Tabernacle Choir Tour to Europe 1955
Reflections of Ewan Harbrecht Mitton on the 1955 Tabernacle Choir Tour of Europe
Based on entries from her personal journal written during the tour
I would like to describe my experiences and memories of the Salt Lake Tabernacle tour of Europe in 1955. I had a journal given to me on my birthday of February 14th, 1955 by Mrs. Stevenson, the dear lady with whom I lived in New York for a few years in 1955. I used that apartment as a home base while I was concertizing with the Columbia Artists and was doing my tours with their Community Concert Series.
It all began with my association with J. Spencer Cornwall, the director of the Tabernacle Choir, after I had auditioned for him two years before to sing the solo part in “The Brahms Requiem” one Easter. I was asked back several times, one time was with the Symphony Orchestra in a special concert where I sang selections from “The Elijah” of Mendelssohn and some works with the choir, including the solo “Ye Now Are Sorrowful” from the “Requiem.”
It was a happy call from him when he invited me to be their soloist in the tour on the Continent and in England. I was so delighted and honored that not only was I to sing with the choir on some of the solos with them, but I could also sing two solos by myself. He also asked if I would like to sing at the dedication of the Bern Temple, and that President McKay had requested I sing “Bless This House” for that. Well, I was on cloud nine all that week, and I went through my religious repertoire and wanted to have something maybe from Oratorio or something to be a good message, to also show my range, and be more concert-type repertoire for these large concert halls where we were going to present our programs.
I went to Shibley Boyes, my repertoire coach, for her suggestions. She showed me a lot of repertoire, and we remembered that exercise-type oratorio piece I had been learning for a couple of years. She gave it to me saying “here is a very difficult aria from Handel’s oratorio “Esther” that has a recitative, and a very florid “Hallelujah” that would be just the thing. Do you remember I told you to learn it way back then so you would have it ‘in your voice’ and ready to do, because I told you that you would perform it some day?”
I realized that it would be just the thing, and the other one was a brilliant concert-type aria of Beethoven from his “Mount of Olives” oratorio, that had a high “d” above high “c” and runs and was very dramatic as a contrasting number. So, we decided on that one too. I submitted it to Brother Cornwall, and he talked it over with Alexander Schreiner, who would be my accompanist, and they answered back and said they approved of my selections. They also told me the other solos I would be singing with the choir, like “The Inflamatus” from Rossini’s oratorio, a solo with the choir that we would sing in England by an English composer, “The Light in Darkness” and they also wanted me to sing “The Omnipotence” of Schubert, arranged for choir and soprano solo, and to prepare encores for each country, perhaps in their language.
Well, I was astounded that they wanted me to sing so much. That was unheard of because they hardly ever used soloists, and I said to myself, “Well, I’ve got them fooled, I’m not that good” but I prayed that I’d not let them down, and prepare very well, keep my health up, vocal techniques up and above all, keep humble, and grateful to the Lord, because I knew that this call came from Him (Proverbs 3:6) and I wanted to be a good missionary for Him.
Another call from Brother Cornwall told me that we really were being called on this special mission and each and every one of us would be set apart to be missionaries. I therefore should go to the temple and receive my endowment. Well, in those days, a single girl didn’t usually get permission to go to the temple until she would be married. I had always wanted to go, and my prayers were answered in this way, and when I went with my parents on our way to Salt Lake we stopped in Saint George, and that was such a great experience to me to enter this holy place. I didn’t feel worthy, but it made such a difference to me as a person, and as a singer to have this wonderful blessing and feel from that moment on the great spirit of the Holy Ghost with me. Then, when President J. Reuben Clark set me apart for this mission, I feel it was the capstone of all my spiritual experiences of the endowments in the temple, and I felt so blessed to have this honor and to then express it in music to all those who would listen to me.
All my expenses were to be paid for by the Church, and I felt I’d like to be able to contribute to it financially. I had told my Bishop about it when I went for my temple interview, and he suggested I give a concert in California to raise some money for this tour. I was so happy about that and didn’t know how we could do a concert in the church and charge for it. He arranged for it to be by donations. It was a successful concert.
I sang August 4th in the Tabernacle for the farewell concert that the choir gave, and we presented the very program we were going to do all through the tour. The program was printed to look like a passport, and my picture was in it too. That was a special event to be able to come back to the Tabernacle where I had performed over the several years before, and this time it was even more exciting as we all were anticipating our tour.
The following is from my diary, with some added recollections and comments in [brackets]
After the concert, my fourth in the Tabernacle, President Mc Kay congratulated me saying “what a beautiful voice from such a beautiful soul” and Sister Mc Kay remarked about the modesty of my formal. I left for Los Angeles by plane with the echoes of the inspiring choir still ringing in my ears, arriving about 4 PM the next day. I ate, and dressed and was singing a few hours later in the Wilshire Ward. We raised $1,000 for the Salt Lake Choir and it was so good to see all my friends again. I sing the same way now as I did a year ago, but because Salt Lake gave me this great honor, then those at home “gushed” over me and my voice. How fickle the public is. I stayed at home until the 10th of August. Then took Western Air Lines to Salt Lake at 8:15 in the morning, and arrived at 10:45. I had my hair done, slept,
Then next day we went to the train station. What a crowd of people. It seemed like all of Salt Lake was there and the surrounding cities must have been there. I managed to inch my way to the gate. We were about a half hour or more late in getting started. Cars in Davis County, Centerville, were lined up with headlights on, and people were waving to the train as we went by. I was to have shared my lower bunk with Flora Cannon but we decided to split the $12 extra and get an upper bunk, and switch off. She is nice, a friend of Elmo and Louise Gerber, my cousins in Phoenix.
I had a good rest even though it was a bit rough. There were two special trains and I was on the first train. What a jovial group, so funny, many jokes, and there was even an illusionist (magician) who brought a deck of cards that changed into a blank deck: he said that was for when the authorities come we can just make them blank (since we really aren’t supposed to play with face cards). It was wonderful to be on a train with no smoking no tea, no coffee.
August 11, somewhere in the middle of the U. S.
On the train we passed the time with Monopoly, Rook and Scrabble – which I always won... and later on the ship, Saxonia, I was the winner and grand Scrabble champion.
August 12 -- on the train
We played more games, I won more Scrabble, just lucky...and we crossed the border into Canada. We got things ready for the next morning, to get up at 3:20 AM to board the ship.
August 13th -- Montreal, a foggy day.
We had one incident: there were about 30 elderly ladies on tour with us, one age 78 and a miracle if all goes well with them with all the walking, etc. One of them had a heart attack and Dr. Brown flew her home to S. L. and then went by air again to catch our train in Toronto.
We arrived in Montreal in the morning, and one of the porters came into the train and was amazed at our clean conditions, and said it was the first time they could see from one end of the lounge to the other because of no smoking. And on board the bingo game was a flop as he coaxed and coaxed, and only a handful of non-Mormons played.
Both trains arrived to Montreal and ours, number one, arrived a half-hour before the second train. We went by coach to pier #3 and boarded the Saxonia. At about 8 AM I ate some fruit, and stood in line until about 10:30 AM for a table in the restaurant. Then I arranged for a deck chair and cover, and finally made it to the little concert that the choir gathered around on top deck and sang a few songs for the newsreels and radio that would be broadcast through the USA.
We sailed at 12 o’clock, and it was so much fun as we went under bridges and the scenery was wonderful. Then we stood in line again for lunch. It was very good. Then after lunch I wrote some letters and cards, and even got a letter from Mrs. Stephensen in NY. I was happily surprised. [She was a dear friend who took me into her apartment while I was studying and auditioning and making NY my base to be close to my management Columbia Artists. It was there in that ward that I later met George].
I also got a letter from Aunt Margaret. I saw Quebec as we passed by on the river. It was a very quaint city and I loved seeing the hotel on the top of the mountain. It looks like an old castle. We ate dinner and watched the bingo and dancing, (I didn’t dance) and turned in early. I was a bit tired.
August 14th, Sunday
‘We traveled up the St. Laurence River and the day was clear as a bell. When we stopped at Quebec I heard that we had mailed 3,000 post cards and letters. The Saxsonia people on board the Cunard line said that they never in their history had so much mail on the first day out. I told them we’re “home bodies” And they had to make another unscheduled stop, guess why? The ship was out of milk. They had used up all their supply of milk for the trip in one day. Another thing, we were all asking for Postum, and they never heard of that substitute for coffee. They were so kind to get that for us too.
It was Sunday and we all attended church on board ship. What a glorious meeting. They called on many to talk. Dr. T. A. Clawson gave an impressive talk about great Sequoia trees and the sap that preserves it. Then termites come in or lightning hits of wind blows off a limb, the sap flows out and makes the a protective coating. He likened it to the Holy Ghost: as long as it burns in us we are protected against sin. And, like the tree without sap dies, so we die inside without the Holy Ghost.
Apostle Richard L. Evans then spoke. He was the narrator for our concerts, and as you know he had also been the narrator every Sunday for the “Spoken Word” broadcasts. His little sermons were so effective in our missionary work. He spoke on the Ten Commandments, describing each briefly and said today was the Sabbath and to be sure and keep it holy.
Then we went on deck and took pictures, and the weather was perfect, not too hot or too cold. I sat on the lounge chair and read a bit, but didn’t get much reading in as so many stopped and talked. Then it was lunchtime, buffet style. We had choir practice afterwards, but not all of our singers fit into the cinema room, but it went well though.
Then out to the deck again and I played ping pong. They served tea, but no one had any.
