LIMA — It was music to the Lima community’s ears when a group formed in August 1946.
“Lima Friends of Music, a newly formed, nonprofit musical organization, has scheduled three concerts for the 1946-47 season,” said a news report in The Lima News on Aug. 18, 1946.
“Lima Friends of Music is an outgrowth of several groups of musicians who have gotten together the past year to work and study music along the lines of their own special interest. The aim of the group is to bring more of the best artists for Lima and vicinity residents.”
According to an Oct. 1, 1972, story, Lima had one of the few independent, successful, nonprofit musical membership organizations in the U.S. The Friends of Music’s history went back to the opening of the Faurot Opera House in 1882 and Memorial Hall in 1908.
“Even at that time the Lima music fans had the privilege to hear the best talent available. This was possible through the efforts of the Women’s Music Club.
“As the Lima Symphony Orchestra became more active and the Lima Arts Association was formed, there seemed to be no need for two organizations bringing outside talent to Lima. Therefore the Civic Music and the Friends of Music merged. In the following years it sponsored such unforgettable artists as Fred Waring, Peter Nero, Hungarian Philharmonic, Roger Williams, Victor Borge, Duke Ellington and others.”
Only season memberships were available; one could not buy admission to a single concert. The lineup of musicians to perform during the first season of 1946-‘47 includes Ralph Kirkpatrick, harpsichordist, and Alexander Schneider, former first violinist of the Budapest String Quartet; Beryl Rubinstein, pianist and Director of the Cleveland Institute of Music and William Klenz, a cellist who studied and played throughout Europe.
The Lima Friends of Music were almost immediately encouraged by a New York musical group, according to a Sept. 8, 1946, news report.
“J.A. Hirschmann, founder of the New York group, stated in part: ‘It has come to my attention that you are organizing the Lima Friends of Music somewhat along the lines of the New York New Friends of Music. May we congratulate you and offer any service that may be helpful in your early days? It has always been our policy to encourage good music in America and it is a source of happiness for us to know that other friends are joining in the crusade for good music,’ ” stated the report.
Ralph Kirkpatrick, the harpsichordist scheduled to perform at the first concert Oct. 23, 1946, had a minor setback on the day of the concert, according to an Oct. 24, 1946, story in The Lima News.
“One of those incidents which helps turn a musician’s hair prematurely gray occurred in Lima on Wednesday to Ralph Kirkpatrick, one of two artists on hand for the concert presented by the Lima Friends of Music.
“Kirkpatrick must have his instrument shipped by express at all times, and during the past has had little or no trouble in having it arrive on time for a performance. Wednesday, however, such did not occur. The body of the instrument arrived in Lima quite intact but the pedals were shipped to Dayton.”
Fortunately, a kind and sympathetic Dayton deliveryman brought the pedals to Lima, resolving the problem.
An April 26, 1984, headline in The Lima News reads, “Death casualty for Friends” and tells of a different kind of dilemma.
“Count Basie’s death has left the Friends of Music of Northwestern Ohio scrambling for a new act to fill out its 1984-85 concert series. Frederick E. Mills, publicity chairman for Friends of Music, said that there is a possibility that Basie’s orchestra might still come to Lima and play, or that the act would be replaced by a comparable one.
“Most of those orchestras (from the swing era) are still playing … like Duke Ellington’s. But this is a little different. Count Basie was such a personality himself,” Mills said.
Despite the occasional glitch and mishap, the artists and musicians the Friends of Music invited and who came to Lima met with success and an appreciative audience.
William Primrose, concert pianist who performed Nov. 6, 1946, at Memorial Hall in Lima, appreciated his appreciative audience, according to a Nov. 17, 1946, news story.
“Primrose, in a note from Chicago to Mrs. John Cable, one of the organizers of the Lima Friends of Music, said: ‘I want to thank you for having afforded me the opportunity of playing to your so wonderful audience. It was a great thrill, I assure you, and somewhat rare! May every possible success attend your unselfish and imaginative work for good music in Lima.’ ”
The Friends of Music also offered “twilight programs,” which were educational lectures on topics related to artistic endeavors. An Oct. 9, 1950, story in The Lima News tells about Cleveland ceramist Burwell Abbott, who was speaking at the Art Center at the first twilight program offered in the Lima Friends of Music’s series.
“More than 75 members of Lima Friends of Music heard Burwell Abbott explain the comparative ‘ease’ of working with ceramics. Abbott demonstrated with a piece of clay how caricatures can be made with little or no effort. He brought with him several of his finished products.”
A headline in the March 3, 1968, edition of The Lima News said, “For 10 Bucks … Musical Greats.” The story begins, “For basically 10 bucks where else in the world can you get a better deal? Friends of Music of Northwest Ohio’s president James Parmenter not only asked but answered.
‘Nowhere. Our music group is offering five concerts by world famous artists in a package at $10 for the 1968-’69 season. Over the years, there are very few ‘greats’ we’ve missed.’ ”
Reach Dawn Kessinger at email@example.com.