Various Thoughts About My Work
(and a few other things)

by Bruce Duffie

First posted in March, 2017, with additions from time to time


On editing my interviews...

As you may or may not be aware, my full-time employment from 1975-2001 was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago.  Except for four hours overnight during the week, and four hours on Saturday afternoons, the programming was exclusively classical music in its great variety.  In addition to my regular duties as announcer, I also gathered interviews with various musicians for use both on the air and in selected magazines and journals.  In all (through about 2005), I did over 1600 exclusive interviews.  A few guests I met twice, and very rarely even more times. 
While it was not the original intent of the management to include atonal or cutting-edge repertoire, I was able to add that material on my weekend overnight shifts, and part of those programs were the interviews with composers and performers of new music.

Preparing and presenting these interviews on webpages is very different from editing sections for use on the radio.  What sounds good to the ear may not look good to the eye.  Hence, various changes need to be made in order for the resulting impact to be virtually the same.

Let me state here that it is my purpose and duty to render the thoughts and ideas of my guests as completely and accurately as possible.  It is also my feeling that I should make the guests look good. 
I have a genuine interest and overwhelming love of my subject, and always tried to solicit ideas from my guests in response to my own inquires and proddings.  Occasionally, I would ask a question which was purposely ambiguous in order to allow the guest to have the freedom to answer in whatever way he or she chose.  This would, however, come after at least a few questions which would indicate to the guest that I, as the interviewer, knew what I was talking about, and that I was interested in knowing what they had to say.

bdkc As to the actual editing, when doing it for the radio, I would always try to select sections that showed my guest to their best advantage.  I would also make sure to end the section on a positive note. 

Let me inject here that when WNIB was going off the air on its final day, I chose an opera that ended with a positive sound in a major key
Turandot — and the final piece of music at 12 MidnightLyric for Strings by George Walker was also a chosen because of its aural impression, and the fact that it ended quietly in a major key.  My first thought was to use Adagio for Strings by Barber, but that piece was so associated with the movie Platoon and other works and dates, that I desired something more unique and somewhat unknown with the same feeling.  To read more about the final broadcast, click HERE.

When editing the spoken words for visual (print) use, certain mannerisms and repetitions become really annoying, and when something is annoying, it detracts from the overall impact.  So the phrases
‘you know’ and ‘I think’, and the interjection ‘well’ were almost always dropped.  I also usually removed the phrases ‘kind of’ and ‘sort of’ in most instances since they diminished the thought and derailed the impact.  My guests were strong and vibrant, and there was no reason to veil them in any kind of namby-pamby cloak.  In speech, sentences would often begin with the word ‘and’, so I would either drop the word, or simply connect the thoughts into one sentence.  Parenthetical material, which is meant to amplify or clarify ideas, makes for tricky reading, so I would often re-order the sentence to get the thoughts together. 

I hope you notice that in all of the instances I never changed any ideas of my guests, nor did I put words into their mouths.  Their thoughts are what has come through... at least that has always been my hope, and what I strive to accomplish.  On the rare occasion that my guest would not answer my question directly
— or at all! — I would change my question in the print edition so that my guests could answer in the way they saw fit.  If there were any digressions or extraneous portions, those were usually omitted, and any glaring errors were either fixed or explained.  Again, those instances were very rare.

I did change English-English to American-English, but mostly only in spelling. 
Labour became labor, theatre became theater, programme became program, organisation became organization, and references to a group became singular rather than plural.  ‘The audience don’t care’ became The audience doesn’t care’.  This adjustment, by the way, is only in the text of the interviews.  The biographical boxes and reprints of obituaries were almost always left intact.

People whose first language is not English will often become quite proficient with English vocabulary, but will continue to use their original structure patterns.  Whereas in English we put the modifiers first
— a lovely blue sky — others might speak about a sky blue lovely.  Those quirks have often been fixed, though not in every instance.

It always was my intention to present these conversations as something to learn from and enjoy.  The transcripts are not of the
‘legal stenographic’ kind.  My guests were not on trial.  I was a guest at their concert venue or in their hotel, or they were guests in my home or studio.  I always treated them with kindness and respect, and allowed them to express themselves without fear of any kind of accusation or derision.

It is special to be able to do it at all, but I have managed to do it quite well in both the audio medium and the printed renditions.  Not to toot my own horn, but most people seem to think I am pretty good at both.  I have found it necessary to look not only at the big, overall picture, but also the smallest details.  I
’m sure there is nothing new or extraordinary about this, but keeping that in my mind as I edit goes a long way to strengthening the impact of each interview.

