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Florence Jepperson Madsen oversized photographs, 1914-1967

 Sub-Series — oversize: 10
Identifier: UA 571 Series 2 Sub-Series 12


  • 1914-1967


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Open for public research.

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It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.

Permission to publish material from the Franklin and Florence Jepperson Madsen papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

From the Collection:

Dr. Florence Jepperson Madsen was born December 15, 1886, in Provo, the daughter of Samuel H. Jepperson, also an outstanding musician. Before she was tall enough to see the keyboard, Florence would reach up and play melodies on the family organ and at the same time sing an alto part to them.

At one time there were twenty-one different kinds of instruments in the Jepperson home. When the family rehearsed in the summer evenings, the streets, for a block around, were lined with fascinated listeners. Playmates either had to learn an instrument or join in the singing if they were going to play with the Jepperson children. With this home atmosphere, it was natural that all members of the family excelled in music or art. Florence's part in the family orchestra was to play the organ, piano or guitar and it was here she began her accompanying. When she was eight years old, she served as church organist and at age sixteen, she was assistant music teacher to Professor J.R. Boshard in the Provo, Utah public schools.

Two years after receiving her diploma from BYU she began her studies at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. It was here that her inspiring, relaxed contralto voice started her on a singing career. Within two weeks she was fulfilling singing engagements and was soon named the contralto soloist at the Harvard Congregational Church. In Boston she received many other honors for her talent in music. At the conservatory, she completed a four-year course in three years. She remained in Boston another seven years, building a reputation in music for herself while she taught privately at the Lasell Seminary for girls.

Although not formally "called" on a mission, Florence, before leaving for study in the East, was requested by Church leaders to assist the missionaries with her talent whenever possible. She was always ready with vocal solos, duets, trios, and piano solos. After years of valuable service rendered by Florence throughout the Eastern States Mission, President Rich felt that she returned to her home in the West, he presented her with an Honorable Release in 1916.

Florence not only admitted, but was proud of her church membership. Of her clarion position in a world possessing preconceived prejudiced toward Westerners and members of the Church, Frank W. Asper wrote:

"In spite of this opposition and prejudice she was acclaimed one of the greatest singers in the country, by the critics, and filled every important and possible engagement in New England, a traditionally difficult place to "break in" for a native, and almost an impossibility for an outsider. In this cultural field she was held in the greatest respect by musicians of every rank."

After teaching at Brigham Young University for two and one-half years, Florence returned to New York. The Sunday following her return, she was singing in one of the great churches of New York, something unheard of in the musical battlefield of that city. She studied voice under Herbert Witherspoon and sang at the new Old South in Boston, a position that was the aspiration and envy of all singers and had not been open for an alto singer for many years.

On February 5, 1920, her brother Parley Jepperson died from influenza-pneumonia. Word of her brother's passing was sent to Florence in Boston, but she was too ill with the flu, herself, to make a trip home to attend the funeral. Then, when Marguerite, her sister in Provo, was stricken with double pneumonia, she decided that she wanted to go home.

In the early spring of 1920, she moved to Provo. While she frequently thereafter returned to Boston and New York, her stays were never extensive. President George H. Brimhall, of Brigham Young University, offered her a position as professor of music and head of the music department, the latter position she held for ten years. At this time she recommended that Franklin Madsen should be hired to fill a vacancy on the faculty. Thus the friendship that began in 1914 when she recommended that he study in the East, where she was also studying, was able to continue at BYU. They remained at the Brigham Young University as Professors of Music until 1952, when they were given titles of emeriti.

In 1922, a close friend in Boston, Vertie Gilcrist, died, leaving parentless, three little girls. Her death-bed request was that Florence raise her children. This resulted in a legal battle which Florence won, bringing the girls to Provo in May. During the trial, her status as a single woman was challenged and she made the statement that she intended to marry soon and have a home of her own. This gave Franklin courage to propose and they were married on August 30, 1922.

