By Rosemary Pollock
Former MoTab Organist Schreiner Honored
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- In honor of what would have been his 100th
birthday, Alexander Schreiner Centennial Celebration was held on
September 8-9. A series of lectures, a banquet and a recital on the
Tabernacle Organ that Schreiner helped acquire more than a half
century ago, honored the virtuosic performer nearly 15 years after
his death in 1987.
"More than any other, he has influenced LDS music in this century,"
said Dan Berghout, author of the new book, "Alexander Schreiner,
Mormon Tabernacle Organist." "Alexander Schreiner left behind a
remarkable legacy," said Brother Berghout. "His 53 years of recitals
and broadcasts from the Salt Lake Taberncacle, and his extensive
concertizing influenced generations of organists and reached millions
of listeners. His published collections of organ music, still in
print today, provide countless church musicians with music that was
easily accessible. His tireless crusade for an Aeolian-Skinner organ
in the Taberncacle in the 1940's resulted in the creation of the
masterpiece," Berghout explained.
Former Tabernacle Choir Director, Jerold Ottley said, "With his
reputation, he could have done anything." "Alexander Schreiner's
faith in and commitment to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints was undeniably apparent throughout his career."
At the age of 13, the young German native, developed an early
interest in music and the organ, which he began playing at the age of
5 and became the branch organist at age 8. When Alex's family
immigrated in 1912, he lived near Temple Square and was soon turning
pages from the organ bench. "Sometimes so preoccupied with the music
that he forgot to turn the pages," said Berghout. By his late teens,
Alex played theatre organs to accompany silent films. At the age of
22, he turned down an Oregon offer of $300 a week to accept a 1921-24
mission call to Southern California.
He taught briefly during the 1930's at UCLA and returned to Salt Lake
City in 1939 to marry and raise a family. He assumed his post at the
Tabernacle where he ultimately became "chief organist" in 1963. He
produced and performed half-hour radio shows in the 1960's with
occasional television appearances. In 1942, Schreiner graduated with
high honors from the University of Utah and later returned to receive
his Ph.D. in 1954.
He received four honorary doctorates and numerous awards toward the
end of his career, including the Officers Cross from his homeland,
the Federal Republic of Germany, for "contributing to international
understanding." The congenial musician played his last recital on
December 30, 1977, after a bout with cancer. The First Presidency
issued a statement at his death that called his life "long and
productive" and that "left a legacy which will continue to lift those
who love beautiful music," Berghout said.
Major influence on Church music
LDS Church News 15Sep01 A2