JAVS Fall 2023

John matured a bit over time, the major adjustment to his appearance, compliments of Daddy William, was the addition of a moderately small genuine golf club which John would swing wildly as he cruised the house. Ah, but oh yes… the diapers remained his primary uniform of choice for quite some time! As it turned out, for years his father was convinced that little John had what it took to eventually become one of the world’s most affluent and successful pro-golfers. Sadly, it never happened. Youngest daughter Audrey, on the other hand, I never really did have an opportunity to get to know since (as I understood it) throughout those early years it was necessary for her to live in an environment that could provide constant support and treatment for several emotional problems from which she suffered, including related speech deficiencies. In 1963, we were all stunned by the news of Mr. Primrose suffering a major heart attack. Thankfully, although requiring a lengthy period of bed rest and recuperation, he made a remarkable recovery. Throughout those months of healing, my traditional form of viola lessons were replaced with many hours of sitting by his bedside just keeping him company and discussing everything from world politics, literature, boxing, golf, sumo wrestling, religion, flying, and philosophy, to performance techniques, memorization, repertoire, current and former musical artists and many details of his own life and career. Although his illness most definitely delayed some of our traditional work together, the close relationship, bonding, love, and personal insight each of us mutually developed could never have taken place without those bedside visits. Visits which ultimately made our traditional work together so much more effective, efficient, and productive! William and I remained emotionally and professionally close from my very first visit to his home in Brentwood until his death in 1982, where at his request, I performed for his memorial service in Provo, Utah. Thankfully, his spirit, affection, and strong influence will live within me for my entire life. In many ways he was my second father and I, a close friend, or perhaps even in some ways, an additional child to him.

Figure 2: William with Alan and Alan’s youngest daughter, Vanessa in front of the de Veritch ranch.

The Beginnings William Primrose was born in Glasgow, Scotland on August 23, 1904. His father, John Primrose, and mother, Margaret Whiteside Primrose, subsequently produced a daughter, Jean, in 1907 and ultimately an additional son, John, to whom, years later, sister Jean dedicated her extremely informative biography of William, “The VIRTUOSO!”

Her touching dedication includes the following paragraph:

John had a difficult birth. Instruments were used, pressure exerted and damage done. The part of John’s brain that worked as it should was brilliant. He had an excellent memory and with his appealing manners, it was a privilege and pleasure to be with him, an innocent, an unsullied soul, and he remains enshrined in the heart. William’s father, John, was a violinist and violist in the Scottish Orchestra. He was a truly great lover of music; and mother, Margaret, adorned with a head of flowing dark red hair, was known for her slight build and extreme sensitivity. Obviously, William’s parental genes proved to be most useful assets as he began his violinistic studies around the age of 5 years old.

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


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