October 23: Adolph Charles Torovsky, Jr. (1967)

Adolph Torovsky, affectionately known as “Mr. T,” was Epiphany’s organist and choirmaster for almost 50 years, serving under seven rectors. Torovsky was born into a musical family in Annapolis, Maryland, where his father led the Naval Academy Band for many years. At the age of 14, Torovsky played the organ at St. Ann’s Church in Annapolis, but with embarrassment due to the fact his legs were too short to reach the pedals. In 1914, Torovsky graduated with honors from the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, receiving its highest award, the Teachers’ Certificate. He then became organist and choir director at St. Michael and All Angels Church in Baltimore. He was called to Epiphany in 1919 after serving in World War I in the Naval Academy Band under his father’s direction. On November 11, 1921, he directed the choir at the ceremony in Arlington Cemetery, when the Unknown Soldier of World War I was buried there.

When Epiphany first decided that its bells would ring daily, Torovsky climbed the ladder daily and played them manually from a console in the tower. Later, he played the chimes from an auxiliary keyboard of the organ. In addition to teaching piano and organ to private students for many years, Torovsky also taught at Mount Vernon Seminary and Junior College and at American University. He served as dean of the Washington Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Among the works he composed was the Christmas song, “Softly the Stars Were Shining.” A new organ for Epiphany was in the works when Torovsky died in 1967. An Aeolian-Skinner organ, Opus 1485, dedicated in 1968 and still in use today, became a memorial to Torovsky. Following his death on October 23, 1967, Adolph Torovsky’s funeral was at Epiphany. The choir, which he directed for so many years, provided the music.

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