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Preview: Albert Fuller's Rendezvous Lounge

Albert Fuller's Rendezvous Lounge

Albert Fuller in words and music

Updated: 2018-01-01T06:45:29.047-05:00


Albert Fuller and Hugues Cuenod


The legendary Swiss tenor Hugues Cuenod died on Friday (Dec. 3rd). I've posted a reminiscence on my blog, but wanted to add some photos of Albert and Huguie here, as well as some words about Huguie by Albert. The photos are either from Huguie's archive, or pictures I took when Albert and I visited Huguie in Morges in 2002 - the Cuenod centenary. Words are from the Translator's Note of Hugues Cuenod with an Agile Voice: Conversations with Francois Hudry, which Albert translated from the French in 1999. But first these words about Albert by Huguie, in the fifth of the conversations with Hudry: The harpsichordist Albert one of my best friends. He is the most French of Americans. He knows Rameau and Lully at the ends of his fingers and lives his life constantly in the culture and the spirit of France. He used to load his harpsichord in a large station wagon and we crossed the country giving numerous concerts in many little and some large American cities. He is a very funny friend with whom I've enjoyed many amusing hours.  (AF) I first heard the riveting voice of Hugues Cuenod in New York in 1945; it was borne to my ear by the 1938 Parisian recording of Francois Couperin's Troisieme Lecon de Tenebres of 1714; it was also my introduction to the vocal works of Couperin. That combination of voice and composer remains to this day one of the unique pinnacles of my experience as a musician. The enduring power of Jeremiah's ancient, finger-wagging words, combined with the communicative musical power of Grand Siecle French classicism, was shocking in the extreme, perhaps especially because the entire experience opened a new door of expression, one I never knew existed. As a graduate student at Yale in the early 1950s, I purchased Cuenod's Westminster recording of all three of Couperin's magnificent Lecons. These performances...bowled me over once again by their uncanny intensity. And then, Cuenod's bio on the jacket contained a striking sentence of hitherto unconsidered thought, at least by me. It read "Mr. Cuenod explains his artistic goal in these words: 'Though I earn my living by music I am not a professional who thinks primarily of business. I prefer the Epicurean way, to choose what is most interesting and musically rewarding.'" [Italics AF] Well--this particular, and very personal idea so touched me that I began to understand how it resonated with my own still-green, graduate-student heart. Yet, I hadn't the slightest notion of how to realize such an ambition, or of even quite comprehending what his words had meant. As each of our lives represents in its own way a straight line, beginning with hindsight, it seems clear that the lines of Cuenod's and my life should one day intersect, at least professionally.  When that happened, it was also clear that we were to become friends, and later, when we toured together as a duo, it was even clearer that our spirits meshed when we were most vulnerable as artists, that is, when we performed together in public. Neither of us did anything the same way twice. Since my part of our performances was all improvised, I could mirror the smallest new ideas that his performance would suggest to me. On the other hand, he, hearing everything I did, was always receptive to the new hints of interpretation that my accompaniments might suggest. Performing thus with him before our various publics resulted in the greatest musical fun, and transports de joie I ever experienced; my memory of that is as strong today as ever.   Albert at Huguie's 100th birthday party, Theatre de Vevey, June 2002  [...]

EMA laureate Stan Ritchie's remarks on Albert Fuller


Stan Ritchie Anthony Martin writes: Dear Paul, I read with interest the acceptance speech of Stan Ritchie for an award from EMA and thought part of it (actually, much of it) should be on your AF blog. Keep me posted!apmStanley Ritchie received the Howard Mayer Brown Award for lifetime achievement in the field of early music at the EMA Annual Meeting in Boston on June 12, 2009. Mr. Ritchie, a pioneer in the early music field in America, has been a professor at Indiana University since 1982. Stan Ritchie's acceptance speech:I’m deeply honoured to be standing before you today as recipient of the Howard Mayer Brown  Award and grateful to the Early Music America board of directors for having chosen me. I’m  told that Howard’s last words, when stricken by a fatal heart attack, were “Don’t worry – this  always happens!” Well, this doesn’t always happen to me! Indeed, this is the first time anything  like this has ever happened, and so, when I received the call from Ron Cook informing me of  the EMA board’s decision I was stunned.  I also feel humbled because I’m really sharing this honour with the hundreds of young people  whom I have taught at Indiana University, the many colleagues in the world of Early Music with  whom I have been associated in the past four decades, and two very special people who  changed the course of my life. I have learned so much from all of these people, and in accepting this award I am their representative.The two people to whom must pay tribute today are, in inverse chronological order, Thomas  Binkley and Albert Fuller, both of them visionary leaders in the world of Early Music. When  Tom Binkley wrote to Elisabeth Wright and me in 1982 to ask if we’d like to join the fledgling  Early Music faculty at Indiana University, I remember him saying, “If it can happen anywhere in  this country, it will be at IU.” Remarkable visionary and shrewd politician that he was, Tom  overcame numerous bureaucratic obstacles to create the Early Music Institute, and our  membership in its faculty for the past twenty-seven years has enabled us to work with gifted  and talented students, many of whom are now among America’s foremost Early Music  performers.(Parenthetically, Elisabeth and I often reflect wryly on how successful we’ve been at creating  our own competition!)It can often happen that an innocent question is the cause of a significant turning point in one’s  life. In the 1970-71 season, after escaping from the Metropolitan Opera, I joined The New York  Chamber Soloists, a modern-instrument ensemble, whose harpsichordist was Albert Fuller.  One day I mentioned to Albert that I’d like to learn more about Baroque music, and asked him  if we could get together sometime and read some sonatas. No New York freelance violinist  had ever said such a thing to Albert and he grabbed me and said, “When?” During our first  reading session he said, “You know what they’re doing in Europe now?” I said, “What are they  doing?” He said, “They’re tuning their instruments down a half-step and using gut strings and  old bows.” I said, “Why on earth would they want to do a thing like that?” And he said, “Well,  why don’t you try tuning down and find out?” Naturally, tuning a modern, steel-strung violin  down half a tone does not produce the most convincing result, but neither did a recording of  Leonhardt and the Kuijken brothers playing Rameau! Mine was a typical modern violinist’s  reaction: I said, “That doesn’t sound like a violin! It’s like some sort of viol!” However, Albert  was a very persuasive man, and soon I had had an old Tyrolean violin reconverted to Baroque  specifications and a copy made of an old bow and was on my way to becoming a Baroque  fiddler.Albert Fuller was a remarkable man: an excellent keyboard player, a dedicated humanist, a  fascinating raconteur and a gifted teacher. One of the aspects of his teaching that inspires me  is something he frequently alluded to [...]

