Music: Where There's a Will...

Oldtimers at the Metropolitan Opera knew McNair Ilgenfritz only as the man who regularly rented Box No. 1. Other people recognized him as a retiring little man who wore spats and a bowler set at a rather rakish angle, and spent his life commuting between Paris, Newport and Philadelphia. They also knew that he liked to write music, and that he played the piano at parties and played well.

As it happened, music was a passion with McNair Ilgenfritz. With an income from real-estate holdings in Sedalia, Mo., he was free to compose. When he was still in his 20s, he wrote...

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