The day before I had tripped and turned my ankle and they said I should have it X-rayed, which I did after lunch. It wasn’t bad at all, and the X-ray showed that it only was sprained, so I tried to stay off it for a few days. That’s why I was on that lounging chair, and with a blanket, I relaxed and had a good time. Dr. Lightbody (yes that was his name) X-rayed me and we had a jolly good talk.
Back to my chair and the sea after a sit down dinner, which they served in elegant style and I loved. It was getting dusk, with very beautiful sunset, and then the stars came out like diamonds on black velvet. It was a relaxing, delightful time. Then it happened! Across the sky appeared faintly an arch that first looked like a milky way. I looked again and then it started taking larger shape, and was transparent so you could see the stars behind that curtain-like thing. Then it became more and more intense by the minute. All of a sudden then, it separated, this curtain, in large streaks of light, bright colors shooting up and down in the sky. By this time the word got all through the ship that we were seeing the “northern lights.”
We all were on the port side of the ship, and the people “ooed and ahed” like watching fireworks. There were greenish blue lights and appeared shooting up that joined the others making a veil of lights that kept moving like someone was making them wave. Because we all were on the port side of the ship, it started to list and lean over on that side, really tilting a bit. The lights kept changing colors and moving and then it would fade out and after fading for a little, it would appear again and start streaking again in all sorts of patterns. They were heavy at the bottom and then the lights shot up so high you really got a perspective of just how high the sky really goes up. It was gorgeous... words can’t describe this brilliant work of God’s creation. The steward said that this was the first time in 18 years that this had happened there. We felt it was an omen that the Lord was with us and pleased that we were going to sing for Him in Europe.
August 15th on the beautiful ocean
I slept quite well. My roommate Laura Clawsen and I talked into the night about all the excitement etc… but this morning it was foggy and cold. We passed icebergs and saw a bunch of porpoises swimming and jumping out of the water. I ate breakfast but skipped lunch because there is just too much food! I watched the ping-pong tournament. No northern lights tonight, too cloudy, but I had a great time dancing... until 2 AM; there sure is a lot to do for entertainment on the ship. We are rocking and rolling tonight because of a storm, but it was lots of FUN... wish we’d pick up a good storm... it was funny to dance though: you would take a step and it turned into a glide as the ship moved. Had lots of fun today.
August 16th on the ocean.
It was cold and a bit foggy, and I got up and vocalized, had a delicious breakfast, there were reporters and we had a good interview with the papers. Then I sang in the rehearsals this day with the choir and we rehearsed ”The Omnipotence.” Many members of the choir were sea sick, and they thought if they had a rehearsal it would help them, but they still had the movement. It might have been different if the curtain for the films didn’t go back and forth. So many of them left and had to relieve their nausea and the ship gave them some pills, but we didn’t see them much that day. I know I felt a little queezy when I was up by the piano, and we were rocking so badly, I had to hold on to the piano to keep standing.
I watched the tennis tournament and then had a private rehearsal with Br. Schreiner for about a whole hour. He is such a good coach. We had a good workout. I realized how he was concerned about the forthcoming concert in Albert Hall in London. He said “now the organ loft is way in back of where you will be standing in front of the choir and we have to settle on the precise tempo of your Hallelujah because we won’t be having any visual contact. Your back will be to me, and my back will be to you. Tempo and rhythm will be absolutely necessary to maintain to have us start and end together. We worked on this for quite awhile. I went across the room with my back to him and practiced this way. What a great lesson I learned. He started in the tempo, and marked it with a metronome, and we took off and I sometimes would not keep up, so we’d do it again and again until I could do it OK. Then when I sang at that huge hall and so far away from him, it was easy and I did it without a hitch. He was so patient and such a good teacher. I shall always remember what he taught me.
I had a manicure there. They did a good job, and I didn’t go to all the activities, just went to a movie and to bed early. Never knew you could be so busy on ship.
August 17 on board ship, fair in the morning, rain in the evening.
Rested more today, played a few deck games, vocalized, and practiced with brother Schreiner. Saw a movie and they had a parade of costumes. Every one was fancy dressed and Mary Jack got the prize as a mummy all tied up with toilet paper. What they did with few materials was amazing.
The ship stopped because of a 45 min. operation of one of the crew for appendicitis. Dr. Lightbody had his hands full today. He spoke to me about my sprain and said he saw me dancing and knew it was OK.
August 18 ship approaching the coast of Scotland, very rough weather and sea in the morning.
I slept in because I got to bed late last night. I got up, vocalized and sang the rehearsal with the Choir on my two big numbers, “Inflamatus” and “Omnipotence.” I was starved by noon (hadn’t been in time for breakfast) then I packed my luggage and put it out to be taken ashore. Had my hair done, and played the “finals” for scrabble. I had been doing this every day, and was lucky to have won all the games, and John said I won and gave me tie title of D.S. (Doctor of Scrabble). Our farewell dinner was delicious: turkey with all the trimmings. I couldn’t eat much because of the concert the choir gave for all the passengers. There were more on stage than in the audience. I sang ‘Heather” and “23rd Psalm” and danced only one dance and came to cabin to write and go to bed. Tomorrow we land, but they say it will rain... darn!
August 19th Landing in Greenock. Rain but cleared up later...overcast all day
It was sprinkling and very wet when we arrived early in the morning. We got up, dressed and ate breakfast, it was such a hustle and bustle to get packed and get everything ready.
The first tender came and went in the rain, then the 2nd one came and that was the one I was on. As we got near the dock we saw the Lord Provost in his dress uniform with the gold chain around his neck. And there was also the Greenock police chief in his kilts and many bag pipers who came to greet us. They paraded through the ship up to Cornwall’s place and paraded back. I got to be in the first one off and it sure was fun to hear them play right up close.
They taxied us to the dock and the Lord Provost gave a long talk of greeting to us. Then, wonder of wonders, President McKay came up and shook some hands and he in turn gave a speech of thanks. But I never will forget the thrill of seeing that statuesque regal man with his white hair that seemed to clear the fog and light up the dock. What a wonderful surprise for us all. There were the TV and radio, and Newsreels out to cover the story. What a battery of photographers! It was exciting, and the choir gathered and sang three songs on the dock, which also went over TV. I cleared baggage and customs before the rest and we went by bus to Glasgow. On the bus we passed a huge sign saying “Drink Ewan’s BEER” (Now, never did I see my name before except as a last name, McEwan, but it really means “John” and here it was as a first name). I really got teased about that sign: “Now we know what you have been making,” etc.
Even before we got our baggage they hauled us all out to the City Hall. What an elegant place! It's a renaissance period building of gold leaf ornaments and a marble staircase with gold mosaics; Corinthian columns, Venetian glass, three huge candelabras and large Venetian chandeliers over head. This was their Municipal Hall. It was just huge.
The Lord Provost spoke, welcoming us, and then the American Consul to Scotland spoke. Then President McKay spoke, giving a stirring talk about who we were, a little history, and brief explanations of our what we believe in etc.
The Lord Provost then told us that they had prepared some refreshments. He said, “we have no tea, coffee or scotch for ye, but I hope the refreshments we’ve prepared will be acceptable to ye peculiar people with different tastes. You have nuh come to preach us to believin’ like ye, but sing us into believin’ as ye do.”
President McKay started by quoting Charles McKay: “If ever a man sits down and talks to men about his serious views, find out what’s behind the pomp and power, for most men have a goal in view.” Then he said he was just going to talk about goals, and that the choir has two purposes:
1. Service: this service is being rendered as reward for eighty years which the choir has sung, and this tour is in appreciation to them for their volunteer service.
2. Organization of good will. We come as ambassadors of peace. May good enter into the hearts of the many who will listen.
We were served punch and sweets of all kind. Then we were transported to the hall where we were to sing. It was very beautiful and we had a long rehearsal and ate late. Then I wrote letters and went to bed. I didn’t go with them to Trosneck, some tourist place, as I was so tired. I slept almost 12 hours. We went to the hall to get mikes adjusted, and I went shopping and got an Irish harp pin sterling silver of a harp and some other little things. I dressed and went to the theater. Our first concert was a big success, the audience stomped and applauded and just was so enthusiastic .We got fine reviews the next day. For an encore I sang “Heather.”
August 21 Sunday
Got up early again and went to Edinburgh for church. President McKay spoke and it was so inspiring. Saw the city on tour with the choir and came back.
The castle at Edinburgh was very lonely. I had a hamburger with some of the choir and at this one the hotel was very nice, and I was so lucky to have my own private bath.
August 22 on way to Manchester covered sky, sort of warm
I was introduced to a Mr. Chester Beaman from the US Consul General 115 Cyncoed Rd. Cardiff who was my driver/chauffeur and who took me to and from the concert hall back to my Angel Hotel there.
They woke us up again at the crack of dawn and off we went to Manchester, which took about 5 hours by train. (I guess I’ll get used to this early morning thing... not really my bag... I usually don’t do mornings).
I went through the train and talked to folks awhile, and after we arrived there were about six to a room. I freshened up and stood in that long line for the bathroom.
The girls in my room went to the rehearsal. I was supposed to go to the reception but I guess they forgot to pick me up. That was just as well, because I was so tired. After I rested I went to the Hall. It was very hot there in Manchester. I had no chance to rehearse with brother Schreiner then because I was called back to the hotel for a press conference. A lot of reporters were there and we talked and talked. I sure felt at ease. This was old stuff to me and I had canned responses that I’ve used all my life, about me and my career, etc. Brother Cornwall and others were nervous. I know how they felt. I used to be that way too. Glad I had all that experience with Columbia Management in New York. My publicity agent, Muriel Frances had trained me and I was grateful for all of that.