The Legendary First Aston Magna Group Photo


(image) Aston Magna, June 1973 (click pic for larger image)

Courtesy of Anthony Martin, who writes:

Dear Paul, this might be worthy of posting, so that we can get corrective ID’s on the folks I have misremembered or misrepresented. This is from June 1973 after the two-week debauch that was the beginning of Aston Magna. Missing from the photo, among others, Michael McCraw.

[Editor's note: if you have an ID correction, please email me at paulfesta at gmail dot com and I'll update this post.]

Seated in front, left to right:
Deborah Robin
Frances Fitch
Ross Keiser
Mary Wyly
Jane McMahan

Next row, standing:
Nina Stern
James Wyly
Ray Erickson
David Behnke
Hannah Rose
Paula Stone
Judy Linsenberg
Anne Hornbostel
Jane Eston
Randee Berman

Next row, standing
Anthony Martin
Stanley Ritchie
Jay Bernfeld
Leland Tolo
Jaap Schroeder
Albert Fuller
Bernard Krainis
Robert Dunbar

Standing in doorway:
Edward Parmentier
Emily Romney
John Metz

The young Albert Fuller in the Washington National Cathedral


Albert Fuller as the angel with flaming feet in John de Rosen's mural in the Washington National Cathedral's Chapel of St. Joseph of Arimathea:"The Entombment of Christ" (photo credit: Moon)Oct. 31 brought the Washington, DC premiere of Apparition of the Eternal Church, the Messiaen film of which Albert is both star and muse. The following day, I played, with pianist Jerome Lowenthal, the DC premiere of Messiaen's newly published violin and piano Fantaisie along with the other two Messiaen violin pieces - and since all three are short, Jerry and I filled out our hour in the Coolidge Auditorium with ten minutes of his giving a kind of Peter and the Wolf lecture-performance of "The Loriod" from the Bird Catalogue, and my reading from my book based on the film (thus also starring Albert) OH MY GOD: Messiaen in the Ear of the Unbeliever. Because I played the recital on a Library of Congress violin (the "Betts" Stradivarius), I needed to be in DC a few days before the concert to get to know the instrument. I had enough spare time to tour around the city with friends who live there, and the three of us spent one afternoon at the Washington National Cathedral. That's where Albert was a boy soprano and discovered the organ, his "first instrument," within whose swell box he would have, as a young boy, the formative erotic experience he describes so gracefully both in the movie and in his memoir Alice Tully: An Intimate Portrait. The Bishop's Garden of the cathedral is where Albert's ashes are scattered, and so my visit was more of a religious experience than I usually associate with going to church. What I'd forgotten about until we got to the cathedral was the presence there of a mural Albert modeled for when he was in high school. Described on page 48 of OH MY GOD, the mural is called "The Entombment of Christ" and features an angel with flaming feet, for whom Albert was the 16 year-old model (an irony he later noted, given his struggle with peripheral neuropathy). The library had sent me xerox images of the mural, but my friend Moon took the above picture, which gives a much better idea of the work. Also wonderful to see St. Alban's School, the setting of so many Albert stories, and the Church of the Ascension and St. Agnes, where Albert got fired from his last organ job for playing "oriental and barbaric music" during a service (Bach's chorale prelude "Oh man, now weep for thy great sin").[...]

Albert Fuller in the Washington National Cathedral


(image) The executors of Albert's estate generously gave me Albert's framed program from his 1950 organ recital in the Washington National Cathedral, in which he gave one of the very first US performances of Messiaen's Ascension Suite. Below find an image of that program, preceded (above this text and below it) by some illustrated background from the just completed second edition of my book OH MY GOD: Messiaen in the Ear of the Unbeliever, which is based on my film Apparition of the Eternal Church, of which Albert is both star and muse.

