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More letters from alumni about Professor Walter Nollner

Walter Nollner ovation

After reading the letter from Ray Fitzsimmons '55 about Walter Nollner, I wanted to take this opportunity to share an anecdote. I am sure that hundreds of alumni have wonderful stories about Walter Nollner, but there is one recollection which still blows my socks off for its display of vast musical skill.

The Glee Club of about 60 strong was rehearsing a Stravinsky piece with about half the orchestra in Richardson Auditorium. The rehearsal was going well, and the sound was good. All of a sudden, Mr. Nollner stopped the orchestra and choir, and turned to the harp. "You have a sympathetic vibration on the b-flat," he said, "please dampen it."

In other words, the b-flat string of the harp was very slightly resonating whenever another instrument or singer produced that note. The harpist, as one might imagine, had not noticed it. For Nollner to pick up the existence of the vibration, locate it, and determine which note it was, all while conducting and scrutinizing 80 musicians in full swing, was superhuman.

To this day, some of my musical friends insist that this feat was impossible, and Walter Nollner was just showing off (since nobody could have gainsayed him anyway). But I'm not so sure.

Isaiah Cox '94

London, England

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