Goodrich, Wallace


Eminent American organist; born in Newton, Mass., of New England parentage. His father, a distinguished lawyer, at first wished his only child to follow his profession. Although not an fnfant prodigy, Wallace desired as a child to play the organ, and after a few lessons from Eugene Thayer he found that piano study was the first essential, and accordingly was sent to Mr. Clouston for lessons on that instrument. After three years under this teacher and three under Carlyle Petersilea he was considered ready to take up organ again, and at the age of fourteen accepted a position in a Newton church. Not having touched the instrument for some years, he was coached by George C. Gow, and took the position within a week after it was offered to him. Meanwhile he attended the Newton High School, graduating in 1888, and while there, inspired by a Wagner Festival, directed by Theodore Thomas in Boston, he organized a small orchestra among his classmates. After the study of harmony and counterpoint under Chadwick, organ under Henry M. Dunham, and musical theory under Louis C. Elson at the New England Conservatory of Music, in all three years, during which time he composed some, he secured a better position in the Eliot Congregational Church at Newton, and gave organ recitals. His father finally becoming reconciled to his son's choice of a musical career, young Goodrich went to Europe with his mother in 1894. He became a pupil of Rheinberger at the Royal Academy of Music in Munich, and also studied conducting under Ludwig Abel, to such purpose that at the annual closing exercises of the school, Goodrich conducted an Ave Maria of his own for chorus and orchestra, and won a medal for organ-playing and composition. In 1895 he went to Paris and studied organ under Widor. The next year he became director of rehearsals at the Leipsic City Theatre, received much training in the details of operatic conducting, which he then expected to follow; but an offer of the professorship of organ and harmony in the New England Conservatory of Music brought him back to America in 1897. For the years 1905 and 1906 he was acting director of the Conservatory, during Chadwick's absence in Europe, and his efficiency was recognized by his being chosen Dean of the faculty the following year. Soon after his return to this country he became organist and choirmaster of the Church of the Messiah in Boston, resigning this position in 1902 to accept that at Trinity Church, where he now plays. He gave a series of recitals at the Arlington Street Church, Boston, playing a high class of organ music, and in 1901 ne gave the first organ recital in Boston Symphony Hall. He has been the regular organist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 1897, and has also appeared as organ soloist at symphony concerts in different cities, and is considered one of the surest ensemble players in America.

While in Europe he made a special study of plain song, liturgy, and mediaeval church music; has lectured on these subjects, and is perhaps the leading authority in the United States on the subject of plain song, which he has introduced into the church service in this country. This preparation also fitted him for the unique position which he holds as conductor of the Choral Art Society of Boston, which he organized in 1902. This society is composed chiefly of artists, and performs the most difficult ecclesiastical works without accompaniment. Goodrich has' recently founded a series of concerts known as the Jordan Hall Orchestral concerts, which he conducts, as well as the Cecilia Society of Boston, and the Worcester County Musical Association. He has contributed valuable articles on the organ to musical periodicals, and has upheld legitimate organ music, i. e., that originally written for the instrument with a view to its individuality in contradistinction to the   use of transcription and orchestral imitation. He has also translated from the French, A. Pirro's L'Orgue de Bach, as J. S. Bach the Organist; and Niedermeyer's book on Gregorian accompaniment. As yet his compositions are all in manuscript. A Latin hymn, an orchestral overture, an operetta, an Ave Maria for chorus and orchestra, and a requiem, in English, all attest his industry in this direction.