I know these interviews are generally long, but they are what I have, and I want to share what is there.  In a radio broadcast, people have to sit there until it is over... or go away and miss whatever comes next.  On the printed page, readers can interrupt their journey and (hopefully) come back at some point to pick it up again without missing a beat.

Occasionally I will update the pages with new photos and links.  So even though a date at the bottom might indicate the page was uploaded before others, that is why later interview links can appear.  I do not do this chore very often, so there may be links which could be on a page, but are not.  However, as long as there is the possibility of additions or corrections, things might get improved!

On that thought, it always pleases me to be able to include links to other interviews within each new one that is posted.  In most cases, these are names that are brought up by the guest, or appear in the biographies or obituaries.  Only occasionally have I introduced them in the course of asking questions, and in each case, the reference was, I hope, relevant and logical.

I freely admit to being a cheerleader for my topic and my guests.  This is not a bad thing since I am not a news gatherer, but rather a feature reporter.  Because my interviews were Features rather than News, some of the basic rules and formats did not apply.  For instance, the old adage for news gathering is to ask these questions:  who, what, where, when, why, how, huh?  That last one (which I have added) is usually where I got the best and most interesting responses.

[A brief related addition, posted on November 5, 2019]  Regarding my webpages, several times I have received requests to place advertisements.  In all cases I have declined, and despite my tight financial situation, I hope to be able to continue to say a resounding
NO!” to any and all inquiries of that sort.

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bd The following list appears on a couple of the interview pages, but since people continue to ask, here is the answer . . .

I have done interviews with several musicians who were born in the Nineteenth Century.  My guest with the earliest birth-date (March 10, 1892) was soprano Dame Eva Turner.  However, composer/administrator John Donald Robb (June 12, 1892), though three months younger than Turner, was nearly two years older at the time of our conversation.  Hence, a clarification is needed when I am asked who my oldest guest was!  Next in birth-order is composer Paul Amadeus Pisk (May 16, 1893), followed by composer/pianist Leo Ornstein (December 2, 1893), and lexicographer Nicolas Slonimsky (April 27, 1894).  Then come mezzo-soprano Sonia Sharnova (May 2, 1896), composer/critic Virgil Thomson (November 25, 1896), and composer Vittorio Rieti (January 28, 1898).  The order continues with composer/pianist Ernst Bacon (May 26, 1898), followed by composer Marcel Dick (August 28, 1898), conductor Werner Janssen (June 1, 1899), and composer Alfred Eisenstein (November 14, 1899).  The remaining four are composers Elinor Remick Warren (February 23, 1900), Otto Luening (June 15, 1900), and Ernst Krenek (August 23, 1900), and finally publisher Hans Heinsheimer (September 25, 1900).

The rest of my guests were born in the Twentieth Century.  Perhaps, if I have the opportunity, I might interview someone born after January 1, 2001, and thus have conversations with people born in three different centuries and two different millennia!  Though there is no clerical error involved, and it is not my intent to pad my statistics, somehow the film Mr. 3000 comes to mind.....

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Many of my guests are mostly or completely unknown, and in an odd way, that pleases me very much.  If someone who is little-known becomes more-known through my efforts, then I have succeeded in bringing forth something special to the composite knowledge of mankind.  A lofty statement, certainly, but when one thinks about it, each of us is asked to push our tiny segment forward, and my task seems to have been to enrich the musical world through discovery of interesting items.  Yes, I have also presented some of the best-known and most popular figures, but, as John von Rhein mentioned in a Tribune article about the station, he admired my collection of
‘oddball’ composers and performers.  Many times, after doing a program featuring one of them, I would get a call or two asking why this person was not better-known.  The callers would remark to the effect that the music or performing artistry just presented could certainly stand up against the output of the well-knowns. 

Editing these interviews from a quarter-century ago or more, I often find interesting sidelights and tidbits that either amplify ongoing ideas, or give new insight into little-explored or un-spotlighted areas of the subject.  It is truly amazing that these thoughts would be found in the most remote places and come from such unlikely sources.  This is why I do what I do, and I hope that others both enjoy and are enlightened by it all.

