George Taylor

Co-Owner, Taylor and Boody Organbuilders

As I think back on Charlie’s influence on me two incidents come to mind. First, after trying in vain to get me to join him for the Wellesley project, he learned that I was interested in starting a business by exploring a contract with Westminster Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville. They had written to him as well. He declined the job and graciously advised the church to turn to me. In his letter to them he said, “If you can possibly persuade George Taylor to build an organ for you, you should search no further.” It was all the church needed to hear. For me (and John Boody who then agreed to join me in the venture) these words were white magic. How could we fail?

Then in 1979 he came to our defense once more, this time with colors flying. Modesty begs me not to quote the entire letter, which he sent to the local paper in support of our battle with Augusta County to win zoning approval for the move to our shop from Ohio. However, the writing is such pure Charlie, that I send it on to you!

The News – Virginian
Waynesboro, Virginia
Friday, February 2, 1979
Letters to the Editor

“The people of Staunton and Augusta county stand to lose much more than they know if they let organ builder George Taylor turn elsewhere for a place to work and to live. Taylor is a native Virginian trying to come home. Some of us who know him well have tried to talk him into moving to another area, where his influence would be readily appreciated. Something about Virginia — something we outsiders cannot comprehend — that keeps him coming on. But he is a reasonable man, and reason forbids that a man settle where he is not welcome. Taylor will pick up and move on if he has to.

Taylor is the closest thing to a saint that the organ-building trade possesses. Son of a minister, he acts as though he practices everything his father ever taught. Kindness, genteelness, brilliance of mind and imagination” these are the personal qualities Staunton and Augusta will lose when Taylor moves on.

What about his organ business? What will they lose there? Ironically, what they will lose above all is a school. Every first-rate organ shop I ever saw was a place where the young of the company learned how to make things with their hands, how to plan for the making of new things, how wood and metal relate to the art of music, how music relates to art and architecture, how the working of the hands relates to the working of the mind. Our culture spends millions trying to teach its children these things — and pretty much fails in the attempt. The lucky youths in Taylor’s workshop will learn these things to perfection and will be paid for learning them.

What about the zoning law? What about the law anyway? Our Lord and Savior had strong words for people who stuck to the letter of the law. And once there were even famous Virginians whose interpretation of the law now benefits and delights us all, even though it was anathema to the legalists of their time.

Charles Fisk
C.B. Fisk, Inc.
Gloucester, Mass.

Fenner Douglass and Charles Fisk lecturing in Greensboro, 1980

Fenner Douglass and Charles Fisk lecturing in Greensboro, 1980