Then we went to a gorgeous banquet hall to rehearse. It was very ornate with gold trim all over. They served us all in one huge room of the Midlan Hotel (near the concert Hall), all 600 of us. But I missed most of it so brother Schreiner and I could rehearse at the Theater. The name of the theater was Free Trade Hall. It was very nice and the acoustics were the best yet and the hall was very well arranged with the two balconies, and a large stage. That always was a problem getting so many of the choir all on the stage, but there was adequate room for them, but it was very difficult for me to enter... no room... they forgot about me I guess. There was a small ledge behind the men’s group and I almost decapitated them as I went by. It was bad too in a way because the piano was behind me and far to the right: so far that we had a time keeping together. But when you put 375 chairs on an ordinary stage, there’s hardly room for a piano, and least of all a soloist.
But we went back to the hotel and packed. Gosh you should have seen me try and pack and close a suitcase when after the concert… I had that big hoop and umpteen underskirts to pack in such a hurry! The suitcases had to be taken, packed to the theater, and then we would change there after the concert as our hotel rooms were gone after six PM. I caught my dress several times in the suitcase as I tried to close it. You see, the other ladies had a wardrobe mistress; sister Jack would take them. And they had a standing rack thing to hang them on in transport so they didn’t get wrinkled. Fortunately my mother had made my dresses (two of them) to both go over the same pleated tulle and net skirts. But they were over a big hoop skirt. I had figured out before how to maneuver the hoop and have it fold up by bending it a certain way into a small wire thing, and into the suitcase. But the underskirts, as I said, were the problem. I finally got a clothes bag to hang them in, and the top lace part of one dress was wrinkle-proof. But the satin over dress had to be very carefully folded to keep from wrinkling it. It was difficult to pack all alone, but I got it all down to a system.
The concert went very well even though I could tell the choir members were tired; I could hear it in their voices, but they came through fine. I was glad I had a few more hours rest then they did and that I didn’t have to sing so long. But I really had faith that I could do the tour. I had learned in my concert tours to space myself, not to give my all to the first concert, as my dad said, “always keep some in reserve, and leave them wanting more.” They had really given their all to these first two, and I hope they get some rest for the next ones. But I felt I did very well, especially the high “d” I had been worried about in the Beethoven solo. It was very easy and the response of the audience there was so gratifying. I had many compliments, and the people afterwards were so warm and appreciative. For an encore I sang “Heather.”
We waited from our train and waited some more. Buses took us to the depot and I stumbled over suitcases in the bus and hurt my same foot again and walked with a limp once more. So now I’ve fallen in a train, ship, and bus. Hope its all over now and that I don’t walk with a limp on stage.
August 23 arrived in London, hot, and clear, humid
Had a berth on the train and got a few hours sleep. The luggage was piled up in our room so I couldn’t turn around. They woke us up again at 6 AM (I’ll never get used to this!). Last night we didn’t get in the train until 1 AM and I didn’t get to sleep until 1:30 or so, still excited about the concert. I was very tired, but as soon as I got to the hotel in London with no time to unpack a cooler dress (had hot clothes on in Glasgow) they carted me off for publicity pictures and the Tower of London and the London Bridge. These photos were in all the London papers, even one on the front page. It was very good publicity! Then I was whisked off in a chauffeur car to the press conference at the Waldorf. Sister McKay, the Cornwalls, the Evans, the Hewlett’s and myself and the youngest member of the choir, Sandra Merrell were interviewed by a woman correspondent from London and surrounding area papers. [Sandra met a young man on this tour while he was serving as a missionary there, they fell in love, and she later married this Steven Covey who became a world famous author and lecturer. When we moved to Provo as a co-incidence she was on the same committee as I was in our planning a new Provo Arts Auditorium. Later when our Utah Lyric Opera Company gave a presentation at her huge mansion on the hill, she took me into her study and there on her wall was a picture of us as young girls standing on Tower Bridge in England. It's a small world!].
Back to the interview in London: Sister McKay was interviewed about our women, with the undertone of are you a polygamist and how many wives does your husband have? [We were asked that everywhere and it was good to set them straight about that]. She spoke about the church and women’s part in it, and I was so proud of her as she told about the Relief Society and all that the women do and how we have no poor in our church etc.
This was a very elegant affair, so highbrow with champagne, lobster, the works. I couldn’t eat or try all those goodies as I had to catch a train to Cardiff Wales. I quickly steamed out a cool dress and two girls helped me pack things I would need, formals etc. There was a nice addition with another chauffeur to the train. I had a first class compartment with Rita Kemp and her staff who arranged all the public relations and press conferences and they gave me a room with a bath (yippee!) at the hotel. I washed up quickly [everything we did was quickly] and went to a conference. I was quite tired, but rose to the occasion... I’m a good actress, no time to complain. There were a lot of men there from the BBC station, and our interview went great.
Then we had dinner and I went to bed after looking over the hall. I slept a luxurious TEN hours but even then I got up at the latest possible moment and went to the station for photos as the choir arrived on another train. Ms. Jones, who was their beauty queen “Miss Wales,” was there in her costume and greeted the choir. I had a picture taken with her and it was on the front page of the newspaper.
August 24 a lovely day
We had a great reception at the Cardiff Castle. The United Press was there and other photographers and Bob Silvers said, “look, what an honor the people of Cardiff have for this American flag… they want to fly it on top of the tower of their castle. This is probably the oldest building in Europe, and it will be the oldest building with an American flag on it… what a picture it would make if Miss Harbrecht would be up there holding the flag.” Well, I thought it was a gag and went along with his suggestion, but found out he really MEANT it when we actually started climbing the old steps. What fun. He got the old key from this man up there, and we climbed up circular stone steps with the walls around us to get to the castle and tower. I took my heels off and carried them and went up these old rock stairs winding and winding to get to the tower. It was just like in the movies. Then there were wooden ones up a steep side of this tower.
Then we came to a dungeon where a Duke of Wales was imprisoned and had his eyes put out so his brother could be king. Then we ran out of stairs and into a room, then the passage way got very narrow and just rocks jutting out to use as footholds and it took muscle: arms and feet to get up the last lap. But I managed OK with the three fellows help (I guess they helped hold my shoes) I finally got to the top. Guess I’m the only woman ever up there, only the flagman is allowed.
Then that wasn’t high enough yet. I braced myself against the very top of the wall (embattlement where they would shoot from). I put my feet on the top of this wall and went half way up the pole. What a view! And what a scare to look down! They were holding me tightly, but it still made my stomach drop. I held the flag like they wanted, got it up the flag pole, and they got their picture!
When I started this adventure, I didn’t think I’d really do it or I would have taken my camera. I sure hope it gets in the paper after all that [and it did, and it also got in the final brochure].
I was coming down and still inside the tower when a man rushed out of the castle calling me to come down for the luncheon ceremonies. The Lord Mayor was there, a sweet old gentleman, stout like Santa Claus. He was 80 or so. His memory slipped and kept repeating things. Apostle Evans presented him with a letter from the Mayor of Salt Lake City, etc., and after the formalities were over we went around the castle (this time on the terra firma, not so scary). It still is my favorite castle. It was built by the Romans in the 12th century, and they told us all about the history: as the Normans Conquest was once under King Arthur then later Prince of Wales etc. But it is amazing how well it has been kept up through all these years. All the interior paintings on the walls are repainted as the original ones were, all the wood inlay furniture, stained glass windows, hand carved woodwork... you have never seen such elegance.
After lunch we went to the hall where we would be performing, and had no rehearsal beforehand. But the performance was very good, and brother Condie was our conductor because his family originated in Wales. It was quite an experience to sing there because the audience joined in during some of our Welch songs, and my goodness how they can sing, glorious voices. As a result some of our tempos were slower, but the BBC was there and they were pleased enough with the choir, and of course the tempos for my solos were fine, and my singing with the choir was all right. I hope the broadcast sounds OK. It will be on all programs, at 10 Sunday Morning. There will be two programs and they have all three of my solos on them. Nice break.
During the intermission the Lady Mayoress presented me with a large Welsh doll in the traditional costume, and Miss Wales presented brother Thomas with the Welsh flag. I felt that this was a nice gesture of their appreciation. Then after the concert we left at 11:30 PM by train for London. We rode until 3:30 AM and got in very tired, as we sat up all the way there.
August 25 on the way to Frankfurt, warm but not to hot
That alarm rang awfully early. I had just gotten off asleep for three hours and BRRRR went the alarm clock bell to get out of the sack. I never had such a time... so hard to wake up. But I took a bath, which was helpful, and met the folks in the lobby on Kensington Palace. There awaiting us was a Rolls Royce chauffeur-driven car to go to the London airport. It’s a new airport, much better than those shacks I came through last year on my way to Milan. It is now ultra-modern, with four floors, and I thought “we should have one like this in L.A.”
We took off in a new B.E.A. plane that had the “turbo jet” motors on it. This was the first one I had been on, and boy what engines: the most powerful yet most quiet ones I’ve seen. They are long slender things but what a ‘hum.’ You feel hardly any vibration at all. No more rumble, no feeling like you are getting a message while riding, just as light as... well, air.
It took one hour and 50 min. to get to Frankfurt. We were met at the airport by Mrs. Virginia Doetsch, our public relations manager in Frankfurt. She is a charming lady, and she had another chauffeur and we drove past lots of woods and green countryside.
As we arrived, I was impressed by this city. It is very picturesque beside the river. And the hotel... what a place! We think we have modern up to date hotels, but this was as good if not better. The taste in decorations in the interiors are marvelous. Not overboard like our extreme, modern uncomfortable furniture. My room was like a boudoir for a modern queen. There was a large desk, almost the length of the room, wood inlayed yet modern design, and had a radio in one of the shelves by the bed to turn off and on with a master switch by the bed so you could have all the lights on, and with one flick of a button, they all come off while you are in bed. Boy did I had fun with all of this luxury.