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Despite the fact that my early exposure to great music was on radio (mostly WEFM, the station sponsored by Zenith in Chicago), and that I built up a huge collection of recordings on LP and open reel tape, and that I made my living at another station (WNIB, Classical 97, also in Chicago), I maintain
and have said openly many timesthat the real place to hear great music is live in a concert hall or opera house.  The collision of these two worlds becomes the so-called pirated performances.  Usually operas, these gained wide circulation amongst the cognoscenti, and in my teens and twenties I found a number of people who traded copies of various things with me.  However, once I became a professional radio announcer, I was very careful NOT to use any of this material on the air.  First of all, the sound quality was often poor, and even though those of us who obtained these performances understood this, the casual listener would not be expected to be aware of the reason(s) for presenting something in poor sound.  Besides that, broadcast rights were very tricky, and I did not want to involve the station in anything which could have caused legal problems.  It is a thorny issue, and the musicians I have spoken with have not come to any kind of consensus about it.  Many of them collect copiesnot just of themselves but of others, both past and currenteven while decrying their use and existence!  I remember specifically one top record executive remarking on the Texaco Opera Quiz that he does, indeed, collect them, but would immediately bring suit against anyone who tried to distribute copies of one of the artists on his label! 

These days, though I am not involved in the day-to-day broadcasting activities, I am posting interviews with my guests and illustrating the webpages with photos of the artists and their recordings.  I find things on the internet, but try not to use any copyrighted material, and I eschew the placement of images of pirated recordings on my sites.  The commercial recordings are fair game, especially since I am giving them free publicity, but usually not the broadcasts and in-house items which seem to abound. 

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A few random thoughts.............

Whoever named the Butterfly committed a spoonerism.  I think that every time I see one flutter by, no matter what the articles on its etymology say.....

Technically, I was born in Elmhurst, Illinois, on March 11, 1951.  My mother
’s doctor was at Elmhurst Hospital, so that is where she went to deliver me.  My father, however, always insisted I was born in Evanston, since that is where we lived at the time.  With the myriad suburbs surrounding most major and minor cities, I wonder how often this kind of thing happens...  It is pleasing to me that I am exactlyto the day100 years younger than Rigoletto.  Another Verdi opera, Don Carlos also had its premiere on March 11, but in a later year (1867).  I also share that date with composer Carl Ruggles (1876) , and band leader Lawrence Welk (1903).  A quick Google search just now also revealed many others, including Shemp Howard (1895).  [Related story... I met Michael Fine when he was producing one of the recordings made by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  I inquired if he was related to Vivian Fine, whom I had interviewed.  He said no.  I then asked if he was related to Irving Fine, another composer, and he said no.  Finally, I asked if he was related to Burton Fine, principal violist of the Boston Symphony.  Once more, the answer was no.  He then volunteered that he was related to Larry Fine of the Three Stooges.]  More March 11 birthdays...  Astor Piazzola (1921), Mercer Ellington (1919), and Henry Cowell (1897).  When I interviewed Geraldine Decker, we had a great laugh that she, also, was born on March 11 (1931). 

They left out the letter
D from the name Arizona.  I’ve never been there, but I know it’s quite arid in the South West...

There are three major musical works in three different languages, all of which the public quite often mistakenly adds the word
the before the name.  To wit: Messiah, Pagliacci, and Winterreise.  Each one is named as just shown, NOT The Messiah, nor I Pagliacci, nor Die Winterreise.  [Note that the title of the TV Game Show Match Game also lacks the article.  More about that program later on this webpage.]

What is with this overwhelming compulsion to cite the excrement of the male cow?

English is not the easiest of languages…  It can be understood through tough thorough thought though.

General observation...   Regarding professional sports, we, in the Twenty-First Century are just like the Ancients. 
                                   We take delight when our city
s hired gladiators defeat any other citys hired gladiators.  [GO CUBS!]

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end of the world

[September 1, 2017]  While there have always been doomsayers and other prophets predicting the end of time, in the past twenty years, there have been three distinct events which many people truly believed signaled the End of Days.  Obviously, they were wrong, but it is interesting to make note of them...  
(1)  Y2K.  In anticipation of the numbered-year leaving the 1900s and moving to the 2000s, the hue and cry was heard all over the world that the computer systems could not handle that change, and all our electric and electronic grids would fail, and we would be destroyed.  Much time and effort was put into correcting the problem, which apparently worked.  
(2)  One version of the Mayan Calendar simply stopped on December 21, 2012, and many people felt this was to be the last day of Earth.  Another version (which carried on for many more years) was later discovered, but that did not seem to prevent a few people from weeping and wailing and gnashing their teeth.  
(3)  On November 2, 2016, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.

