I am Jim Waters, UW physics grad student decades ago. Recently a friend returned from a visit to Fairbanks, and I remembered receiving many years ago from an old friend in Madison a clipping about Gordon in the Arctic. I went online and found Gordon’s obituaries and this nice website.
I spent countless hours in both of the Madison book stores and paid several visits to the Wright home. My favorite memory was the Hauskonzert put on by Gordon and Inga, with large chamber works played by friends. I recall Spohr and Saint-Saëns on the program. After the scheduled works were over and the beer flowed, the musicians started fooling around. Several wanted to play a Mozart flute quartet, but the flautist had departed. Dewayne Craddock took up the flute part on his oboe, attempting to play it transversely.
The Edgewood concerts were a joy. Many of the musicians had winter jobs in smaller regional orchestras but came back to Madison in the summers. One evening Gordon had to zip through the final movement of the Beethoven 2nd Symphony because of a swarm of mosquitoes. I also remember a performance of the “Emperor Waltz”.
In those days I developed a love for the conducting of Furtwängler. I brought one of his records (the Beethoven 5th, I recall) over to Gordon and we listened to it together. I was also learning the music of Bruckner and Mahler and read about the Viennese composer Franz Schmidt. Gordon said he had a record of one of his symphonies and handed it to me. I found the piece rather boring, and when I offered to bring the record back, Gordon said, “It’s yours now,“ and I was stuck with it.
I learned much from Gordon, such as not using words like “Haydnesque.” His shops were home to lots of us who loved music but had careers elsewhere. I left Madison right after New Year’s in 1969, and didn’t really get to say farewell, assuming that no one really leaves Madison.
Jim Waters, Nashville