Introduction

Musicians and scholars who lived through the late 1940s and early 1950s witnessed an astounding activity which took place in Louisville, Kentucky during that time. An ambitious effort by civic and musical leaders yielded an extraordinary legacy of new music, pioneering a concept that placed the composer first in the orchestral bureaucratic hierarchy. From the fall of 1948 through 1958, the commissioning project of the Louisville Orchestra fostered the creation of 132 musical compositions. The Louisville Orchestra preserved performances of approximately one hundred of these compositions on long-playing records at a time when little contemporary art music was available through this new medium. This massive plan to commission both American and foreign composers was formulated and implemented in Louisville but provoked national and international cultural as well as political repercussions. The Rockefeller Foundation, in an unprecedented grant to an artistic endeavor, gave half a million dollars to support the activity. The United States State Department found it a useful tool in the Cold War. During the 1950s, listeners around the world heard broadcasts of Louisville Orchestra world premiere performances aired on the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe.

On the morning of January 19, 1989, National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" broadcast included a feature on the Louisville Orchestra, repeating at least two notions long associated with the new music project. The first, that the project had focused on American works, was a misconception from the beginning, possibly resulting from wishful thinking by music critics and journalists. In fact, about half of the commissioned composers were from outside the United States. A deeper analysis of the project reveals that there never was an intent to give it an American focus.1

The second misconception was dramatically recounted by National Public Radio arts correspondent Andy Lyman and accompanied by the ominous opening strains of William Schuman's Judith. This folklore asserts that the Orchestra was on the brink of dissolution in January 1950, only to be swept back on its feet by the performance of William Schuman's new work Judith, written for modern dancer Martha Graham. The performance of Judith, which supposedly was to have been the last concert ever by the Louisville Orchestra, was so well-received that the Orchestra went on to play it in Carnegie Hall, after which there was no further talk of disbanding. Surprisingly, this story is not borne out by archival evidence and numerous interviews.

This article describes the development of the commissioning project and examines the legendary turning point, the William Schuman-Martha Graham "dance concerto" concert. It will show that the story of the near-demise of the Orchestra evolved from program notes written nearly twenty years after the fact. Furthermore, it will be seen that the program notes in question contained historical errors which telescoped two years' events into one, linking the financial and artistic salvation of the Louisville Orchestra with Judith.2

 

Formation of the Louisville Philharmonic Orchestra

That the city of Louisville could give birth to such a unique and revolutionary endeavor as the commissioning project depended on the presence of three factors: the Louisville Orchestra (then titled the Louisville Philharmonic Orchestra); a sympathetic and competent conductor named Robert S. Whitney; and Mayor Charles Farnsley, whose fertile imagination set the project in motion.

Orchestras had existed in Louisville as early as 1822,3 but the first modern efforts to build civic symphonies began in the 1930s. In July of 1937, a Louisville Civic Arts Association search committee headed by President Dann C. Byck hired Robert S. Whitney to become conductor of the Civic Arts Symphony. Whitney was one of six conductors auditioned by the Louisville search committee when it traveled to Chicago and heard each man conduct the Illinois Symphony Orchestra on July 22, 1937. It is significant to the events that followed that Robert Whitney was both an aspiring conductor and a composer. For his audition, he conducted the last movement of his own symphony, which the W.P.A. (Illinois) orchestra had recently performed. By selecting a conductor who was sympathetic both to composers and contemporary music, the committee unknowingly paved the way for the coming commissioning project.

Though Whitney himself had been promised a salary of $2,500 for the year, it was evident at his first rehearsal of about thirty players that he would have to recruit his own unpaid or underpaid musicians. Immediately, he made connections with the Musicians Union and hired key players from Cincinnati. In addition to the six regular subscription concerts in the first season of 1937-38 the orchestra began pops concerts in Iroquois Park the following summer. Whitney made rapid progress in building personnel. Deficits began to accrue but were small.

