Oral Histories

Interview of Roger Wagner

Choral director and educator. Founder of the Roger Wagner Chorale.
Voice of the Chorale
Interviews not in a series, part one
Biographical Note:
Choral director and educator. Founder of the Roger Wagner Chorale.
Hast, Sybil D.
Wagner, Roger
Persons Present:
Wagner and Hast.
Place Conducted:
Wagner's home in Westlake Village, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Sybil D. Hast; B.A., French, Smith College; M.A.,French, University of Pittsburgh; M.A., German, UCLA. Lecturer in Music, UCLA; language and diction coach, UCLA Opera Theater; director and language and diction coach, Sierra University Opera Workshop, Santa Monica. Hast prepared for the interview by consulting standard music reference works and the Music Index. Wagner and Donna Ulmer, his assistant, provided a complete discography, photographs, records, cassettes, concert programs and reviews. Hast also held informal discussions with several of Wagner's colleagues at UCLA and other well-known musicians.
Processing of Interview:
Alex Cline, editor, edited the interview. He checked the verbatim transcript of the interview against the original tape recordings, edited for punctuation, paragraphing, and spelling, and verified proper names. Words and phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed.Wagner passed away before he was able to review the transcript.Cline prepared the table of contents and biographical summary. Steven J. Novak, editor, drafted the interview history. Lisa Magee, editorial assistant, compiled the index.
7 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Family background in France and New York; early musical activities in Los Angeles; studies for the Catholic priesthood in California and France; organizing the Bureau of Music in Los Angeles; dissertation on Josquin des Pres; founding the Roger Wagner Chorale in 1946; meeting with Pope Paul VI; disgust with contemporary church music; world touring; work in Hollywood motion pictures; the Los Angeles Master Chorale; great musicians of the Renaissance and baroque periods; Bach; teaching boys and men for the choir at Saint Joseph Catholic Church, Los Angeles; knowledge of foreign languages; studies organ with Marcel Dupré; the art of conducting; Otto Klemperer; Bruno Walter; Carlo Maria Giulini; studies at University of Southern California with Lucien Caillet and Ernst Toch; Igor Stravinsky and Arnold Schoenberg; Robert Shaw and Julius Herford; teaching positions; conducting orchestras throughout the world; music critics; arranging and composing; the difference between a choral musician and an orchestral musician; handling business details; live performance versus studio recording; the Hollywood Bowl; advice to young vocalists and musicians; public awareness of classical music in Los Angeles.