As if this wasn’t enough of a welcome, Mrs. Doetsch sent me two dozen red and white carnations; so very thoughtful. I’m glad I remembered to bring all my music because I went down to a press conference and they asked me to sing and speak in German. [This is good advice to all singers: ‘always have all your music with you at all times, you never know when you will be asked to sing.’ Jan Popper told me this years ago when I was at Stanford].
The publicity people had prepared for me a little one paragraph speech in German before, and I feel because of hearing my parents speak a lot, and having studied at the Berlitz School in Hollywood as a teen, I carried this off well. I sang “du Bist die Ruh” of Schubert and I sang the Beethoven aria. They were nice and they seemed to enjoy it.
I met at that conference a man by the name of Kemps, an impresario who wants me to come back to Germany for three weeks of auditions for the operas there. I hope I can go, and hope he gets something for me. He wants 15% of everything he gets for me (which is what my agents in N.Y. get) and he handles some important singers and performers, like the pianist Gieseking for one.
After more pictures we went up and changed, then to dinner at “Brueken Heller” restaurant. It is an old wine cellar: a huge down stairs there and a large keg of wine (or beer) and a small orchestra. They came to our table and played German folk songs including one I had learned from my mother, and dad’s favorite “De bist mein Hertzen.” And it was fun to sing with them. There were 15 for dinner in this private room and we spoke a little German to the folks on the left and English to missionaries and friends on the right. I was an honored guest at the head of the table. It was a nice added surprise to have Dr. Schreiner there and his son John, a missionary there who he hadn’t seen in two years and who would be returning home shortly. The dinner was the best. We had lobster cocktail, a delicious salad, then for the main dish some venison with mushroom sauce, potatoes, fruit and dessert, and coffee flavored “Hoag” (some sort of pastry which was rich and yummy).
August 26th off to Berlin, warm and clear
I slept in a little more last night, seven and a half hours for a change. It took one and a half hours to get to Berlin. What an airport! The planes taxi in under cover so you don’t get wet if its raining. Hitler built it. We didn’t destroy it for a good reason... we used it later and still do. Then we went to our hotel through the ruins of Berlin. What a terrible sight: huge piles of bricks and rubble and there is a large church, rather the remains of one, in the middle of the shopping center. This was the Keiser Wilhelm’s Church (that’s the ruler who’s cook was a friend of my grandmother’s and who gave us the ‘lenza torte’ wonderful Christmas dessert we have almost every year). They’re starting to rebuild this church.
We all met at the hotel and I got to have my hair fixed (it sure felt good), and a manicure. She did a good job.
There was again a photographer from the Berlin Illustrated Magazine and he took several rolls of film at a restaurant and in the hotel with birds (live ones… from one bird to another “it was strictly for the birds”). By this time the paparazzi were getting to be pests... but I hope I get some good photos to send home to Mom and Dad, because I know they wished so much to come along, and were so proud of me, and I don’t want to let them down.
But these photographers said “you may make the cover of the largest magazines in Europe.” Big break, boy am I fortunate and blessed. Then back to the press conference and I sang only the Beethoven solo. It was sort of cold affair again, but the impresario Frau Heinike seemed pleased. I spoke to a man from the Opera and he highly recommended Mr. Kemph as a manager and when I told him I’d like to get in touch with Carl Ebert [my teacher at USC] to see if he would come to our performance, as I’d like to see him again. He promptly found the phone number and I talked to both him and Wolfgang Martin [my other coach at USC]. They seemed happy to hear from me and said he’d seen my picture in the Scotland papers and said “how can you be here so fast? Little World Traveler, eh?” I invited them to the concert and they said they’d love to come. It sure was good to talk to old friends again, it really thrilled me to think they may come.
Then we went to the theater. It holds 3,000 and is a large place: another sports arena, but with very live acoustics. We will give two concerts there: one for the refugees and one for the public.
We then shopped a bit at a porcelain place and a leather shop. The handle on my camera case broke so I got a new all-leather one in black, with a shoulder strap. I like it very much.
We rushed back to our meeting place at the hotel. I went to the airport and on the plane to Frankfurt now, where we will spend the night and go to London again in the morning. All this is fun, being in the limelight so much. I worry about getting proud, so I keep up my prayers thanking God for this opportunity and dedicating my singing to HIM as the missionary I was set apart at the beginning of all this to do, and to just be an instrument in His hands.
I awoke in the morning and had a sore throat. Panic... so I gargled and took a laxative trying to “bomb” it out. We left for London again at 10:15 and got in OK, but didn’t tell anyone about my throat problem. I especially didn’t want to tell Fred Bates as he is such a fussy old person and it would have given him a heart attack or another ulcer if I said anything to him. You should have seen him when we went through customs: some people get upset over nothing, so I just didn’t pay any attention to him. Besides, this travel, customs, etc... I had gotten used to when I traveled in Europe all over in the early 50's.
Bob Mullen and Bob Silvers were there to meet us and were glad to hear it all went well. [You see I didn’t have the same schedule as the choir. I hopped here and there preceding the choir for publicity interviews and photos while they stayed in a city longer and were able to do sight-seeing trips etc. I wasn’t interested in the sight seeing anyway because I had already been there years before and had seen the crown jewels etc.]. I was happy to rest in bed to get over my sore throat.
When the managers, Silvers and Mullen took us to the hotel, I took a long hot bath for two hours and felt really well, and went to bed and slept for two hours. I stayed in bed all day, and wrote letters, seven or more in the evening. Then when I called brother Cornwall he was upset because a Mr. Lathem from the continent said we must sing oratorio and classic music and hymns, nothing else. I told him that was a lot of BUNK and reminded him about his talk in Berlin and Frankfurt and how the European audiences want American music, and to remember we are missionaries. Any choir can sing oratorio, but we represent America and our Church first and foremost, and remember that the General Authorities approved our concert selections and they are more important than that Mr. Lathem. So, I guess he’s set right now. He had a hard thing having to decide all that music with everyone telling him their preferences, but as I told him, the General Authorities have revelation and are prophets of God and they will decide what the Lord wants.
Our program was really wonderful. Every anthem and song was perfect for all those countries, and they all LOVED us.
My sore throat has gone down some. Several of the choir were ill with sore throats, flu etc. and we had a wonderful Doctor T. A. Clawson to gave us shots; there were 24 of us ill.
August 28th Sunday in London – cloudy
Got up about 8:30, called to the desk and ordered up a rented radio so I could hear the transcription (broadcast). It just backed up everything I had told brother Cornwall. From our program they chose not a ONE of the oratorio numbers, but had “Come, Come ye Saints” and Negro spirituals, and was I thrilled to hear my solo. I didn’t think they’d put me on at all... sure was lucky. They even did the Handel aria of mine and it sounded good. Hope it goes as well tonight.
I was feeling better a bit with the throat thing, but decided it best to stay in bed from church to rest for tonight. I had to be at Albert Hall at 3 o’clock for the rehearsal. They’re broadcasting too this afternoon. They may do the “Inflamatus” with my solo as an encore, not sure.
I went to the hall. What a marvelous place, so big. I was a little weak from my cleansing diet of fruit juice, but I didn’t want to eat any solids until three hours before the concert. I ordered dinner for 4:30 to be in the room when I got in from rehearsal. And I waited over an hour at Albert Hall to rehearse. I didn’t need to sing “Inflamatus.” After they did their broadcast, I tried out the organ again with my solos and Dr. Schreiner. What a rat race! I couldn’t get together with him at all. All I heard was rebound reverb from all the circular walls. He played so loudly... so we finally worked out a balance. When he played softly, it was much better. So we got a good balance of dynamics. We had mikes (but only a few) and that organ was especially hard for the technicians to work with.
All of this got everyone to a very high nervous pitch. There were biting words, no temper, but quite an edge of uneasiness. And after all the choir had sung four hours rehearsing and broadcasting in the afternoon plus the long meeting in the morning at the Hall. We had box lunches and so we literally stayed there all day and were extremely tired. So where were brothers Cornwall and Alex? Poor darling had to get used to that organ which had no automatic stops, no pre-sets; he had to pull out each one by hand. He couldn’t hear the choir during the first part of the rehearsal because of this booming organ. Now, it is one of the biggest and supposedly best organs in the world, but hasn’t the sweet tone quality of the Tabernacle organ. But he is a genius and such a great organist – he soon had it mastered very well.
As I was waiting (it seemed like forever), they were rehearsing over and over things and never seemed to get through. They didn’t get to my “Inflamatus” number until too late. I had arranged for that dinner for me at the hotel, and I told them in order to be able to sing, having had that awful throat, I was weak and needed my dinner to get strength, and needed time to dress etc... So I was excused, but never got to rehearse this number. But they all knew it so well and it was they that needed the balance with the organ. So I wasn’t concerned about that one.
How fortunate that I was able to come to the hotel. The three large lamb chops and vegetables gave me strength that I needed, and I kept taking my penicillin pills and it was a miracle how I was able to sing above this infection. The Lord really blessed me, and my short but very important rest at the hotel felt so good. I loved putting on that satin gown mother made for me. It is so elegant, I felt like a queen in it, and it traveled without a wrinkle. The white fox stole around my shoulders just topped it off so well, and it was cool enough outside by nightfall that I could wear it comfortably.
At the Albert Hall there was a piano and a place to rest a bit. The choir by this time was at the hotel hurrying to get dressed and no one was in the room where I was. So I had to vocalize before the crowd entered the hall. I was happy that my voice responded well, even though my throat was still a little sore. I had had that before and knew how to sing over it.