The Orchestra's major activities during the 1940s included subscription concerts featuring internationally acclaimed solo artists as well as pops and children's concerts dubbed the "Making Music Series." The growing operation produced a growing deficit totaling $31,000 at the beginning of Whitney's ninth season.4 The educational programs of the Orchestra had not been established long enough to bring forth new subscribers, and the other tactics, such as the pops concerts, failed to provide converts to the subscription series. In the 1946-47 season, J. Fred Wilkie of Seagrams became President of the Philharmonic Society. He produced the Kentuckiana Jubilee of Music, a three-day extravaganza held in April, 1947 that featured Metropolitan Opera stars, the New York Philharmonic directed by George Szell, three Louisville choirs, bands, and the Louisville Philharmonic Orchestra. The festival was a financial disaster, pushing the Orchestra's deficit to $41,486.29.5 Heading up a Louisville Philharmonic Progress Fund, Dann C. Byck, a prominent local businessman, raised enough money to cover this deficit and provide operating funds to begin the Orchestra's 1947-48 season, but the Kentuckiana Jubilee had left a permanent scar on the LPO's fiscal health.

The 1947-48 season included the first statewide orchestra tours and featured more renowned soloists than previous years. Still, the orchestra's financial condition deteriorated, becoming painfully obvious to the public. Critics noted the half-sold house and complained about everything from poor programming to the acoustics of the drafty monster called Memorial Auditorium that seated an audience of 2,249, partly on wing balconies and behind massive pillars.

An article in the 1948 Louisville Courier-Journal contains a detailed analysis of the financial situation of the Orchestra.6 In writer Paul Hughes's opinion, the Orchestra's major problems were due to the public's desire for lighter, more popular programming as well as the prevailing economic inflation. J. Fred Wilkie stated that "unless more people bought tickets for the remainder of the season, hard days were ahead."7 Poor single ticket sales were cited as the biggest symptom of the public's unwillingness to support the Orchestra. It was felt that a city the size of Louisville should be able to sustain an orchestral budget two to five times the amount of the current one. Of course, the LPO had come very far very quickly, from a $7,000 budget ten years earlier to a $117,000 budget in 1947-48.

Then in February 1948, the Louisville Philharmonic Society announced its new president, Charles Farnsley, a man who would permanently alter the Orchestra even though he never actually took office. The son of Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Burrel Hopson, Farnsley was born in 1907 and entered politics early. He was educated in a private grammar school in Louisville and graduated from Male Public High School. He obtained a law degree in 1930 from the University of Louisville. As a student and later a State Legislator, he adhered to party politics both in his fraternity, which he reportedly organized into a "political machine from which all campus offices were filled,"8 and in his public offices: Representative, 38th district in the State House of Representatives in Kentucky, 1936-38; and Representative, Third District in Kentucky, during the 89th U.S. Congress, 1965-66. His political inclinations were reflected in his own brand of bourbon, "Rebel Yell," a product he developed and marketed in his typically pro-Southern but friendly spirit.9

In 1936 he married Nancy Hall Carter, his wife of fifty-four years. He attended the Universities of Louisville and Kentucky, Columbia University, and the New School for Social Research, continually seeking enlightenment from the study of history and political systems. His greatest passions were the history of Jeffersonian democracy and the study of the 18th-century physiocrats. Even in 1984 Farnsley was likely to begin a conversation by bringing up these ideas and his long-held conviction that these 18th-century phenomena trace back to ancient Chinese sources rather than classical Greek culture.

Farnsley studied music appreciation at the University of Louisville with the well-known Bach scholar Professor Gerhard Herz; Herz would later prove influential to the commissioning project as a member of the small committee which selected the composers who would be commissioned by the Louisville Orchestra. Believing both in the intrinsic values of the arts and in their contributions to the strength of industry and business in the city, Farnsley put serious and original thought into his plans for stimulating the city's cultural activities.

