaster was Hungary-born Dezsö Vághy, who had studied with Dorothy DeLay while a scholarship student during the 1964-5 and 1965-6 academic year, but did not complete all required studies nor graduate. Named principal to lead the violas was his brother, Tibor Vághy. Stephen Kecskeméthy, also born in Hungary, was appointed principal second violin, and Edward Culbreath principal among the cellists.

The arrival of the Vághy String Quartet came about as a result of successful joint federal application filed by the PSO, Bowdoin College, Nasson College, Gorham State Teachers College and the University of Maine in Portland. The filing was made for an award under Title I of the Higher Education Act of 1965. Granted was $25,000 for the establishment of a resident string quartet that would:  (1) teach at each of the four colleges; (2) attend all PSO orchestra rehearsals and participate in concerts; (3) perform four concerts at each of the four colleges; and (4) schedule an additional ten to twelve concerts, to be performed in Portland and other cities throughout the state. The grant had a life of three years.

Prior to the kick-off of the PSO’s 1966-1967 season, a small notice appeared in the local newspapers—advising that “because of unprecedented demand for tickets, the PSO regular telephone lines cannot handle the volume of calls”. A new, separate, number for ordering tickets had been established, with ticket staff personnel on duty 24 hours a day. (HS: Hm-m-m-m...... if not 100% truthful, it certainly was clever.)

This fall, Zane Sturtevant became the PSO’s ticket Secretary, thus becoming the person to whom most people calling the orchestra offices would speak on the phone. She had arrived several years earlier as a volunteer. (By the mid-1980s, Ms. Sturtevant would still remain in her important ticket-boss position.)

As mentioned above, in September the PSO and four prominent Maine colleges were awarded a federal grant of $25,000 for the establishment of a resident string quartet which would perform 32 concerts in Portland and other places in the state during its first season. The PSO supplemented the grant with a $7000 contribution. The combined $32,000 would be almost $220,000 in current (2012) inflation-adjusted dollars, a significant sum.

The PCA presented Andre Watts at City Hall Auditorium, playing a rare Baldwin SD-10, one of only nine such instruments then in the U.S. This concert grand piano was “so constructed that it over(came) the tendency of concert pianos to ‘ring’ or ‘ping’ in sharp attacks.” Leonard Bernstein was one of several conductors consulted when the instrument was developed.” The Press Herald reported that “the new piano is drastically modified with relation to strings, bridges, the string plate and soundboard.” It “employed a new system of terminating the tuned portions of the strings, requiring modifications of the cast plate and other changes made in plate mounting.

In addition to the PCA concert, arrangements had been made for the Baldwin SD-10 concert grand piano to also be played by David Bar-Illan several days later, when he performed with the PSO.

The PSO’s Classic Concert Series opened on October 18, under the baton of Arthur Bennett Lipkin. He had engaged Mr. Bar-Illan as guest piano soloist for Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto. Also on the program that evening was Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 and Aaron Copland’s An Outdoor Overture (HS: Google-ing reveals that Mr. Copland composed An Outdoor Overture in 1938 for a premiere performance at NYC’s High School of Music and Art in New York City. The work followed a request from Alexander Richter, the school’s orchestra director and first chairman of its music department from 1936 until his retirement in 1969. It has been reported that at the time of the premiere, Mr. Richter was seeking a composition to begin the institution’s long-term plan to concentrate on “American music for American Youth”.).

Regarding the soloist’s performance of the Rachmaninov piano concerto, after the performance, a local newspaper cleverly said that Mr. Bar-Illian “has the face of a choir boy and fingers like a pickpocket”, describing his performance as “stealing the affections of an enraptured audience at the concert.” Pre-concert publicity from the PSO included a strong quote from the Cincinnati Enquirer, “If any Pianist of this era inherits the mantle of Arthur Rubenstein, it will be David Bar-Illian.” Regarding the Brahms’ work, responding to an HS question as to whether former PSO Manager Andy Holmes recalled any performances that “blew him away”, Mr. Holmes cited that evening. He came to the concert “convinced that even five rehearsals weren’t enough” for it; he “was prepared for the worst.” Then, although his job required him to head backstage about half-way through the symphony, “I couldn’t leave my seat.” (HS: see Anecdotes for an additional perspective from Andy.)

