Saturday, September 1, 2007

Overview and Contents

Philip Lillestol in Paris, 1950-1952

This blog site contains a chronology of Philip's life with photos and commentary from people in his life. It is divided into the following main sections:

1923-1942: Early years in North Dakota to high school graduation
1942-1950: College and war years to BA degree
1950-1952: Paris
1952-1957: Minneapolis to MA Degree
1957-1963: Teaching in Minneapolis
1964-1968: Teaching in Minneapolis
1969-1971: Teaching in Minneapolis
1972-1976: Teaching in Minneapolis
1977-2001: Teaching in Minneapolis and final years
History of the Lillestol Clan by Oline Lillestol (Philip’s aunt)

An on-line photo album where larger versions of the images may be found is available at The album is especially helpful for the images of written text, as viewing the album in slideshow mode allows those images to fill the screen, making them big enough to be more easily legible.

1923-1942: Early Years to High School Graduation

On the family farm, near Barney, North Dakota: Philip's aunt, Lillian Lillestol Johnston (visiting from Seattle, WA), Philip, and his parents, along with cousins Beverly (later Janssen), Jacob, Duane and Jerome Lillestol, children of Philip's father's brother, who had the neighboring farm.

1923, December 17: Basil Philip Lillestol was born in rural Barney, ND (Barney is east of Wyndmere and west of Wahpeton, which is south of Fargo) into a family of Norwegian Lutheran heritage. Phil never liked “Basil” and never used it.

The town of Barney, ND is the red star between Wyndmere (high school & 1945 recital) and Wahpeton, ND (memorial service) / Breckenridge, MN (1950 recital). Like Fargo/Moorhead, Wahpeton and Breckenridge are separated by the Red River. Population from 2000 census: Barney, 69; Wyndmere, 533; Wahpeton, 8,586; all in Richland County.

From Lois Price, Philip’s sister and only sibling: Philip’s Aunt Oline was his first piano teacher. She was a musician and teacher. She also wrote a brief history of the Lillestol clan. [Included as a separate post.] Aunt Oline was also our schoolteacher at the one room country school we attended. (She taught Philip through 5th grade and me through 3rd grade.) Then Aunt Oline and Grandma Laura moved to town (Wyndmere) where Aunt Oline taught. She was one of our father’s sisters.

Our parents did not have a piano at the time Philip was born. Grandma and Aunt Oline lived 1/4 mile from where our family lived. I was told Philip would run to Grandma’s house to play the piano as soon as he was able to do so by himself, so I don’t know the exact year he started lessons with Aunt Oline.

The farm house was later insulated and sided, but we did not get electricity on the farm until about 1945; so Philip and I remembered many of the things Aunt Oline wrote about in her family history. We did grow up surrounded by many nice aunts and uncles -- and many fun cousins -- but there was lots of hard work to do on the farm, and Philip did not have as much time to play the piano as he would have liked. I remember he would sometimes “think” of a piece of music at night, and I would hear him rush downstairs to start playing the piano.

1938 Philip began studying piano with Sister Clement in Wyndmere around the beginning of high school.

Wyndmere High School Tumbling Team, 1940-41
Bottom Row:
Bob Baker, Arvid Transgrud, Duane Little, Norman Oberg, Phillip Lillestol.
Second Row:
Harold Wittkopp, Dan Stallman, Clifford Swanson, Jr. Puetz.
Third Row:
Mike Carver, Mel Hendricks, Don Rode.
Top Row:
Manny Dokken.

1942 High school quartet

1942 Graduation from Wyndmere High School.

From Lois Price: Philip won a North Dakota state contest with an essay on Americanism while he was in high school. He was awarded a set of World Book Encyclopedias.

1942-1950: College and war years to BA degree

1942 Attended 1st year of college at Duluth State Normal School, his piano teacher was Florence Ostergren, whose mother was a music graduate of the Royal Conservatory in Stockholm.

From Bob Laudon: Because of W.W.II, after his 1st year of college, Philip had to return to the family farm to work as the only son of the family. The farm work he did was in national service of a protected industry, farming. He certainly must have felt that he had had enough of farming to last him a lifetime. It left him little time for languages or music.

1945 April 29: St. John’s School, Wyndmere, ND, Department of Music, Recital as student of Sister M. Clement, O.S.B., who was one of the principal piano teachers in ND (Recital ended with the Grieg Concerto) Philip was fond of Sister Clement.

1946 From Bob Laudon: After the war, Philip went to study at U of MN. His first teacher was William Lindsay, who had won the Mendelssohn Prize at the Leipzig Conservatory. Lindsay, who was Scottish, was in an internment camp during W.W.I and left Germany afterwards. Lindsay performed concertos with each of the conductors of the Minneapolis Symphony from No. 1, Oberhoffer, through all the conductors up to the time of his retirement around 1950. Lindsay had a marvelous ear and a command of the complete repertory. His teaching focused on the technical side of things. He also composed some Scottish songs. There was a Scottish contingent in town, Scott, Ferguson, MacPhail, Lindsay.

