The Internet surely has been a vehicle of communication between people far and wide. I can’t tell you the number of people that have found my blog (well, yes, I can–to date there have been close to 200,000 hits on this site!) and I have reconnected with people I knew decades ago but have lost track.
The last few days, though, I have corresponded with Duanna R. Ulyate, someone I have never met, but who apparently found one of my posts: Marcel Dupré, organist extraordinaire. You may recall that my first organ teacher was Norman Söreng Wright of the Hollywood First Methodist Church –my parents had found him by asking the local school board who taught organ lessons in the area. Dr. Wright had been a student of Marcel Dupré for six years in the early 1920s, and sent one of his students to Paris for lessons with “the maître” every year. My turn came in the summer of 1968.
Anyway, Duanna wrote: “I so enjoyed your article ‘Marcel Dupre, organist extraordinaire.’ I studied with Dr. Wright end of Jr. High and High School and even into college–studied voice and piano and a little organ. I grew up in the church and Dr. Wright was my mother’s voice teacher.”
Duanna’s husband just now sent me scans of a booklet the church published in 1951, called Words of Music. For years, I had looked in vain all over the Internet for a picture of Dr. Wright and never found one, so I am just thrilled to see for the first time, pictures of Dr. Wright and Marcel Dupré. The photo above of Dr. Wright was taken while he was quite a bit younger. When I studied with him, he had grey hair and looked a lot less scary than he does in the picture above. But I do remember the goatee. You can’t believe how I am feeling now to see Dr. Wright again after forty-six years! Quite frankly, I had forgotten what he looked like, but now my memory has been revived. I did a Google search for his obituary and found out that he was born in Minnesota on January 29, 1905 and died on January 3, 1982 in Santa Barbara. I wrote earlier that he lived in Montecito, nearly 90 miles away from his church job, but had an apartment at the church where he stayed every weekend.
When I started organ lessons at age thirteen, you may recall it was because I and my two sisters were sick of taking piano lessons and we collectively went to our parents and asked to quit. But instead of letting us quit, my mother suggested that we change to another instrument, and for some unknown reason, I chose the organ, not really knowing what it was all about, and never even having heard a pipe organ. But the magic and power of the pipe organ won me over, and has carried me through all these fifty plus years hence! And you won’t believe how Dr. Wright taught me organ technique: by systematically assigning me every single piece in Marcel Dupré‘s Seventy-Nine Chorales for Organ.
Here is a letter that Marcel Dupré wrote on behalf of my teacher, Dr. Norman Söreng Wright.
You can also click here to see the letter that Dupré wrote on my behalf.
And here is a picture of the choir of the Hollywood First Methodist Church with both Dr. Wright and Marcel Dupré.
Go back and read my post about our driving past the Hollywood First Methodist Church a few years ago and all the memories that evoked.
Thanks for a trip down memory lane.