Magazine article The Tracker

The Complete Disc Recordings of Archer Gibson

Magazine article The Tracker

The Complete Disc Recordings of Archer Gibson

Article excerpt

The Complete Disc Recordings of Archer Gibson. $18 postpaid. Available from www.ohscatalog.org. If there was ever a consummate advocate of the Aeolian residence organ it was Archer Gibson. Baltimore-bred and Peabody-trained, he followed his minister to New York's Brick Presbyterian Church only to have the clergyman die in Florence before their first service together. Nevertheless, Gibson held the post for eight years, until Easter 1909 when he abruptly resigned to follow his pregnant soprano soloist to Oklahoma, denying all the way (in the New York Times) the licentious rumors that followed them.

In the meantime, Gibson had earned his FAGO certificate, served as sub-warden of the American Guild of Organists, and had been influen- tial on its committee for console stan- dardization. Not the least of his activi- ties was what he called "housework:" playing the newly-introduced organs in the homes of New York's wealthiest citizens. As the "Millionaire's Maestro" he earned many times his church salary and his services were eagerly competed-for by patrons (never "employers") such as Schwab, Frick, Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Tiffany, Twombly, Sloane, Baldwin, Manville, and others. With Caruso, Schumann-Heink, Paderewski, and Kreisler, Mr. Gibson entertained at Saturday night soirées and Sunday afternoon musicales, accompanying the greats of the Golden Age and engaging in a lifestyle quite different from that of his esteemed colleagues in the organ world. Tall (well over six feet) and handsome, he had no lack of young companions up to the end of his life, and most accounts mention the attractive young ladies bustling about his duplex apartment on West 86th Street.

What was the musical magic of this artist who recorded some 75 Aeolian player organ rolls and made hundreds of thousands of dollars a year? Well, it must be stated that, while many a millionaire's wife had a box at the Metropolitan Opera and a subscription to concerts of the New York Symphony Society, they more often attended as a social activity and generally preferred what have come to be regarded as "everybody's favorites." These Archer Gibson provided by the hour, playing from memory hundreds of violin and piano pieces, opera excerpts (his obituary referred to his playing through Parsifal at one sitting! …

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