Friday, August 31, 2012
The J Frank Norris / BROOKS MORRIS Connection
This year, 2012, is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra of Fort Worth, Texas. Some may ask, what does all of this have to do with the J. Frank Norris Historical Society. But wait until you hear about the career of Mr. Brooks Morris, who was among the early pioneers in establishing this now renowned orchestra. Mr. Morris was the concertmaster in 1912.
The advent of World War I brought about a temporary demise of the orchestra until its reorganization in the year of 1924. The vision and commitment of Brooks Morris is credited as the driving force behind the re-founding of the orchestra in 1924. The Brooks Morris Society is largely responsible for the great strides of the orchestra development into its now acclaim of international recognition in the realm of classical performances. In 1924, the newly re-founded orchestra was attracting thousands to its concerts. The First Baptist church of Fort Worth happened to be the only place large enough to accommodate the crowds. It was a casual meeting of J. Frank Norris and Brooks Morris where the two met for the first time. Dr. Norris was so impressed by what he had heard and seen that he promptly offered to Mr. Morris the position of choir director at the First Baptist Church. J. Frank Norris himself, being a man of vision in his own right, recognized the professionalism of Brooks Morris. Ironically, it must have been the professionalism of both men which accounts for the fact of the bonding together of two men with opposite personalities.
Thus began a 28 year tenure of close association in which Mr. Morris expressed to me, “There was never a cross word between us.” In an interview in 1974, Mr. Morris stated to me, “J. Frank Norris was the most honorable man of my acquaintance.” Sunday after Sunday, this esteemed violinist thrilled the audiences of the First Baptist Church with his melodious rendition of the classical hymns. His participation as choir director, his performances and very presence had to be an integral part of what accounts for a lasting legacy of the ministry of J. Frank Norris.
I say all of this for posterity sake, for it bodes well as credible evidence to the character and integrity of a man so often maligned. J. Frank Norris could not have been guilty of all the fallacious rumors perpetuated through the years and even 60 years after his death. If for no other reason, the legacy of J. Frank Norris and Brooks Morris are inexplicably linked together.
The legacy of Brooks Morris is the prestigious Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra in this year of 2012.
The legacy of J. Frank Norris is reflected in the world-wide interest expressed by his many admirers as well as the continuation of the seminary he founded in 1939, now the Arlington Baptist College of Arlington, Texas.
You can learn more about Arlington Baptist College by contacting Mrs. Vickie Bryant, historian of the college.
Roy Falls, Founder
The J Frank Norris Historical Society
August 31, 2012