Charles Farnsley must be credited with the idea of the commissioning project. All news articles concerning the project give uncontested acknowledgment to Farnsley. Likewise, all business and personal correspondence coming out of the Orchestra office which makes reference to the origin of the commissioning idea cites Farnsley as the creator. And finally, the two men most closely involved, Farnsley and Robert Whitney, both interviewed for this essay, readily acknowledged Farnsley's responsibility.

Yet, the minutes of the Orchestra Board meetings do show that seminal ideas related to the total commissioning plan were emerging as early as October of 1947, when Board member Louise Kain suggested, probably in response to the criticism of Memorial Auditorium, that the Orchestra's concerts be moved to Columbia Auditorium.10 This move would become a basic plank in Farnsley's commissioning plan. A month later, another Board member reiterated the idea, pointing out that the smaller auditorium would make the audience look larger. At this meeting, there also was discussion regarding the reduction in size of the Orchestra from sixty-five to forty-three.11 In the final meeting of 1947, President Wilkie delivered an ultimatum, which included hiring fewer "high-priced soloists."12 This too would be incorporated in Farnsley's plan. According to Mrs. Kain, the source for these Board meeting ideas was Farnsley himself.13

In February of 1948, Wilkie was still presiding over the Orchestra Board, but President-elect Farnsley outlined some of his ideas to remedy the financial condition of the Orchestra:

Mrs. Belknap asked why we had to have guest artists. Mr. Farnsley felt that we should have composers instead of soloists"—It cost [sic] no more to get top composers than guest artists—our press would be good on it and I have a definite feeling that soloists are making good money but creators are not."14

Farnsley also brought up the possibility of moving the subscription series to a smaller hall, and Whitney stated that he could do with a smaller orchestra and get "better results."15

Far more colorful than these Board meeting minutes was Robert Whitney's recollection of his fateful private meeting with Farnsley at about the same time in the early spring of 1948. In an interview from 1970, Whitney recalled a conversation in Farnsley's office. His detailed recollection both how deeply the event became ingrained in his memory and how many times subsequently he must have repeated the story for curious listeners:

He [Farnsley] began by saying, "Look, you're broke, you'll always be broke the way you're going, and I have an idea that I think could change all this." He said, "Number one: you had Helen Traubel as soloist here last month. What did you pay her?" And I think as I recall that we paid her the rather extravagant sum of three thousand dollars. And he said, "Well that's fine and she's a fine singer, but," he said, "what have you got now?" He said "She's left town and what do you have left?"

"Well, our thought was that this would help produce audiences for our concerts next season."

And he said, "Yes, but," he said, "supposing . . . what could you have done?" He said, "Let's put it another way: the forgotten man in music is the composer." He said, "If you didn't have a composer, you wouldn't have any music, would you?"

And I said, "No." Of course you must bear in mind that I was—how should I put it?—I won't say a disappointed composer but a would-be composer—that's what I had intended to be all my life, so I was by nature sympathetic to the kind of proposal he was going to put to me. In fact we composers have been talking like this for generations. Everybody makes money but the composer and without a composer there isn't any music.

Well to go back to Mr. Farnsley, he went on to say, "Now supposing you had taken the money that you spent for your guest artists this year and you had engaged the very best composers in the world that you could find to write music for you and played this music for the first time anywhere, then you would be making a concrete contribution to the music. And furthermore if you were lucky and happened to hit a masterpiece, you would be in the history books because we all read how a certain work like Beethoven's Ninth I think it was commissioned by the London Philharmonic [sic]." I've forgotten whether that's exactly right but it will do well enough as an example.

. . . So I followed Charlie's reasoning without much difficulty.

He said, "You're doing this thing wrong." He said, "Put the composer first. Forget about the soloists."

And I said, "Well, Charlie, that's fine, but how about the audience?"

"Oh" he said, "don't worry about the audience." He said, "They want what's good. If you do what's good they'll come, don't worry about that."

