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. All of these memories revolve around his father, William Carey Wright -- not just a minister, but also a lawyer, a country doctor, AND a musician and composer who wrote and published songs, piano pieces and organ works for almost fifty years.
Throughout his life, music was William Wright's greatest passion. In addition to his compositions, he also wrote instructional books on piano method, organ technique, and proper vocal production. Sometimes, his works were published by professional publishers. At others, he published and distributed them himself, using his own printing press -- his production staff at one point including the young Frank. William taught music wherever he went, and when he moved the family to Madison, Wisconsin, he even set up his own music conservatory, Frank playing viola in the ensembles.
Ultimately, William Wright's impact on his son was formidable. The lessons that he taught about music (such as "a symphony is an edifice of sound") were especially potent, working their way into Frank's fundamental notions of architecture. Today, we recognize music as one of Frank Lloyd Wright's most important influences. He himself would later say that his approach to organic architecture was the equivalent to Beethoven's method of motivic development in the Fifth Symphony. He made music an integral part of apprentice training at Taliesin ("Music is architecture at Taliesin just as architecture is a kind of music," he stated), and he was never without at least one grand piano -- an essential tool in his own design process, he claimed. The example of music was his sword to fight the rising Internationalist style, and Beethoven his most intimate artistic ally. In short, music was, as Wright described it, his "sympathetic friend" -- one of the longest lasting and most dependable, in fact, of all of his personal and professional relationships.
When it comes to finding the sources that inspired Frank Lloyd Wright's appreciation of music in his thought and work, all roads directly lead to William Carey Wright. But surprisingly, no one has yet looked seriously into the paternal origins of the architect's musical proclivities, and for many years now, William has been unfairly relegated to the periphery of Wright studies.
This project -- "Frank Lloyd Wright's Musical Origins: The Music of William Carey Wright" -- will help to change that, recording for the very first time the actual compositions of William Wright (seen here), drawn together from materials found in archives throughout the country.
Using professional musicians from the Chicago area and Eloquent Sound studios of Oak Park, this project will result in a full-length CD that, in conjunction with its liner notes essay, will ultimately paint a portrait of William Carey Wright in both words and music, giving us a fresh perspective not only on Frank Lloyd Wright's upbringing, but on the father whose musical mind was so essential to Frank's later approach to architecture.
If this Kickstarter project proves successful, the final product should be ready for commercial distribution by the early fall of this year! So please help us out, Wrightophiles and architecture buffs! Don't let this this important part of Frank Lloyd Wright's story remain in the shadows!
- (30 days)