JAVS Fall 2023

On one of William’s early visits to Washington, D.C. he enthusiastically shared with me his interest in (and fascination with) a female Asian violinist working towards her degree in Music Education at IU. As he described this young woman, it was easy to see from the twinkle in his eyes and energetic description … he was quite smitten with her on numerous levels! Well, both my curiosity and concerns were pleasantly satisfied on a subsequent visit to Bloomington. William’s new Japanese friend, Ms. Hiroko Sawa was not only delightful, energetic, young, enthusiastic, and extremely knowledgeable and intelligent, I immediately sensed that she was as smitten with him as he was with her. I was additionally impressed with the high level of mutual respect shared between them. One of my early recollections of my first visit with the two of them related to our plans of enjoying a dinner together. As we attempted to exit one of the music buildings on IU’s campus enroute to our restaurant of choice, William and I stepped aside in such a manner of respect as to allow Hiroko to exit through the doorway first. However, in true traditional Asian custom, she immediately stepped aside in such a way as to permit both William and me to be primary. Well, between his inbred chivalry, and her strong traditional beliefs, it quickly became evident that NONE of us would ever successfully exit the building unless I took the “dragon” by the horns and aggressively pushed forwards through the exit door. Immediately, following my exit, Hiroko finally gave into William’s chivalry and quickly joined me. As time progressed, so did William and Hiroko’s dedication to each other. So much so that their increasing commitment to each other, combined with the weakening of Alice and William’s dedication to their marriage eventually led to Alice and William’s divorce in January 1970, and William and Hiroko’s subsequent marriage in Santa Barbara, California during the following summer. Despite Alice and William’s marital issues, however, the two of them remained dear friends. So much so that Alice was wonderfully supportive of William and Hiroko’s developing love for each other, which fortunately appears to have resulted in the minimizing of the more typical potentially painful family resentments.

Figure 6: William and 3rd wife Hiroko in Japan in 1973.

By 1972 Primrose had received intriguing invitations to teach at both Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music, and the TOHO School of Music in Tokyo, Japan. Given that by this time in his life William had not only become seriously enthralled with the culture and history of Japan, but he was also married to a native Japanese woman and legally adopted her three children from a previous marriage, these offers were wonderfully appropriate and timely.

Figure 7: William sharing some pointers with adopted daughter, Mana.

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


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