Less than two weeks later, Arthur Bennett Lipkin publicly announced that he would retire at the end of the 1966-67 season, resigning his position as Music Director and Conductor. A PSO press release to that effect found in the Orchestra’s Archives is dated October 31. The conductor’s 1964 suggestion to the board that it quietly set in motion a plan to invite a series of guest conductors, with an objective to select his successor from among them allowed for an orderly transition. Although he continued to conduct through the ensuing two-year-long period, his advising the Board  (either forthrightly; or self-servedly, so as to stave off any potential chances of being dismissed, which would have been an anathma for his ego) about his private plans regarding retirement allowed the board to carefully undertake a conductor search. (Several longtime PSO supporters have suggested to HS that  -maybe jokingly, maybe not--  Mr. Lipkin was “losing it a little bit upstairs” about now, and that some of his flamboyant arm-flailing on the podium was an indication that he “should get ready to go”. Whether those were correct evaluations isn’t for certain now.... but even if so, his abilities “to sell” the PSO never seemed to wane.... judging by ‘60s newspaper accounts.)

At the time of the announcement of Mr. Lipkin’s retirement, much praise was heaped upon him by the PSO Board. A lengthy statement described his “contributions” as “prodigious”. A fact featured, of course, was how community support and attendance increased during his tenure, from an average crowd of 900 when he arrived, to what would be a capacity audience of 3,000 at the opening concert of the 1966-67 season, his final on the podium. However, that praise was from the “business side” of the orchestra; from the “operating side”, meaning the musicians...... a different attitude prevailed. From the PSO players point of view, there was little, if any, praise forthcoming---- they were only too glad to see him depart.

Events were now set such that after the October PSO concert, Arthur Bennett Lipkin would conduct only two more performances as resident conductor (HS: although indications are that he had already essentially moved out of town). Those two concerts would be in December (Messiah) and his April farewell concert.

Two Youth concerts were performed at PCHA on October 25, both presentations of music from the Nutcracker Ballet. The concert program lists Arthur Bennett Lipkin, conductor, and choreography by Polly L. Thomas. (HS:  The possibility exists that Mr. Lipkin’s name was pro-forma listed as conductor of the PSO, though not necessarily as conductor at this concert. Clinton Graffam may have conducted these concerts, not Mr. Lipkin.)

A program insert this fall was about a “Repeat Performance” that was noted as “In response to enthusiastic demand, and with the hope that we can again please the ‘gourmets’ of music, the Women’s Committee of the Portland Maine Symphony Orchestra presents a return engagement of DINNER FOR THE SYMPHONY”. The event was described as “a production in three part-ties”, with “Mrs. Horace A. Hildreth, Honorary Conductor” and Mrs. Sidney W. Wernick, Director”. The insert stated that “SOLOISTS” would be “The gracious hostesses who give dinner parties in their homes for the benefit of our orchestra.” To be held on Saturday, December 3, 1966, this was obviously the second such fund-raising affair (HS: Nothing has been spotted [HS: Or if so, yours truly doesn’t recall anything about it.] regarding an earlier Dinner for the Symphony in 1965.). In years to come, these events would generate significant contributions to the PSO.

“Orchestra Personnel” from among the members of the Women’s Committee were grouped into four sections:  Strings- “chairmen who carry the melody”; Horns- “area chairmen who ‘toot’ for hostesses”; Percussion- “to beat time”; and Harp- “music of the ‘angels’ “. Mrs. Charles W. Redman, Jr., -fondly known to all as “Willi”-, who during a 2012 interview made the first reference to yours truly about these events, was listed among the “string personnel” as Television Director, presumably a publicity assignment.

A scanned copy of the program insert about this 1966 “Dinner for the Symphony” is included with the other program information pertaining to the October 18 concert that has been uploaded to

The Evening Express in 1966 headlined an article saying that “More that 40 conductors seek PSO music-director post. (HS: The Board certainly must have been extra busy through this period.)

On November 15, Hector Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique was performed by the PSO under the baton of guest-conductor Elyakum Shapira, the regular Associate Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (HS: He held that post during the 1962-1967 period.). PSO flutist Frances Snow Drinker was featured as soloist that evening in Charles Tomlinson Griffe’s Poem for Flute and Orchestra, a performance that caused the Evening Express reviewer to note that it “left no doubt that the PSO has a principal flutist of the very first rank.” Other works performed that evening included Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 in C major and Hector Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique. Following the concert, one of the PSO members told a Sunday Telegram reporter, “He is the most exciting talent we have faced in guest conductors during the last several years”. (Note: Then considered likely to move up when Herman Adler would leave the Baltimore orchestra the next season, Mr. Shapira went on to be Chief Conductor of the Malmö Symphony Orchestra in Sweden, and subsequently Chief Conductor of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in Australia. By that time in his career he was professionally spelling his name “Shapirra”; Googling regarding earlier times in his career note his name sometimes spelled “Shapiro”.)