I must say he had more confidence in audiences than I had or even have yet. But in any case, he wasn't a man it was wise to argue with.16

Before further discussion could take place, a phone call informed Farnsley that Louisville Mayor Leland Taylor had suddenly died, and that he, Farnsley, had been proposed as a temporary replacement. He reported the news to Whitney, stating that his acceptance of this appointment would be based on three things: his interests in the Orchestra, the public library, and the city university. He began comparing Louisville with Athens, saying "We don't have to have the biggest city in the world; all we have to do is create things of artistic importance."17

Farnsley went on to expound upon the development of the long-playing record, which was just coming out that year, and on how profoundly it would affect the musical scene. Perhaps the Louisville Philharmonic Orchestra could exploit this new device as well. Farnsley also had in mind an umbrella organization for arts fund-raising, which became known as the Louisville Fund.18

 

Putting the Project into Effect: Season 1948-49

The first commissioning season saw the performance of six commissioned works, one for each subscription concert. Composers included Joaquin Rodrigo, Virgil Thomson, Darius Milhaud, Claude Almand, Gian-Francesco Malipiero, and Roy Harris, in that order. Despite the initial achievement of the commissioning project (in January, Whitney recommended to the Board that this successful policy be continued into the next season), on February 5, the Orchestra once again asked for outside financial assistance to remain solvent. Farnsley requested and received $40,000 from the Louisville Foundation, a community trust group, on the condition that no other appeal for the Orchestra ever be made to the Foundation. Farnsley used the international significance and recognition of the commissioning project as a justification obligating the Foundation to help the Orchestra; he promised that in the future the city government would see to the orchestra's needs. Other conditions attached to the donation included a promise to enlist professional fund-raisers in the spring and a name change for the Orchestra which would become the Louisville Orchestra in official recognition of its smaller size.19

A news release from the Philharmonic dated July 17, 1949, announced a change of title: the Louisville Philharmonic Orchestra would now be known as the Louisville Orchestra. The commissioning project would continue during the 1949-50 season and would include composers Robert Russell Bennett, William Schuman, David Diamond, Paul Hindemith, and, again, the local composer Claude Almand. Schuman was the choice of modern dancer Martha Graham, who had been commissioned to create a "dance concerto." This simple announcement of the five composers for the coming concert series, which had been reduced to five subscription concerts, represented enormous behind-the-scenes effort. Several members of the Board had expressed their dissatisfaction with commissioning and new music in general but were persuaded by the eloquent arguments of Robert Whitney to give it another chance.20 It was this fragile 1949-50 season that would prove to be of legendary importance to the future of the Orchestra.

Despite the apparent success of the commissioning project and the financial bail-out provided by the Louisville Foundation the previous season, economic woes were fast resurfacing. Typical concerts lost from $200 to $700. The record loss of $1,209.40 occurred during the first concert of the previous season, due in part to the enormous fee commanded by the soloist for Rodrigo's work. The new Louisville Fund, Farnsley's "community-chest for the arts" (not to be confused with the Louisville Foundation), raised less than anticipated. Though financial times were difficult, one would be hard-pressed to criticize the intent of the new project. The substitution of the inexpensive composer for the pricey soloist never took place. The Louisville Orchestra now was actually hiring both at once.

 

The Judith Episode

The Louisville experiment with a dance concerto was conceived by Louise Kain, ardent music lover, patroness of the arts, and member of the Orchestra Board during this time. She had envisioned one of her favorite performers and the foremost interpreter of modern dance, Martha Graham, in a solo dance with the Orchestra in the manner of an instrumental concerto. The premise that a visual dancer could replace an aural solo musician was accepted with enthusiasm by all involved, including Graham.

Orchestra manager John Woolford contacted Graham's manager by a letter dated March 2, 1949. Graham responded carefully but positively, relaying her enthusiasm for the LO's commissioning project and her excitement about the inclusion of dance. She was convinced, however, that it would be impossible for her to share the stage with the Orchestra, as the LO had proposed, and wondered what other works to present on the program, assuming that she would dance the full concert.

