REMEMBERING HERBERT BAYER,
OF THE ASPEN MUSIC FESTIVAL TENT
As the 100th Anniversary
of the Bauhaus, the highly influential
design school and movement
is being celebrated this year across the world, the names of its founder,
Walter Gropius and
designers Paul Klee,
Mies van der Rohe,
and Josef Albers
are mentioned most frequently. Rarely does the name of Herbert Bayer
As if to make amends, the New York Times printed
a full-page article a few weeks ago in its
Sunday Travel Section (of all places), touting Bayer's influence on Aspen, Colorado's
renaissance as a cultural center.
Sadly, the Times article omitted Herbert Bayer's
singular achievement in Aspen, his design
of the splendid Aspen Music FestivalTent (perhaps because it is no longer there,
demolished and replaced by a larger structure).
The Aspen Music Festival Tent
My dear wife, Shirley Givens and
I were fortunate to spend many summers in Aspen during the
Bayer years as members of the violin, cello and chamber music faculties of the Aspen
School. What fun it was to sit on the grass outside the tent and watch its heavy
flapping in the wind during a concert. What a pleasure to sit inside the vast auditorium
part of a performance. And what a privilege to be part of the audience experiencing
of the touring stars of the week, from violinist Isaac Stern
to flutist James Galway!
There were special moments to remember: A particularly
poignant performance of the chamber
orchestra version of Schönberg's Verklärte Nacht by Sidney Harth
conducting the Aspen Chamber
Orchestra, the humorous mismatch of Robert Mann
and Lillian Fuchs playing
Concertante, discovering the Hollywood comedian Danny Kaye
sitting a few rows in front of us,
totally engrossed in the music being played etc. etc.
Herbert Bayer was a true music lover: somehow
he discovered my modest creation of the Aspen
(Youth) String Ensemble, and became a supporter and attendee from its outset. He
that these under-age players attemped a traversal of the complete Händel Concerti
Grossi Op. 11.
Little did he or I know at the time that some
of the orchestra members would later become famous
in the profession, for instance David Kim,
now Concertmaster of the Philadephia Orchestra,
Joseph Swensen, Conductor
Emeritus of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Pamela Frank virtuoso
concert violinist etc.
Our concerts were held at the historic Aspen
Community Church. If the concert happened
on a particularly hot night, Herbert and his dear wife Joella would park their car
outside, roll down
the window and just listen!
I cannot presume to say that Herbert Bayer was
a friend but he was a dear and loyal acquaintance.
His home was on Aspen Mountain, with grandiose views of the neighboring mountain
It was an honor for us to be invited to a gathering of international guests, such
conductor Herbert von Karajan's
manager, and Virgil Thomson,
the composer and
New York Herald Tribune Music Critic.
Herbert remembered that Shirley was also a visual
artist, so, on this occasion, he insisted on taking
us on a private tour of his studio. I recall to this day the meticulous neatness
with which his
paint brushes and other tools were laid out on a work table looking down on the distant
I have missed this simple man over the years!
POSTED: SEPTEMBER 18, 2019
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This blog created, written and maintained by Harry Wimmer (email@example.com).
Thanks to Shirley Givens
firstname.lastname@example.org for her imaginative illustrations.
|Design and content ©2006-2019 by Harry Wimmer, Incidental Artwork
©2006-2016 by Shirley Givens.
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