1962 documentary about FLW

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JChoate
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1962 documentary about FLW

Post by JChoate »

Forgive me if this has already been posted, but I was excited to run across this 1962 documentary about FLW. (I'm used to seeing the Mike Wallace as host, but when I saw Walter Cronkite I knew I hadn't seen this before.)
I just love much of this footage, so unique & rarely seen

https://youtu.be/4jeYZZ1kuzY

SDR
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Re: 1962 documentary about FLW

Post by SDR »

One rarity here is the voice of Mrs Wright, which I don't think we have much of at all. There's nothing wrong with my ears, but I have to listen closely to Mr Wright to catch every word---and I fail some of the time. Mrs Wright was perhaps not recorded well, and I missed much of what she said as well. Perhaps both of them preferred to move the mouth as little as possible when speaking ?

Walter Cronkite, the professional voice, of course sounds just fine.

S

peterm
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Re: 1962 documentary about FLW

Post by peterm »

Wonderful. Such a charismatic figure! And Cronkite gives it all appropriate gravitas while pointing out the key ideas, quotes and works.

Current video creators might benefit from noticing how the musical score underlines the ideas, instead of wallpapering everything with their favorite New Age music.

Is it Copeland? If not, it’s definitely in the manner of. I’ve never heard that Wright appreciated Aaron Copeland, but his music fits like a glove. Democracy, nobility, individuality, the feeling of wide open space, a real American sensibility, all seem to be themes common to both men.

SDR
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Re: 1962 documentary about FLW

Post by SDR »

Well, no---not quite that fine, but uplifting anyway. "Original Music Score by George Kleinsinger."

I wonder what Bernard Hermann would have done with it ? And I credit another old Wright docu with bringing back for me

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjKKRLad0DU

S

Roderick Grant
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Re: 1962 documentary about FLW

Post by Roderick Grant »

SDR, when I went to Taliesin to apply for entry, I was interviewed by Olga. She sat enthroned in the loggia on an origami chair, a lamb skin thrown over it, her minions fluttering about, fixing her hair. I sat on a stool below her about 2 feet away. I have excellent hearing, I can hear things only dogs and elephants are supposed to hear, but try as I might, I missed so much of her soft speaking, all I could take from it was bits and pieces. I don't recall her asking me any questions, she just talked about herself, the wonderful foundation with its professional-level chorus and her weimaraner, Casanova. At the end of the short interview, she said to (I think) Richard Carney, "I see no reason we cannot ask this young man to join us."

A few weeks later, once I had made the journey to T-West (a seemingly endless Greyhound trip), I attended a tuxedoed Saturday evening gathering in the garden room, where I sat at the end of the banquette, far from Olga, who sat by the fireplace - again in her ersatz throne, an origami chair - holding court. She muttered to Wes, asking who that young man across the room was (meaning me), which I heard perfectly. She knew what she was doing. Talking softly is a control mechanism. The question wasn't for Wes, but for me. That encounter was one of the reasons (not a main one) that I cut my losses and left forthwith. I knew it would be only a matter of time before Olga and I were at loggerheads, and as the queen of Taliesin, she would win. I wasn't about to let that happen.

SDR
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Re: 1962 documentary about FLW

Post by SDR »

Heh--thanks for that priceless anecdotage, sir. I suppose the "bring with you" list from Taliesin included a tuxedo . . . which you had at hand, from your choir performance duties ?

The audience at one of the presentations by Wright seen in the Cronkite-hosted piece appeared to lap up his remarks, despite the fact the he seems not to have been miked (?), and not every word was audible on the video. I had a history-of-architecture prof, an elderly sage, whose slide lectures to a large audience of students were just barely comprehensible. One had the feeling that one was perhaps the only person present who managed to catch almost all of it. (I suppose that if everyone there had the same impression, all well and good !)

S

peterm
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Re: 1962 documentary about FLW

Post by peterm »

Fascinating, Roderick.

Did you spend enough time there to develop relationships with Howe, Hill, or Peters?
What was the main reason you left?
Did you continue your architectural training elsewhere?

I hope they refunded your tuition!

JimM
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Re: 1962 documentary about FLW

Post by JimM »

On occasion I still pull out my my yellowed application, although no longer thinking of "what if's". I didn't have to get to the end of the two page detailed list of requirements, from tools to seasonal tuxedos, to know it was never going to happen-not to mention the tuition. I convinced myself to wonder why would I anyway? The only compelling reason to to be there was no longer alive. Later I was able to confirm, even if there had not been barriers, what a nightmare a dream would have turned into. I wouldn't have lasted under Olga either. It's been a while since she has appeared in chat!

