JAVS Fall 2023

Feature Article

William Primrose ... Off stage: The fascinating human being behind the legend! by Alan de Veritch

One lovely spring morning in the early 1970s, Professor David Dalton and his charismatic mentor, William Primrose, were strolling casually through the scenic Brigham Young University campus located at the foot of the Wasatch mountains in Provo, Utah. It was during that walk Mr. Primrose elected to share with David his rather strong personal belief that “unless major performing musicians had successfully built a rather substantial and successful discography of their own recorded performances prior to the time of their passing, they would most certainly be forgotten shortly after their death!” It was this revelation (delivered to David quite adamantly) that ignited the intense commitment within Dr. Dalton to do absolutely everything in his power to ensure the name, recordings and legend of William Primrose would never die. Today, thanks primarily to this commitment—supported by David’s very own creativity, inspiration, motivation, dedication, and never-ending energy—anyone with even the slightest interest in the glorious musical instrument known as the viola —has access to, unquestionably, one of the most complete instrumental resource centers in the world focused on a single musical instrument. Whether an individual wishes to research specific violists—either performers and/or pedagogues—vintage photographs, recordings, related artifacts, historic correspondence and publications, or composers and their original compositions for the instrument, “ The Primrose International Viola Archive ” located in Provo, Utah has no match! Founded officially in 1974 by William Primrose and David Dalton, PIVA—short for Primrose International Viola Archive—has grown to become the largest repository of

music, recordings, and research documents relating to the viola. Due in large part to the tireless efforts and oversight of BYU staff members—Dr. David Day (in his role as Curator of Special Collections) and Dr. Myrna Layton (Music and Performance Librarian of the Lee Library)— PIVA currently maintains over 11,000 original published scores of works featuring the viola, 2,000+ sound recordings, literally thousands of photographs, documents, correspondence, research documents, and memorabilia from the private collections of many renowned violists, as well as serving as the official archive for both the American Viola Society and the International Viola Society. Although I had closely followed the development and growth of PIVA since its inception, it wasn’t until my term as President of the AVS (1990-1994) that I personally became actively involved in its continued and dramatic expansion. So much so, that ultimately in the Fall of 2017, at the personal request and encouragement of David Dalton, I happily and proudly donated my own personal archive, officially subtitled “The Life, Heritage and Career of Alan de Veritch” to BYU, where it will reside as a permanent collection within the Primrose International Viola Archive. Interestingly, as a direct result of this growing involvement with PIVA and the deepening of our personal relationships with both Donna and David Dalton, my wife, Evelyn, and I made the decision to make Utah our primary residence in 2018. This major move came after more than 25 years in Bloomington, Indiana where I served as Professor of Viola at Indiana University, the very same professorship held by William Primrose from 1965-1971.

Becoming a Utahan has most definitely facilitated my ability to expand my own personal research of

Journal of the American Viola Society / Vol. 39, No. 2, Fall 2023


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