The concert started at 8 o’clock sharp and it was packed to the gills: seven thousand strong way up to the last gallery, and the galleries really go up. During the first few choir pieces the audience was very cold. But Elder Evans really warmed them up with his humor and informality. He had those in the choir rise who can trace ancestry to England. Almost all arose and that went over well with a big applause… and from then on the ice melted and we had them in the palms of our hands. Brother Cornwall and Alexander Schreiner and Asper did the rest: building the concert to a high pitch and grand climax, and a standing ovation. My two encores were needed; they always wanted more.
What a thrill for me to face that large audience. I felt right at home. The large stage was refreshing and what a welcome change to be able to walk in and not be crushed between choir members to get in… and not have just a 2 by 4 little place to stand. The choir was in back of me just like in the Tabernacle. The acoustics were much better. With all the audience in the hall, it absorbed the sound just right. There wasn’t so much playback echo, making it easier to sing. BUT... I still couldn’t hear brother Schreiner very well. We had established a pact, so we could start and end together even though we couldn’t hear each other. It was his idea and it worked. “When I play the introductions, I will play them loud enough to establish a tempo, then when you enter with your first phrases you MUST keep that same tempo all the way till the end. We had decided on a metronome tempo for each, and the “Hallelujah” he really took at a clip… must have been a little nervous, but I rose to the occasion and really ripped through all those runs, and actually I liked it better… never knew I could go faster than 132 on the metronome. It was brilliant – not because I was good, but because I had to keep up with Alex. We got a great applause. I sang “Heather” by Elinore R. Warren that fit the time of year there when the heather was in bloom, and it was the choir’s favorite song; they wanted me to sing it on all the concerts, but I had selected other songs that would be in their language or special to the other countries. Elder Evans gave the verse before so they could understand it, and I got a wonderful hand. [It’s one of my favorites, became out of print and I lost my copy years ago… but now I have it again, thanks to the wonderful Internet].
[As I reflect on this, I gave many encores on this tour, eight in all – one for each country. And later, 30 years later, George got all the reel-to-reel recordings from the Cornwall family and we borrowed them so he could take off all my solos and it made such a great CD. To do this, he had to sit in a cold place for hours. I appreciate such love and dedication to have something for our posterity. And we gave each of our twenty grandchildren and our four children one CD. Now this narrative will be another legacy for them].
During the intermission at Albert Hall, who should come back stage but Maggie Tayte – my teacher here some years ago. She was the one who coached my “Melisande” role and many of the French art songs. I spent a whole summer in London with her and I treasure the teaching I received. I guess she had seen my picture in the pre-publicity and was so complimentary to me. She remarked how much my voice had grown in volume, beauty and range. She enjoyed my solos and said I had improved. It was so good to see her again. She isn’t teaching until after her last concert (farewell concert) the 11th of the month. If I can get back, I may take a few lessons.
A lady from Tribut’s office was there and she said she’d like to arrange some auditions for Covent Garden for me. Well, we’ll see, we are kept so busy no time for anything like that, though it was nice to think a manager thought I could do it. I was prepared with all those roles though. I needed a manager along with me to make these arrangements as they came up. Almost after every concert there were these opportunities, but I guess it wasn’t to be. The Lord had other plans for me.
Got back to the hotel, extremely tired.
August 29th on way to Brussels – cool, clear
Went by train to the boat and crossed the channel. Arrived in Oestrech and proceeded to Brussells. It was a tiring trip, but I had fun and was in a compartment with Ray, Geary and a young couple. We played games and arrived about 7:30, ate dinner in an elegant dining room with red plush upholstery chairs, and gorgeous candelabras. Then I bought a lace fan, some hankies and two collar and cuff sets. I love the Belgian lace. Went to bed and Flora Cannon was feeling worse again. We took a car to the airport, and flew to Amsterdam Holland.
August 30 Amsterdam, warm and clear
We arrived in Amsterdam by car and got to the hotel about 11:15 for yet another press conference. This one was at the Victoria Hotel where I stayed once. The room where we met was lovely, French ornate. There was a long table of good food for a buffet for the choir. I was glad for them (no box lunches) but I didn’t get to eat because I had to talk to the reporters. They were nice. Then I got washed and went to the big reception at the Town Hall and met the Burgemeester (Mayor) Jan d'Ailly. He gave a welcome and Brother Evans presented another letter (in Dutch) from the mayor of Salt Lake to him. He was impressed. There were lots of photos taken, and my picture was in the paper beside him. What was so cute is that he then took off on his bike for home. (Almost everyone rides a bike there).
I met up with the Van Dam family and they were swell to me. I had sung a concert for their mission a few years back when I was studying in Milano. We had corresponded and I looked forward to seeing them again. I felt like I was right at home. [Later in my life they moved to Salt Lake and were Temple President and matron of the temple west of the city. When John was a little tike, 12 years old, and played the organ at the Tabernacle, the family came to hear him. So well, I feel we are good friends].
In the evening the Burgemeester turned on the lights of the canals just for us. Usually they are
only turned on Wednesdays, but we had this opportunity to see them. The boat ride down these lighted canals was something I’ll never forget. There were over 700,000 lights cover all of the bridges and down the canals. Got to the hotel about 10:30 and tried to sleep, but Flora’s cold got worse and she couldn’t sleep. So I got the Doctor and he told me she had pneumonia and was in pretty bad shape. He gave her an adrenaline shot and she got so she could breathe, but we stayed up with her. So I got very little sleep. Also in our small room was Margaret Richards, Br. Cornwall’s daughter. I slept on a cot so I wouldn’t be in a double bed with Flora, and Margaret slept with her.
August 31 Amsterdam
Tried to sleep late, but Margaret got up for a sightseeing tour and I couldn’t sleep much afterwards. I never went on those tours – like in Amsterdam, I had seen all that when the [mission president] Van Dams took me around a few years before. So, I had breakfast in the room to keep Flora company. I went out for some film and met two lady missionaries and they showed me around. I then went to the rehearsal. The hall was nice, and had composer’s names around the balcony. I wasn’t familiar with some of the Dutch composer names. Brother Cornwall and Brother Condie took turns doing the concerts, and Br. Condie was to do this one. The “Inflamtus” was rough, somehow he had a hard time counting. But one of the photographers was supposed to be there and take a picture of me, which was scheduled to go on the front page in Paris for their cover. But because he was sick it never got taken… too bad... so I went to the hotel and ate with the Condie’s and dressed. I then went in a taxi to the hall and the concert was OK. The crowd was very cold, the choir was tired, and to me it was the low point of the trip. I sang all right but wasn’t as much up to concert pitch and lacked enthusiasm, and that extra edge of inspiration, due to, I guess, not enough rest. On the program I got a lovely bouquet from the missionaries but no encore, too tired. The Van Dams liked it a lot; they hadn’t heard our other concerts, and so I guess we did OK.
Again not much sleep, and I was doing my compassionate service to Flora. I was up till 4 AM this time, and the doctor came two times to attend to Flora. They should have put her in a hospital or moved us (Margaret and me). I was all done in the next day and had to sing that night. I’m glad I could have helped her though, but a body demands so much rest if you’re going to sing all right. No wonder the critics said: “Miss Harbrecht sang very musically, and her technique is excellent in the Handel and Beethoven and great feeling, but there was an edge to her voice.” All my other reviews were glowing and marvelous, but I guess one bad one isn’t such a bad percentage overall.
Sept 1 Scheveningen Holland – clear and warm
Bob called and said he’d save me the bus trip to Scheveningen because he had a special car. At 9:30 I met him in the lobby. So I went with Bob Mulllen, the Silvers, and Eddie and his wife to Scheveningen over by the coast. He had rented a new Plymouth and the ride was enjoyable. When we arrived we had a leisurely dinner overlooking the sea, and ate outdoors. My, the air was wonderful and the sun and all were relaxing to a weary body and soul. Our splendid meal consisted of melon and tomatoes beef, lots of vegetables (which I needed), and the meat was tender and so good. Then we took a walk along the beach. People were in swimming. Mr. Mullen didn’t come walking with us; he took at nap in the sun because he was a little sick. Eddie took 30 photos of me by the sea in a wicker chair, real swell for a tan and there wasn't too much wind. The top of the wicker chair comes up around the back even around the face a bit. We lounged around and enjoyed the sun till dinner and I had just a bowl of soup. The Dutch are good cooks. I got dressed at the theater and the concert was a success, much better than the last one, and it was conducted by brother Cornwall. The choir had rested a bit and I felt better too. The audience wasn’t as cold.
[I learned later that brother A. Laurence Lyon was in the audience, on a Dutch mission and he loved especially my encore there: Moeder’s Liedchen, a little lullaby. We were to meet years later at Oregon College of Education and spent about 20 years working together at the music department. He composed many songs for me and was my accompanist on many concerts at OCE and for a Community Concert in Lebanon. His children and our children were the guinea pigs to try out his new “Rainbow Tones” method of teaching stringed instruments too].
Mrs. Beek enjoyed the concert and wants to make up a European brochure with all the critiques from this trip and that she will present me to opera and concert opportunities there. We didn’t have to leave early after the concert so we watched the fireworks along the ocean. What a display! We passed the caravan of 24 buses along the road – our choir is quite a sight when we travel. We went to a fish restaurant where they had American hamburgers... they were wonderful! (I can’t imagine why I didn’t have fresh fish).
When we got to the hotel the buses were just rolling in. Got to sleep OK but Flora and Margaret had to leave at 5:30 the next morning so I was awake and then went back to sleep until 10, packed, met the folks in the lobby, and went to Copenhagen by air with the Evan’s Thomas’ and others. This allowed me to have a nice chat with Mrs. Evans. What a regal beautiful lady she is.
