Biographical, BYU, Humorous, Includes Story From Life of NLC, Music, Provo History

The Show Must Go On – And Did In Spite of Virtuoso’s Toothache

Click to see original imageConcert-goers attending the Utah Valley Symphony spring concert last week heard Henri Temianka, internationally-known violinist, perform as featured soloist.

But very few could have known of a little post-concert drama that took place at midnight with Mr. Temianka and Dr. Willard V. Loveridge, president of the symphony, as star performers.

Here’s a hint: The violinist -despite his flawless performance, and his smiles and bows as he acknowledged a standing ovation – had a bad toothache. Dr. Loveridge is a dentist.

It seems that after the concert, and a reception help in the County Building lobby, the toothache became more painful. Beverly Dunford, efficient symphony business manager, has been able to solve most problems of the organization through the years – but a toothache? At least she knew in which direction to turn. She and husband Rex, with Mr. Temianka in the car, drove their children home. From their residence they phoned Dr. Loveridge. He obliged, as did daughter Darla who served as his assistant.

The two met the Dunfords and their celebrated patient at the Loveridge dental office. By midnight X-rays and the preliminaries for a root canal had been accomplished, and with the pressure eased, Mr. Temianka was feeling nearly as “fit as a fiddle” – but probably not quite up to Mozart’s Concerto No. 5 which he’d performed earlier in the evening at the Tabernacle.


Dr. Reid Nibley, pianist-in-residence at BYU. will be soloist with the Utah Valley Symphony at its April 18 “pops concert.” It should be a great show, but the billing recalls memories of a couple of similar concerts when “piano mixups” caused concern for soloist and symphony officials.

In the first incident, with Dr. Nibley as guest soloist, the grand piano furnished by a music store didn’t arrive in time for the dress rehearsal. All concerned took this in stride; Dr. Nibley “made do” with the piano in the choir loft; and the special piano arrived in time for the actual concert.

But at the next symphony concert with a guest piano soloist somebody “over-corrected.” Two pianos: were delivered!


Through the years, many great musicians have performed within the walls of the historic tabernacle. Violinist Fritz Kreisier, pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff, baritone Paul Robeson, soprano Bidu Sayao, and vocalist Enma Lucy Gates, to name a few.

Ed Butterworth, former public information director at BYU, has helped to preserve this interesting anecdote concerning the tabernacle appearance of the famous Rachmaninoff: The Russian pianist-composer-conductor was here during the era of the old Salt Lake & Utah (Orem) Railroad. (If you’ve never of this lurching passenger train, get an old-timer to tell you about it.)

Playing one of his own concertos with much gusto before an enraptured audience, the great one suddenly heard the rumble of the approaching train. He ceased playing, held both hands in midair as though in a multi-bar rest. Then when the noisy vehicle had lumbered past, he crashed down with thunderous volume on the next note and continued the performance.


Dr. Ralph Laycock, music professor at BYU, director of the ‘Y’ Philharmonic and of the Utah Valley Symphony, usually is “all business” when be has baton in hand. But he has a fine sense of humor, so we don’t think he’ll mind our retelling this story:

In his earlier years at BYU, Dr. Laycock was directing a music festival band (mostly high school students from intermountain states) in a summer concert at the Harris Fine Arts Center. A few selected BYU student musicians were sprinkled through the orchestra to give strength where it was needed – these might have been the “culprits” in a bit of horseplay that got the concert off to a premature start.

Dr. Laycock had entered the stage and was still taking his bow from the podium when one of the musicians signaled the downbeat and the band started to play. The audience had a quick laugh, but soon became admirers when surprised conductor took command several bars into the piece and guided the young musicians through an especially fine performance.


John G, Hilgendorff is a tradition by himself as a violinist and music conductor. Once, at a spectator at a Provo youth concert, we saw him pull a switch that would have done justice to a magician.

The orchestra was doing the allegro movement of a difficult piece when a string popped on the violin of the concertmaster and soloist, Sundy Snedeger (Adams).

The all-observing Mr. Hilgendorff didn’t waste a second. Almost without skipping a beat he “borrowed” a violin right from under the chin of a performer a few steps down the line, handed it to the concertmaster, and proceeded as nonchalantly as if nothing had happened.


To wind up these music-related “war stories”: As a boy I played the violin, a student of Mr. Hilgendorff when he taught in Millard County. One day a friend Howard Blake and I played a duet at a funeral. While our virtuosity undoubtedly surfaced in our sterling performance of “Whispering Hope,” nobody stopped afterward to commend us. We stood there a bit crestfallen – but wait! Down the aisle came a prospective fan. We recognized him as Joe Nielson, a revered senior citizen of the community. He shook our hands, profuse in his praise… and lifted our spirits – even though both of us knew old Brother Nielson had for some time been virtually deaf and probably hadn’t heard a note we played.