Article: "Frank Lloyd Wright's Musical Origins"

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DavidC
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Article: "Frank Lloyd Wright's Musical Origins"

Post by DavidC »


Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

It's about time William Russell Carey Wright got some credit for his contribution to the education of his son.

DRN
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Post by DRN »

From what I have read of the elder Wright, I have come to the understanding that, Froebel Gifts aside, the younger Wright was shaped intellectually more by his father than his mother, but that his father's leaving the family, (or was it that he was driven away by an unstable Anna), so disappointed or angered the younger, that he suppressed any credit to his father for his interests and talents in his later writings. Ironic, considering Wright's own domestic problems in 1909-1910.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

FLW had complicated relations with both of his parents. The father leaving seems to have been the son's major source of discontent with him. Anna never leaving may have caused more consternation than FLW was willing to admit in print. The written accounts of Elizabeth Heller and Antonin Raymond (who worked with FLW on the Imperial), plus unpublished letters between FLW and his sister Jane, suggest strongly that Anna was controlling, unstable and difficult, but there's little evidence of a refined intellect.

RonMcCrea
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Post by RonMcCrea »

I always liked jazzman Ben Sidran's flip reply when asked if he agreed with Wright's opinion that architecture was frozen music. "I think music is thawed architecture," he said.

SpringGreen
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Post by SpringGreen »

In the interviews that DavidC provided links to yesterday, FLW talked about how music is a unit system, just like his architecture was (I can't remember if it's part II, or near the end of part I of the interview).

Wes Peters told the Director of Historic Studies at the FLLW Foundation in an interview how, a year before FLW died, he became interested in his father, but admitted that he had gotten a slanted view of his father through his mother; and that, according to Wes, Mr. Wright was kind of sad about that.

Although, from what I saw in the website regarding the new project on William Wright, I'm a little thrown off by, "The happiest moments in Frank Lloyd Wright's Autobiography appear in his stories of the very musical household in which he was raised -- memories of piano lessons, family sing-alongs ('happy riots'), organ-bellow pumping marathons and ensemble rehearsals."

What FLW wrote in the autobiography, the "organ-pumping marathons" don't sound fun to me; they sound like torture. From FLW: Collected Writings, v. 2, p. 110: "A small boy of seven, eyes on the lighted marker, pumping away with all his strength at the lever and crying bitterly as he did so."
"The building as architecture is born out of the heart of man, permanent consort to the ground, comrade to the trees, true reflection of man in the realm of his own spirit." FLLW, "Two Lectures in Architecture: in the Realm of Ideas".

DavidC
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Post by DavidC »

(to view the article, you'll need to 'copy and paste' the web address below):

http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/08 ... t's_father


David

DavidC
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Post by DavidC »


DavidC
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Post by DavidC »


Rood
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Post by Rood »


Rood
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Post by Rood »

Roderick Grant wrote:It's about time William Russell Carey Wright got some credit for his contribution to the education of his son.
Note: Some of the following seems too bizarre for words, and I've debated whether or not to display it here, but what the hey ... Don't read and/or disregard as you see fit.






Yes, Absolutely, Roderick, but it was Frank Lloyd Wright who helped consign his father to relative obscurity by primarily playing up the Lloyd Jones family. In the 1950's, someone (a reporter?) asked Mr. Wright for "...the secret to your success". In his inimitable fashion, Mr. Wright blurted out (and I paraphrase) "I chose my ancestors with great care", followed, no doubt, by his characteristic hearty chuckle and amused smile. We all knew to whom he was referring, but in truth every ancestor, no matter how obscure, is the "secret" to our success. We are, all of us, miracles of chance. Snip any one single person from our family tree and our very existence becomes impossible. In my own case, for instance, had a distant ancestor from the 1500's not remarried after his first wife drowned, I would not be here today, typing these words.



Key here, is the decision by Mr. Wright's mother to send him to her brother's farms during the summer: She saw he was ... too much in the imagination, preferred reading to playing with other boys, listening to music, drawing, and making "things", all too similar to his father's interests, perhaps? "The mother saw which way her man child was going. She was wise and decided to change it. Change it she did." Though he initially hated adding "Tired to tired", Wright eventually learned to love the discipline, the hard work,and the fine examples revealed by his aunts and his manly uncles. And so it was that eventually the youth returned home supremely confident, muscles hard, hardly knowing "himself as his father's son". About to be thrashed for some disobedience, he pins his father to the stable floor until the father promises to let him alone. "Perhaps the father never loved the son at any time", he writes. Or was some of it the other way around. Surely Wright loved his father, but did he much respect him?