Graham's reluctance to dance in front of the Orchestra was an obstacle, both aesthetically and practically, that had to be overcome. The Orchestra did not plan to present an entire dance concert, and the facilities in Columbia Auditorium did not include an orchestra pit. Therefore, the Orchestra would have to remain on the small stage. Furthermore, the concept of a dance concerto seemed to demand a closer proximity between dancer and musicians. She eventually agreed to dance onstage with the Orchestra.

William Schuman, friend and collaborator of Graham, was chosen by her to be the commissioned composer. The letter of commission to him, dated May 27, 1949, offered $500 for the score, parts, and rights of first performance. Schuman, like many composers, initially balked at the condition of supplying free parts. Fortunately, his publisher, Schirmer, agreed to furnish them. Martha Graham received $1,000 for her dance as well as extra reimbursement for her lighting and set, making this one of the larger concert investments made by the Orchestra.

The dance concerto concert, scheduled for January 4 and 5, 1950, provoked a greater amount of advance publicity than any of the previous commissioning concerts. The orchestra office informed critics and columnists nationally of its preparations. Articles in the local papers gave detailed accounts of the work's progress, and correspondence between principals flew thickly.

When the long-awaited Judith concert arrived, Louisville hosted not only Martha Graham and William Schuman but also Graham's entourage, including Jean Rosenthal who did the lighting, along with set designers Charles Hyman and William Sherman. Also attending were music critics of national stature such as Robert Sabin, who reviewed the event for Musical America. The house was sold out. Ticket sales totaled $1,567.10 and more than covered the extra expenses incurred by the dance, though not the performer and composer fees.

The sheer strength of 56-year-old Martha Graham's personality seemed to carry a large number of those who remember the event. Others were more impressed with Schuman's music. The extensive attempts to reach the outside critics paid off. Louisville suddenly received increased interest in the commissioning project as a whole. Most importantly, the two artists most closely associated with the endeavor, Schuman and Graham, immediately became ardent promoters of the Louisville Orchestra. Soon after the concert, they joined forces with Hans Heinscheimer, head of Schirmer's department of symphonic and dramatic repertory, who was present at the Judith concert, to attempt to secure a New York debut for the Louisville Orchestra. They approached the New York Philharmonic Society and were rewarded with the promise of a Carnegie Hall concert for the next season.21

Though plans for this concert began early, it was finally scheduled for December 29, 1950, due to the heavy commitments of Martha Graham. Then, in the early part of 1950, Graham injured her knee and decided to make the Carnegie Hall Judith her only appearance of the season, a move that attracted still more attention.

 

The Real Impact of Judith on the LO

The premiere performance of Martha Graham dancing William Schuman's Judith holds special significance for the Louisville musical community. Robert Whitney described Judith as "the Martha Graham ballet whose success kept the Louisville Orchestra from going out of existence."22 According to Whitney's 1967 program-note history of the orchestra:

For the season 1949-50, the Orchestra commissioned works by Paul Hindemith, William Schuman, David Diamond, Robert Russell Bennett and Claud [sic] Almand. The composers [sic] names were given the headlines instead of the soloists as in the past. Opposition to the new programming reached a new peak during this second season, however, and during Christmas week Mr. Whitney was informed that, after the coming programs of January 4 and 5, 1950 the Orchestra was to be disbanded and the remainder of the season canceled.

