Comments from Larry Adler

Q: What is a patron of the arts, Dad?
A: Someone who patronizes artists.

I have been patronized before but never with such loving venom. Larry Logan is a master of the art. He wrote: "With due respect to all his great talent (beware the flattery that begins 'with due respect'), his rise to fame consisted of all the right ingredients; . . . and a monumental fluke that catapulted him to prominence by the name of Charles Cochran."

Let us overlook the shoddy English that makes Charles B. Cochran 'a monumental fluke.' He is right in realizing that my coming to England with Cochran was a big break. I accepted Cochran's invitation because he was the first producer to call me 'Mr. Adler.' Florenz Ziegfeld always called me 'kid.' I don't think he ever knew my name. Cochran offered me no contract, I paid my own way across the Atlantic. He did not, as Logan claims, 'produce a review' (sic) around me. There was a revue, already running, called 'Streamline' and I was added to that. Cochran did not introduce me to British royalty. A friend, Myrtle Farquharson, did.

More Loganberries: ". . . upon his return to America, Adler was managed by the most powerful agency, . . . the Wm Morris Agency." I was managed by Morris before if left for England and have a photo of one of its executives, Nat Kalcheim, seeing me off on the Aquitania.

Writing of another mouthorganist, John Sebastian, "His career did not have the flash and pizzazz of Adler's." Inference; Sebastian was a true artist, unlike me who with my flash and pizzazz was, by implication, the Liberace of the mouthorgan.

Cruellest of Logan's death by a thousand cuts; "Some of you may remember Adler. . ." Some indeed may, such as the two million who bought the CD, 'The Glory of Gershwin,' made to celebrate my 80th birthday. That got me into the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest musician to top the charts with a recording. Admittedly, nothing to do with talent, just age. Some of you in Pittsburgh may have tested their memories this October when I was soloist for four concerts with the Pittsburgh Symphony. That geriatric type, playing the Arthur Benjamin Concerto, guess who.*

Here's an item for Logan. Heitor Villa-Lobos heard me play at the NY City Center. He gave a statement to the press that the harmonica was the instrument of the future and that he would compose a concerto for Larry Adler. I met with Villa-Lobos and gave him a chart illustrating the possibilities and limitations of the mouthorgan. Nothing happened. Then I heard that Villa-Lobos had indeed written such a concerto and had presented it to John Sebastian. Later I saw Villa-Lobos in Paris and asked him, hadn't he promised to write a concerto for me? "Yes, my dear boy, I wanted to write it. I was willing to write it. And then I waited." "You waited for what?" I said. Villa-Lobos's smile would have illuminated the Champs Elysees. "The money!" he said.

* Editor's note: Adler played four concerts with the Pittsburgh Symphony Pops in October 1997. I attended the first concert and met Mr. Adler and conducted an interview for The Free-Reed Review . However, he did not play the Benjamin concerto as mentioned in this letter, he played Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, and not without some difficulty in two of the performances. The second performance of the Rhapsody was considerably shortened (a huge cut was added) and the third was marred when Adler began in the wrong key.-- Henry Doktorski

Following is a letter from Larry Logan's son, Tim:

Date: Tue, 21 Apr 1998 17:59:43 EDT
From: ETC CABLE --
Subject: Larry Logan....

I've read your pages about my father, Larry Logan. I will tell you that through my childhood the name Larry Adler became a household name very early. Although the two reports give a general "feel" of competition, let it not be misunderstood that dad has always admired Mr. Adler. Why not admire him? He was in fact much of my fathers inspiration. The two of them have been mastering an art that only a few even tried.

I only wish that the two of them could join each other on stage to play some sort of a composed duet. It would be a historical moment for the history of the Harmonica and certainly a high point in both of their musical careers. Its only ironic that they would both be named Larry but the choice of profession by both of them has truly been a blessing to the world.

One thing I might add though. My father has made many recordings over the years and when the opportunity presents itself I hope these recordings will be properly released. I thank you for your interest in dads work and I wish you all the best of luck with Free-Reed! Sincerely,

Tim Logan

Date: Tue, 21 Apr 1998 19:15:47 -0400 (EDT)
From: The Classical Free-reed --
Subject: Re: Larry Logan....

Dear Tim,

Delighted to hear from you! It is an honor for me to have talked on the phone and corresponded by mail with your father, as it has been to meet Mr. Adler and correspond with him, as I admire both men greatly.

When I first read your father's article "My Career As a Mouth Organist" I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to present it on The Classical Free-Reed, Inc. website so the entire world could benefit from it.

I had no idea that Mr. Adler would take certain comments negatively.

Yet, when Mr. Adler responded, I thought that, in all fairness, I should make his comments known.

Your letter is very helpful as it helps illustrate that admiration and inspiration are the long-lasting facets of a relationship, as one learns (too often too late) after the death of an acquaintance.

May I share a copy of your letter with Mr. Adler? Perhaps it might foster a reconciliation.


Henry Doktorski, founder
The Classical Free-Reed, Inc.

Date: Tue, 21 Apr 1998 19:37:51 EDT
From: ETC CABLE --
Subject: Re: Larry Logan....

Dear Henry:

Please do share the letter. And if you would please pass this along to Mr. Adler:

Back to Larry Logan's article: A Career With The Mouth-Organ On The Concert Stage

Invitation to Contributors / Submission Guidelines
Back to The Free-Reed Journal Contents Page
Back to The Classical Free-Reed, Inc. Home Page