Earlier, during the daytime, Mr. Shapira conducted a Youth Concert at South Portland High School. Specifics of what was performed have not yet (2014, that is) been located.

An authoritative report has it that during discussions between the board search committee and Mr. Shapira about the upcoming vacancy at the PSO, he reportedly said something like “You’ve got a perfect candidate already living in Maine. Why would you look any further than Paul Vermel?” With such a ringing endorsement, events rapidly proceeded toward what would be the selection of Paul Vermel to take the PSO helm. The-then 42-year/old Mr. Vermel had conducted both the Fresno Philharmonic and the Fresno Junior Philharmonic from 1959 till 1966, and had also taught at California State University. After his last year in California, he had recently moved to Maine to head up a newly-established Title-III project, Music In Maine Project (MIM).

Googling reveals that “The Title III Program was a United States federal grant program to improve education. It began as part of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which sought to provide support to strengthen various aspects of schools through a formula grant program to accredited, legally authorized” institutions. With a maximum three-year charter and a three-year federal grant of $217,000 (HS: Wow!  $217-grand! THAT’s a-lot’a bucks.... almost $1.5 million measured in 2012 dollars!), MIM was created to bring music to Maine public school students at no cost to the schools (HS: By statute, public school districts, neither individually nor collectively, were eligible to directly receive Title-III funds.). Primarily comprised of young music conservatory graduates, the operating organization consisted of four units..... two string quartets and two wind quintets. The respective ensembles respectively traveled to schools throughout the state, performing at student assemblies. Generally, two concerts were annually presented at most schools. The MIM players, then divided into quartets and quintets, annually performed before more than 100,000 students at that time. During a 2013 look-back conversation (with HS), Paul Vermel commented that almost all of Maine’s “schools responded at great glee to have these concerts at no expense”.

An old newspaper clipping from the 1960s states that the Music In Maine project received a $217,000 grant from the U.S. Office of Education for 950 concerts to 144,000 school children by 18 musicians forming quintets and quartets.

In addition to their MIM employment duties, the combined ensembles also performed as an independent chamber orchestra that was conducted by Mr. Vermel. Proceeds from those concerts provided some supplemental income to the musicians (MIM instrumentalists also were members of the Bangor Symphony).

Shortly after the PSO board heard Mr. Shapira’s strong endorsement, Paul Vermel conducted the Symphony during a private audition rehearsal of one of the movements of Brahm’s Symphony No 4 in E minor, op. 98. Shortly following that encounter, Board President Newbury clearly signaled the conductor selection committee’s feelings, writing in a letter found among the PSO Archives, “We were most impressed with your thoughts today, particularly with your belief that the most important thing to work on now is improvement in the quality of the Orchestra. We are very interested in you and hope that you are very interested in us.”

An agreement was reached between the PSO and the Music In Maine (MIM) chamber orchestra whereby nine MIM players would move to the PSO—a string quartet and a brass quintet. Under terms of the agreement, three-fifths of the new PSO conductor’s time would be spent with the PSO and two-fifths of the time the yet-to-be-selected conductor would devote to the statewide in-school MIM project. (HS: Once Mr. Vermel’s MIM responsibilities concluded and he could devote 100% of his time to the PSO  -which was two years off-, the number of PSO concerts would be substantially increased , a very important factor in the PSO’s development and history.)

Surprisingly, none of the local newspapers reporting on the arrangement commented (HS: at least, not in print) on the connection that since Paul Vermel was then the leader of the MIM project, therefore the PSO Board must have already made its selection as to who the new conductor would be.

Shortly thereafter, on December 20, the PSO did announce that Paul Vermel would succeed Arthur Bennett Lipkin, effective the next June. The Paris-born, Julliard-trained (where he had been assistant conductor of the Julliard Orchestra) Mr. Vermel was at that time conductor of Music In Maine, Inc., and would move to Portland from Bangor (HS: it has been authenticated that he much preferred Portland as a place of residence) upon officially ascending the PSO podium following Mr. Lipkin’s retirement. At the announcement of his appointment, congratulatory telegrams that he had received (HS: leaks happen...) were read from Peter Mennin & Jean Morel at Julliard, William Steinberg, Alfred Wallenstein, Leonard Bernstein and George Szell. (HS:  It was fun for me to view copies of those telegrams in the PSO Archives.) The Symphony’s president, Jeremiah D. Newbury, told the local press that Mr. Vermel had been chosen from among a final count of 75 candidates. As included in an agreement between the PSO and Music In Maine, Mr. Vermel would continue to conduct the Northeast Chamber Orchestra on a limited basis. (HS: His contract with the PSO detailed that Symphony activities would command 60% of his time, with MIM-related functions absorbing no more than 40%.)

