Native Houstonian keeps the music going

July 13, 2009 3:48:02 PM PDT
One of a local store's most famous clients is now its owner. Richard Dowling has saved a treasured gem in a city that doesn't have many traditions left. Dowling Music, previously known as Wadler-Kaplan Music, is one of them, albeit in a brand new location and with a new name. Nevertheless, the latest incarnation of the store, a Houston music institution, still draws on its long, rich history.

Dowling has one of the most unique professions in the world, that of international concert pianist. He can play ragtime as easily as Chopin, and his journey to the stage began as a child in the Wadler-Kaplan store that supplied him with sheet music.

"I came back to town last October and found out that the store was going to close," Dowling said, "so I used my parents' inheritance to buy the store and keep it open. I just felt like it shouldn't die."

Dowling rescued the 66-year-old store and kept the music going. He moved it to a new location and expanded the inventory. The sheet music alone ranges from pop music to classical, essential to any musician, whether seasoned or just starting out.

"You need [sheet] music to play, for lessons, for teaching, things like that," student Jason Gerlick said.

The biggest addition to the store is a 100-seat recital hall, built to the strictest acoustical standards.

"We have a beautiful seven-and-a-half foot Hamburg Steinway grand piano from Germany on the stage," Dowling said.

The concert pianist has come home, at least for now, to merge music with entrepreneurship, putting his family's name on the building in part in tribute to his parents.

"Parents don't generally want their children to become musicians or artists," Dowling said, "because they worry that they won't be able to make a living, so I think if my Dad were alive he'd be happy to know that I was able to marry the two things together."

This story was brought to you through ABC13's partnership with Houston Community Newspapers. You can read more about Dowling Music in the Memorial Examiner.

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