As usual, remember to click on these images to get a larger and more legible version. Also, the director's commentary at the bottom of page 39, above, continues onto page 40, which isn't included in this blog post. Last, if you're in Dallas, Chicago, Sackville (New Brunswick), Austin, Concord, Washington D.C., Phoenix or London, check this page for screenings between now and the December 10th Messiaen centenary.

(image) (image)



Albert's movie at Library of Congress, the Barbican and beyond


Albert onscreen in New York, accompanied by Bill Trafka at the organ, at St. Bartholomew's Church in FebruaryApparition of the Eternal Church, the Messiaen film of which Albert is both muse and star, will screen throughout the U.S and twice in Europe between now and what would have been Messiaen's 100th birthday, on December 10th. I'll be attending most of these shows, so if you catch one please be sure to introduce yourself - one of the best things about touring with this film has been meeting other friends and former students of Albert's.I'm especially excited about this tour because it will take the film to Washington, D.C. That's where Albert gave his early Messiaen premieres in 1950, at the National Cathedral, and it was in the National Cathedral that he had the formative musical and erotic experiences that contribute so vividly both to the film and to his Alice Tully book. I was grateful Albert lived to see the film's New York premiere at St. Bart's in November 2006, but boy do I wish he could have seen it screen at the Library of Congress. Hot shit on toast, honey. That's really wild.Friday, September 5, 2008, 9 p.m. Rome premiere of Apparition of the Eternal Church Rome International Film Festival (one of the finest emerging film festivals in the southeastern United States) The Clocktower, 2 Government Plaza Rome, GA $7.50 general admission NB - I will not be attending this screeningFriday, September 26, 2008, time TBANorway premiere of Apparition of the Eternal ChurchWith live organ accompanimentCinemateket TrondheimVår Frue Kirke (The Church of Our Lady)Free admissionFriday, September 26, 2008, 1 - 3 p.m.Texas premiere of Apparition of the Eternal Church, with Q&A/reading/remarksSouthern Methodist University symposium "Olivier Messiaen: The Musician as Theologian"Smith Auditorium, Meadows Museum, 5900 Bishop Blvd.Dallas$15 general admission or $5 for students (contact or 214-768-3515 for more information)October (dates, times and admission TBA)Loyola University Museum of Art820 North Michigan AvenueChicagoMonday, October 4, 2008, 11:15 a.m. Illinois premiere of Apparition of the Eternal Church, with Q&A University of Chicago Presents 2008 Messiaen Festival The Franke Institute for the Humanities 1100 East 57th Street, JRL S-102Chicago Free admissionFriday, October 8, 2008, 7 p.m. Screening of Apparition of the Eternal ChurchWith live organ accompaniment, Q&A/reading/remarks Saint James Cathedral Wabash and Huron Chicago Free admissionMonday, October 20, 2008, time TBA Austin premiere of Apparition of the Eternal Church, Q&A/reading/remarks Texas premiere of Messiaen's Fantaisie for violin and piano (pianist TBA) University of Texas at Austin Venue and admission TBA Friday, October 31, 2008, 8 p.m. Washington, D.C., premiere of Apparition of the Eternal Church Library of Congress Mary Pickford Theater James Madison Building, 3rd floor Independence Ave SE, between 1st & 2nd Streets Free admission; reservations required NB: (from the LOC website) RESERVATIONS may be made by phone, beginning one week before any given show. Call (202) 707-5677 during business hours (Monday-Friday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm). Reserved seats must be claimed at least 10 minutes before showtime, after which standbys will be admitted to unclaimed seats. All programs are free, but seating is limited to 60 seats.Saturday, November 1, 2008, 6 p.m. Washington, D.C., premiere of Messiaen's Fantaisie for violin and piano, with Jerome Lowenthal, piano Remarks about the Fantaisie, Messiaen, and Apparition of the Eternal Church; reading from OH MY GOD: Messiaen in the Ear of the Unbeliever Fantaisie performed on a violin from the Collections of Musical Instruments Library of Congress The Coolidge Auditorium 10 1st St, SE Washington, DC Free admissionMonday, November 10, 2008, 7:30 p.m. Arizona premiere of Apparition of the Eternal Church [...]

Aston Magna tribute to AF



Aston Magna, the music festival in the Berkshires that Albert founded, posted this tribute to him along with the photograph above (with Jaap Schroeder, Fortunato Arico, and Stanley Ritchie).

Trombones in Dido and Aeneas? Remembering Albert Fuller - a reminiscence by Larry Palmer


(image) Larry Palmer (photo credit: Southern Methodist University)

Trombones in Dido and Aeneas? Remembering Albert Fuller
The September 22, 2007 death of Albert Fuller brought back warm memories of several visits the fine American harpsichordist and educator made to Dallas. Perhaps the most memorable, amusing, and culinarily satisfying one occurred during the rehearsal period for the Dallas Opera’s production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas in 1972. Although I had recently played harpsichord continuo for a Dido performance in Norfolk, the Opera in those days disdained local artists if they could import someone at great expense from Milan or New York. The management did, however, deign to rent my Dowd harpsichord since neither Opera nor Symphony owned such an “off-beat” instrument.