A short bio about Mr. Vermel was spotted among the PSO Archives. It stated that the then 25-year-old French-born student “arrived in the United States in 1949 to study at the Julliard School of Music, speaking very little English. He quickly established himself in New York, conducting over a period of years at Julliard... ...(from which he graduated), the Hudson Valley Symphony, the Henry Street Settlement, the Doctor’s Orchestral Society and the Brooklyn Community Orchestra.” Also located in the PSO Archives was a copy of Mr. Vermel’s résumé (HS:  Com’on..... the French version of the word just HAD to be used there!), which disclosed that he also spoke Russian and German.

Documentation found in the PSO Archives reveals that the Portland Symphony Orchestra Board determined that Mr. Vermel deserved an annual salary greater than that paid to his predecessor with the Symphony. He began his service at an annual rate of $15,000, with a two-year contract. Interestingly, his contract included agreement by the PSO that references to him in all news “releases... (would include the title of) ...Music Director”, as also would advertisements, broadcasts and recordings done under his direction.

At a December 13 holiday-time concert, Arthur Bennett Lipkin had conducted the PSO and The Portland Symphony Chorus (again under the direction of Madeline Parazzi) in a presentation of George Frederic Handel’s Messiah. Earlier that day, he also had conducted his final Youth Concert, at PCHA. Excerpts from Messiah were performed for the students.

An Evening Express article this year detailed how the bell atop City Hall “strikes away again”; it had “not struck since before World War II”. (Yet—for still years to come, periodic newspaper articles would tell of significant bell problems. The ‘silent bell’ was probably a boon to downstairs-PSO-patrons in the auditorium, who would otherwise have heard innumerable on-the-hour ringings.)


1967       Three newly-acquired, yet old musical instruments, were put on permanent display in the PSO offices, to add atmosphere. The three contributions were a violin which was (then) more than 100 years old, a black ebony fife that figured in Civil War days around Portland, and an ancient rotary-valve cornet that was made by the Boston Musical Instrument Mfgs. The latter differed from modern ‘piston’ cornets in that it was played flat in the hand instead of vertical and the valves twisted instead of moving up and down. (HS: I think I’ll go right now to 20 Monument Square to search for where those neat contributions are displayed).

Two Youth Concerts were performed in Portland under the baton of Dr. Andrew Galos on Monday and Tuesday, February 13 & 14. One was at Deering High School, the second at PCHA. A program from one of the concerts reveals that excerpts from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92, opened the program. Next, Dmitri Kabelevsky’s Overture to “Colas Breugnon” was performed. The program concluded with Johannes Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 1 in G minor.

Dr. Andrew Galos guest-conducted the orchestra in a February 14 concert. The former PSO concertmaster and assistant conductor, who also “played in the first violin section of the NBC Symphony..... During the time (Arturo) Toscanini was its music director”, dedicated that evening’s performance to the memory of Toscanini, and the program consisted of  works that were favorites of the renowned maestro. Featured was Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. Acclaimed guest violinist Berl Senofsky performed Concerto in D Minor, Op. 22 by Henri Wieniawaski with the PSO, and then joined with Dr. Galos as the old friends played the Bach Double Violin Concerto in D Minor, as Assistant Conductor Clinton Graffam worked from the podium. Dr. Galos opened the program conducting the Overture to the Opera “Colas Breugnon” by Dmitri Kabalevsky. By the time he guest-conducted here, Dr. Galos had become director of the string department at the University of Akron, having moved there from a post at the University of New Hampshire. The review in the Evening Express was headlined “Dr. Galos And Symphony Present Season’s Most Rewarding Concert.” (Incidentally, that concert was almost “un-rehearsed”, due to extensive snowstorms that prevented many players from attending, necessitating that three rehearsals be canceled.)

