Albert Fuller was my organ professor at The Juilliard School, and he generously translated the Latin texts of Christus into English for the Urtext. By the time I was producing Christus, however, I'd not seen Albert in many years, which was a source of great sorrow. For, I truly loved him.
You see, before I sat down for my first lesson (or class) with him, I didn't know what music was. Albert showed me; he retrained my ear to hear previously unknown things. It is to him that I owe whatever understanding of music and its various styles I possess. Albert believed in the role of mentor/student. He taught me in the 19th-century manner; that is to say, he believed if he could teach me how to live I would know how to play the organ.
I was an unsophisticated boy from South Carolina who had no idea how to conduct myself in the company of distinguished people, such as the philanthropist Miss Alice Tully.
Albert made it possible for me to play the organ in Alice Tully Hall in private recitals during the days when there were no rehearsals. She often took the time to have lunch with me after in her building or the Café des Artistes; those times with Miss Tully are some of the fondest memories I have of my years in New York.
Albertus Magnus, as he was sometimes known, taught me how to cook—and more importantly how to eat; how to discern the qualities of a fine red wine or an outstanding champagne; how to conduct myself at a cocktail party or a Thanksgiving dinner with the likes of Ned Rorem at Miss Tully's country house.
It is not an overstatement to profess that I am today in large part who I am because of the years I spent with him in the organ studio, the churches where I played my recitals, the restaurants where we dined, and most importantly, in his West 67th Street apartment. I will always miss him and be grateful to the man who changed my life more than any other. Albert, may your soul rest in peace.