• U.S.

Music: Templeton in Chautauqua

1 minute read

In Chautauqua, N. Y., under the sedate ministrations of the Chautauqua Institution, U. S. culture has flourished at its most earnest, its most uplifting, for nearly 70 summers. One day last week, Chautauquans cocked quizzical ears at the Miller Tower,* whose chimes are best known for Sunday morning hymn tunes. The chimes pealed. Oh, Johnny and Chinatown, My Chinatown. The pealer was impish, deft-fingered, blind Pianist Alec Templeton, who is equally good at Bach, boogie-woogie, musical satire, improvisation. Pianist Templeton, awakened that morning by the chimes, had asked leave to get back at them.

Chautauqua began letting its hair down last summer, when it heard housebroken “symphonic” jazz by Paul Whiteman’s orchestra. Last week 8,000 people jammed the acoustically excellent, open-sided amphitheatre to hear Pianist Templeton. He warmed up on classics, soon went to town with Grieg’s in the Groove. By the time he gave his irreverent impression of senatorial Dr. Walter Damrosch analyzing Three Little Fishies for children, Alec Templeton had Chautauqua roaring its approval.

*Named for Lewis Miller, one of Chautauqua’s founders, and donated by his daughter, Mrs. Thomas Alva Edison. She presided last week at the opening meeting of Chautauqua’s Bird & Tree Club.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com