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[December 26, 2017]  A number of people have asked me about how I selected which interviews would be used on the air, and when they would be presented.  These days, on the WNUR series
and also on the late (and hopefully lamented) series on Contemporary Classical Internet Radiothere really is no rhyme nor reason for selection.  Programs were prepared, and now the ones which exist are simply repeated after two or three years, and usually in a different month.  HOWEVER, in my quater-century at WNIB, I was very careful and rather ingenious about timing.  Fairly early on, I stumbled onto the use of ‘round birthdays’.  This simply meant that when a composer or performer had a ‘round birthday’ — 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, etc. — they got a show.  Every five years each one would come up, and a few of the early interviews aired several times.  These programs were in addition to any promotional usesuch as when one of their works was being presented in live performance in the Chicago area, or in conjunction with a new recording.  The advantages of this system meant I did not have agonize over who had been done and who might be neglected, and so forth.  It also was completely color-blind and gender-blind.  There are only 366 possibilities, and everyone has one whether they like it or not.  It also suited my style, in that I celebrated life and not death.  Yes, I mourned and eulogized my guests when they passed away, but I did not, thereafter, mark their dates of death with special progams.  

What brings all this to mind is a brief article in the newspaper, which is reproduced at right.  Since I am not doing fresh interviews any more, I wondered just how well I did during the time I was gathering them, from 1978-2006.  So, I counted up just the composers, and of the 496 names, 62 are women (12.5%), and 15 or 16 are African-American (approximately 3%).  The discrepency is a man named Roque Cordero.  He was included in the series of recordings of music by Black Composers issued on Columbia LPs, but in our interview he told me quite forcefully that he did not like that label.  He insisted he was Panamanian, not black.  There are probably others
— both in general and on my list — who dislike or even disown one category or another, but that is for another discussion.  As to other minorities, I cannot accurately compute them for various reasons.  First, I am often unaware of their background.  A name might come from a few generations back, or perhaps have been lost or changed through marriage or assimilation.  Further, I have met a number of composers who belong to countries other than America.  How should I count them?  Are they to be lumped into a vague category of Minority-Citizens?  Then, to discount the entire exercise, it is not my desire nor intent (nor responsibilty!) to ascertain any kind of pedigree.  My interest is their music, and their ideas about its creation and presentation.  Beyond that, I truly do not care.  Their race or sexual orientation or any other factors are not my concern.  As long as they are part of the Classical Music community, I accept them as such, and will give them their shot (as I like to say).  In truth, I consider all these kinds of labels both insulting and unnecessary.  We are all people, citizens, musicians, etc.  Naturally, I do not want to purposely include or exclude anyone, and without really paying much specific attention to the matter, I think I have been rather fair and equitable.  Looking at the numbers mentioned above, I assume that this percentage also holds for the performers... though the women will have a higher resulting-number since they account for nearly all of the sopranos and mezzos!  As to conductors — which are even more neglectful of the distaff side — there are 14 women in my group of 224 interview guests, which is 6.25%, plus six African-Americans.  

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[January 6, 2018]  During this Holiday Season, I was listening to some old favorites, including The Typewriter, a novelty piece by Leroy Anderson.  It occurred to me that it might not be too many years until that device, which was once ubiquitous, would not be even recognized by most of the populace.  In musical terms, it would be like mentioning the Ophicleide or the Serpent...



Just a note regarding soft timbre...  Throughout musical history, usually the brighter and louder instruments have won the battle.  However, the actual idea of being
loud is, ironically, soft-pedaled!  There are two significant instances where the idea (and nomenclature) of being loud was dropped.  One of the early hammer-struck keyboard instruments was the ‘fortepiano’ or the ‘pianoforte’.  Forte means loud, and piano means soft, so it was literally the ‘loudsoft’ or the ‘softloud’, indicating its ability to be both, contrasting to the plucked-instruments such as the harpsichord and the virginal.  Quickly, the name was abbreviated to simply piano, as we know the instrument today.  So, the idea of  being ‘loud’ was dropped.  The same thing happened to the box which actually turns electrical signals into sound, namely the loudspeaker.  We all know it as a ‘speaker’, which, again, drops the idea of being loud.  [You may insert here any and all puns involving the word allowed.]

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On the subject of things that are obsolete, I have wondered for a long time if the slide rule was the object which went the fastest from being absolutely necessary to being completely useless.  Everyone who did any kind of mathematical computation needed one, and relied on it in every instance.  But as soon as the electronic hand-held calculator came out, the slide rule was immediately pushed aside, never to return to any kind of use... except as a relic of a bygone age.



Of course, we can always look back even farther in time to the abacus . . .