Albert had called me from New York to ask “why [the hell] they would bother to fly him such a distance when I was already there?” but I assured him that the discrimination was general, not personal, and that he should just enjoy the production (which turned out to be costumed in futuristic, space-age costumes), and charge them a high fee.

One evening Albert arrived at the Fair Park opera theater to tune the harpsichord, but became alarmed when two trombonists entered the pit and began warming up. Perhaps, he thought, the scoring has been altered to match the costumes? But when a tuba player joined in he decided it was time to ask the musicians what was going on.

The brass players informed him that it was not Dido that was to be rehearsed that evening, but its companion work, Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci (nearly as strange a coupling as the costumes and staging). Albert was quite incensed that the management had changed the rehearsal schedule without informing him, thus resulting in his flying (first class) from New York when he would not be needed.

I received a telephone call relating this sequence of events, concluding with “Well, I’m here, so before I fly back home let’s have dinner at the best restaurant in Dallas – and charge it to the Opera!”

I had dined only once previously at The Old Warsaw, then considered one of the finest culinary experiences available in the city, so that’s where we had our leisurely and memorable meal. I don’t know if this was a prime example of “turning annoyance into pleasure” or simply the best way to ignore a scheduling snafu, but it was certainly a civilized way to deal with the matter, and remembering it reminds of a happy conversation with a distinguished fellow musician. Ave Albert, et vale.

Comments welcome. Please address them to Dr. Larry Palmer, Division of Music, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX 75275

Originally published in The Diapason (Chicago), February 2008

Albert Fuller photos by Paul Festa


Rummaging through old hard drives, I came across these photographs of Albert and friends:In June, 2002, Albert and I were in Switzerland at Hugues Cuenod's summer chateau for his 100th birthday. I took a slew of pictures of him and Huguie and these are probably the best. We were on Huguie's lawn behind the chateau and Albert was reading Huguie something - what I don't remember.Actually, I didn't take this photo - it was taken by my friend Anthony Lazarus over drinks at the bar I set up in my apartment - the Bar Nothing - which was modeled on Albert's Positive Bar. In the background is the portrait of me by Frank Yamrus, which would subliminally inspire the film I would later make starring Albert. This picture was taken at Nick & Tony's, the restaurant down the block from Albert's place on 67th Street where he ate dinner more often than not in his last years. Albert and I had gone there for a bite after a few hours at the Positive Bar, and when we were finishing up, in walked friends. From left to right, above Albert: Paul Festa, Lowell Liebermann, Bobby White. When my film Apparition of the Eternal Church screened in New York in February, Bill Trafka accompanied it live on the organ. The credits are set to Messiaen's Banquet Celeste, and the final chord sounds on this slow-motion clip of Albert at the moment he remembers the name of the work he's been listening to (Apparition de L'Eglise Eternelle). I got this shot of Albert and Bill during the dress rehearsal.[...]

Albert Fuller's movie in Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis


(image) Albert Fuller in Paul Festa's award-winning and internationally acclaimed Messiaen film
Apparition of the Eternal Church

Tonight, Tuesday June 24, the American Guild of Organists will present Apparition of the Eternal Church - the film of which Albert is both star and muse - in Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. The picture above is from this morning's sound check, with the Ondes Martenon players setting up below the screen for tonight's 8 p.m. Messiaen centenary tribute concert. The film, which is open to the public free of charge, starts after the concert, probably around 9:30 or a little later.

Tribute by harpsichordist Skip Sempé


Skip SempéPull Out for Handle – Push In for MozartAlbert Fuller (1926 - 2007) At the end of the day, and that day is sadly over, Albert Fuller was quite probably the essential American of the Baroque and Classical period instrument / repertoire movement. He died (as he lived) with dignity, at 81, in September 2007, at his New York residence - a home famous for both the music making and the social events which Albert hosted there for decades. The New York Times obituary referred to Albert as a “Conductor”. Perhaps that is today’s idea of glamor and respectability. But, let’s remember that being a Conductor is a more or less effortless task next to being a Harpsichordist. The “distinction” from the New York Times is indeed a doubtful honor: Conductors are dime-a-dozen, but Harpsichordists are not. And, Albert Fuller was a harpsichordist, in the tradition of Landowska and Kirkpatrick. I met him on Thursday, December 2, 1971, when I was living in New Orleans. He played a solo harpsichord recital on his William Dowd Boston (one of several that he owned over the years). The instrument flew, via air freight, with Albert for concerts all over the United States, and sometimes even to Europe. When I saw it being loaded back into the packing crate, I noticed a label on the side of the crate, which read “Pull Out for Handle”, next to which someone had hand written “Push In for Mozart”. For this recital, Albert played Rameau, Couperin and Scarlatti. The result was that I decided that if I worked hard enough, I might one day be able to play those pieces with as much flair as he. Albert left a trace of all three of these composers on recordings: Rameau for Cambridge, Nonesuch, and Reference; Couperin for Nonesuch; Scarlatti for Cambridge and Reference. The Reference titles are currently available on CDs: there is also a Bach CD for Reference, which is not to be missed. If you have not heard these recordings, get a hold of each of them, have a good listen, and hear what was happening in America in the 1960s and 70s - the time when there was “only” Gustav Leonhardt, in Europe. Albert taught and inspired many. His famous one-liner, “Fantasy precedes fact” particularly attracted those who did need to pose questions on this enlarged but real artistic concept. Albert loved music and he loved his friends, and he did a remarkable job with both. Albert engaged Jaap Schroeder to teach everyone in the United States what a Baroque violin and a Baroque bow were, and how to hold them. Not bad for a harpsichord player… The Aston Magna Academies, founded by Albert, were crucially important for the development of Baroque instrumental playing in the United States. Each and every “Baroque” instrumentalist, regardless of generation, who lives in the US and who plays on a Baroque or Classical instrument owes their livelihood to Albert Fuller. Believe me: I have a long and vibrant memory, and I well remember that Albert is the one who created the demand and the work for everyone in the US. Albert was an outstanding example of the model of individual “no longer made” in America. He was an adventurous and courageous pioneer who went out on a limb because he knew that he was right. His reflections and interpretations were based on critical discernment, information and instinct, not on pedantry or political correctness. He used an incredible brain, he worked, and he was uniquely generous to his students, who treasured him as an “alternative” presence in their learning process. [...]