Roderick Grant
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Re: 1962 documentary about FLW

Post by Roderick Grant »

Doesn't everyone have a tuxedo or 3? The last time I wore one was at Taliesin for a Fellows event in 1995. Eventually I gave my last surviving tux to Out of the Closet.

The principal reason I didn't stay at Taliesin is the same as JimM's: Frank was gone, why else would I want to be there? I went to the Wisconsin campus for the meeting with Olga. I was kept waiting for half an hour in the studio (another control technique). That turned out to be very informative and interesting. As I prowled about the hallway to the private office, a woman passed through, and exclaimed that for as long as she had lived at Taliesin, she had never noticed the door leading to the stairs down to the parking lot. I thought that was odd, that a person would go to Taliesin, spend years there, and not even get acquainted with it. It was also odd that, as the group was packing to head to Arizona, someone had tossed a 'cello into the studio fireplace. I began to have concerns.

None of the persons I met there seemed very well-versed in FLW's work. I had no idea who any of them were at the time. I assumed it was Richard Carney who met me. He was red-headed and extremely nervous. Later John Geiger said it sounded like Carney, whom I knew in old age as a very fine gentleman. In Wisconsin, I met no one else. When I arrived in Phoenix some weeks later, after spending a night at a downtown hotel, I was picked up by a middle-aged man in a Jeep. As we drove to T-West, I mentioned all the buildings by FLW in the Phoenix area, but he seemed not to know anything about them. Possibly he just wanted to get me to the camp without having to take any side trips, so he feigned ignorance. I don't know.

To call my reception graceless would be an understatement. A young man about my age, whose name I cannot recall, but may have been John Benton, was tasked with giving me a whirlwind tour of the place, again professing that he knew nothing about the work. I didn't know if he was a student or not, but if it was Benton, who spent a lot of time there, it would have been understandable. After the brief get together in the garden room that tuxedoed night, the lot of us proceeded to dinner. Along the way, we stopped at the fire-breathing dragon for Olga to mutter something about what a wonderful thing it was, as if it had just been installed. Dinner (underdone chicken) was at the music pavilion, followed by a movement performance by Io and troupe that made me wonder about the lavish praise Olga had piled on about the superb performing skills of the apprentices.

Wes was a sort of ominous presence, hovering over Olga for the most part, seeming not to be the terrific gentleman that years later I found him to be. I recall waiting outside by the loggia to meet Herself, and tell her I would not be staying. Wes appeared briefly at a window above, glowering down at me, for what reason I cannot imagine. Leave it to say that I was not impressed by any of it, including the pup tent to which I was assigned half way up the mountain. I've never regretted leaving. The $200 down payment was non-refundable, but I saved $1,800, though that $200 is roughly $1,800 today.

peterm
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Re: 1962 documentary about FLW

Post by peterm »

I’m relieved this experience didn’t hamper your appreciation of Wright’s architecture. Were Howe and Hill still there at the time?

Did you continue architecture studies elsewhere?

Roderick Grant
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Re: 1962 documentary about FLW

Post by Roderick Grant »

Howe was still there, but Hill had left for New York in 1953, not to return to Taliesin until 1963, so I missed him until years later when I visited T-West a few times. I knew of Hill's work through HB, but wouldn't have known him if I had met him. Nor Howe, for that matter. I was not introduced to anyone by name during my very brief foray in 1962.

After Taliesin, I returned to U of M, but left not long thereafter. Before being drafted, I worked for architect James E. McBurney, Jr.* as a delineator. The neighboring office was occupied by Ralph Rapson and Leonard Parker, with whom we often lunched. Rapson designed the original Tyrone Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Guthrie met often with Rapson, and their battles over the design were loud and legendary; Rapson insisted on a large entry, and Guthrie insisted on using the space on the tight site for backstage. Rapson won.

* Jim's father, James E. McBurney, Sr. was a popular painter of modest academic gifts. He was a friend of composer Carrie Jacobs-Bond, with whom he spent an evening at the Riverside Inn, which inspired her to write her most famous song, "(When You Com to the End of) A Perfect Day." An enormously popular composer of her day, her second-most famous song was "I Love You Truly." All she had to do was step outside her home in Hollywood, and she would make the front page of Holly Leaves, the local newspaper, in which she was noted as a guest at a dinner given for FLW during his brief residence in the city.

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