Chinese type (5 plus 2) above; Japanese type (4 plus 1) below


Noting the two different systems shown, today, one might think of the rivalry between Mac and PC, and realize that such dualities have existed for centuries.  Recently, there was the debate between VHS and Beta video tape systems, between 45 rpm and 33 rpm records in the late 1940s, and cylinders vs. lateral-cut 78 rpm discs at the turn of the Twentieth Century.  There was no real problem with the introduction of electrical recordings in 1925, since reproducers in the home could accommodate both.  The only real need for new equipment was at the production end, and the record companies invested in the new system.  The same could not be said for the introduction of stereo in the mid-1950s.  There, the home consumer had to be persuaded to purchase new equipment, and this was not even a decade after everyone had to abandon their 78 machines in favor of the LP players.  A similar upheaval in the music industry was seen with the advent of cassettes and CDs.

lp cartoon

A story I heard many years ago (and have repeated in the hopes it was mostly or completely true) involves the size and playing-time of the compact disc.  It seems that one of the people who were calling the shots at the time of its creation was a Japanese man who knew that his countrymen simply adored the Beethoven Symphony #9.  So, to accommodate that piece of music, the CD needed to hold about 74 minutes of sound.  The story may or may not be true, but it makes a good legend, and I simply choose to believe it.

[August 31, 2019, and inserted here to keep the topics together]  Thinking again of 78s, here's the famous image of our old friend Nipper, and a couple of tidbits about its origins . . . . .


nipper His Master's Voice (HMV) is a famous trademark in the recording industry, and was the unofficial name of a major British record label.

The trademark image comes from a painting by English artist Francis Barraud titled His Master's Voice. It was acquired from the artist in 1899 by the newly formed Gramophone Company, and adopted as a trademark by the Gramophone Company's United States affiliate, the Victor Talking Machine Company. According to contemporary Gramophone Company publicity material, the dog, a terrier named Nipper, had originally belonged to Barraud's brother, Mark. When Mark Barraud died, Francis inherited Nipper, along with a cylinder phonograph and recordings of Mark's voice. Francis noted the peculiar interest that the dog took in the recorded voice of his late master emanating from the horn, and conceived the idea of committing the scene to canvas. The incident took place at 92 Bold Street, Liverpool.

A different source relates a cautionary tale for artists about getting and keeping the copyright for art...

When Barraud painted Nipper curiously searching for his master's voice in the phonograph's horn, not only was the artist turned down for a copyright for the image, but he was also rejected by the Royal Academy, and various magazines. The Edison Bell company responded that "dogs don’t listen to phonographs."

Barraud eventually sold another painting, with a Berliner brass horn, to one of the company's managers, where it caught the eye of the Emile Berliner, the company's founder, who commissioned another copy AND bought the rights to it! The famous image went on to become the trakemark of the Victor Talking Machine Co. Victor was Berliner's partner, and the image ultimately survived Victor's merger with RCA in 1929. It was printed on record labels, letterheads, novelties, and catalogues for decades, but Barraud, the original artist, only received two payments of £50 each.

Here are a few more details about the dog, and the original painting (shown below, which depicted a cylinder machine, and not the flat-disc machine we all know)...

Nipper was born in 1884 in Bristol, England, and died in September 1895. He was a mixed-breed dog and probably part Jack Russell Terrier, although some sources suggest that he was a Smooth Fox Terrier, or "part Bull Terrier". He was named Nipper because he would "nip" the backs of visitors' legs.

Nipper originally lived with his owner, Mark Henry Barraud, in the Prince's Theatre where Barraud was a scenery designer. When Barraud died in 1887, his brothers Philip and Francis took care of the dog. Nipper himself died of natural causes in 1895 and was buried in Kingston upon Thames in Clarence Street, in a small park surrounded by magnolia trees. As time progressed the area was built upon, and a branch of Lloyds Bank now occupies the site. On the wall of the bank, just inside the entrance, a brass plaque commemorates the terrier that lies beneath the building.
On 10 March 2010, a small road near to the dog's resting place in Kingston upon Thames was named Nipper Alley in commemoration of this resident.

In 1898, three years after Nipper's death, Francis Barraud, his last owner and brother of his first owner, painted a picture of Nipper listening intently to a wind-up Edison-Bell cylinder phonograph. Thinking the Edison-Bell Company located in New Jersey, USA, might find it useful, he presented it to James E. Hough, who promptly said, "Dogs don't listen to phonographs". On May 31, 1899, Barraud went to the Maiden Lane offices of The Gramophone Company with the intention of borrowing a brass horn to replace the original black horn on the painting. Manager William Barry Owen suggested that if the artist replaced the machine with a Berliner disc gramophone, that he would buy the painting. The image became the successful trademark of the Victor and HMV record labels, HMV music stores, and the Radio Corporation of America, after the acquisition of the Victor company in 1929. The trademark was registered by Berliner for use in the United States on July 10, 1900.

