Some of the most poignant and revealing moments in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Autobiography appear in his stories of the very musical household in which he was raised — memories of piano lessons, family sing-alongs (“happy riots”), arduous organ-bellow pumping marathons and ensemble rehearsals. All of these memories revolve around his father, William C. Wright — a minister, lawyer, musician and composer who wrote and published songs, piano pieces and organ works for almost fifty years.
Throughout his life, music was William Wright’s greatest passion. In addition to his compositions, he also wrote instructional books on piano method, organ technique, and proper vocal production. Sometimes, his works were published by professional publishers. At others, he published and distributed them himself, using his own printing press — his production staff at one point including the young Frank. William taught music wherever he went, whether as a private teacher or overseer of a music school.
Ultimately, William Wright’s impact on his son was formidable. The lessons that he taught about music were especially potent, working their way into Frank’s fundamental notions of architecture. Today, we recognize music as one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most important influences. Music was, as Wright described it, his “sympathetic friend” — one of the longest lasting and most dependable, in fact, of all of his personal and professional relationships.