I found it interesting to play Syrinx in the garden at the Fisher Fine Arts Library. The Frank Furness building, completed in 1891, dates from Debussy’s lifetime but is in a very different style from what I associate with the architectural world of Debussy’s Paris. This is the building you can see behind me in yesterday’s video, and I wrote then about the design. Frank Furness won a Congressional Medal of Honor in the American Civil War, and went on to become a major architect. When it was built, Furness’s library was the main library of the University. It quickly became crowded and underwent three expansions before Van Pelt Library was built in 1962 as the new main library. Furness’s library was then devoted to the fine arts collection and studios of architects including the distinguished Louis I. Kahn.
Another layer of artistic meaning is added by the inscriptions from Shakespeare which appear in and around the building, chosen by the architect’s brother Horace Howard Furness, a Shakespearean scholar and U. Penn professor. In the garden where I played, the following inscription graces a paving stone:
I found it peaceful to contemplate the plants and flowers while playing sitting on this bench in the crook of the building. I felt the energy of the red stone, which soared above me in neo-Gothic peaks.