Although they had the added responsibility of a family, Florence and Franklin continued to study and teach, taking the girls with them wherever they went, surrounding them with wonderful cultural experiences. For 16 summers they taught at the Master Summer School of Chicago Musical College where they both earned advanced degrees in music. Florence's education culminated in Graduate Diplomas from BYU Music School, the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and Chicago Musical College, Bachelor of Music and Teachers Certificate from Chicago Musical College, Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music from Boguslawski College of Music, Bachelor of Arts from BYU and an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Musical Education from Chicago College of Music

On May 26, 1926, while Florence was living in Boston, she boarded a streetcar to go to an orchestra rehearsal at the New England Conservatory. After settling herself in a front seat, she was prompted to move toward the aisle, the parallel seat, which crashed back into the bench on which she had been sitting, would have broken both her legs.

She was confined to her apartment for several weeks with a cast on her ankle, and was unable to fill her singing engagements for a year. Upon the advice of her physician, she filed claim against the transit company for damages - medical bills, inconvenience while incapacitated and for having to cancel her singing engagements. Upon George Ballif's recommendation she engaged as her legal representative, Ernest L. Wilkinson, who had just registered at Harvard as a doctoral candidate. Mr. Wilkinson accepted the case (the first in his career) and through research in the field of phonetics which disclosed numerous occasions in which shock from accident caused a partial loss of voice, he established the needed precedence and the young attorney took the case to court and won her claim.

In 1937 to 1938, Drs. Franklin and Florence Madsen were asked to supervise the music in the stakes in Southern California. In 1938, after being granted a leave of absence from BYU for two quarters, Florence and her three daughters moved to Alhambra, where the girls enrolled in school. She directed the "Mission Play" for the McGroarty Theatre. This was so successful that the following two years, she again was granted a leave of absence to direct the "Mission Play", as well as compose music for it and others that were produced. She received a great deal of acclaim and publicity for her efforts. However, the war put an end to further productions.

On August 15, 1941, Florence was appointed a member of the General Board of the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In this capacity she had, among other assignments, the general supervision of the music activities of the Relief Society organizations of the stakes throughout the world, including the Singing Mothers.

According to the 1958 Relief Society Annual Report, Florence Jepperson Madsen, as music director of the Singing Mothers in Relief Society Organizations throughout the world, had the responsibility of suggesting choral repertoire and music techniques for approximately 2,564 choral groups, with a total membership of about 38,896 singers. Since 1941, she had conducted regional groups in one or more sessions of fourteen Relief Society conferences in Utah, Idaho and in two or more sessions of nineteen General Conferences. Considering that she had trained over 500 new members each conference, an approximated 10,000 Singing Mothers had been afforded the opportunity and joy of singing together under her direction, of increasing their knowledge of music, and of gaining a deeper appreciation of its values and importance in their lives. Those who participated in her regional choruses were able to take the messages they heard and musical techniques they learned into their own wards and communities. Since she later directed groups in Canada, Hawaii and Great Britain she and the Singing Mothers had tremendous influence in raising standards of music in the Church.

In 1961, she traveled to England, where two hundred singers from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland joined with fifty of their American sisters to perform at the dedication of the Hyde Park Chapel in London, England. After that, the choir was taken on tour of the British Isles. The success she achieved with 250 untrained voices was generally recognized as nothing short of phenomenal, especially since she had to get the same sound out of many different accents.

Some of the music for the Singing Mothers was written by Florence. In all she composed and arranged over 100 compositions, of which forty-one were selected for publication in the LDS Hymn book. One of her most well known composition, "If Ye Love Me, Keep My Commandments" has become a hallmark for church choirs.

In 1952 she received the Brigham Young University Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award, and in 1961, the David O. McKay Humanities Award for Distinguished Service. A recital hall in the Harris Fine Arts Center of the Brigham Young University was named for Drs. Franklin and Florence Jepperson Madsen.

For some 48 years she was a member of the faculty of the Brigham Young University, having taught in her home studio for some 15 years after retiring in 1952. Dr. Florence Jepperson Madsen, aged 90, died Friday, April 8, 1977, at Utah Valley Hospital of influenza complications.

Biographical History

From the Collection:

Franklin Madsen (1887-1971) was a Brigham Young University professor of music, and member of LDS General Relief Society Board

Dr. Hans Franklin Madsen, choir conductor and musical historian, came from a talented Scandinavian immigrant family. he was born in Provo, Utah, September 28, 1887, a son of Hans and Maria J. (Sorenson) Madsen. During his early youth he lived also in Salem, Idaho and Lehi, Utah.

