JAVS Fall 2023

viola along with his overall musical interpretations truly reflect HIS personal relationship with life! This was most certainly not a result of either fate or luck, but rather an example of his true genius. In closing, I would like to express my sincere thanks to William Primrose’s first born, daughter Zoe Marion Primrose (herself an established pottery artisan) for her friendship and assistance in clarifying a number of the pieces to the puzzle of William’s life of which I was uncertain; and to his youngest adopted child, Mana Primrose Beaver, (a highly respected performing violinist and violist) for her personal insight, perspective, and willingness to entrust me with the unpublished biography of William Primrose, authored by William’s sister, Jean, in honor of her brother. Lastly, I truly hope you have enjoyed accompanying me on this personal excursion down the “Primrose Path” and in the process, have gained deeper insight into one of the greatest artists of our time and major influencers upon my life. I strongly encourage anyone who has even the slightest interest in the viola and William Primrose to at some point in their lives make the pilgrimage to Utah and visit both the Primrose International Viola Archive at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, as well as St. Mark’s Cathedral Columbarium in Salt Lake City, Utah where the ashes of both William Primrose and his 3rd wife, Hiroko Sawa Primrose, are permanently interred under a small, intimate courtyard. Alan de Veritch is one of the most respected violists in the world today. Often referred to as a true legend, he is generally considered to have been the very first “Young Virtuoso of the Viola” having made the first of many solo appearances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of thirteen. Almost immediately following that performance, Alan was invited by William Primrose to become his youngest student. By the age of seventeen, Alan had already collaborated in chamber music performances with such artists as Jascha Heifetz, Gregor Piatigorsky, Ralph Berkowitz, Josef Gingold, Pinchas Zukerman, and Itzhak Perlman and by age thirty he had performed in almost every major concert hall in the United States and Europe and had I feel quite certain you will not be disappointed!

Epilogue All too often over the years, many people have mistakenly interpreted Primrose’s slightly stiff attitude and his somewhat prim and proper appearance as arrogance or being excessively self-impressed. This would have been a terribly inaccurate misread. Truly, he was one of the softest, kindest, most loving, and caring individuals I have ever known. He deeply loved his three wives and each of his six children, although his greatest passion was unquestionably his love for the viola, which constantly fueled his intense dedication to share his passion with as many humans throughout the world as possible. I have always believed that it was this “dedication to the cause” that kept him on the road touring the far corners of the world with some annual performance schedules including as many as SIXTY personal appearances in a given year. I am also convinced that it was his innate love of travel, comparative cultures, and adventure that made such a demanding lifestyle possible. The downside was unfortunately, a restlessness and frustration that increased as his health and his performance career began to wane. In my opinion, it was this restlessness and related modification to his previous way of life that ultimately created many of the problems at home, eventually leading to his divorce from Alice in 1970. The other major misconception, which I have heard expressed by numerous musical colleagues over the years, is the belief that the great majority of William Primrose’s accomplishments and great successes throughout his life were the direct result of positive karma and extreme luck. Anyone who has any knowledge at all of Primrose’s life knows that the true explanation for his vast achievements was the direct result of years of concentrated practice, hard work, self-discipline, self-motivation, self determination, excellent guidance, training, AND admittedly, a great deal of natural talent. Although I, in no way, wish to downplay his unique and remarkable technical abilities, to me his true greatness lay in his stunning ability to convey his true personal experiences with tragedy, sadness, love, passion, and happiness through his extremely personal approach to music making. Every single note he produced on the What nonsense I say to this “Golden Boy” theory.

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


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