David Klepper resides in Israel, where he continues advising on acoustical projects around the world.
I first met Charlie through Melville Smith. My road from being an MIT Electrical Engineering Student to becoming an acoustician and meeting Charlie was involved, including Bill Kessler, who managed MIT’s Acoustics Laboratory under Leo Beranek’s technical supervision, Marion Boron, Christ Episcopal Church Organist and Choir Director (where Bill Kessler was a parishioner) Joe Whiteford and the early electronic reverberation system experiments with Bob Breed and John Kellner at that church, many trips and recordings at the Church of the Advent to serve as model, where Alfred Nash (“Bud”) Patterson was organist, and Melville’s own involvement in the two MIT organs as advisor. The first collaboration between us might have been Harvard’s Memorial Church, where my work at BBN included a report recommending use of several heavy coats of thick paint to seal the ceiling, a new sound system, and placement of a free-standing encased organ pretty much where the Appleton Chapel Fisk is located. But it was some time between the implementation of the sound system and ceiling aspects of my report and the installation of the new organ, and by that time Ted Schultz was Charlie’s contact man at BBN, largely because of Ted’s long and deep friendship with Danny Pinkham. A more involved collaboration involved Christ Episcopal Church in Westerly, R. I. I recall driving down with Charlie, making the usual acoustical measurements and recording for later analysis, and puzzling about what to do with the organ location. The rear wall above the balcony was the only optimum location, acoustically, but what about the central rose window? We now can take great pleasure in Charlie’s innovative and considerate and very beautiful, visually and aurally, solution to what seemed like an impossible problem. I do remember that when we returned to Boston that evening, I learned my seatmate at Symphony Hall would not be with me that evening, and so Charles and I were able to enjoy a concert together.
Then there is the story about the train ride to the dedication. I thought up the idea of a chartered car on the New Haven Railroad for Boston organists. After Charlie approved of the idea, Bill Goodwin, a gentle and fine person much like Charlie, and Director of Passenger Service for the Railroad, actually visited the shop in Gloucester to insure all was up-and-up, and he was very impressed. Everything went well at first, with our “FISK PARTY” labeled special coach, a gleaming silver and orange post-war car with reclining seats, headrests, and a sidewise facing parlor-like section at one end, and the rear of the more mundane pre-war dull green cars. But when we turned right on the old Waterbury line toward Franklin, we knew something was wrong, and a mishap on the mainline caused a detour. We missed the first third of the dedication concert. We were gratified with what did hear however, and the organ is a fine one today.
I also spent some weekends with Charlie and Si and Miranda, enjoying peace, tranquility in general, and great companionship and conversation at their home.