Francis Barraud said, "It is difficult to say how the idea came to me beyond the fact that it suddenly occurred to me that to have my dog listening to the phonograph, with an intelligent and rather puzzled expression, and call it 'His Master's Voice' would make an excellent subject. We had a phonograph and I often noticed how puzzled he was to make out where the voice came from. It certainly was the happiest thought I ever had."

The slogan "His Master's Voice", along with the painting, was sold to The Gramophone Company for £100 (equivalent to £10,628 in 2018) – half for the copyright and half for the physical painting itself. The original oil painting hung in the EMI boardroom in Hayes, Middlesex, for many years.


The two cartoons below reflect our 'progress' as we firmly embrace the Twenty-First Century, and amplify my remarks vis-à-vis the typewriter . . . . .


[February 3, 2020, and inserted here to (again) keep the topics together]  I just ran across an interesting article about the latest in sound reproduction.  It is reproduced HERE.

[Another observation, from May 11, 2020]  Future generations may wonder why something called a "compact" disc held more material than a "long playing" record!

Next is a cartoon from 2017 (below-right), which was originally placed on this page on September 27, 2021.  The other cartoon (on the left, and probably from a couple of decades ago) just seemed appropriate, and was added January 30, 2022.


Statement seen:  "Classic LPs are going for record prices!!!!"

Next, yet another vinyl gag [added to this page on July 16, 2022]


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[June 29, 2018]  Alert observers might notice that as of the end of March, 2018, many of the links to my interviews which appear in Wikipedia articles have a slightly different format.  Specifically, my name has been removed from the line.  For several years, it was <<<Interview with (name of guest) by Bruce Duffie, on (date of interview).>>>  Because someone complained that I was spamming, and felt the only reason for these links was my own self-promotion, that person urged the removal of all of these links.  A discussion was launched, and several Administrators weighed in with their opinions.  Fortunately, enough of them saw the importance of the interviews themselves, and the complainant was admonished to cease the battering, and even urged to apologize (which did not happen).  After about a week, the discussion was formally closed, and the upshot was that I removed my name from many of the links, and am not including it in future postings.  However, a number of the old-style links remain, so there might be a bit of confusion since they are not uniform.  For anyone who cares to read it, the entire discussion is reproduced HERE.

[Updated information about the above item]  Since I had "corrected" many of the links (to remove my name), another editor(s) felt this was wrong, and undid some of those corrections... thus replacing my name in the link.  One editor contacted me about the removals, and I showed him/her the discussion (linked above).  Since I don't go back to old Wikipedia pages very often, I do not know whether the changes have been made to a few or many of them.  It is unimportant... as long as the link itself is there, I am satisfied.

[Further updated information about my involvement with Wikipedia]  In August of 2021, another editor started deleting my links.  Upon inquiry, he stated that I had no rights to use the images of record covers.  I explained that record companies sent me promotional copies of their material in hopes that I would use it on the air, and also (where possible) show their images.  I even checked this out with one President of a major record company, but this did not stop him from saying he would continue to delete my links.  Despite having been praised as "an asset to Wikipedia" by several Administrators (shown above via the link), I knew that he would see anything I added or deleted from Wikipedia.  So, I have simply withdrawn from any further involvement.  My hope is that he has lost interest in me, and that my earlier links would be left intact.  I say all this to (a) let you know that no further interviews will be linked, and (b) tell why some links might disappear from existing pages.    

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[January 3, 2019]  In reading some of the comments about my interviews, a couple people have noted that a few of my questions tend to pop up with regularity.  While this is certainly true, I do hope that in each case the inquiries come naturally, and at an appropriate place in the conversation.  I never worked with a specific list of questions, and always tried to discuss the specific strengths of each guest.  However, since all were involved in so-called Classical Music, there were bound to be common points of interest and expertise.  To look at it another way, when you eat at my restaurant, each meal on the menu will be unique, but many will have some ingredients in common.  Since all are being prepared by myself as chef, there will be some resemblances and similarities.  I hope this does not discourage anyone from sampling my cuisine.....

It is also interesting to see how various people respond and react to the same question(s).  Continuing the metaphor, there will certainly be differing opinions from various people to the same item on my menu.  Observing those reactions should not, necessarily, cause me to change the recipe.  Perhaps having a few condiments on the table will allow for each person to season the dish to their own taste, but this can only happen when a certain stability is built into the process.  Once again, my goal with the interviews is to allow each guest to express their own views, and I trust that a few similar questions will get a variety of responses.

