History

1911

Northern California Chapter is established on June 20, with 16 members. The first Dean, Wallace A. Sabin, is organist at Temple Emanu-El & First Church of Christ, Scientist, in San Francisco, and a faculty member at UC Berkeley. 
The San Francisco Symphony is founded. 
California special election grants suffrage to women; the amendment is passed by 3,507 votes. 
Sophie Tucker visits the Barbary Coast.

Sophie Tucker
Some Of These Days (1927)

1912

The Chapter inaugural service takes place at First Congregational Church of Oakland. 
First dinner meeting of the chapter is held at
Old Poodle Dog restaurant in San Francisco. Chapter dues are $3 per year. 
In the news: San Francisco Assessor survives the sinking of the Titanic
The Titanic

1913

Five recitals on Sundays in June and July bring in a total of $257.65 (nearly $5,900 in 2011 dollars). 
"It was decided that regular monthly meetings of the entire chapter be instituted." 
The last horse-drawn streetcar in San Francisco ends its journey down Market Street.

Mayor Rolph pilots the last horse-drawn carriage in San Francisco

1915

Chapter membership grows to 48. 
The task of creating a Palace of Fine Arts for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition & World’s Fair is given to architect Bernard R. Maybeck, 
who chooses as his theme a Roman ruin, mutilated and overgrown, in the mood of a Piranesi engraving.

1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition & World’s Fair

1916

Gasoline prices jump to 18 cents a gallon in San Francisco

1917

"Because of lack of public interest (and the great demands of war work) it was decided that for the present it was inadvisable to give any more public recitals, 
but that it would be well to continue the informal ‘Hours in the Organ Lofts’ of its members." 
San Jose and Stockton members split from the Northern California Chapter to form their own AGO chapters.

 
1917 Women at work World War 1

1924

Palace of the Legion of Honor and the Spreckels Organ is underwritten by the Spreckels family.

1916 Newspaper Article
Market Street Railway News: "Now, not-withstanding the tremendous advance in all costs, 260,000,000 passengers, including those using transfers, rode on the Market Street Railway Company . . . for a five cent fare
which also entitled them to transfers good all over the system, on cars equipped with modern conveniences.
"


1925

A Trip Down Market Street, 1906 With Sound!

1927

The topic of the annual meeting is a discussion of organists’ salaries; the SF Board of Supervisors is to be interrogated regarding recitals by visiting organists.

1927 San Francisco City Hall

1932

The War Memorial complex opens in the San Francisco Civic Center with a performance of Puccini’s "Tosca," featuring Gaetano Merola, longtime General Director of the Opera on the podium,  and the Claudia Muzio in the title role.

Claudia Muzio live at
SFO: Love Duet, Puccini: Tosca, Act 1 (15 Oct 1932)a
Gaetano Merola

1933

A chapter controversy: "Since 1917, no Dean has been elected who resided on the San Francisco side of the Bay."
1933 South of Market

1934

"Through the courtesy of chapter founder Wallace Sabin, members enjoyed a delightful day among the redwoods of the Bohemian Grove on the Russian River. Altogether 31 members attended." 
An organ festival at takes place at Grace Cathedral for the opening of the Skinner organ. 
Al Capone is incarcerated on Alcatraz Island.

Wallace Sabin

1935

The Northern California Chapter Jubilee marks the Chapter’s 25th year (no details recorded). 
Construction begins on the Golden Gate and Bay Bridge.


Construction Workers on Golden Gate Bridge
"Pacific Coast Convention marking the chapter’s silver anniversary is held in San Francisco, with 63 people attending. Program included recitals (Harold Mueller, Clarence Mader), lectures ("Are Organists Necessary?"),  a choral concert, and "auto trips around the city." 
The chapter Christmas dinner party is held at Mitzi’s Tea Room in SF, cost is 75¢ per person. 
The new San Francisco Mint opens. 
The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opens on November 12. It remains one of the largest bridges in the world and carries more traffic than any other toll bridge--over 270,000 vehicles each day. 
Kirsten Flagstad appears at the War Memorial Opera House.