Philip transferred over to Earl Rymer’s studio, as Rymer’s students were making a big splash. Rymer was a remarkable teacher. (Rymer had studied with Olga Samaroff. Goal was to make students independent of teacher.) There was a weekly master class, where students did the critiquing. Phil attended only occasionally, as he seemed to wait until he was completely prepared. Many of the others attended more regularly. I do remember Phil's graduation BA recital. He did play some of those pieces for the piano class. He was quite successful with that recital. I remember being especially impressed with the Brahms' E-flat minor. Rymer too was pleased with that and other things. Phil always thought the last movement of the Pathétique a bit of a let down in Beethoven's writing after 2 masterful movements.

Philip’s 1st French class at the U was a 200 level class: Advanced French Morphology. He was gifted with languages. He studied independently and knew how to shape his mouth to get the required sounds. He knew French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, the Scandinavian languages, and others.

From Wayne Peterson:

Bob Laudon and I always thought Philip should have gone into comparative philology to use his knack for languages. Phil said when he went to Mexico for a visit after one week he could understand and communicate with the locals in Spanish.

1947 Philip and his sister Lois in Duluth when she was a nursing student.

1948 September 26: Philip at Lois’ wedding, where he played the organ prelude and was a groomsman

1950 Philip submitted a recording of Scarlatti Sonatas on piano for a Fulbright Scholarship to study harpsichord in Paris.

Formal photo taken around the time of his 1950 recitals

1950 March 7: Recital at U of MN in Scott Hall Auditorium (Scarlatti, Appassionata, Brahms Rhapsody & 2 Intermezzos, Chopin)

1950 May 27: Recital in Breckenridge, MN, across river from Wahpeton, ND (Scarlatti, Pathetique, Brahms Waltzes, Liszt, Chopin)

1950 Bachelor of Arts Degree, U of MN

1950 June 23: Photo of Phil with cousin Beverly Janssen in Minneapolis

1950-1952: Paris

1950 Fulbright Scholarship to study at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris.

Philip leaving for Paris

Philip in Paris, studied music history with Norbert Dufourcq and harpsichord with Marcelle de Lacour (one of the 1st teachers of harpsichord). Philip rented a Playel harpsichord (4’, 2 x 8’, 16’)

Philip in Paris

Norbert Dufourcq's Histoire de la Musique class at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, 1950-1951, with Philip (4th from left, back row) and his pals, Laurence Boulay (3rd from left, front row) and Huguette Dreyfus (3rd from right, front row).

Laurence Boulay became Basso Continuo professor at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris and had a recording career. Huguette Dreyfus became Harpsichord professor at the Conservatory of Lyon and had a recording career.

Philip near Innsbruck, Austria and his note on the back of the photo.

1951-1952 Received meager stipend from French government to remain a second year at Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris. No $ for a 3rd year of study, which was usually necessary to complete a full course of study.

Wayne Peterson thought that Phil had became too ill to return to the US after his first year in Paris and that this was why he had to stay another year. Wayne thought the illness might have been jaundice or hepatitis, but wasn't sure. This might explain the meager stipend from the French government for Phil’s second year.

Lois Price relates a different version of this year: I was told by my parents (and I think by Philip) that he received a second scholarship from the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris. It was very small compared to the Fulbright Scholarship. He was not ill at the beginning of the 2nd year. (I doubt the French government would have supported him only because of illness.) However, he did become ill at the end of his 2nd year in France. Our parents and many relatives had planned a “welcome home” party for him at his arrival back in North Dakota. Instead, they took him directly to the hospital in Breckenridge, Minnesota, and he recovered in a few weeks. (I was in Duluth.)

From the Conservatory Archivist: Monsieur Basil Lillestol a obtenu en 1951 un Premier Accessit d'Histoire de la Musique (classe M. Dufourcq), et en 1952 une Première Mention de Culture générale et Esthétique (classe de M. Beaufils).

Madame Laurence Boulay a obtenu en 1950 un Premier Prix d'Histoire de la Musique et en 1951 un Prix d'Excellence dans cette même discipline. Madame Huguette Dreyfus a obtenu en 1951 un Second Prix d'Histoire de la Musique.

From Bob Laudon: For any prize, it was necessary to concourer. Phil described to me the pulling of a slip out of a hat, the slip would contain a topic (he mentioned, "such as the Saint-Matthew Passion"), then the student would have about 20 minutes to retire en loge to prepare his presentation before a distinguished jury of the most famous European people in music history or esthetics. From what he said, the presentation was supposed to take about 20 minutes and could include questions from the jury. Normally the teacher of the class would be one member of the jury.