On March 14 the PSO was guest-conducted by Maurice Kaplow, music director of the Pennsylvania Ballet. He made his first-ever orchestra guest-conducting debut with the Portland orchestra. He had played violin, but primarily viola, with the Philadelphia Orchestra over a seven year period under Eugene Ormandy. A major work performed that evening was Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.3, with Leonard Hokanson at the Steinway. Other works that were conducted at the concert by Mr. Kaplow were the Roman Carnival Overture by Hector Berlioz, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Opus 37 (performed by Vinalhaven native Leonard Hokanson), and Twenty-Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee by Gunther Schuller. That work featured colored slides that inspired the often witty and entertaining composition, displayed upon a screen above the bust of Hermann Kotzschmar, to which the audience several times was drawn to give hearty laughs (according to the Press Herald). The Evening Express described the PSO’s performance of Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird suite: “The PSO musicians rose above any previous height we can remember in a superb, beyond-the-call-of-duty job”; the word “magnificent” also appeared in the article regarding the Stravinsky work. (note: see the Anecdotes section for a fun story regarding the Schuller work)

Mr. Kaplow and Mr. Hokanson both also appeared at a Youth Concert during the day. The concert for students opened with Hector Berlioz’ Roman Carnival Overture, Op. 9. Excerpts from Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee, by Gunther Schuller, included sections from The Twittering Machine; Arabian Village; An Eerie Moment; and Little Blue Devil. Leonard Hokanson then performed the Rondo – Allegro final movement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3, in C Minor, Op. 37. The Youth Concert concluded with excerpts from Igor Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite" Ballet Suite for Orchestra, involving portions of Infernal Dance of king Kastchei; Berceuse; and Finale.

An early-April reception and dinner in the Portland Club paid homage to Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Lipkin, the first of several tributes paid to the couple before Mr. Lipkin’s retirement as Music Director and Conductor of the PSO. “More than 150 persons braved Friday night’s ‘unusual’ weather” reported the Express on April 8. The feting became so extensive that one of the local newspapers finally resorted to writing: “We’ve practically lost track of the Arthur Lipkin’s social calendar, they are given parties bi-daily it seems.” When HS asked one PSO player from that era what the musicians thought of the “HUGE celebrations that accompanied Mr. Lipkin’s retirement”, the answer was a very quick to-the-point jibe,  “WE Were Celebrating!!” To the end, the players considered him “impossibly arrogant”, and the intensity of animosity probably hatred, in some cases) toward him really was huge, although despite their “simmering”, this former PSO player remains proud that the ensemble “always remained professional”.

Arthur Bennett Lipkin’s conducting finales in Portland were on April 11. He began his two podium appearances with an afternoon Youth Concert at PCHA, starting off with Bach’s “Little” Fugue in G Minor, BWV 578. Next featured were three examples of wedding music: Mozart’s Overture from “The Marriage of Figaro”; then Lou Harrison's Polka from the “Marriage at the Eiffel Tower” Suite; and finally – Felix Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from “Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Ottorino Respighi’s grand Pine Trees on a Hill, from “The Pines of Rome” presaged the work that Mr. Lipkin would conduct for many of the students’ parents at the conclusion of that evening’s Classical Concert. Portions of two other works also on the evening program were played: from Alan Hovhaness’ The Holy City, with solo trumpet work by Robert Pettipaw; and from Akin Euba’s Olurounbi, described in the student concert program as “An African Legend”. The final Youth Concert of Mr. Lipkin’s career in Portland finished with the magnificent march masterpiece from the pen of John Philip Sousa, The Stars and Stripes Forever.

The evening Classical Concert was another (the 4th) in the PSO’s series of Voice of America Concerts, this event dedicated to Nigeria. The evening began quite traditionally, with Bach’s Fugue in G Minor, Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 “Haffner” and Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture. Then the fireworks began.

A work by Nigerian composer Akin Euba was premiered, as was also a new composition by Alan Hovhaness. Mr. Euba’s score was Legend of Olurounbi, which called for an oversized percussion section, which in most cases had players doubling up on percussion instruments, but still requiring ten musicians in the section, the “largest contingent of thumpers ever hired for a PSO concert” declared the Sunday Telegram. His music called for three tympani, tuned to D-flat, G-flat and F, plus snare drum, a cymbalo, bass drum, triangle, woodblocks, xylophone, a pair of bongos, maracas and tam-tam. The Telegram reported that after an early rehearsal, some PSO players displaying sharp wit joked that the score was somewhat like a “Concerto For Percussion”, with orchestral accompaniment.

The PSO then premiered Holy City, Op. 218, a short orchestral work by American Alan Hovhaness. The composer was inspired by St. John’s vision in the Book of Revelations and scored the piece for trumpet, bells or chimes tuned in A, harp, and strings. The work was commissioned by Arthur Bennett Lipkin through the Committee to Further American Contemporary Music. Of course, Mr. Lipkin conducted the premiere. (HS: see the Anecdotes section of this ThingsPSO for a fun tale about a chime that evening........ or maybe another evening; people’s memories weren’t all in sync about exactly when “something” happened involving a chime.)