Tribute by Classical Guitarist, Kevin Gallagher


I met Mr. Fuller when I took his class on performance practice in 1992. Tyically, one would think a Juilliard class such as this would be centered around "what kind of trills to execute" and "which editions of Bach's works are the most authentic". However, I'm happy to report that his class had very little to do with any of that.

His lectures reminded us how magical the invisible world of music really is and how fortunate we are to study it. He encouraged us to use our imagination, to question authorities, and to create our own rules and lives. He wanted us to understand that the master composers were not just statues and chapters in music history books. They felt what we felt - they were warmed by the same sun, breathed the same air, walked on the same earth. They felt love and lust, joy and sorrow, victory and defeat. We are all one.

I was so taken by his lectures that I signed up for private chamber music coachings with him - and he let me take them as a solo guitarist. One day I played a Bach Largo for him in a rather dry manner. He stopped me half way through and simply said "think hand mic" and then sang the melody freely as a jazz singer would - pretending to hold a microphone in his hand. It might sound humorous, but I tell you that this one lesson changed my entire perspective on music.

Albert wanted us to think outside the box - and to realize that the box was put there by someone else. I'm very grateful to have known this man for even a little bit of time. May he be joyous.

Here is Kevin's blog.

Potential Buyers Serenaded


From the "Big Deal" column in THE NEW YORK TIMES by JOSH BARBANEL

Published: February 17, 2008


You never know what a broker is going to find when showing a Manhattan apartment.

Sharon E. Baum of the Corcoran Group came across the unexpected when she opened the door of an apartment at 27 West 67th Street, owned by the estate of Albert Fuller, a harpsichordist and influential figure in the revival of early instrumental music. The co-op was as a haven for artists at the turn of the 20th century.

Ms. Baum and her client were greeted not by dirty laundry or even sweet-smelling cider bubbling on the stove, but by the strains of a work by Heinrich von Biber, a 17th-century composer, played on a Baroque-style violin with gut rather than steel strings by Colin Jacobsen, accompanied by a lute, harpsichord and cello.

Mr. Fuller’s apartment, a five-room duplex with a double-height living room and a barrel-vaulted 17-foot ceiling, had been used for decades as a musical salon and performance space, and while it was on the market, it was still being used for rehearsals.

Mr. Fuller died last September at the age of 81.

Since the first showing, Ms. Baum and James Roe, the executor of the estate and artistic director of the Helicon Foundation, which was founded by Mr. Fuller in the 1980s to support the early instrument movement, have been coordinating schedules. Now, musicians play when many potential buyers walk through.(image)

“The kind of people who look at an apartment like this want to be near Lincoln Center and Juilliard,” Ms. Baum said. “Everyone who walks in doesn’t want to leave; they want to stay.”

The apartment, owned by Mr. Fuller since the 1970s, is decorated in an exuberant style. “The residence retains many prewar details awaiting restoration to their original glory,” Ms. Baum wrote in the listing.

Mr. Roe said that the foundation was supported in its early years by gifts from Alice Tully, a soprano and philanthropist, who died in 1993. Now, he said, a part of the proceeds of the sale will go to the foundation.

Albert's movie returns to New York - Weds, Feb. 27


(image) AF making a big impression on his audience in Mobile, AL

Apparition of the Eternal Church, the critically acclaimed and award-winning film of which Albert Fuller is the muse and star, returns to New York for one night only:

Wednesday, 27 February 2008, 7:30 p.m.
St. Bartholomew's Church, Park & 51st

This will be the first screening of the film with live organ accompaniment. It will include more live performances including the New York premiere of Messiaen's Fantaisie for violin and piano, and the launch of my book OH MY GOD: Messiaen in the Ear of the Unbeliever. The book is based on the movie and as such stars Albert as well. After the screening, premiere and reading, join us for an open-bar reception in the sanctuary.

More about the movie, including trailer, press coverage, and full cast list here, and more about the book, including ordering information for the limited first edition, here.