From Ed Savage: Phil’s harpsichord teacher, Marcelle de Lacour, was a student of Landowska. Phil may also have played for his friend Hugette Dreyfus' teacher, Ruggero Gerlin, who had also been a Landowska student.

Edward B. Savage Obituary

From Bob Laudon with information from the history of the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris:

There probably was no concours for harpsichord while Phil was there since Marcelle de Lacour was not officially recognized for that class until 1955. Phil arrived on the scene just at the moment when Norbert Dufourcq and Marcel Beaufils were at their peak.

Dufourcq was organist of Saint-Merry de Paris and had a fabulous background culminating in a doctorat ès lettres at the Sorbonne. Just before Phil's arrival, he had published J-Sébastien Bach and La Messe en si mineur (1848), La Musique française (1949) this was the topic of Phil's class with Dufourcq, and Le Clavecin (1949). He held the post of professor of music history at CNS (Conservatoire National Supérieur) 1941-1975.

Marcel Beaufils was professor of esthetics at CNS 1947-1971. He studied in Strasbourg and wrote in German as well as French. He was acquainted with the Second Viennese School of Alban Berg, etc. during his stay in Vienna. Just before Phil's arrival, he published Wagner et le wagnérisme (1946), Chopin (1949) and La musique de piano de Schumann (1951). Phil, of course, was fluent in German.

I really do not see any difference between Accesit and Première Mention except that Accesit can have degrees such as premier, sécond. I think he studied piano also, but the archivist makes no mention of it or of solfège. Sometimes there were different standards for the foreign students and the French.

As I looked at those photos, it struck me that those were fairly large classes and that to win any recognition in them must have been truly earned.

1952-1957: Minneapolis to MA Degree

1952-1954 Philip Lillestol Home, 1314 - 8th Street SE, Minneapolis, perhaps until 1955.

From June Getsug Banet: I remember playing on his grand (1913 Steinway) at the house on 8th St. It was on the 2nd floor, and I'm pretty sure it was in a sunroom at the front of the house. I remember that we didn't go to 8th St. house for very long.

1952 Philip joined the Minnesota Music Teachers Association (MMTA)

St. Thomas Directory, 1961-1963, showing Philip began teaching there in 1952. He was not listed in the 1963-1965 Directory, so he stopped teaching at St. Thomas sometime during 1961-1963.

1952 Philip began teaching piano at St. Thomas, 1952 until sometime between 1961 and 1963.

Music Building at St. Thomas, where Philip was an Instructor in Piano from 1952 to sometime in 1961-1963

June Getsug Banet outside St. Thomas Music Building. Philip's studio was at the upper left (2nd floor).

Waiting Area outside Philip's studio at St. Thomas

View into the room that was Philip's teaching studio at St. Thomas

From June Getsug Banet: The music bldg. of St. Thomas was on the northeast corner of Summit and Cleveland - it's not the music bldg. any longer. I know I was 8 when I first went to him at St. Thomas - I remember that first meeting very clearly. How long we stayed there before going to his place on 8th St., I don't remember.

1954 Sarjae Rice, MMTA Honors -10 Piano, Junior B

1954 June 17: Mrs. Rice’s letter to Philip, her daughter Sarjae was a Junior B Winner, one of 5 MMTA winners Philip had that year.

1955-1956 Phil and a friend Pete rented Bob Laudon’s mother’s house for a year (924 18th Ave. SE). Pete was also a student of languages and Bob believes they spent many days conversing in a foreign language.

1956-1957 Phil lived in an apartment at 432 SE 4th St. in Minneapolis before moving to Florence Court.

1956-1961 Philip an Instructor in Piano at the University of MN. His studio was in Room 6 of the Music Education Building.

Music Education Building at University of Minnesota where Philip taught

Entrance to Music Education Building at University of Minnesota

Music Education Building at University of Minnesota now closed to public

From June Getsug Banet: He gave me some lessons at the music bldg. across the street from U-High on the U campus for a very short time. I was preparing for a concert - I'm not sure which one - and we went there almost every day.

1957 April 11: Janet Soderstrom, MMTA 10-piano winner in 14-15 year old age group. Article in Columbia Heights Record.

1957 August 22: Lillestol Master of Arts Diploma, U of MN

1957-1963: Teaching in Minneapolis

1957 Philip began teaching piano at Hamline, 1957-1959

Hamline University Bulletin, 1958-1960, showing Philip started teaching there in 1957. He is in the Hamline Directory for the 1957-58 and 1958-59 academic years, but not the years before or after, so taught there only those two years. His studio was in the Drew Fine Arts Building, Rm. 113 for '57-'58, and Rm. 112 for '58-'59.