The final score of the evening, and of course Mr. Lipkin’s final performance as conductor of the PSO, was Ottorino Respighi’s musical Grande Dame Pines of Rome. With its glorious climax, and also of course knowing that this was the swan song of Mr. Lipkin in Portland, the audience was assuredly on their feet before the conductor’s baton came to rest at his side!

The day following Dr. Lipkin’s farewell concert, a 25 sq.inch picture of him graced the First Page of the Press Herald. The photograph showed him preening (adjusting the white tie of his tuxedo tailsuit) in front of a mirror prior to the concert. So--- there were actually TWO images of him!    --    he must have loved it!

In an interview with the Evening Express published hours before his final concert with the PSO, Mr. Lipkin summed up his five years as conductor and music director. The article began. “I came to Portland to do a job. I think that job has been done.” He expressed his professional credo, “A good conductor must have vision, dedication and untiring energy. Above all he must be deeply involved with the community.” He also said that he strongly believed that an orchestra attains recognition through its premiere performances of new works. He also expressed pride in having increased the number of Youth concerts each year from one to four, an ‘important development achievement’ since he felt the future of music is strongly tied to the young people.

Looking over many articles about him and also thinking back about many interviews with people who interfaced with him, Arthur Bennett Lipkin was an extremely interesting character to attempt to describe. He was ego-centric and arrogant, but definitely raised the awareness of Portland insofar as the PSO was concerned. His musical talents weren’t the highest, but he had enough that along with lots of bravado—he developed the PSO to produce entertaining and better music that brought audiences back for more; his style helped sell tickets. No matter which way the Lipkin era is examined............. he was without question, “a handful”.

Sometime during its 1967-1968 season, the PCA presented a performance by the Music in Maine Orchestra, directed by Paul Vermel. Historical information indicates that this chamber concert was in early April, after Mr. Vermel was appointed successor to Mr. Lipkin, but shortly prior to the latter’s swansong concert. Evidence shows that this  MIM Orchestra concert was scheduled prior to the PSO Board’s selection of Mr. Velmel as Music Director (HS:  See an amusing Anecdote elsewhere in this THINGS-PSO regarding a rehearsal prior to this event.).

The City budgeted $380,000 for an originally estimated $600,000 renovation project for the auditorium. Architect Phillip S. Wadsworth was selected to refine earlier plans to fit the budget.

 ...The project was to include acoustical improvements (news articles indicate that work didn’t begin until 1968). Major aspects of the work included acquiring adjoining properties to allow enlarging the stage, moving back and reassembling the Kotzschmar Organ, replacing wooden orchestra-patron seats with upholstered acoustical models, pitching the rear half of the orchestra for better visibility and acoustics, putting asphalt tile on the floor, rebuilding the heating and ventilation system to allow flow of outside air, and acoustical forms on and above the stage.

 ...a later Evening Express news article referenced a $500,000 “rejuvenation” project

(note:  The [consultant] Wolf Company’s 1989 historic look back at City Hall Auditorium history reports $465,000 was spent.)

The board re-elected Jeremiah Newbury as PSO president.

Paul Vermel began what would be an eight-year tenure as PSO conductor, over time initiating outdoor PSO concerts and concert previews. The Paris-born, Julliard-educated conductor would continue his tenure in Portland until 1975. He faced a mighty assignment: continue improving the music-quality product that the PSO would present to audiences...... which would be critical to the “stage-setting” being put in place to build significantly higher contributions and endowments. To this day (HS: as he recounted in a 2013 conversation with me), he remains appreciative of the then-opportunity with the PSO to be able to broaden his conducting activities beyond only chamber music. (HS: Mr. Vermel also said that he also fondly looks back on the then-opportunity to collect two salaries. His PSO pay would eventually grow, both when he became the Symphony’s full-time music director and conductor and also when the PSO’s annual concert schedules [and more concertgoers buying tickets!] would be greatly enlarged.)

Paul Vermel appointed Clinton Graffam as Assistant Conductor, renewing an assignment that the long-time PSO oboist held under prior conductors of the orchestra.

In answer to a newspaper question, Paul Vermel stated that he planned to perform modern music, expressing the point of view that while experimental music might not become the music of the future, experimentation would enable music of the future to find its way. Immediately thereafter he also said that he planned to perform symphonic favorites, some great works by rarely performed composers. Overall, he said that the watchword is balance from among the best music.

He recounted during a (2013) conversation that when he took over at the PSO, he wanted to bring the Portland  Symphony “up to a higher quality level”, and also “bring new compositions before audiences”, although “not too avant-garde”.

