JAVS Fall 2023

the remarkable contents living within the confines of PIVA. Unfortunately, the more I have researched, the more aware I have become of what I consider to be the one consistent deficit within this otherwise stunning collection. Namely, the lack of any details or discussion of William Primrose’s personal life as a “family man.” After all, he did have three wives and six children, a fact that had to have had some impact on his successes as one of the greatest musical artists of the 20th century! An Enduring Friendship My very first personal meeting with the incredible William Primrose took place about 62 years ago. I was 13 years old at the time and had just completed a solo performance of the Viola Concerto by Handel-Barbirolli with the Young Musicians Foundation “DEBUT” Orchestra at Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA. While busily engaged in the process of returning my viola to its case, a very proper and most distinguished looking gentleman entered my dressing room. Extending his hand with a most enthusiastic smile and a twinkle in his eyes, he immediately conveyed his heartiest congratulations for my performance while calmly and simply introducing himself as “also a violist.” His name… “William Primrose.” Perhaps you can picture my subsequent state of shock while suddenly finding my hand nestled in his (the most revered hands in the world of viola) for the first of many times! Amazingly, during that very first meeting he exuberantly expressed his supreme delight at having just witnessed, for the very first time, a youngster performing a viola concerto with an orchestra and how pleased he had been with both my performance and my apparent comfort on stage. 1 Anyway, within days of this somewhat historic (at least to me) meeting, my parents surprisingly received a phone call from none-other-than Mr. Primrose himself. After disclosing his total lack of experience working with a student younger than college age, he enthusiastically invited us to his home in Brentwood, California in hopes of affording us the opportunity to become better acquainted and to test the waters of a potential “student/ teacher” relationship. So, to fill some of what I consider to be a major void within the PIVA Collection, I offer this article.

Obviously, we were most delighted to accept both his generous invitation and subsequent offer to become my primary mentor and professor. I guess one could say, “the rest is history!” Given my age and Mr. P’s slight trepidation of working with a “youngster” for the first time, most of my lessons took place at his home, where before long our relationship expanded to my inclusion as an “ex officio” member of the entire Primrose family. Throughout my years of actual tutelage (1961-1966) under his direct supervision, William was married to his second wife, the lovely, extremely attractive, and spirited Alice French Primrose. Together, they had three children: daughter Marion (born in Paris in 1952), daughter Audrey (born in Paris in 1953) and son John (born in Davenport, Iowa in 1959).

Figure 1: William with eldest daughter, Marion, at Father/Daughter Dance (Marymount School) in 1962.

Given my frequent visits to the Primrose home, Mrs. Primrose (Alice) and I bonded rather quickly, which led to her early insistence on my referring to her as “Alice.” Marion, their eldest daughter, was five years my junior and although we did not share a great deal in common, we did enjoy several friendly encounters over those early years. John, their son, I saw quite frequently—although he was more often than not clad in one or more diapers at any given time. Interestingly, as I remember it, even as


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

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