Some Notes on Notes

March 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

William C. Wright

William C. Wright

In an earlier post I discussed the research of music historian David Patterson who has collected the musical compositions of William Cary Wright, Frank Lloyd Wright’s father.  A CD with several of the senior Wright’s compositions performed by Chicago area musicians was released this week.  I have a copy of the newly minted CD.  The songs are 19th century parlor music (the “pop” music of the day) which sounds quaint to our modern ears, but I found listening to them as I read the liner notes a fascinating experience.   For more information, click here.

Patterson is continuing to investigate the influence of William C. Wright on his son as well as the place of music in the thought and work of the architect.  Certainly the Lawrence/Dana House could be a prime resource for Patterson’s research because Wright’s interest in music is central to the house design.  The three musician’s galleries and the towering “organ pipes” above the Farrand Cecilian roll player (described in an earlier post) dominate the major public spaces of the house. 

According to one scholar, Wright used music in a more subtle way to endorse the sentiments that Alfred Lloyd Tennyson expressed in his poem “Flower in a Crannied Wall.”  Etched on the back of the statue that greets visitors at the entryway of the Lawrence/Dana House, the poem proposes that all the laws and meaning of existence in the universe can be found in a small flower.  A staff with a treble clef and three chords is inscribed beneath the poem.  Narciso G. Meocal contends in his essay “Taliesin, the Gilmore House, and the Flower in the Crannied Wall” that since the chords are written in the traditional “amen” progression, Wright was saying “Thus be it so” (a translation of the Hebrew word “amen”).  Meocal’s theory of the three chords offers a dramatic illustration of the legacy bestowed on Frank Lloyd Wright by his father who was, among other things, a preacher, organist, and his son’s music teacher.

Flower In a Crannied Wall

Flower In a Crannied Wall

I Digress to Frank Lloyd Wright

August 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

When I started to write Susan Lawrence: The Enigma in the Wright House, I made a conscious decision to maintain my focus on Susan and to only discuss Frank Lloyd Wright as he related to her and the house. I have tried to keep that focus while writing this blog. I believed that while no one had written a book about Susan, Frank Lloyd Wright and his life has been thoroughly revealed and dissected in multiple volumes.

It turns out that I was wrong. One very important influence on Frank Lloyd Wright’s work has been neglected—his father and music teacher,William Carey Wright. My image of the man has been that of a near-do-well itinerant preacher. Evidently William Carey Wright was also a lawyer, a country doctor, a musician, and a composer. He wrote and published many songs, piano pieces, and organ works.

Music historian David Patterson has been filling that gap through a project entitled, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Musical Origins: The Music of William Carey Wright.” He has been collecting the music composed by William Cary Wright and lecturing on his discoveries. Now Patterson has embarked on a new phase of the project. He hopes to produce a CD with professional musicians playing the works of the senior Wright and liner notes revealing the influence of the musician father on the work of his famous son.

As a former music teacher, I find this Wright connection intriguing. Patterson is seeking donations to complete his project, and I have pledged my support. If you would like to assist in building this new chapter in the Frank Lloyd Wright narrative, follow this link. I’ll return to Susan next week.

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