Sunday, October 7, 2007
LYNDEN BEHYMER BROUGHT MUSIC AND CULTURE TO OUR CITY
Lynden Behymer 1862 to 1947 photo courtesy of Phyllis Hansen
Lynden Behymer was born on the 5th of November 1862 in New Palestine, Ohio. He was the son of an ambitious carpenter of modest means who regularly encouraged his boy to "make something" of himself. Lynden began to fulfill his father's wishes by graduating from a public school in Shelby, Illinois in 1881. Few boys finished school in those days.
Four years passed before Lynden Behymer was ready to ask Menettie Sparkes to be his wife. He was determined that he would provide his bride with a lifetime of comfort and importance. They had scarcely established their home, when a fierce cyclone demolished their home and destroyed virtually of their possessions.
If they had to start over, the young couple decided that it might as well be in a land of sunshine and opportunity. In January of 1886, they moved to Los Angeles.
For the next 50 years, Lynden Behymer would systematically achieve the importance of which he dreamed, and would in the process become one of the most important music and entertainment figures in California history. Behymer worked tirelessly to bring culture and entertainment to his adopted city.
In only a year after his arrival in Los Angeles, Lynden Behymer arranged for performances of the National Grand Opera Company. In 1888, he brought the world famous Sara Berhhardt to sing "La Tosca" to Southern California. Soon he was to be manager, treasurer and chief press agent for the Grand Opera House. In 1914, Behymer with Harley Hamilton founded and brought into existence the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra.
During his active years, Behymer brought the Metropolitan Opera Company Los Angeles and secured regular performances of the Chicago Opera Company as well. He brought world famous artists such as Enrico Caruso, Edwin Booth, Paderewski, and Isadora Duncan to the west coast. Less known today were other greats including Rabindranath Tagore, Jacob Riis, Feodor Chaliapin, Lawrence Tibbet, Ruth St. Denis and Maud Allan.
Behymer was instrumental in the location of today's Hollywood Bowl.
With Paul Eilser of the Metropolitan Opera, he was instrumental in the opening of the Greek Theatre in Hollywood in 1930.
He served as a music critic for the Los Angeles Herald newspaper. He was a devoted Free Mason, Shrine and a Knight Templar. Behymer was honored for his role in world and Los Angeles culture in his election as an officer of Academes Beaux Arts of Paris in 1907.
Lynden Behymer died in 1947.