By good fortune, the soloist for the January concerts was the great dancer, Martha Graham. At the suggestion of Mrs. Richard Kain, Miss Graham had been asked to prepare a solo dance to perform with the Orchestra. This she did and persuaded William Schuman to write the music for it. Settings for the stage were by Naguchi [sic] and Joan [sic] Rosenthal came from New York to do the lighting. The music, Judith was a powerful score and Miss Graham danced in front of the Orchestra, which was placed behind a translucent curtain. The audience's response was sensational and Time, Newsweek and the New York papers carried feature stories about this great success. No more was said about liquidating the Orchestra. As a matter of fact, the Louisville Foundation, a philanthropic institution, had already given the Orchestra a grant of $40,000 to wipe out the deficit that had so long threatened its existence."23

Jack Firestone, orchestra manager from 1975-80, presented an elaboration of this account in a paper for the Jewish Community Center, entitled "How Contemporary Music Saved the Louisville Orchestra." According to Firestone, December 1949 was a gloomy month among Louisville musicians because notice had been served by the Orchestra Board: there would be no further bail-outs for the Louisville orchestra. Whitney told the Orchestra that after the Martha Graham concert, the group would cease to exist, its remaining assets sold to pay debts.24 More recent press notices concerning the Orchestra have repeated this story.

Curiously, no mention of this issue appears in the minutes of the Orchestra Board. Considering the minutia, controversy, and sometimes triviality of other topics discussed by the Board, it seems difficult to believe that a development of such importance would be either overlooked or deliberately concealed by omission from the minutes.

Furthermore, no secondary sources, contemporary newspaper stories, correspondence, notes, or other materials in the files make any reference to this dramatic event. A check of the auditor's reports for the seasons ending 1948, 1949 and 1950 shows the deficit declining from $24,418.31 in 1948 to $637.47 in 1950. This does not support Firestone's intimation that the financial condition of the Orchestra forced the issue of disbanding in the 1949-50 season. Whitney's implication in his original program note history, that opposition to the "new" music would shut down the Orchestra, is even harder to accept. Musicians who played with the Orchestra during the 1949-50 season, when asked for their recollections, recalled later media accounts based upon Whitney's story, and, when pressed, could not remember or verify the sequence of events.25

Earlier histories, much closer in time to this event and prior to Whitney's program notes, do not mention this tale of the threatened 1949-50 disbanding of the Orchestra. For example, in 1956, then student Mary Kissel wrote a paper, "A History of the Louisville Orchestra," in which she documented the early commissioning project. She skipped the 1949-50 season entirely, pointing out the importance of the subsequent December 1950 Carnegie Hall concert.26

There apparently exists just one source for the entire legend that Judith saved the Louisville Orchestra from immediate demise: Robert Whitney's program notes of 1967. Close examination of these notes gives clues as to what really may have happened; in particular one notices Whitney's somewhat oblique reference to the $40,000 grant by the Louisville Foundation in the spring of 1949. Whitney does not date this incident, and in fact refers to it in the past tense, but he places it at the conclusion of his paragraph concerning the benefits of Judith as if to imply cause and effect.

Two seasons became telescoped into one for dramatic effect in this 1967 report. Fay Sparks, secretary for the Orchestra at the beginning and well past the end of the commissioning years, recalled that in the fall of 1948, she was warned by Whitney, "you may lose your job" because of plans to disband the Orchestra.27 She further stated that if any talk was heard about disbanding, it would have been for financial reasons and not the artistic reasons implied in Dr. Whitney's notes. Recalling the Louisville Foundation grant in the spring of 1949, she stated, "I think that after the $40,000 was given there was never any panic about the Orchestra closing up."28

Board member Louise Kain, whose importance to the entire project and especially to the Judith concert has already been demonstrated, provided the clearest insight into what likely happened. Remembering an extreme financial crisis, but not the exact year, she described being called to two executive sessions of the Board, not documented in the minutes. The season was indeed Christmas and the group met first at the house of Alex P. Humphrey and later at Columbia Auditorium. In attendance were Humphrey, Woolford, Whitney, Mrs. Kain and one or two others whom she could not remember. The reason for the meetings was the imminent demise of the Orchestra, for financial reasons, during its first season of commissioning. The actual year can be deduced by Mrs. Kain's recollection that, at the second of these meetings, she advanced the suggestion that Martha Graham be commissioned to create a dance concerto! This idea was presented as one way of giving the Orchestra more publicity and consequently more solid financial footing. Because Miss Graham's letter of commission is dated March 2, 1949, it follows that these meetings concerning the Orchestra's major financial crisis were not taking place during the 1949-50 season as Whitney stated, but during the previous year, 1948-49. The consequent grant of the Louisville Foundation in response to this crisis makes perfect sense, awarded as it was in the spring of 1949. Mrs. Kain also noted that she had been confused by the chronology of Whitney's program-note history when she first read it in 1967, for it did not coincide with her recollection of the sequence of events.29