Joining PSO for the new season were 25 new musicians, with most of the pros from the Music In Maine project, nine of whom were members of either a string quartet ora wind quintet. The Vághy Quartet returned for a second season with the PSO (HS: A second Title I federal grant was approved, this time $21,000. This would be the last such cultural award of this type received by the PSO.), each as principal chairs.... with Dezsö Vághy again concertmaster and brother Tibor Vághy leading the violas. Conductor Vermel insisted on auditioning all the PSO players who wanted to return for the 1967-1968 season. Mr. Vermel was praised by the Evening Express reviewer for. when discussing how the PSO would musically improve. always using the pronoun “we” and not “I”. He was described as knowing “how to laugh, has a keen wit, is patient, and very, very thorough in his musical approach.”

Another person who deserves praise for something related to the arrival of the Vághy Quartet was Katherine Graffam. HS was told that the longtime PSO cellist very graciously gave up her principal chair and never handled herself as anything but a fine lady during that episode. That’s quite a compliment and commendation.

The PSO announced plans to add a seventh regular season concert, the addition of two extra concerts (Messiah and a Pops Concert) and a long awaited program of touring to other areas in Maine. Costs were projected to be saved by presenting at least two of the regular season concerts twice, thus avoiding expenses of extra rehearsals.

Prior to the first concert of the season, the Evening Express’ John Thornton (his managerial role with the PSO lasted only one year) sat in on a PSO rehearsal. He wrote about Mr. Vermel’s clear way of conducting and his communicating with the musicians. The new conductor sometimes seemed to allow the orchestra “to run” despite obvious faults, his interpretation described as most likely due to his wanting the musicians to get “loosened up, to get them heated, relaxed, before bringing things to a grinding halt.” He spoke straightly, so that the players would know just what he wanted. Stylewise, he was described as “not an egg beater. He doesn’t clutch his heart as though suffering from indigestion whenever he wants another sound. And when the score calls for a rising passage leading to triple forte, he doesn’t shake his left fist as though he was going to punch the orchestra in the nose.” Mr. Thornton said that he felt that “Paul Vermel, after waiting for nearly 11 months to conduct his new orchestra, is going about a formidable task with assurance and great patience. His musicians will find that he is a thorough musician, a conductor who molds his music with care and devotion.” The reporter predicted that concertgoers would sense the ensemble having taken on a new tonal character. “I’d be willing to bet an inverted glissando that the PSO is going to be a better instrument under this intelligent musician than it has ever been in the last 40 years”, concluded the article.

During the morning of Tuesday, October 17, Mr. Vermel and the PSO traveled to Saco for a Youth Concert (HS:  Perhaps two concerts?). Although neither the theme of this concert for students is known now (2013), the name of at least one work performed is known, Georges Bizet’s L'Arlésienne Suite (HS:  OK... you’re right. Since neither “#1” nor “#2” is specified, then technically the foregoing should have said “part of the name of at least one work performed is known”.).

That evening at PCHA, Conductor Paul Vermel took the podium and when his baton was first raised, the PSO’s 43rd Concert Season was underway. Moments before, his arrival on stage had stimulated a standing ovation as the concertgoers welcomed him to his new assignment. The opening work was Berlioz’ Overture, “Benvenuto Cellini”. On the contemporary side he chose Sun Music 1 by an Australian composer, Peter Sculthorpe. More conventional works performed at the concert were Beethoven’s C Minor Symphony No. 5 (Beethoven’s Fifth) and Prokoviev’s G Minor Violin Concerto No. 2. The latter had never previously been performed by the PSO. Guest violin soloist was Charles Treger, winner of the prestigious Polish Wieniawski International Competition. That earned him a call to perform at the White House, as well as four appearances in as many days at Lincoln Center with the New York Philharmonic, and also a 30-city state department tour to Asia and Europe with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and William Steinberg. (HS: You might wonder what all those details have to do with Portland and his appearance with the PSO?  Well, he was signed up BEFORE his price went up!)

Post-concert newspaper reviews were additional “welcomes to Portland” to the new maestro. Words such as “splendid’, “superb”, and “heartwarming” were written. The quality of the orchestra was rated at least 50 percent better in all of its sections, in one article. Another commented that the ensemble was “a totally different orchestra, its texture leaner, its dynamics much more pliable.” Since some in the opening night audience likely attended out of the evening’s novelty aspect, both Mr. Vermel and the board certainly had reasons to hope that the solid start to the season presaged more large crowds.