AF onstage at St. Bartholomew's Church


On November 9th, 2006, Rooftop Films, the Premiere Commission and Great Music at St. Bartholomew's Church gave the New York premiere screening of Apparition of the Eternal Church, my film about people's responses to the music of Messiaen of which Albert is both muse and star. After the film, Bill Trafka played the organ, and after that Albert, the rest of the cast and I took questions. I just discovered these pictures on the Premiere Commission Website, which Bruce Levingston was kind enough to let me have full-resolution copies of.

New Yorkers--mark your calendar and save the date: Apparition of the Eternal Church returns to St. Bart's Wednesday, February 27th, 2008, at 7:30PM.

(image) AF onstage with Premiere Commission event sponsor Bruce Levingston, fellow Apparition cast members Ricky Ian Gordon, Wayne Koestenbaum, Shanti Carson, Nancy Anderson and Manoel Felciano, director Paul Festa, St. Bart's organist Bill Trafka, and Rooftop Films program director Dan Nuxoll. Be sure to click on the image so you can see, via people's expressions, how Albert is charming the pants off us.


Article by violinist, Anthony Martin published in "Early Music America" Winter 2007


Albert Fuller (1926–2007) in memoriam vitae bene peractæ et spiritus semper viventis (an article by Anthony Martin from “Early Music America Magazine,” Winter 2007, Latin courtesy of Otto Steinmayer)Performer, teacher, conductor, thinker, catalyst, eloquent speaker and sympathetic listener, Albert Fuller was mentor, guide, and friend to the generations of students and colleagues he influenced and inspired and brought together. Among his many accomplishments was the creation of Aston Magna, where performers, artists, and scholars would work, play, and eat together—oh! the heavenly meals created by the virtuosi that Albert installed in the kitchen! One memorable summer there he brought forth the first performances and recordings in America of the complete Brandenburg Concertos. His Helicon Foundation will continue that multi-disciplinary exploration in New York. Albert taught at the Juilliard School for over forty years, seeking always to put technique and repertoire into a wider, humanistic context. Many who heeded him are now at the center of early music activities throughout America. His book on Alice Tully is also his own spiritual autobiography.There is little I could add to Albert’s legacy, except to quote his own words, taken from various sources dating back to the beginning of our friendship. Most touching were his holiday letters, in which he shared his hopes and his fears, readings and poems that had excited him, and his feelings of love and connection with his worldwide family of friends. I hope this selection gives some idea of what moved Albert, who so moved us."We know where we have been: in high spirits, on a flight without always knowing where we will land and, with only a few and happily rare exceptions, in a collaborative effort characterized by kind words, hard effort and joyous feelings at the moment of performance." (1978)"Our desire to contribute to the stylistic discernment of the various musical periods, and hence the true meaning of the music, is unique, strong and revelatory in new and unexpected ways. That you can share this adventure with us is a source of the deepest satisfaction of comradeship in the feelings of which all artistic works are the metaphors." (1978)"In these hard times I feel that adding anything of good, even whatever little drop we may have of our good feelings and our benevolent aims, adding that to the rampant evil such as the confrontation of nuclear war, is a valuable thing." (1982)"The love that we all share has been the real glue of our work together. The musical products of that work are themselves the testimony of the power of exercising that love. In addition many other facets of our lives have been illuminated by the brightness of all that loving effort together." (1983)"To Aston Magna’s musicians as well as to those spiritually close to them, there was an underlying dynamic focus to the effort that was more important than the aural exoticism [of “original instruments”], a focus that was not so apparent to a large segment of the public nor even to many close to the foundation’s support. That was the feeling of newness of discovery or better, re-discovery, that attached itself to each performance. This new feeling derived not so much from the simple exercise of the “original instruments” themselves; rather, and more importantly, the instruments, as the true starting line, were the new tools that beckoned and prodded the players to exercise their art within a further and hitherto unsuspected spectrum of musical expressivity. This new territory was in effect the rediscovered chambers of psychological perceptions and emotional preoccupations of s[...]

Juilliard Journal Coverage of the Albert Fuller Memorial Concert


The December issue of The Juilliard Journal includes coverage of the Albert Fuller Memorial Concert, including photographs by Peter Schaaf and tributes by Andrew Appel, Barbara Bogatin, and James Roe.

For the article, "Celebrating the Life of an Extraordinary Musician," click here.

Bobby White's remarks at AF's Tribute Concert (12 Nov 07)