Sept 2, Copenhagen – rainy and wet
We arrived in the afternoon and Mrs. Krohg met us (a Thompson representative). She really was nice to me and saw that I got settled in the hotel, got my music, and took me under her wing. I loved her accent. The manager of the hotel sent me flowers. I stayed at the Europe Hotel, and had a lovely room. I shopped and got some silver things, then the three men took me to Tivoli Gardens – a marvelous, famous place, and we ate at the Wivex restaurant. What food and what an elegant place it was... all glass with lots of plants and flowers. It seats 1,000 and there was a live band so I danced. They have a carnival with rides and I went on some, and had a good time.
September 3 Copenhagen – clear
The choir arrived at 12:30 that night. Flora come in at 1:30 AM very tired and sick again. I got to sleep at 2 AM but I rested a bit during the day until rehearsal. The hall was nice, small. Bob took me sightseeing in a cab and I saw the castles etc., was going to eat with the choir, but they were late, so had a big steak at the hotel. I sang much better after that, the best so far. The choir sounded good too. The audience was enthusiastic and after my second number the audience applauded in rhythm and stamped in rhythm. It startled me: I thought I was at a seventh inning rally at a baseball game. So, I gave an encore, “The 23rd Psalm.”
Secretary (and apostle) Benson was there with his wife and 30 other dignitaries, like Ambassador Coe the agricultural representative in Denmark; just loads of big wigs. We had a reception afterwards and I invited Ray Shanks to escort me. He seemed to enjoy meeting the people there.
They had the biggest smorgasbord I had ever seen, but again I couldn’t eat any of it because of the photographers. Eddie got good pictures of me with Apostle Benson and his wife – she was so charming and what a wonderful man he is! That was a high point of the tour thus far for me to meet them.
They served lemonade and orangeade and something that looked like soda water. And Ambassador Coe and Mrs. Kragh, and others asked Ambassador Coe to try it he said “no I’ve had some” to which she replied: “you haven’t had this I bet.” You should have seen the pleased expression when he tried it. It was Vodka or something alcoholic and so they had a good laugh. We all had a good time together.
Apostle Benson asked why I wasn’t married and if I were engaged. I said “no, not the right man has come along yet” to which he replied “well, we’ll have to do something about that. We have a lovely son you must meet, Reid Benson. Come to Washington D.C and do look us up.” So, I may take him up on that. Then we all went to Tivoli and watched the fireworks, had a midnight snack and were home by one AM.
Sept 4 Copenhagen on way to Zurich – clear
Left at 9:30 and packed in one suitcase (my folding bag), and the trip was very enjoyable. Besides our leaders, Mr Hewlett and his wife, we took a Swiss girl from the choir with us. We arrived in Zurich in the morning and ate lunch by the lake, then the chauffeur got us and into the limo. We were taken to Berne. It was a luxury for me not to be on that crowded bus, and to enjoy the beautiful scenery in comfort. I had been there before of course, attended LDS services in Switzerland while I was a student in Milano, and this clear lovely day lifted my spirits to see those mountains and lake again. At Interlochen there was a festival going on and everyone was in costume. I even saw some Alpine horns. We went to a wine cellar for dinner and I had my favorite: sauerkraut and sausage wieners. It reminded me of my mother’s cooking. Then to a soft bed and ALONE with no one bothering me… and sleep, wonderful sleep... what a luxury.
Sept 5 Berne – clear day
Couldn’t sleep in as much as I wanted, but the sleep was sound and good. We went to the temple and the weather was clear and nice. My how beautiful it is. It’s not too large, but has a good arrangement. Instead of going from one room to another, you stay in one place, a large assembly room and there is a screen which changes the scenery.
I met President Bringhurst and he said that they can put through as many in one day there as in the LA Temple by saving time going from one room to another. Its really modernized with all the various shades of green. There is a soft grey green and a modern gold chandelier in the celestial room (you do move into that one), and there are several sealing rooms. They took us to the baptismal room and the oxen are so huge and massive, very impressive. Brother Givins painting is good, in keeping with the color schemes with all pastels in a modern style, and the eyes of John the Baptist are striking. I didn’t have time to say hello to sister Bringhurst, but waved to her as we left and hurried to town for the press conference. There was no piano, so I didn’t sing but it went well. Lady Ambassador Wilkins was there. Brother Hewlett spoke as the interpreters translated to the group and the Lady Ambassador spoke and it was sort of cold audience, but we warmed them up I think.
Then on to Zurich for a dinner, and I was asked to sing without brother Schreiner, but there was an excellent accompanist and it went well. (The accompanist name was Willy Hausselain, lives Feldeggstrauss 36 4th floor, Zurich. He wanted to correspond with me, but I never did). Then it rained, and I came to the hotel and sang after Hewlett spoke. The Mayor of Zurich was there and gave us a book and provided a nice welcome. I sang some arias, some German lieder, a total of five songs and then waited for a photographer until 11:30 PM but he never came. So I went to bed very tired as usual. I seem to get more tired by the day.
Sept 6 Zurich to Berlin – clear and warm
Got up at 6 AM – and shall I say, not got up, but dragged myself out of the sack – then packed and was down at the lobby of the hotel and ready to leave in half hour. We then drove to the airport. We left Zurich and arrived late at Frankfurt just late enough to miss our connection for Berlin. We were held up there for four hours, so we went to the Frankfurterhof Hotel, our old hang out, and had lunch. Back to the airport and we got in to Berlin too late to make the concert for the German refugees from East Berlin. But I saw them outside the building. I was sorry I missed it. The choir made it on time, but I couldn’t help it. [I remember how sad it was to me that the refugees were not allowed by the East German government officials to take home with them copies of the concert program.] Brother Cornwall called me his “Truant Soprano.” Then I just had time to eat, dress and sing the concert. It went well and I got two huge bouquets, one from Mrs. Heinike and another from the J. W. Thompson office.
Then during the intermission Dr. Carl Ebert came backstage [he was noted German-born opera director, who was artistic director and producer of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera from 1935 to 1959]. I gave him the same greeting he gave me in Milano (at my concert, he surprised me and gave me a hug and kiss) and he said to the United Press reporter: “you see, I told you we’re old friends! What a greeting darling... well, this is wonderful” he said. I said, “just returning the greeting you gave me in Milano, remember?” He was beaming and so complimentary too and said I had improved so much. The reporters asked if they could quote him and he said so many very flattering things about me. I thought that was so nice of him. He posed with me for pictures and we had a nice talk before I had to go on stage again. His wife was there and we talked about the family. Peter, his son, is doing very well in directing at the Glynebourne Festival with his father. Well, the Eberts stayed until the end and really enjoyed the choir. The concert was a packed audience, very appreciative, with a standing ovation and all. I was perched up on the podium again and, as usual, I didn’t have much room. The Berlin radio broadcasted it to be re-broadcast later.
After the concert I dressed and we walked down the street and it was just like Main Street of Salt Lake, meeting up with so many LDS who had the same idea. We ate at a sidewalk café enjoying Wienerschnitzel with the Bobs’ the Vandermeers’ and Mrs. Doetsch. By the time we came home it was midnight. I felt very blessed and grateful, enjoying such wonderful memories of a marvelous time with the concert, the Ebert’s and all.
Sept 7 Berlin
Had to get up early, 6 AM again and pack luggage to be sent on to Frankfurt because I was flying with the Bob’s. Met up with Mullen at 10 and we went to East Berlin; that was quite an experience. What a difference between the two, East and West Berlin. [This was, you know not very long after the war had ended]. The Lord Mayor met us and said there in Berlin, “you have seen the ruins of our city -- which we deserved. Our beautiful Berlin had to be destroyed so that we could escape from the political dictatorship which was plaguing our souls. Thank you for helping us rebuild it. I was in America and saw your country and I hope through our industry and persevering we can in some small degree come up to your achievement through democracy and freedom of enterprise.”
[Now, not quoting from the diary, I stop and look back at this as not only a missionary tour – as we all were blessed and set apart for this, and it did help the missionaries proclaim the gospel there, and so many doors were opened because of our concerts and PR – but this was also a “turning of the key” as my husband, George would later say. The tour was effective in breaking down much in the way of ill feelings and misunderstanding of our beliefs (such as “how many wives have you?”) and to soften their hearts towards America and us. All of this resulted in better relationships between the Latter-Day Saints and the people in the countries we visited. And I feel this is true, and feel so fortunate to have played a small part in this transformation. Tiring as they were, those press conferences did just that: by softening hearts and healing hearts from the wounds of the Second World War].
The place, Berlin East and West is heart-sickening to behold. Even worse is the horrors of war on the children’s faces. When we went to East Berlin and crossed that border (and wall) back into West Berlin there was a big change. There the government doesn’t control business and there are little shops, and people are happier and they are rebuilding night and day.
As part of our tour they took us to the place where it is believed Hitler committed suicide and poisoned his mistress Eva Braun, and then to the Russian Memorial grounds where 8,000 souls were buried in one heap. We saw a statue of Mother Russia weeping for her sons. Two large monuments, modern design simulating two flags, crown the large statue of a Russian soldier with a child in arm as a symbol of the protection of the government for the future Russia... crushing the swastika under his foot, symbol crushing all tyranny and evil… its very impressive, But the whole thing makes you feel inconsequential and so small. Its is as if to say how grand and all-powerful Russia is. This was quite an experience, and to see the lovely building destroyed: the Opera House where Wagner’s Operas were first performed, etc. It was a very interesting tour yet very depressing to see all of that destruction.