An October 22 Sunday Telegram newspaper article contained news that the PSO had acquired an electronic tuner. forecasting for the orchestra – “ ‘Straight A’s’, except when it rains.” (HS: I know that is a minor and insignificant item insofar as 90 or so years of PSO history is concerned..... but I just thought it was “kind-a neat info”.)

In mid-November (11/14), guest-artist pianist Gary Graffman performed with the PSO, playing the A Minor Concerto of Edvard Grieg. Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 86 in D, the fifth of the composer’s so-called six Paris Symphonies (Nos. 82-87), was also featured that evening, the first time it was performed by the PSO. Paul Vermel held the baton at the podium. Compositions by Jerry Bowder and Dr. Morton Gold, both Maine composers, respectively Symphony No. 2 and Elegy for Strings, were also played. PSO Archives scrapbooks contain clippings stating that the audience continually urged Mr. Graffman to play an encore, but (contracts are contracts) he did not.

Earlier that day, the PSO performed a Youth Concert for students. PSO Archives have not yet revealed whether Mr. Vermel or Mr. Graffman conducted (HS:  My bet is that it was the former), nor what works may have been on the program. One item about that concert has been spotted in some old PSO correspondence: by the following March, the School Finance Director had not yet authorized a previously agreed $500 payment to the PSO to help defray expenses associated with the event, such that if the promised amount were not received a concert the next season at Deering High School might need to be removed from the PSO’s plans.

Responding to a request from the PSO, the Mary Louise Curtis Foundation contributed $23,000 to cover more than half of some $44,000 worth of work to be done on the Kotzschmar Organ. The work was part of the planned auditorium renovation project to occur the next summer. Mrs. Mary Bok Zimbalist, foundation head, was the daughter of Cyrus H.K. Curtis who originally gave the instrument to the city in 1912. (Note: in 2012 dollars, the contribution was the equivalent of more than $152,000.)

December was to be a busy month for the orchestra players. First, on the 5th was “First Chairs Night”, the season’s third classical concert. On the program were William Bergsma’s A Carol on Twelfth Night; Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 in C major, K. 551 “Jupiter”; Benjamin Lees’ Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra featuring the Vághy String Quartet; and the world premiere of Brazilian composer Mozart Camargo Guarnieri’s Symphony No. 4. The entire performance was a Voice of America broadcast salute to Brazil.

The Sunday Telegram reported about the instrument of Vághy String Quartet member and PSO principal cellist Einar Holm. The musician then owned and used a recently acquired Giovanni Battista Grancini made in 1705. It had been discovered in the back reaches of a Manhattan warehouse, and a master craftsman luthier closely examined it to conclude that it likely had not been played in more than 90 years. A handwritten bill of sale for the cello was found inside its heavy wooden case, dated 1868 from the house of Gand and Bernardal, formerly the house of Lupot, one of the great French violin makers. The cello at that time was owned by a wealthy Italian silk merchant.

The hundred-voice Portland Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, under PSO conductor Paul Vermel and Choral Director Madeline Perazzi, combined in a PCHA performance of Handel’s Messiah on Tuesday, December 12. Vocal soloists were sopranos June Woodberry and Barbara Hardy Burbank, contralto Phyllis Elhady, tenor David Goulet and bass Richard Hayden. Instrumental soloists were John Fay at the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ, harpsichordist Richard Roberts, trumpeter Robert Pettipaw and cellist Katherine Graffam playing continuo. Due to strong demand for tickets, a second Portland performance was added to the original schedule, according to the Sunday Telegram, although the specific date is uncertain. (This program was also performed at Nasson College in Springdale, on Thursday the 14th). Mr. Vermel chose to present the work in the baroque tradition, “much closer to what the masterpiece was like during the era of its birth”, reported the Press Herald at the time. The number of orchestra members called for was reduced to 33 from the “normally quite large (groups used) these days” and interpretations of the solos was changed. A major objective was to shift away from the more modern interpretative approach where “sheer tonal force was the key” to establish the work’s “power”. The concert was in conjunction with the Portland Interfaith Council of Clergymen (an affiliation that likely helped sell additional tickets).

Also in December, the PSO and the Maine State Ballet joined forces to present two performances of “The Nutcracker” ballet, scored by Pyotr llyich Tchaikovsky. Standing-room-only audiences were reported as thrilled at the productions, performed at City Hall Auditorium. No concert programs from these performances have been located (as of 2014).


1968       The PSO started off the NEW YEAR with somewhat of a BANG announcement from its scheduling department: the orchestra would perform a classical concert in January, as Mr. Vermel and the ensemble “resolved” to give audiences some extra quality music to help everyone more pleasantly get through Portland’s winter season. “I