At the age of fifteen, Franklin was given the major responsibilities of providing sustenance for his mother and four other children after his father's death. He found employment at the Lehi Sugar Mills, in the chemical Laboratory and the warehouse. Always interested and talented in music, he gave service to the community with his fine baritone voice. He played the violin, clarinet, trombone and participated in the Lehi Band. He took part in the Dramatic Company productions and loved to dance, winning several prizes for waltzing.

Although he was unable to attend school regularly, he graduated from Lehi Public School in 1904. He was eager to achieve in English, grammar, and spelling, and took a correspondence course in these subjects, along with courses in typing and stenography.

In 1906, after his family moved to Salt Lake City, Franklin worked for the United Grocery Store. At this time he joined the Tabernacle Choir under the direction of Professor Evan Stephens. A select number of the choir went on a tour of Eastern cities that included the White House, where he met President Taft.

In 1912, he accepted a mission call to Denmark. After serving in Copenhagen for a short time, he was transferred to Bergen, Norway, the home of Edvard Grieg, and a fine musical center. He was assigned to conduct the church choir, which under his direction, achieved wide recognition. It was said that the chorus drew as many people into the church as the other missionary activities together. Since the music available was Catholic or Lutheran, Franklin composed music for the choir which was keyed especially to LDS philosophies. he is credited with the conversion of many saints including Olaf K. Karlson, who became the head of the branch of the church in Bergen.

Recognizing the wealth of material to be learned in Bergin, Franklin applied for permission to study music. This was granted and he studied conducting, composition, harmony, piano, voice and clarinet under leading musicians.

After returning to Salt Lake, he rejoined the Tabernacle Choir and continued his studies in music. Upon the recommendation of a friend, he traveled to Provo to study voice under Florence Jepperson, who was visiting for the summer. She encouraged him to enroll at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where he specialized in Public School Music.

In 1915-1916, he was supervisor in music in Jordan District and taught music at Jordan High School in Utah. The following year he started teaching in Springville, Utah, but before the year was up he was drafted in World War I. His experience in chemistry led to France in the early spring of 1917. At the hospital center, he organized an orchestra and chorus as well as working with the patients who were wounded.

He returned in the fall of 1919 and during that school year. was granted a satisfactory release from teaching at Magna, Utah, in order to join the faculty of BYU (on Florence's recommendation) as instructor of theoretical subjects. That fall he was appointed as director of the BYU orchestra as well as working with choirs and teaching theoretical subjects.

At BYU romance between Franklin and Florence Jepperson grew and culminated in their marriage on August 30, 1922. They bought a home in Provo and raised 3 orphaned girls who were adopted by Florence just prior to her marriage to Franklin.

In the spring of 1923, Franklin went to Europe to study. Eventually his education culminated with a degree of Bachelor of Arts, the Graduation Diploma, Teachers' Certificates in Voice and Music, the Degrees of Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Music Education, Master of Music, Doctor of Music, Master of Music Education, the last seven from the Chicago Musical College, and Master of Arts from BYU. He also held certification from the New England Conservatory, the Royal College of Music, London, England, as well as his private studies in London, Paris, Rome and Berlinear He also received an Honorary Doctor of Music Education for the Boguslawski College of Music of Chicago and an Honorary Doctor of Music from the Chicago College of Music.

For 16 summers he taught at the Master Summer School of Chicago Musical College and he taught at BYU for over 37 years. In 1952 he and Florence were made emeritus professors of BYU. A composer of vocal, instrumental and orchestral music, he also organized and conducted the Utah County Symphony Orchestra. At the request of the First Presidency of the Church, he and his wife spent a year in California teaching conducting and accompanying musical groups. His name is linked with the Messiah for his masterful interpretation and direction of it.

Florence often expressed to the Singing Mothers her appreciation for the assistance of her husband. She would not have been able to give the service to her church singing groups without his cooperation. He always encouraged her, and took her to rehearsals and meetings stretching over a thousand mile radius. He was a devoted husband, a gentleman, a philosopher, a scholar, a theologian, a staunch missionary of the church, a considerate, gracious and helpful leader of men and women, ever mindful of the welfare and comfort of others.

On October 2, 1971, at age of 84, H. Franklin Madsen died of natural causes in a Provo rest home.


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Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections. University Archives Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo UT 84602 US