Then we took off with Eddie and his wife for Frankfurt. Once there we checked into the Frankfurterhof Hotel and went to dinner with Virginia and her husband again. We had a nice talk with them. Her husband is a professional photographer and I learned a lot about photos. They analyzed Eddies’s shots of the tour. I think I’ll get a few as they are pretty good. The one from Cardiff was nice on the tower and the one with Spence. We then had photos taken outside the big department store where there was a big display in the corner window for the choir. This was a blown up photo of the choir in Manchester covering the whole wall – it was huge! And there were two big posters on each side and a large stand with pictures of Cornwall, me, Schreiner & others. So I hope the photo turns out OK. They went on to meet the choir where had a band of Saints were singing to welcome them. They were very tired. I mended my dress a bit and Flora came in and we slept.
September 8th Frankfurt to Wiesbaden
We went from Frankfurt to Wiesbaden where the concert was. It was a gorgeous hall as nice outside as in. There was a large lawn and fountains leading up to it. I took a lot of photos. The rehearsal was a performance, so I put on my short blue short formal. I didn’t have a chance to try out the hall beforehand, so when I sang I couldn’t hear myself, the acoustics were dead and I pushed a bit. And then also I was too tired from the trip, with I had no chance to vocalize, but I did the best I could.
As soon as my numbers were over, Mr. Bate rushed back with Mr. Kempf and they tore into me, saying my voice sounded harsh and I should take it easy and he said a very important man from the Opera was coming that night, finishing with “you better sing better tonight.” (They didn’t know about Flora and how sick she had been the last few nights, and I had nursed her with her pneumonia and hadn’t had much sleep and all this rushing from one place to another, how I was doing all those press conferences and singing at all them in between concerts then rushing back again to sing sometimes two concerts a day. Well, if I had been a prima donna, I would have talked back to them, and demanded a private room where I could rest, etc. But I figured they were tired too, and under a lot of pressure too, so I bit my lip, didn’t say anything… they’d just figure I was a prima donna and making excuses etc... so I just stayed quiet). Well that was the last straw. I just broke down in my dressing room and had a good cry.
I got control of myself in time to sing “Inflamatus” with the choir. I asked the stage people NEVER to send anyone backstage again until my performance is over. I see now why that rule is in the theater, the same for opening telegrams or notes until it is over. Bad news can really be upsetting.
Later, Mr. Mullen said he was sure Mr Kempf didn’t mean it that way, as he couldn’t speak English very well. Well I didn’t eat much, was so upset; it was silly and I promised myself I wouldn’t do it again. I guess I was getting to lax in my performance, didn’t get nervous any more, and not up to a concert pitch and afterwards I thanked Mr. Kempf for picking me up, and that I needed a good calling down like that to get me on my toes. I sang better that night and feel musically and technically it was the BEST. Got a huge bouquet of gladiolas (all colors) from the Doetch’s AND the Kempf’s. I was washing off my make up and got on a dress when they came back and Mr. Kempf was very pleased with my performance but so said he was sorry he can’t handle me (agent) with Taubman. I won’t work with him but wants me to keep in touch. Then we drove back to Frankfurt. Oh yes, forgot that we had a reception at the Mayor’s before the concert - a grand affair.
We ate then after we arrived in Frankfurt again at the Burkenheller, had a juicy steak, (mmmmm good). They say that the choir bought $7,000 worth of cameras. Some smart owner of a camera store announced at rehearsal that he’d give them 20 % off… pretty smart! Brother Schreiner had four cameras strung around his neck with all the gadgets, lenses etc.
September 9th leaving Frankfurt to Heidelberg cold, rainy
Left early again, had to get up at 7 to pack clothes. Had a bumpy ride to Heidelberg, ate lunch there in Baden-Baden. Went to the concert and on the way just looked at the casino, with its beautiful French decorations.
September 10th Frankfurt to Berne – rained almost all of the time
The trailer turned over with suitcases in it, but no damage was done. Went by the temple as we arrived. Ate at the hotel and had a rehearsal there… what a barn, the worst yet. I steamed my dress, pressed it, and got dressed. It sure was cold and the stage was colder. I knew that the President was there, and apostles Kimball, Moyle and Benson, and I was nervous more than at other concerts. There were 3,500 people and you almost had to have field glasses to see the first row and a telescope to see those in the balcony. This was the first place where the choir needed a microphone and amplification. Brother Condie conducted and man!! “For unto us” went a merry rat race, but the choir kept up and the audience seemed to enjoy it. They were broadcasting it on the Swiss radio. Mr. Condie so far has gotten all the broadcasts.
I sang “Du Bist die Ruh” for an encore, and was very angry at myself. I felt I did it very poorly, but everyone liked it and some had tears they said, “it is a beautiful song.” [Later when we had the reel to reel recording, I thought I did it well; there was one breath I took that I shouldn’t have but it was not noticeable, and only one of my students even noticed it. It was OK and some like it the best of my encores]. Got a large bouquet of flowers from the Pershons and missionaries, large chrysanthemums: orange and yellow. Then there was the reception afterwards and I talked to President McKay and wife and met the apostles. It was the first time apostle Kimball had heard me and he said he liked it. The choir surely is wonderful. They can be tired and exhausted from travel but let them get together and sing, and they’re happy and a spirit just pours from them that’s spine-tingling. Even the chauffeurs and the publicity men who travel with us and American Express guides say that. It’s a mystery to them, but I know what it is: we all have been blessed and the prayers of our loved ones at home have been heard and answered and this whole trip has been a living testimony to me.
After the reception, we (the “Bob’s” – two young men both with the name of Bob who chauffeured me from place to place) went to a little place and had an omelet.
I’ll insert here a meeting we had: me, brother Schreiner, and President McKay which was held a day or so before the dedication.
I was to sing “Bless this House” which was a popular art song at that time, and Pres. McKay really liked it and wanted it sung at the dedication, but there are some words in the last verse that apply to a house not a temple. The words are “Bless the hearth a blazing there with smoke ascending there like a prayer.” Well, they didn’t have a pipe organ or any at all in that small temple. And since they needed an accompaniment for me and the choir, they rented a small electric organ, which was really awful compared to even an electronic one we have in most chapels.
When the three of us were seated down around a small table, President McKay brought up the suggestion that in place of that “hearth a blazing there” why not say, “Bless the organ playing there with notes ascending like a prayer.” Brother Schreiner raised his voice and said loudly “don’t you DARE bless THAT organ.” We all had a good chuckle over this comment and were contemplating changing it to “Bless the love abiding here with joy ascending like a prayer,” but in the end I sang the words as originally written by the composer. Nevertheless, when I later sang at dedicatory services for President McKay at the Los Angeles and Oakland Temples, and at a chapel in Cambridge, Massachusetts we changed the text as appropriate to suit each building.
September 11 Berne – rain but cleared for the dedication.
Words can’t describe this experience, so I won’t try... I’ll just say it was one of the most important days of my life and the greatest thrill of my life to this time.
I arose in the morning and ate breakfast downstairs though I was so excited I couldn’t really eat much. We went in the funny little street-car-like buses to the temple. The rain let up a bit as President McKay prophesied to us that it would and just as we were to go to the temple the sun came out as he exited his car, and the clear sky was a benediction and sign to us that the Lord was giving His blessing to this event.
The first impression was the missionaries who met us at the door. They looked so handsome in their dark suits; each had a white carnation in his lapel and the quietness was striking as you walked in. Then the next impression was the new thick carpet, and the fragrance from the flowers which were everywhere. You had the feeling of walking into a sacred place right from the start. They escorted me to the upstairs room and already the downstairs was packed. My seat was specially reserved near the organ, on the first row of seats directly apposite the President and the apostles. President McKay was in the center of the row behind the table which had flowers and a lovely low arrangement. To his right were Apostle Kimball then Apostle Benson, then Apostle Moyle and finally Apostle Evans. On the President’s left was President Bringhurst (Temple President) and then Brother Pershon, and Brother Edward McKay and the scribes who were taking the service in shorthand.
All was quiet, not a sound until the service began. President McKay arose and opened the ceremony. He was dressed in a light beige suit. His white hair shone and he also had a white carnation in his lapel. As soon as he stood you could feel the spirit around become very intense, and he started by welcoming those present, both in the flesh and in the spirit. “There are a great many here which you cannot see.
It was then that I had a very marvelous experience and I can testify that this was truly an important occasion in the Lord’s plan, and I felt so honored to know who I was to sing for that I felt very weak indeed and broke down – so did almost everyone there.
So, President McKay continued his talk and called on President Bringhurst to speak and he told about the events leading to the finding of the grounds, and land, how they were guided to this beautiful site, how they had one site picked but couldn’t get it from the heirs. Later they found out that a large freeway would have gone through the center of the property. Another property they couldn’t get, turned out to have quicksand under ground. It was really remarkable how the Lord’s hand guided the finding of this site, which is so beautiful [of course, the Lord created the land, HE knows where the quicksand is].
When they did consummate the contract, the day they were to pay, the rate of exchange went up, considerably just enough to the penny to pay the taxes. His talk was very inspiring and I managed to gain enough control as I said above so when President McKay announced me I was able to sing all right. He said, “Now we will be favored to hear a sweet sister who has thrilled thousands of people here in Europe these last weeks with her beautiful voice... Sister Harbrecht who will sing “Bless this House,” accompanied by Alexander Schreiner.
What an honor it was to sing. It was then that I thanked the ONE who made it possible to do this and knew I was in fact singing for the ONE (Lord), who had given me the voice and talent in the first place. I felt that all the years of training were not in vain, even if I never sang again, because I had this blessing of returning it in a small way to my creator. As I say, it was the greatest thrill of my life. When I sat down, I cried again because I just didn’t feel worthy of what had happened.