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A few years ago, I met a fine baritone whom I had known on the stage for a long time.  Warren Fremling has performed in local and regional productions over the years, and has had a significant impact each time.  Lately, he has been an invaluable help to me by proofreading my interviews before they are opened to the public on my website.  I am grateful to him for pointing out not only mistakes (of which, fortunately, there are few), but also for occasionally suggesting better ways of expressing the ideas.  As I have mentioned, I never change the focus nor direction of the words my guests use, but by tightening and sometimes re-gathering thoughts, their objectives are made more clear to readers.  In several cases, Warren has suggested slight changes which bring these thoughts into sharper focus, and for that I am eternally grateful.  

In our exchanges, he also has provided me with further insights into the world of professional singing, and his most recent gift to me was a clear and succinct explanation of the various voice-types, and how they can be viewed by experts and novices alike.  With his permission, it is reproduced here...

There are two things that decide this.  The first is color.  Richness in the middle voice is revealing.  The second, and much more reliable, is the location of the bridge or passagio.  A mezzo’s bridge is a-kin to a baritone’s.  It’s on the D, a ninth above mid-C (a baritone’s being an octave lower, obviously).  I’ve diagrammed voices according to their interest and comfort to the listener’s ear – not what the singer does, but what is natural to the instrument.  A soprano or tenor sound like this:  \/ - the bottom is light and the voice sounds more interesting and easier as the voice ascends.  The mezzo and baritone sound like this:  () – the voice is fattest in the middle.  We have some of the low notes of the contralto/bass and some of the high notes of the soprano/tenor, but you can’t live there.  The middle is where we’re most at home.  The contralto/bass is the exact opposite of the soprano/tenor – the voice gets fatter and more beautiful with the descent.

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[February 4, 2019]   As the the shortest month of the year rolls around once again, I am reminded of the one word which I simply gave up trying to pronounce correctly.  I made an effort, but it simply was too awkward to do both correctly and smoothly at the same time.  I could say Feb-ROO-rary, but it required slowing down the enunciation to the point where it was simply untenable.  [You may insert any kind of joke here, regarding it not being a ten, or even a nine, but perhaps a two or three at best...]  Imagine, if you will, a car on the highway, and for some unknown reason it just slowed to a crawl.  It would certainly look strange, to say nothing about impeding traffic and being hazardous.  This is not to say that an announcer mis-pronouncing a word on the radio could be hazardous in any way, but you get my drift...  So if any tapes exist of my work where I say the name of the second month, you will hear a firm and confident FEB-you-air-ee.  I know it is wrong, and I knew it at the time, and I make no excuses.  

I am sure I made other mistakes, and, indeed, I was corrected on a few occasions.  But by and large, I was complimented by members of the public on my accuracy and stylistic manners.  It was especially nice to hear that I had pronounced the name of a person or location properly from someone who was from that particular locale.  I want to say, however, that when someone called to make a correction, my first task was to ascertain if that person on the telephone was accurate!  There were a few occasions when a caller would berate me and give a different version of the way to pronounce a name, and when I checked with a known authority, I found that my own rendition was correct, and the caller had been wrong.  It reminds me of the sign which famously hung in the City News Bureau for many years, which screamed,
If your mother says she loves you, check it out!

On that particular subject, I remember one evening when we aired a syndicated broadcast of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  The announcer (who shall remain nameless) proclaimed the conductor to be Esa-Pekka Sa-LOH-nehn.  Well, I had interviewed the Maestro, and, as usual, had asked him to do a station break, in which he said his name.  His pronunciation was SAL-oh-nehn.  At some point during the evening, I must have said his name myself, and pronounced it his way, and immediately received a phone call screaming at me for my stupidity.  
If the announcer on the Los Angeles Symphony broadcast had said it one way, that MUST be the accurate way!  I tried, very calmly, to explain, but the caller simply slammed the phone down.  The next evening, I brought in my interview tape and played the station break.  I have no idea if that caller from the previous night heard it, but at least I settled the matter for anyone who was listening . . . . .

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[April 22, 2019]  Consider, if you will, the following scenario...  Bill opens a small restaurant that features Fine Dining.  He is successful, and over the course of forty-five years, the eatery becomes well-known and highly-respected.  After spending his adult life maintaining this establishment, he decides to retire.  As it happens, the location he originally chose -- which was, at the time, perfectly good but not very popular -- had become very desirable.  So Bill closed the restaruant and sold the location to Bonney, who brought in her own staff and opened a shoe store.  It immediately attracted business, and became very competitive.  