1936

Kirsten Flagstad - Brünnhilde's battle cry "Ho jo to ho !" (Die Walküre, Wagner)

1937

Wallace Sabin, organizer and first Dean of the chapter, encourages the use of "better English and purer speaking tone," as Grace Cathedral organist Sidney Lewis makes a strong plea for organists to "hold a higher opinion of their art." 
San Francisco baseball player Joe Di Maggio, the new "Bambino," tops sporting news. 
The search continues for lost aviatrix Amelia Earhart. 
The Golden Gate Bridge is completed and opened to pedestrian traffic on May 27; the following day it is opened to vehicular traffic. 
The bridge was first proposed in 1869 by town eccentric "Emperor Norton." 
The new San Francisco Airport is dedicated.

San Francisco Airport Circa 1938
A memorial service is held for chapter founder Wallace Sabin at
Grace Cathedral, with the mayor and San Francisco supervisors in
attendance. 
The American Federation of Musician’s national delegates' report noted: "Certain communistic influences within [San Francisco's] Local Six have been, for the past year, 
sending out a communistic sheet known as 'The Score,' and certain communistic members of our Union have been carrying the program of the Communistic Party into the affairs of our Union."


1938

Grace Cathedral
Circa 1938

1939

"Richard Purvis, now in Philadelphia, will represent our chapter at the national convention and will be asked to report to the chapter in August." 
Annual dinner is held at Girard’s Restaurant, 50¢ and 65¢ per plate.

"A very active meeting . . . A good meeting." 
World’s Fair is held on Treasure Island.

1939 World's Fair

1940

The chapter sponsors a recital by E. Power Biggs at Trinity Episcopal Church. 
The Membership Committee produces mimeographed circular, "Why Join the Guild?" 
The first European war refugees arrive in San Francisco.

E. Power Biggs

1941

Headline: "Buses to Replace Cable Cars in San Francisco; Tracks Removed" 
Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo visit San Francisco as part of the Golden Gate Exposition. 
President Roosevelt declares of war in a speech to Congress 
Japanese war planes rumored to be sighted over San Francisco

President Roosevelt Declares War Against Japan

1942

Gala annual dinner at Canterbury Hotel, $1.25. 
Forced evacuation of Japanese from San Francisco. About 660 merchants, shop keepers, tradespeople, professional people
left their homes on this morning for the Civil Control Station, from
which they were dispatched by bus to the Tanforan Assembly Center.

Japanese family about to get on a bus  to Tanforan Internment Camp

1945

United Nations charter signed in San Francisco.
President Harry Truman and  Edward R. Stettinius at the Signing of the United Nations Charter

1948

"Mr. Gerhart Hadda, an outstanding English singer (personal friend of Benjamin F. Britton [sic], of Peter Grimes fame), will give us a real treat. He will be accompanied by Richard Purvis . . ."

Richard Purvis

1949

Ludwig Altman will begin a new course on "Chorale Preludes and Organ Sonatas" for the University of California Extension (at Temple Emanu-El). 
The chapter hosts the Far-Western Regional Convention.


Ludwig Altman

1951

"Ten years ago we had about 100 members, all classifications included. Now our member number over 400. And though we are four times as large as in 1941, 
our facilities for operating are no more extensive than they were then. Our officers are therefore greatly in need of additional help."


SFAGO Logo

1952

The Northern California Chapter hosts the National AGO Biennial Convention in San Francisco.

1953

Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter Martin open City Lights Bookstore.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti 1955

1954

Board unanimously resolves "That the Northern California Chapter retain its present organic unity, since there are more advantages in unity than in division . . . 
[and] an effort be made to encourage as large an attendance at possible at the three chapter-wide events of the year: the Christmas party, the Guild Service, and the Annual Dinner." 
Joe Di Maggio marries Marilyn Monroe at San Francisco City Hall.

Joe Di Maggio and Marilyn Monroe

1957

5.3 magnitude earthquake shakes the SF Peninsula, the largest since the 1906 earthquake.
1957 SF Chronicle

1961

The chapter changes its name to the San Francisco Chapter and hosts the Regional AGO Convention: "An exciting program was held (both sides of the Bay), some new music . . . 
and a "different" kind of affair as a "wind-up" or a "let-down" theater party with some theatre organ, which will be quite an antithesis of what we’ll have heard all week."
A new cantata by Leo Sowerby, "The Ark of the Covenant," is written especially for the Convention Guild Service. 
The convention also features the premiere of Kevin Norris’ concerto for organ and strings, conducted by Sowerby, to whom the music is dedicated.