Then Apostle Kimball spoke regarding the temple and temple work and said he had remarked to the Saints in Europe “If you can’t afford to go on the train to the temple, you know you could always walk to it” and they laughed and he said “the pioneers walked twice as far to go somewhere where they could build a temple... so you could walk half the way and you’d be more fortunate then they because one is already here.”
Yes, it is a great blessing to those saints in Europe. The choir sang “Holiness Becometh the House of the Lord” and all of us had red eyes from that spiritual experience [many members of the choir related that it was because we heard angels singing with us]. Apostle Benson spoke, very well, about the wars in Europe, the strife and terrible things they went through and ended hoping the temple will radiate a “peace” from it to all the nations of Europe and all will know of the significance and it will help to maintain peace through righteousness.
Then the President gave the dedicatory prayer and there again was the high point for me. We were in the assembly room or one of the largest endowment rooms and the choir took up all the room but it was piped into the other rooms so they could hear the sound. [A few years later I was to meet my husband George Mitton who was in one on the other rooms, and he heard me sing and had heard me in Manchester, England and in Albert Hall in London, liked my singing and said he probably fell in love with my voice first.]
(Now back to the diary)
After the dedication we knew from then on it was a sacred place only for the ordinances, and we gave the “Hosanna Shout” which was something I may never experience again for the Savior at a dedication ceremony, once in a lifetime experience that I’ll tell my grandchildren of it, most likely (if I have any).
[I’ve since had this experience of the “Hosanna Shout” at other dedications since and it always is a thrill. I sang at the Los Angeles Temple Dedication, at the Oakland Temple Dedication, and the New England Chapel in Cambridge Massachusetts, I’m so blessed to have 20 grandchildren, so my wish was granted 50 years later].
(Back to the diary)
Then after the service President McKay asked the choir and me to stay for the second session and sing again for the British saints and the soldiers, so we left the temple and there was no speaking or handshaking by request of the President until we were outside. He said that we should hereafter do the same in our chapels also [that would be nice, but no one does it].
We had box lunches, lots of pictures were taken and I saw Rosa and her new hubby Mr. Cheney, bought a card or two of the temple and then we gathered again for the second session. We sang again and it was good to hear the dedication prayer again. President Reiser spoke from the English Mission. [He had arranged for my future husband George to attend]. Apostle Evans and Apostle Moyle spoke besides President McKay. The second session was nice, but not as terrific as the first. I felt like not as many from the other side were there.
We came to the hotel just exhausted, collapsed on my bed and slept two hours. I would have slept into the night if Sister McKay hadn’t called and asked me to dine with them [what an honor] so I did, and enjoyed their company and had a good dinner – which I needed. We walked around the city by the cliff overlooking the river and bridge and I told them of my experiences and we talked about the temple and got clippings from the paper about our concert and came back, prayed, and thanked my Heavenly Father for all those spiritual experiences, and went to bed. [What a day!]
September 12, Berne
Stayed in bed all day, I was so tired I couldn’t move. I wrote 12 letters and sent critiques back to Muriel Francis my publicity agent in New York, and Mr. Judd my manager at Columbia and others, and slept and slept. Flora stayed in too and just bought a Swiss watch. I had been in Basel and other Swiss cities and had bought my father a watch, and I had just been in Berne when I did the publicity thing and I had seen it all so I’m glad I rested. I did get up for dinner at a charming restaurant by a waterfall and the river, again with Bob, then came back to the hotel and packed. Sister McKay invited me to a show and it was nice to be with her. Came back and slept again.
September 13 by train to Zurich
While others went sightseeing I went to the hotel. The room wasn’t ready yet, so I walked around the town. I enjoy exercising and brisk walking and going by myself better. I then met Bob at the hotel for an interview for the paper, then we went out with Mr. and Mrs. Bates to MovenPick, a charming restaurant. We had scampi Bordelaise with rice (I had learned to love scampi when in Italy) and delicious Traubensaft (freshly pressed green grapes, mmm good). Went to a symphony concert that night with Bob, Ray, Dick and Sue at the Town Hall where we were to sing the next night. Bob treated us all to a snack and then I went to bed.
September 14th Zurich – It sure was cold
At the hotel I called for some heat and they laughed and said, “but it’s summer!” I said, “summer or not, I am cold” so they put on the heat. Had a rehearsal, steamed my dresses… sure is a lovely hall! I ate dinner with Muellen and Van der Meer, Bates and Bob. Got dressed and the concert was packed. The first one I saw as I stepped on stage to my right was President McKay’s smiling face in the same suit he wore in the temple and all those wonderful memories flooded my mind. I feel I sang the best that night because he was there. I wanted to get his autograph but he got away too fast, he had to drive back to Berne for the rest of the temple services. At the concert I sang “Standchen” of Strauss for an encore and got another huge bouquet of gladiolas from the Swiss Austrian Mission. Came back, packed and slept well.
September 15 to Paris
Left in the morning for Paris. Was I ever glad, sure do love Paris. Was met by the Bob’s and there was a metro and bus strike on and wow what a traffic jam! Went to Royal Mouccau Hotel. Had a nice room. Went to dinner at Vieux Paris Restaurant and talked with Miss Sanderson how (can’t read it) and helped them write invitations, and Bob saw me home. There was a press conference at the Crillon when we arrived.
September 16 Paris
Got up and spent the morning at Amex Co. and bumped into Bob M. went to lunch at Café d’ Paix and went to Boucheranet’s. Didn’t count on the traffic and was late to the reception at Ville de Paris where the Mayor presented me with a silver medal and certificate of honor. It was grand reception. Never saw such elegant rooms. The choir sang the Mariseille (their national anthem) and then it took us two hours to get from the Ville de Paris to the restaurant Llaurant where Mr. Mullen gave Victory dinner for the choir officials. I sang some numbers, and the dinner was good, and there were lots of talks. Came back to the hotel but I had a time getting to sleep.... too much excitement I guess.
September 17 Paris
Transacted some business, couldn’t get Thomas for a ticket, saw the paper Ici Paris with a big spread about me. It said, “The beautiful Mormon with the golden voice” and a picture. I cut it out with a note and left it at Sebastian Hotel. I packed my dress and sent to the theater I was glad I took it with me and I got into it FAST because there was a big picture taken for the Newsreels outside the Pallaise Chaillot with the Eiffel tower lined up behind and I stood in front of the choir with brother Cornwall. There was Pathe News Reel, Fox Movie Tone, American T.V., French National T.V., French Radio, and Gaumont, the French newsreel. Then… oh yes, Life Magazine, Time Magazine and Look Magazine. I never saw such a battery of photographers on top of buses, cars etc. It was quite a display and I couldn’t take a picture because I had to be in it. It had rained the day before but cleared up for the picture. We’ve been blessed with good weather. [That iconic photo has been in many books of the Church, like “America’s Choir” including also in The Encyclopedia of Mormonism].
Then we went into the theater for rehearsal. I changed into street clothes but was told to change again as the Newsreels wanted some more in the theater. So we had to sing “Come Come ye Saints” half a dozen times. Then we rehearsed. The organ pipes were a perfect backdrop and the hall goes down and down and down in the ground to get to it. Had a bite to eat, and came to the theater after trying to rest a bit.
It started at 9 o’clock and the French radio broadcasted our concert all over France. I never went through such misery as I did before that performance. It was silly, but I had acute indigestion. I hadn’t eaten lunch and my quick dinner didn’t set well, so I had a huge lump in my throat, and felt like I just couldn’t sing and wished I didn’t have to. I prayed for help and prayed I could go through with it. As soon as I was on the stage and started to sing it left me and I felt good while singing, but as soon as I came off that indigestion started again and I was so sick... But then I had to sing the “Omnipotence” with the choir as an encore, and it went very well and I received three huge bouquets of flowers.
As soon as I got in the dressing room I broke down and cried and felt like the bottom had dropped out from under me. It was all over. The last concert, the last press conference, the last rushing and pressure – it was all over. I was very sad to think I wouldn’t be with the choir any more, would have to travel alone again in some smoky trains and rude men pinching me, and felt very lost and alone and homesick for my parents and friends. All of this combined with being very tired make for a good cry.
But I quickly put on some make up and powder and went to the reception of Ambassador Dillus and met critics and important people, managers and impresarios etc. Came back to the hotel very tired.
September 18 Sunday in Paris – clear
The tour ended with a breakfast and a sacred service at Sall Playel. I sang a song, had to leave early to audition at Paris Opera for Sebastian. Everyone broke up, some went off to Italy, some to Scandanavia etc. We were on our own and all a bit sad it was over, but anxious to get home.
Me? I have to stay on, can’t have the luxury of seeing my loved ones.
September 19 and 20th Paris
Practiced German arias with Mme. Pigault 6 Rue Logelbach, and got ticket to Zurich to meet Taubman, and sent extra bags of formals etc. home. I am no longer a concert artist but a student once again. I had dinner at Etoile Verte, very good French food but not expensive. I had twelve escargot snails and nine oysters. Then went to Moulin Rouge with Geary Van Wagoner, my last night in Paris. [Paris was beautiful that night, and from the hill there we overlooked the city, very romantic, but I wasn’t at all interested in this young man, and I remember eating all that garlic, so as not to be too attractive to him. He was nice, and I appreciated the acquaintance, but on a night like that it would have been fun to have a kiss or two. Maybe George and I can return there some day].
September 21 Paris
Missed the train that morning and arrived late in Zurich, went to Basel.
September 22 Went on to Basel
I auditioned and it went well, for Wedehind and Munch. Taubman wants me to stay in Germany six weeks more, we’ll see.
September 24th To Italy to visit the Cassisas.
That was such a nice reunion with them, I told them all about my tour with the Choir, but I had forgotten a lot of my Italian, was embarrassed, but that’s what happens when you don’t speak it every day like I did when living in Italy.