Person:Dr. Arthur McNutt Fraser

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Dr. Arthur McNutt Fraser

 Helped Form Huntsville Symphony Orchestra

Born:December 29, 1915, Hamiota, Manitoba, Canada
Died:April 23, 1972, Columbia, South Carolina

Notes:

•  Elfriede Richter-Haaser tells of how the German scientists established themselves in Huntsville. Many of these scientists were also lovers of music and sought to find quality performances and opportunities to exercise their musical talents. This is part of what she said: "Mr. Alvin Dreger, known as 'Mr. Music, who played the cello made himself acquainted with our German group and found out who played an instrument. Even Dr. von Braun played the violin and the cello. The musicians met in different homes and at special functions to play quartets and other pieces. By and by, an orchestra was formed and a conductor, Dr. Arthur M. Fraser, from Montevallo in Alabama commuted for years to help organize and conduct it. The moment came, in March 1954, when, at the old Butler High School, the first concert was presented. It was a huge success and from then on, Huntsville had its own symphony orchestra. Over the years it grew and when the new Huntsville High School was built, we had bigger facilities with better acoustics. I attended the first concert and most all others, having missed only a few in all the years I have lived in Huntsville." - Richter-Haaser

•  Article titled: The Huntsville Civic Orchestra:

     " The great cultural enterprise first approached reality a few days after Christmas, 1954, when Dr. Arthur Fraser of Howard College Music Department, Birmingham, Alabama, called on Mr. Alvin Dreger and made the following statement: "Let's organize a symphony orchestra in Huntsville." It was us simple as that. Mr. Dreger later called together an interim committee composed of our three band directors, Vincent Bria, William Myers, George Page and ourselves. Invitations were sent to 75 possible players announcing the first rehearsal on February 16, 1955, in the Butler School Band room. Forty players were in attendance and the group has had a continual increase since that time.
     The oldest orchestra in this country, the New York Philharmonic, was founded in 1842 with just 16 players. So our orchestra actually got off to a better start than this world famed group.
     After just three months work under Dr. Fraser, the orchestra gave its first open rehearsal for the public in May with fine results.
     Included in the orchestra's personnel are accountants, architects, band directors, chemist, cotton dealers, electronics experts, engineers, soldiers, housewives, mathematicians, physicists, postmen, students, and teachers." - Sesquicentennial

•  While Professor Fraser did not live in Huntsville, he was an important element in forming our Symphony Orchestra. This biographical profile does not mention his role in Huntsville, but we decided to include it because it presents important details about his qualifications and accomplishments.
     "FRASER, ARTHUR McNUTT, professor, musician, college music department director, 148 Crestview Drive, Montevallo. Born on December 29, 1915 in Hamiota, Manitoba, Canada, he is the son of James Moss and Marie (McNutt) Fraser. Dr. Fraser attended Hamiota High School; he received the B. A. degree from the University of Manitoba, and both the M. A. and Ed. D. degrees from Columbia University, New York. On September 16, 1942, he married Ruth Irvine Gordon of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and they have three children: Loran Gordon, born 1947; Bruce McKenzie, born 1949; and Susan Marie, born 1953. Dr. Fraser has been engaged successively as follows: Assistant, Columbia University; Assistant Professor at Whitworth College, Washington; Associate Professor at Howard College, Alabama, and he is presently serving as Professor and Director of the School of Music at Alabama College. Dr. Fraser is a member of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Board; of Alabama Music Teachers Association; of Alabama Federation of Music Clubs (Church Music Workshop); American Symphony Orchestra League; and Music Educators Conference. He belongs to the Rotary Club. During World War II, he served in the Canadian Armored Corps, from 1942 to 1946, being honorably discharged with the rank of Major. He is a Presbyterian, and serves as a Chairman of the Board of Deacons. Reading (Great Books Club) is his hobby, and recreation." - Grove


Related Links:
•  Ancestry.com - Page owned by Cheryl Len and can be viewed only with an Ancestry.com paid subscription.
•  Grove - Library of Alabama Lives, by Frank L. Grove, 1961, page 188.
•  HSO - The "About" page for the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra's webpage with a mention of the founding of the group in 1954.
•  Richter-Haaser - Article "Alabama: Home For The German Rocket Team and Their Families An extract from the Autobiography of Elfriede Richter-Haaser" in the Historic Huntsville Quarterly, Vol. XVII, #3-4, Summer-Fall, 1991, Historic Huntsville Foundation, page 16.
•  Sesquicentennial - Commemorative Album, Celebrating our City's Sesquicentennial of Progress, Huntsville, Alabama, by James E. Taylor, General Chairman, 1955, page 56.




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