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DR. BRUCE PRINCE-JOSEPH

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DR.  BRUCE PRINCE-JOSEPH Obituary
Dr. Bruce Prince-Joseph, 89, Kan- sas City, Mo., passed away peace- fully Saturday, April 25, 2015, in the comfort of his home in the embrace of close friends. Bruce was born in Beaver Falls, Pa., son of Lebanese immigrants Adele Prince Joseph and Hanna (John) Joseph. He moved to the Valentine area of Kansas City as a child. He became interested in mu- sic while attending St. Paul's Episco- pal Church and the pipe organ quickly became his life's passion. By his early teens, he gave his first or- gan recital at St. Mary's Episcopal Church. He attended the Norman School and Westport High School, graduating in 1942. After a year of working and saving money, he fol- lowed his dream to New York where he began studying with Pietro Yon at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Within the first year of his studies, Bruce was hired as Chancel Organist there. He then began work in the undergradu- ate organ program at Yale, studying organ with Frank Bozyan and com- position with Paul Hindemith. After graduation, he headed to California where he enrolled in graduate stud- ies at the University of Southern California. During that time, he be- came Music Director of St. John the Evangelist in LA. He also befriended Roger Wagner and helped to found the Roger Wagner Chorale. When he completed his graduate studies, Bruce was granted a Fulbright Fel- lowship to travel Europe, studying pipe organs damaged during World War II and noting their restoration. While there, he was the assistant of Norbert Dufourcq at the Paris Con- servatoire. He attended the Sor- bonne, performed with Maurice Du- rufle, was invited to play for Pope Pius XII at the Vatican, and was a guest upon invitation of the Queen Mother at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. In 1953, Bruce returned to New York, securing work on the faculty at Hunter College of the City Univer- sity of New York, eventually be- coming Music Department Chair. In that same year, he was hired as both organist and harpsichordist for the New York Philharmonic. Three years later, Leonard Bernstein took over as conductor, leading to nearly twenty years of collaboration be- tween the two. In 1963, after the completion of the Lincoln Center hall, now named Avery Fisher Hall, the new 98 rank Aeolian-Skinner or- gan was completed under the speci- fications of Bruce and Virgil Fox, celebrated organist of New York's Riverside Church. During the 50s, Bruce recorded several solo albums for organ and harpsichord. In 1965, he was nomi- nated for a Grammy for a recording with Erick Friedman of Bach's Six Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord. He collaborated with his former teacher, Paul Hindemith, and also with Igor Stravinsky, whom he had met in Los Angeles while performing some of Stravinsky's music. After leaving New York, he moved to Nashville, Tenn., where he pur- sued his interest in restoring old pi- anos. He rehabilitated the square grand pianos at both the Belle Me- ade Mansion Museum and the Trav- eler's Rest Museum. In Kansas City, those same skills were used in re- building pianos at the John Wornall House, the Alexander Major House, the Simpson House, and Prairie Park, the country home of Mr. and Mrs. Whitney Kerr. After his return to Kansas City, Bruce returned to the place that started it all, St. Mary's Church, 1307 Holmes. The church was declining and in major disrepair. Bruce began work on rebuilding and expanding the organ, as well as relocating the "Bells of Peace" carillon there. This carillon was originally given to the World War I Liberty Memorial in 1965. As Music Director at St. Mary's, he nurtured and supported numer- ous organizations including the Fine Arts Chorale and newEar contempo- rary chamber ensemble. After his work at St. Mary's came to a close, he spent some time working on a new organ project at St. Therese Lit- tle Flower at 58th and Euclid. As a result of a renovation at St. Mary's, the carillon was removed and given to St. Therese where it was installed and brought back to service. Bruce had the opportunity throughout his career to work and record with such well-known con- ductors and composers as Anser- met, Bernstein, Bohm, Boulez, Can- telli, Copland, Fiedler, Hindemith, Kostelanetz, Krips, Kubelik, Maazel, Menuhin, Metropoulos, Monteux, Oistrakh, Previtali, Sargent, Schip- pers, Shaw, Solti, Steinberg, Stok- owski, Stravinsky, Szell, Wallenstein and Bruno Walter. Among many awards and citations, his most prized were the Bishop's Shield for service to the Episcopal Diocese of Western Missouri - 1993, and the "Kansas Citian of the Year" given by the Na- tive Sons and Daughters of Kansas City - 1999. A Solemn Requiem is planned for 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon, July 11, at St. Mary's Church, 1307 Holmes, Kansas City. Memorial contributions can be made to the American Guild of Organists by sending a check to: AGO New Organist Fund, Bruce Prince-Joseph Scholarship, 475 Riv- erside Drive, Suite 1260, New York, NY 10115. Contribute online at https://www.agohq.org/contribute Arr.: McGilley Midtown Chapel, 20 W. Linwood Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111 (816) 753-6200. M
Published in Kansas City Star on May 14, 2015
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