Cover of the "Program"

Critic Peter Dobrin was kind enough to publish a blurb in the Inquirer about the 25th anniversary of Eugene Ormandy’s burial. There was going to be a small memorial on Saturday. So I went to the church in Society Hill – Old Pine Presbyterian – where Eugene Ormandy was buried 25 years ago.

Rev. Pindar speaking

Bill Pindar was the minister who helped Ormandy’s widow with the burial in 1985. He now lives in Florida and flew up for this memorial. He and the current minister read a few passages from the Bible near Ormandy’s grave. Afterward they both placed roses in front of the grave.

Eugene and Gretal Ormandy's Grave

For me the most interesting part was a panel discussion that took place in the church after the grave site memorial. The panel was moderated by Daniel Webster. No not that one; the retired music critic for the Inquirer. Joining Mr. Webster were 4 men who played in the orchestra during Ormandy’s tenure.

Neil Courtney, Luis Biava, Davyd Booth, Larry Grika, Daniel Webster

Neil Courtney has been a bass player with the Orchestra since 1962. Luis Biava started as a violinist in 1968 and eventually became an Associate Conductor. Davyd Booth has been a violinist since the 70s and was also Ormandy’s rehearsal pianist. Larry Grika was a violinist for 41 years with the orchestra.

It was an unscripted collection of random remembrances and anecdotes. Just what I was hoping for. The topics included Ormandy’s famous ictus, his name possibly being derived from the ship Normandie on which he arrived in America, to memorable concerts – such as their famous China concerts in the early 1970s.

This is completely unrelated but while walking back on Fifth St. I saw one of those historical plaques – which is far from unusual in Old City – but this one had nothing to do with the usual 18th century gang.

Nearby street plaque