Maurice Abravanel MemoriesFrances Darger
Abravanel gradually, slowly built the whole thing up like you can’t believe. He got into the community, he bought a house, he moved here, he was here all the time except for the summer. If we’d go play in Southern Utah, he went with us to southern Utah. He took us everywhere. And he just gradually, gradually added more weeks, gradually raised the money. He had patient determination. And he was an interesting, wonderful man. And he got to know the community beautifully, knowing who all the movers and shakers were.
One of my favorite stories from when we were recording in the tabernacle was when they ran the electrical stuff through the bathroom because they figured it would reverberate better. Well one day they said, “Ooh, we’ve got a problem.” “What happened there?” “Somebody flushed the toilet and fouled up the recording.” It was just fascinating. They got the reverberation from the tile, but they had to stop recording for a minute because somebody flushed the toilet.
Abravanel never got to conduct in the hall, which was sad. But how he got that hall built—that’s still my favorite story. He went to Cyril Harris, and I think he was at New York University or Columbia—he was an acoustician—and he said, “Build us a hall for the symphony, opera, and ballet.” And he came back and said, “There’s no such thing as a perfect hall for the symphony, opera, and the ballet.” He said, “If you’ll look around your town and find an old theater, we’ll remodel it for the opera and the ballet, and we’ll build you a hall for the symphony.” And that’s what happened.
Highlights from an oral history interview conducted in the Abravanel Studio of the McKay Music Library.