ALBERT FULLER - Thoughts in PassingHow do I celebrate the life of someone as remarkable as Albert Fuller? How do I explain those feelings of loss, the loss of truly one of my very closest friends, mentors, best, best buddies in the whole world?Albert was unique. I--and virtually everyone I ever have known that came in contact with him in the glory years, in Albert's youth and very enlightened older age, before he got ill these past several years and slowed down--all agree that there was no one like him. His radiant sense of humor and appreciation of the offbeat and bizarre, informed so much of what made him special.His words and insights could sometimes be 'sharp', but they were always to the point. This ability was apparent from early on. Albert loved to tell how he handled a stern headmaster's challenge when he was a mere 9 year old boy in his Washington D.C. grade school. The teacher glowered at Albert in his seat and said, "MASTER Fuller, did you give me a dirty look?" Albert replied, with great calm, "Teacher, you might have a dirty look, but I didn't give it to you!"The experiences that I had through Albert's kindness, his loving friendship, his caring about me as a human being, as a musician.. as an artist..enhanced my life in myriad ways....Albert reminded any and all of us, students and professionals alike, that we each must be (pause) "The Artist of Your Life". "Don't let people put you down!", he'd say. "Don't let ANY one smother your art! And the biggest person to watch out for in all of this, is your SELF, because YOU'RE the one most responsible for keeping that spark of art alive in your heart!"Albert helped us achieve this so often by his own enthusiastic example......whether it meant cooking an absolutely FLAWLESS, Glorious, Chinese meal for a dozen friends, or a classic French meal, or an Italian one..or a Belgian waterzooi, (Pronounced vatter-zoy), ..whatever the cuisine, Albert could throw it together at the drop of a toque..(PAUSE) And there'd always be 'Music' following dinner, either live or in recordings of extraordinary performances from Monteverdi to ALMOST that I mean, Aretha Franklin would share the spotlight with Wanda Landowska or Janis Joplin with Couperin's Leçons de Ténèbres. If the music-making was superb, that's all that mattered to Albert.I met him in 1961 when I was 24 years old– can it be nearly half a century ago?- at the Spoleto Festival in Italy. Throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s, I sang in numerous concerts with Albert at the helm. So many beautiful performances took place as well with Mel Kaplan's New York Chamber Soloists...Albert inventing away at the clavicembalo. As Artist-in-Residence at the NYU Medical Center over on East 30th Street, Albert presented many seasons of extraordinary concerts under the aegis of his great friend on the NYU Medical Faculty, immunologist Dr. Zoltan Ovary.I will never forget the glorious Baroque operas Albert arranged and conducted here at Juilliard in the 70s, as well as endless instrumental and vocal works performed through the years at his Aston Magna and later, Helicon series. A stunning Platée- of Rameau- radiantly sung by then Juilliard student Barbara Hendricks under Albert's direction- is only one of many events that remain burned in my memory. His beautiful apartment on West 67th street with the two-story living room was the scene of so many wondrous musical evenings. Pianos and harpsichords and viols and lutes were constantly coming in and out of the apartment as young performers took their places for yet another 'soiree musicale' chez-Albert.L[...]

Article in The Concise Edition of Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, eighth edition, 1994


Fuller, Albert, American harpsichordist; b. Washington, D.C., July 21, 1926. He studied organ with Paul Callaway at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., then attended classes at the Peabody Cons. and at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins Univs. He studied harpsichord with Ralph Kirkpatrick at Yale Univ. and also theory there with Hindemith, graduating with a M.Mus. in 1954. He then went to Paris on a Ditson fellowship; upon his return to the U.S., he made his N.Y. recital debut in 1957; his European debut followed in 1959. In 1964 he became a prof. of harpsichord at the Juilliard School of Music in N.Y. From 1972 to 1983 he was founder-artistic director of the Aston Magna Foundation.

Remarks given by James Roe at Albert Fuller's Tribute Concert, 12 Nov 2007, The Juilliard School


Ladies and gentlemen, I am so pleased to see a full house tonight. My name is James Roe, I am the Artistic Director the of The Helicon Foundation, an organization Albert Fuller founded in 1985 to explore the use of period instruments in chamber music from the 17th, 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. Emailing last week with Albert’s long time friend, Frank Heller, he mentioned how much Albert would have loved this program; indeed he would have. All the performers tonight are ones he loved dearly and with whom he had long fruitful association and so we thank them for being a part of this tribute. While I’m thanking people, let me express gratitude to President Polisi and Juilliard for hosting this event. On the Helicon side, I have to thank Matthew Herren for his indispensable assistance in planning this event. I also thank Helicon Board Member Karen McLaughlin and her friends at Live from Lincoln Center for producing and editing the recording of Albert speaking and for making the DVD included in your program. On a personal note, everyone who loved Albert owes a deep gratitude to Patrick Rucker, who in the last year of Albert’s life, and especially during his final illness, provided him with care, comfort and dignity as he lived out his final days in his own home.I met Albert Fuller in 1990 as a student in his Juilliard Graduate Seminar called “Performance Problems in 18th-Century Music.” Seventeen years and two months ago, fresh and green from northern Michigan farm country, I was sitting just upstairs in Karen Wagner’s office planning my course work. “Why don’t you take Albert Fuller’s class?” she said, “I think you’d enjoy it.” Well, Karen, I’d say that was a terrific suggestion . . .Albert referred to his graduate seminar as his STYLE CLASS. Any of us who spent any time with Albert, knew that his very life was a class in style — and his style was in a class all by itself.His course didn’t follow the usual or expected linear format—usual, expected, and linear were never his abiding interests—rather it wended its way, equal parts Socratic and rhapsodic, through issues important to him: the power of artistic self expression to unite humanity, the development of an individual voice, and the recognition of historical music’s vernacular power. This last point was a great motivator in his exploration of period instruments and performance practice, the stripping away of grimy layers of interpretive build-up on centuries-old music could reveal audacious power in the original. But he also approached this question from the completely opposite direction, through popular music. For Albert, the question of cultural relevance was uncomplicated by category. He was touched by Madonna and Monteverdi, The Beatles and Bach, Aretha was divine, “Elvis was the translator,” and all music basically came down to singing and dancing!From time to time, Albert would ask me to proofread his new Seminar materials. One day he handed me a nearly blank piece of paper, “Jim, take a look at my new final exam.” There was only one printed line which read: “Question: What have you learned from this class during the year? (Use both sides only of this one piece of paper.)”This fall, I found a file full of answers to his final exam from 1998. Reading them, I was struck at the intimate and touching picture they painted of Albert as a teacher. He inspired these young musicians. They really got him. I would like to read you some excerpts from their answers. I happen to know that at least two people in [...]