It appears that Whitney blended the financial events of the 1948-49 season with the artistic events of the 1949-50 season, creating an especially vivid story about the importance of the work composed by the Orchestra's good friend and faithful supporter, William Schuman. Nancy (Mrs. Charles) Farnsley, interviewed in the summer of 1984, supported this thesis. In fact, she was so stirred by the repetition of the old misconception in various articles published in the local papers during the Orchestra strike of 1984-85, that she wrote to Barry Bingham, Jr., editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal and Louisville Times with a list of her recollections and facts about the financial history of the Orchestra. She concludes:

I believe that Whitney's reference to 1949 low point in finances for the orchestra was 1948 and that indeed the "Judith" was a turning point, a turning point in public acceptance of the new music.30

No one interviewed wished to diminish the historical impact of Schuman's Judith upon the Louisville Orchestra, for, as Louise Kain emphasized, Schuman's efforts led to both the Orchestra's first recording contract and the Carnegie Hall concert. These New York endeavors probably had the greatest influence on the Rockefeller grant to come. Nonetheless, it is doubtful that events presented by Whitney in his notes and thereafter repeated, took place with such melodramatic and newsworthy precision.

 

* * *

The events just described, whether happening according to the beloved legends repeated most recently on National Public Radio or according to the less engaging facts, did signal a watershed in the Louisville Orchestra's history. Always to be remembered as the "new music" orchestra, the LO earned a unique place in history by receiving unprecedented grants of $500,000 from the Rockefeller Foundation to pursue a massive, weekly commissioning and recording project which lasted several years and generated national and international attention. Many projects related to commissioning new music composition have developed in Louisville over the past forty years, not the least of which is the new Grawemeyer Award, a composition prize in the amount of $150,000 administered by the University of Louisville School of Music. Though the early promise of the city of Louisville was outdistanced in this century by her competitive neighbors, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and even Indianapolis, none of the orchestras of these larger population bases can lay claim to a such a colorful heritage or such a significant contribution to the history of music.


1The complete Rockefeller grant proposal is included in an appendix to this writer's dissertation [Jeanne Belfy, "The Commissioning Project of the Louisville Orchestra, 1948-1958: A Study of the History and the Music" (Doctoral Dissertation, University of Kentucky, 1986), 220].

2In her research, the writer relied primarily on written documentation in published materials such as local newspaper articles and national journals, as well as typed minutes of the meetings of the Orchestra Board, correspondence between the Orchestra's management and various agencies and composers, and other supporting papers saved in the Files of the Louisville Orchestra, housed in the University of Louisville Archives and Records Center. Documentation of these materials will refer to the University of Louisville Archives and Records Center filing system.

3Carole Birkhead, "A History of the Orchestra in Louisville" (Master's Thesis, University of Louisville, 1977), iii.

4Ibid., 76.

5"Minutes of the Louisville Philharmonic Society" (Microfilm 150, Record Group 107, University of Louisville Archives and Records Center), p.3.

6Paul Hughes, "Inflation and Public Criticism Play 'Moaning Low' for L.P.O.," Louisville Courier-Journal, January 18, 1948.

7Ibid.

8Richard B. Gehman, "Confucius in Louisville," Colliers Magazine 123 (May 21, 1949): 24.