Leo Sowerby 

1965

SFAGO sponsors weekly noontime organ recitals at Glide Memorial Methodist Church in San Francisco. 
The Grateful Dead is formed and play at the Fillmore Auditorium the following year.
1966
Annual dinner is held at First Methodist Church of Oakland. Cost is $2.25 per person.

1967

Thirty-year-old Swiss organist Lionel Rogg is featured at the Far-Western Regional Convention in San Francisco, July 19-23. 
The Summer of Love brings flower power to the Haight Ashbury.

Lionel Rogg

1968

Harold Mueller gives a 30-week (45-hour) course of instruction for Guild Examinations preparation, an annual class that is offered under his tutelage for several years.

1969

An all-day midwinter "Chapter Conclave Day" is added to the chapter calendar, featuring recitalist Bedrich Janacek, and exploring the theme "New Dimensions in Church Music." 
Native Americans occupy Alcatraz to protest treatment of native peoples.

Native Americans occupy Alcatraz

1971

"The matter of having a chapter telephone number was discussed. The consensus was that it was not feasible." 
Ted Alan Worth presents an organ recital and "light show."


Ted Alan Worth

1973

A three-session workshop on "A Survey of German, French, English and American Schools of Organ Building and Their Organ Literature" is conducted by Richard Purvis. 
The opening program of the season features Porter Heaps at Trinity Episcopal playing the Sowerby Symphony.


1977

The SFAGO presents the first E. Power Biggs memorial concert, establishing an annual event that continues through 1985.
E. Power Biggs Greatest Hits
E. Power Biggs

1978

Assassinations at City Hall: Dianne Feinstein, President of the Board of Supervisors, announces, 
"Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot . . . and killed. The suspect is Supervisor Dan White."


Dianne Feinstein Announces the
shootings at City Hall
George Moscone and Harvey Milk

1984

SFAGO hosts the National AGO Biennial Convention in San Francisco. 2,200 attended to hear recitalists including James David Christie, David Craighead, Pamela Decker, Fenner Douglass, Eileen Guenther, 
Joyce Jones, Thomas Murray, Simon Preston, Richard Purvis, Rollin Smith, Frederick Swann, Harald Vogel, John Walker, John Weaver, and Gillian Weir. Music was commissioned from composers Fred Bock, 
Thea Musgrave, Henry Brant, McNeil Robinson, David Raksin, George Crumb, Ron Nelson, John Cage, Heuwell Tircuit, and Miklos Rozsa.


1985

The SFAGO Special Projects Fund is established with $100,000 generated from hosting the 1984 AGO Biennial Convention.

1986

Our 75th anniversary is celebrated during the term of Dean Richard Webb

1987

The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt is started in San Francisco to remember those lost to the disease.

1989

The Loma Prieta Earthquake, 7.1 magnitude, hits the Bay Area – initial jolt broadcast live during the World Series.

Al Michaels and Tim McCarver
Describe the scene at Candlestick

1990

The Palo Alto/Peninsula Chapter is formed from the SFAGO.

Memorial Chapel, Stanford University

1991

The Oakland firestorm engulfs East Bay hills.

1994

Richard Purvis dies on December 25.
Purvis is best remembered for his 24 years (1947-1971) as
Organist/ChoirMaster at Grace Episcopal Cathedral, San Francisco. Purvis studied at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia - organ with Alexander McCurdy and conducting with Fritz Reiner. Further studies were with Josef Levine in New York, Edward Bairstow in England, Marcel Dupré in Paris and, after his graduation from Curtis in 1940, with Charles Courboin (Saint Patrick's Cathedral, NYC, 1943-1973) and Charles Heinroth.

Fanfare- Richard Purvis Organist, Unknown
Richard Purvis

1995

What is a Pipe Organ Encouter?
A summer Pipe Organ Encounter is held, the chapter’s first such endeavor. 
The chapter sponsors a hymn writing competition "in celebration of the many diverse talents and varied gifts of our membership." Winning hymn tune is Alexandra by John Karl Hirten.
John Karl Hirten

1997

The Ethel Elizabeth Crummey education fund is established by a bequest from Mrs. Crummey in her will. Mrs. Crummey served as Dean of the chapter from 1968-1970. 
SFAGO Board establishes Richard Purvis Memorial Fund to support organ competition scholarships.

1998

Cable cars get first female grip operator, Fannie Mae Barnes.
Fannie Mae Barnes

2005

The SF chapter sponsors its second Pipe Organ Encounter.
Ed Stout

2006

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