It could easily be the other way around ... like Edsel Ford's relationship to his father, or Iovanna's life story. I remember well one year when Iovanna asked me to take a reading part in a theatrical production she was preparing .. she gave me the few lines of dialogue I was to learn, but unfortunately there were no notes suggesting how the lines were to be read. At the first rehearsal I told her how uncertain I was about proper delivery, but she said just give the lines as I sensed them and we'd work on it. I did as she asked, nervous about making a fool of myself, amateur that I was. Imagine my surprise when she gushed with happiness over my delivery ... going on and on about how well I had done, insisting that I not change a thing. The "part" I was playing was that of a preacher, lamenting the untimely and tragic loss to loathsome violence of a heroic man. (This was not too many years after the Kennedy assassination). She was so fulsome that her praise began to become embarrassing, and I knew full well that being set on a pedestal by her would do me no good.


Evidently Iovanna spoke to her mother about the scene during dinner, as, later, when we had our second rehearsal that night, Mrs. Wright sat in a middle row and waited. No sooner had I started my delivery, holding fast to Iovanna's instructions, than Mrs. Wright stood up, barely visible in the darkened theatre, yelling at the top of her lungs .."NO! NO! NO!" "Too much", she said, asking me to start over. Shocked and puzzled by the violence of her outburst, I tried again, and again, and again. I swear the two of us spent a half hour going back and forth over those few lines until I finally "got" what she wanted, all the while Iovanna standing side-stage biting her lip. It wasn't anger and wrath that Mrs. Wright wanted, but quiet introspection. I was supposed to internalize the preacher's thoughts ... trying to come to terms with the tragedy. I "got" the difference, but Iovanna just stood there, chastened and humiliated in front of everyone.


Edsel Ford went through similar scenes with his father ... though he had been put in charge of the Ford Motor Company, almost every important decision by Edsel was immediately countered by his father. Following Edsel's early death (at 49) his father asked his Chief of Security ... a brutal man whom Henry Ford admired, if he thought he, Ford, had been cruel to his son. "Not cruel, but perhaps unfair. If it were me I would have been angry", was the response. "But I wanted him to get angry", said Ford. Perhaps had Iovanna stood up to her parents now and then things would have turned out differently for her.



Nevertheless we can only imagine William Wright's shame ... his loss of face, his knowledge that his own son saw him as lacking, seeing the vivid contrast between how his son compares his father's life to that of his uncles. Is it any wonder the two never attempted to meet after the final separation?



Who were Mr. Wright's ancestors ... those many Wrights all but lost to history. We know a great deal about the Lloyd Jones family ... but of the Wright's we have been given but little. Secrest suggests noble Wright ancestors reaching back to the time of William the Conqueror, and much earlier,to Cardie the Saxon, AD 512.. Other rumours suggest connections to the Lowell's of Massachussets, and to Orville and Wilbur Wright, but at this point it's all primarily speculation. In some cases DNA may reveal the truth. Orville and Wilbur Wright, for instance, are assigned to the y-DNA haplogroup E-v13. None of this is of much interest to me, but someone so inclined might do the necessary research. As for any connection to James "Russell" Lowell, there's not much evidence. Lowell genealogists seem to focus entirely on the Lowells to the neglect of every other family connected to their long history. What is known is that William Wright's Great, great, great grandmother was Mabel Russell (b 1677, d. 24 March 1730), and that her father was Daniel Russell, (b. 1642, d. 1679). Inquiries to members of the Lowell family about James Russell Lowell's middle name have so far gone unanswered. However, it is interesting to note that according to available records, the Wright, Russel, and Lowell families all arrived in the New World in the mid-1630's ... the Russells and the Lowells at Cape May, Massachusettes. Who knows but they were on the same ship.



The research by David Patterson into William Wright's soon-to-be released compositions prompted me to do some little research on my own. I don't expect much from Patterson research, as he has already dropped his initial release of the father's work as being too sentimental. It's probably symbolic ... another instance of Wright discounting his father's work ... finding his father's compositions hopelessly insipid and sentimental, particularly compared to the magnificent work of Bach and Beethovan to which the father introduced the boy, sitting there, aged 7, pumping the bellows of the organ, learning to hear "a symphony as an edifice ... of sound". Was that, indeed, all that the lives of his thousands of Wright ancestors gave to his education? Enough, perhaps, but what riches, what sacrifices, must have led down the centuries to those few precious gifts.



