JAVS Fall 2023

changed her name to “Zoe” Marion Primrose) and her sister Audrey have never been married or had any children, John, on the other hand, has been married (and divorced) and has two sons: William James Primrose (born 7/2/86) and Matthew Ryan Primrose (born 10/11/88.)

Randall Davey had painted a wonderful, large portrait of William with his viola in formal concert dress. However, she had absolutely no memory of what could have become of that painting. Well, I am delighted to report that following at least two years of diligent investigation by Dr. Dalton, the painting was eventually discovered in a storage barn belonging to the Audubon Society on the property previously owned by Randall Davey in New Mexico. Difficult negotiations then ensued between David Dalton and the Audubon Society which ultimately ended in PIVA’s acquisition of this marvelous portrait of William Primrose, thanks primarily to the financial support from Brigham Young University, violist Pamela Goldsmith, violist Yizhak Schotten, and yours truly (Alan de Veritch). Today this wonderfully elegant portrait hangs proudly at the entrance to the Primrose Room located in the Harold B. Lee Library on the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Tragically, Randall Davey was killed in an automobile accident near Bakersfield, California in 1964 at the age of 77 years old. Ironically, at the time of the accident, he was on route to Santa Barbara, California for a visit with Alice and William. In April of 1958, Alice’s previously widowed mother passed away. Following her death, William and Alice made the decision to return to Alice’s childhood home in Davenport, Iowa where they resided until moving to Los Angeles in 1961. Even with the additional birth of their son, John, in 1959, Alice’s childhood home, which included only 11 bedrooms and 10 baths, in 9000+square feet etc., was fortunately able to provide enough living space for the now Primrose family of 5.

By 1954, the Primrose family, after perhaps finding Paris a bit too romantic a city—given the annual births of their two daughters—had taken up primary residence in London. Subsequently, between 1956-57, at the suggestion of several close friends and musical colleagues, they embarked on the major transatlantic move to Santa Fe, New Mexico. As fate would have it, one of the close friendships William and Alice had developed during their time in Santa Fe was with the world-renowned artist, painter, printmaker, and sculptor Randall Davey. Davey was perhaps best known for his stunning paintings of birds and his association with the National Audubon Society. Ultimately it was this Society that became the beneficiary of Davey’s home and studio in Santa Fe as well as many of his paintings. It was Alice, who only a few years ago, happened to mention to David Dalton that she was quite certain that at some point during the Primrose’s life in Santa Fe, Figure 3: William with son, Johnny, taken in 1978 in Springville, Utah.

Figure 4: Rear view of William and 2nd wife Alice’s Mansion on the Mississippi River in Davenport, Iowa.


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

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