Albert Fuller Memorial Tribute




12 November 2007
6:00 PM

144 West 66th Street

RSVP (required)
(212) 799-5000 x 329

Andrew Appel, harpsichord
Aymeric Dupré la Tour, harpsichord
Arthur Haas, harpsichord
Myron Lutzke, 'cello
Pedja Muzijevic, piano
Lionel Party, harpsichord
Joseph W. Polisi, President, The Juilliard School
Linda Quan, violin
James Roe, Artistic Director, Helicon
Marc Schachman, oboe
Jaap Schröder, violin
Jonathan Ware, piano
Robert White,

Letter from oboist, Sarah Duval


Dear Jim,

I just want to say that I was so sorry to hear about Albert's passing. He was a special man and influenced so many people, including me, in such a variety of ways. I was sorry that I lost touch with him in recent years.

When I worked for Aston Magna for those years under his directorship, it was his inspiring philosophies on music and life, and his wonderful charisma that made me choose the early music path, which I've never regretted. These days when I'm playing more "modern" oboe, and composing as well, I still hear his voice from time to time about creativity and the cosmos, and the link between all the arts. I especially thought of him during a recent visit I made to MoMA. It was the motion of one of Calder's mobiles that made me think of one of his quotes about the motion in visual art and music being similar.

I'll see you on Monday for the memorial.

All the best,

AF Tribute by Peter Lombardo


(image) Zoltan Ovary, AF, Hugues Cuenod

A Memory

I first met Albert in the fall of 1963. I was on my way to a dinner party and was waiting for the elevator in my hosts’ building when two gentlemen came up who obviously were going to the same party. Apparently they knew more about the guest list than I did as the younger man said in that cheerful and friendly voice that I came to know so well. “You must be Peter Lombardo, I’m Albert Fuller and this is Dr. Zoltan Ovary.” That was the start of a forty-year friendship with these two wonderful people which has ended only now with Albert’s passing.

Others more qualified than I have written so eloquently of Albert’s musical genius and accomplishments. I can, however, speak to his friendship and generosity of spirit. I was a young physician who had just finished my training and had a head full of medical knowledge but no patients and few friends. Albert and Zoltan quickly changed that situation. They introduced me to their friends and colleagues who became my friends and patients. It was a privilege to have the world of baroque music opened for me by Albert and to share in his friendship which was always given with a spirit of joy and a patina of fun. Can we ever forget the wonderfully riotous and delicious dinners we had at Albert’s table?

All his friends appreciated and admired Albert for the music and we all loved him for the fun and laughter!

Rest in peace, dear friend you are missed.

Peter Lombardo

Tribute by Barbara Bogatin


Albert Fuller, Mentor Extraordinaire
It’s amazing how many people who had the great pleasure of working with Albert consider him not just teacher, but mentor. Yes, he was a “specialist” in early music, but what he taught was all of music, and not just how to play with others, but how to play with life. To be caught up in his world was to look deep inside the music, to get “the shivers,” to meet an extravagantly colorful cast of characters, to read and think and laugh, and to eat and drink very well. What a stroke of luck to find Albert early in my Juilliard years, when he was just beginning Aston Magna, and eager to recruit interested students to come to Great Barrington, exchange our steel strings for gut and try out his Baroque bows. I spent eight summers there, learning that music is not in a world by itself, but integrally connected to the art, architecture, literature, dance and historical context of its time. In that musical and scholarly community that he created, we learned to make spaces between the notes, relish the symmetry in the gardens of Versailles, and dance the sarabande.

But it was all of life that Albert cared about, and I find his wisdom so relevant today as I try to guide my own children and students. At a time when I was feeling particularly lost, struggling to find my place in the daunting professional world, I saw Albert dining alone in a café on Columbus Ave. He waved me in, bought me lunch and at once tried to sort out my confusion. He told me to “make a list of everything you want to accomplish in the next year…..then in the next 5 years….then the next 10 years……then 20 years….and now listen to that still quiet voice inside, that’s connected to your heart and your gut, and let it guide you…..”

The big picture, and the most essential truth, that was Albert. He once told me that he loved museums because if he got very quiet and looked at great art for a long time, the paintings spoke to him. I didn’t have any idea what he meant at the time, but 30 years later, a quiet hour in a museum fills me with a calm joy. So take a few minutes out of your busy day, sit down somewhere, just be still, and listen very carefully… just might hear, way in the distance, Les Sauvages played on Baroque harp.

Barbara Bogatin
Cellist, San Francisco Symphony
(and occasional viola da gambist and Baroque cellist)