Drew Fine Arts Building, Hamline.
Drew Fine Arts Building, Hamline. Rm. 113 (left) was Philip's teaching studio for '57-'58, and Rm. 112 (right) for '58-'59.

1957 Paul Freed joins faculty at U of MN. From Bob Laudon: Paul Freed and Phil were friends on several levels. They both came from ND, they both had been students in Europe, they both spoke several languages, they both produced prize winners in contests, they both had high standards of performance for their students.

Old Main, Hamline University. Bridgman Hall, where Philip's 1958 recital took place, is on the 2nd floor.

Bridgman Hall, Old Main, Hamline University, where Philip's 1958 recital took place.
Lillestol - Hamline Faculty Recital, Bridgman Hall in Old Main, December 2, 1958

1958 December 2: Lillestol - Hamline Faculty Recital (Couperin, Mozart, Pathetique, Fauré, Franck) The Couperin, Fauré, and Franck are new additions to his repertoire after his time in France.

From Bob Laudon: The question arises, where did Phil learn this? Did he study piano with Mme. de Lacour as well as harpsichord. I rather think so. But proof?

Huguette Dreyfus, more recent photo, from a French Google search by Robert Laudon

Huguette Dreyfus (whom Bob Laudon met briefly after a concert) was a student of Gerlin, another very musical person. How much contact Phil might have had with others than his official teacher is an interesting question.

1958 December Chiuminatto Letter - Philip then teaching piano at St. Thomas, Hamline, & U of MN

1958 December 16: Lillestol - St. Thomas Faculty Recital (Couperin, Mozart, Pathetique, Fauré, Franck)

1957-2001 Philip Lillestol's Home, Florence Court, 1000 University Avenue, (1913 Steinway)

From Wayne Peterson: During my graduate school days 1957 to 1959 my wife and I would have dinner at Phil’s and Paul Freed would be there. (From Bob Laudon: Phil had a special chicken dish that he liked to prepare for people.)

From June Getsug Banet: I remember that when I played with the St. Thomas concert band he was living on 10th. Right after that concert (May 1957) I auditioned for Mr. Cook who was the conductor of the Rochester (MN) Symphony Orchestra, and it was at the 10th Ave. row house.

Philip Lillestol Home, 1957-2001, Florence Court
June Getsug Banet in entryway to Florence Court apartment
Hallway outside Florence Court apartment
Stairway outside Florence Court apartment
Bannister outside Florence Court apartment
Reinforced Apartment Door, Florence Court
Close-up of reinforced Apartment Door, Florence Court
Hinge on entryway door, Florence Court

From Bob Laudon: Florence Court is on the list of historic places. The Minnesota Historical Society has an office devoted to this list. It was the home of Harlow Stearns Gale, music critic, psychologist, amateur cellist, etc. etc. He had a Stube (everything was expressed in German after his time spent with Wilhelm Wundt, the founder of modern experimental psychology) in his rooms at Florence Court where they did chamber music. Since his birthday was only 1 day removed from that of Donald Nivison Ferguson, they celebrated both in the rooms and in the grove of Florence Court with an all-day festival of music. I have an extended essay "Gales of Music" on the early pioneer settlers, Harlow Augustus and Samuel Chester Gales and their two musical sons. Harlow Stearns Gale compared Florence Court to the buildings in Stratford-on-Avon.

Philip at his sister's, Duluth, Minnesota, 1960

1961 Parents’ 40th Anniversary Photo with North Dakota homestead.

1961 Elizabeth Wolff, Young Artist Soloist, MMTA Honors Concert - Mendelssohn - Rondo Capriccioso

From Liz Wolff: I was a student of Philip Lillestol from 1958 through June of 1961. I had two lessons a week for those 3 years. And I did win something but quite frankly I don't know which year. Probably the last one. The repertoire was to be the Schubert Andante and Variations in B Flat from the Impromptus, but I played the Rondo Capriccioso of Mendelssohn. I remember it was in Northrop Auditorium. I came in second. I believe my eventual Two Piano Partner, Joanne Sturman won first prize. Around the same time, there was a concerto competition. By mistake I was put with the Minneapolis contestants instead of the St. Paul group. Philip was simply not interested in the externals of it all, so when he told me that I would get an ironic letter of both congratulations and disqualification from the Minneapolis Symphony as I believed it was called then, only the congratulations seemed significant to him.

This was my Mom's favorite story: at my audition, Philip offered me some goat milk, which I did indeed refuse, but it seems he was addicted, since every lesson, or almost every lesson, he always had his glass of goat milk sit with him.

He gave me a life of music! His memory should continue on. The photos are merely a visual memory, but the lessons themselves will never fade.

1963 May 22: June Getsug Performance

1963 June Getzug, Young Artist Soloist, MMTA Honors Concert - performed, piece?