9When asked to bring out another line of bourbon for his Northern friends, Farnsley applied to the National Trade Commission to use the name "Damn Yankee." The title was rejected on the grounds of "bad taste," whereupon Farnsley promptly reapplied for the name "Old Bad Taste." "Old Bad Taste" was never actually marketed.

10"Minutes of the LPS," October 10, 1947.

11Ibid., November 7, 1947.

12Ibid., December 23, 1947.

13Louise Kain, interviewed by Jeanne Belfy, August 5, 1985.

14"Minutes of the LPS," February 20, 1948.

15Ibid.

16Robert S. Whitney (Transcript of Tapes 29-32, Series I, Record Group 60, Oral History Collection, University of Louisville Archives and Records Center, 1970), pp.76-83.

17Ibid.

18The Louisville Fund, now called the Greater Louisville Fund for the Arts, was created in 1949 and continues to the present in its role as "community chest for the arts." Its original volunteer staff has been replaced by six full-time professional fund raisers who supervised work toward the goal of $2.4 million in 1986. The basic tenet behind the organization was that local arts groups would benefit from a concerted and unified fund-raising effort whose proceeds would be equitably divided, more than from individual, competing campaigns. [Stuart Trisler, "The Greater Louisville Fund for the Arts," Beaux Arts (Winter 1982): 18-21.]

19"Minutes of the LPS," February 4, 1949.

20Ibid., March 11, 1949.

21William Mootz, "Music: L.O. to Play in Carnegie Hall Friday," Louisville Courier-Journal, December 24, 1950.

22"Coming in April," March Program Guide (WUOL 90.5 FM, University of Louisville, Vol. 6 No. 3, 1982).

23Robert S. Whitney, Program Notes, Louisville Orchestra Program, 1967.

24Jack M. Firestone, "How Contemporary Music Saved the Louisville Orchestral, (unpublished paper presented to the Contemporary Music Conference for the Young Men's Hebrew Association/Jewish Community Center, September 19, 1980), pp. 1-18.

25Katherine Lurton, Ruth French, and Marion Korda (former Orchestra members), interviewed by Jeanne Belfy, July 1985.

26Mary Kissel, "A History of the Louisville Orchestra" ("History 1953-56" file, Box 201, Record Group 107, University of Louisville Archives and Records Center), December 21, 1956.

27Fay Sparks, interviewed by Jeanne Belfy, July 30, 1985.

28Ibid.

29Louise Kain, interviewed by Jeanne Belfy, August 5, 1985.

30Nancy Farnsley, personal letter to Barry Bingham, Jr., October 24, 1984.

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Jeanne Marie Belfy

Appointed to the faculty at Boise State University in 1983 to teach oboe and music history, Professor Jeanne Marie Belfy also serves as Graduate Programs Coordinator for Music. Having performed over thirty-five faculty recitals at BSU, she plays oboe and English horn with the BSU Faculty Wind Quintet, and has played with the Boise Philharmonic, the Boise Chamber Orchestra, the Louisville Orchestra, the Muncie Symphony, and the Grand Rapids Symphony. Her oboe pupils have won numerous competitions, including MTNA National Competitions Finalist, the Idaho State Solo Contest, and Idaho’s All-State and All-Northwest; they have earned advanced degrees in oboe performance at prestigious institutions across the country. She coached a chamber ensemble that placed second in the MTNA National Competition. Her publications include articles in refereed journals, Festschrifts, reference books, and the Grove Dictionary of American Music, and she has reviewed over 200 CD recordings for the Journal of the International Double Reed Society. In 1984, she founded the Boise Chamber Music Society, continuing to direct and manage the presenting of the four-concert Boise Chamber Music Series of professional artists, as well as the BCMS String Quartet Competitions. In 2012 she received the College of Arts and Sciences Award for Excellence in Teaching, and in 2013 she received the Boise State University Foundation Scholar Teaching Award. She earned the PhD in historical musicology from the University of Kentucky in cooperation with the University of Louisville, the MM in music history from Ball State University, and a BMEd from Northern Michigan University.

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