Curious to learn more about William "Russell" Carey Wright I googled his name. Aside from numerous references to his famous son, there is precious little. However, one link stood out, a link to Wright's profile at Geni.org/ a genealogical site. The link caught my eye because, thanks to a genealogy-minded maternal first cousin from Seattle, I have a Geni profile of my own. Click on the one for William Wright and you can follow his ancestors all the way back at least as far as one John Wright of Dagenham Hall, *, (b. 14 September 1569, d. 30 May 1640). Several of the entries include paragraphs about each individual ... and it's fascinating to realize that Wright's ancestors were attending Cambridge University in the 1500's. Clearly the Wrights were an educated family. There is an earlier entry for this John Wright's supposed father, but that entry well illustrates the difficulty of relying on genealogical records. The entry for John Wright's father indicates he died in 1564 at age 16, five years before his son's birth!*

*Patrick Spain has replied to a message re: John Wright 1548-1564
Rood Not sure where the dates came from. They are gone. Thanks for the catch. Patrick" Obviously Geni did make an entry error ... which means that not every entry can necessarily be considered valid. Perhaps I'll somehow survive if if can be shown that I'm not a distant cousin of Frank LLoyd Wright.



PS: One interesting aspect of having a profile at Geni.org is that whenever you find the profile for someone, the Geni computer gives you an option ... "Related to (such-and-such)? Click here and find out."



My first reaction was... yeah, I'm more likely to be related to the man-in-the-moon than to William Wright, and so I deleted the entry and went about my business. Later, thinking about it, I realized that according to astronomers, we are all of us "star-stuff", and so we must be related to that moon-man. Going back to William Wright's profile I clicked on Geni's request to find any possible family link ... if only out of curiosity. When I put on my computer the next morning the first entry in my inbox was from Geni. Clicking on the entry I was absolutely astonished, astounded, to discover that according to Geni's computer, we are 21st cousins. That is, the first relatives that I hold in common with William Carey Wright goes back 21 generations. Almost as bewildering is that first married couple that we share, as ancestors are Magnus VI Haakonsson Lagaboter (Lawgiver) King of Norway (b. 1 May 1238 d. 9 May 1280) and his wife, Ingeborg of Denmark, daughter of Erik V Plovpennig, King of Denmark (b. 1244, d. 26 March 1287).



Their son, to whom I am supposedly descended became King Haakon Magnusson (10 April 1270- 8 May 1319). William Wright is supposedly descended from the daughter of Magnus and Ingeborg. As her name is lost to history, she is known as simply "Princess of Norway". She married John, Earl of Caithness and Orkney ... now part of Scotland, but then a Norwegian province.



Knowing how full of errors genealogical records must be ... I'll not believe any of it until these relationships can be independently corroborated.
Last edited by Rood on Sun Feb 03, 2013 11:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

My sister is our family's genealogist. She has traced (with the help of distant cousins she bumped into along the way) one branch of our family that has occupied the same farm in Nord Trondelag for over a thousand years: born - farmed - died; born - farmed - died; born - farmed - died; born - bored - died ... for a thousand plus years, and still going. No kings, nor even the odd thane.

Family histories are more meaningful when there is some specific information about the particular ancestor that interests you. With respect to the Wright family, to research William, it is essential to read the unpublished autobiography of his daughter, and Frank's half-sister, Elizabeth Wright Heller, which can be obtained through the State Historical Society of Iowa. It's the only source I know of that documents William after the divorce. He comes across as a pleasant fellow of modest intellect, with seemingly little interest in the half of his family that he dumped in 1883.

Another branch worth looking into is the Cary family, including poetess sisters, Phoebe and Alice.

dkottum
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Post by dkottum »

A bit off topic

R Grant, your ancestry caught my eye, similar to our Kottum branch still on the family farm near Melhus, Sor-Trondelog just south of Trondheim. Great-grandfather left in 1865, eventually farming near Renville, MN.

Doug K

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Perhaps we should form a sub-group: Norwegians for Wright.

Rood
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Norwegians for Wright

Post by Rood »

I've forgotten her husband's first name, but a Mrs. Levering from Norway toured Taliesin West in the 70's while visiting her son at the School for International Development in Glendale. At the time Mrs. Levering's husband was with the Norwegian delegation to the United Nations. When she saw the colourful stone walls at Taliesin West, Mrs. Levering wanted immediately to build a house using stones just like them. She even proposed sending a ship load of the stones to Norway for their property south of Oslo, on an island in the Oslofjorden.

I suggested Norway had plenty of stone without going to all that bother, but despite a second visit the project never reached the preliminary drawing stage.

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