Now when one thinks of the history of the restaurant vis-à-vis the ongoing story of the shoe store, it should be obvious that aside from the physical location, there is no connection whatsoever.  Right?  Perhaps, the historical account of each one should have a mention of the other as being at the same address, but that's certainly all the crossover interest there would be.

With that in mind, I ask you to look HERE.

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[June 28, 2019]  Following up on my remarks about diversity (above, with the date of December 26, 2017), much has transpired in the short time since then.  While I do not — and did not
go into the political area when conversing with my musical guests, it has come to my attention that the Music World is, nonetheless, very much involved in such social matters.  For example, the editorial in Opera Canada of Summer, 2019, discusses the central debate about how to keep the art form relevant for an audience which no longer passively accepts the racist, misogynist and sexist tropes of yesteryear.”  It goes on to discuss the “challenges faced by women singers portraying some of the standard repertoires iconic roles... many of which are mired in stereotypes we find unacceptable in the #MeToo era.

My reason for bringing this up is to point out that in several of my interviews
which date from 1978-2006I specifically ask the question of my female singer guests.  To wit: How do we keep these Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century characters relevant to women (and men) today who have gone through world wars, and social upheavals, and other developments of our times?

This is not to just pat myself on the back for being so forward-looking, but to show that my own curiosity was such that it became imperative to inquire about these ideas, and to ask how they resonated with audiences far removed from the original mores and strictures.

Of course, in the theater, the production team can (and often does) re-set the action to a later era, or even to the present day.  That is, again, a discussion for another time and place, but it does move the ideas in ways that can provoke or amuse.  There is also the need to remember that it was only in the early Twentieth Century that the classical musical public abandoned its craving for anything and everything which was new.  Until then, while there were performances of older pieces, it was the newest and latest symphonies and operas which were anticipated with genuine eagerness.  Once this trend was lost, the oft-repeated repertoire began to show signs of losing its immediate contact with concert-goers, and from there it is the famous
slippery slope.  

In any event, I just wanted to call attention to my own small attempts to make inquiry when possible, and to show that my own feeling is that opera can remain a viable and exciting living breathing art form.

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snoopy Music Joke...  Question:  What are the names of the Three Bears?    Answer:  Smokey Bear, Yogi Bear, Jacques Ibert

Second Music Joke...  What if we discover that’s what it really is all about?  [Reference: Hokey Pokey]

Third Music Joke...  Question:  What is the voice-range of the quarter-hour?     Answer:  People often say, "It'll be tenor fifteen minutes!"

Fourth Music Joke...   A woman is on trial for beating her husband to death with his guitars.
                                   The judge asks, “First offender?”  She replies, “No, first a Gibson, then a Fender.”

Musical variation on an old joke...  If Mezzo-Soprano Shirley Verrett married Tenor George Shirley, she
d be Shirley Shirley!


Continuing with a bit of music humor, for those who wish to look at a slightly risqué image, this R-rated item is the photo of a sculpture depicting the realization of a very old (music-related) joke.  While it is nothing more bold than what one would see at a museum, remember, no one is forcing you to look.  So, by clicking the link you implicitly agree that your viewing is voluntary, and no complaints can be made.

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[August 29, 2019]  I stumbled upon this item just now, and thought it would be fun to post it here.  For those who do not read music, or for anyone interested in seeing a nifty connection between this tune and the main thrust of my website, click HERE.

menu with music

Lest you think it is only one or two goofballs at a single establishment who would make such an error, consider the fact that the government of the former DDR (East Germany) issued two postage stamps in 1956 to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of composer Robert Schumann.  They were the same portrait of Schumann, used for two denominations, but the music in the background was by Franz Schubert!  These are the top two stamps in the illustration below.  Soon, the error was discovered, and a new version of the stamps (with music by Schumann) was issued, as seen in the bottom two in the illustration.

There have been other philatelic mistakes, but most have been caught before the stamps were available to the public for use as postage.  This is not about printing errors, such as inverted images, or mistakes in colors or perferations.  Rather, place names have been mis-attributed and people have been wrongly identified.  But those shown below are the only foul-ups I know which involve music or musicians.  


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[September 19, 2019]  The following is from an essay about the (missing?) "A" in Neil Armstrong's famous first statement when he stepped on the moon, which was posted on the website "The Conversation" 7/16/19.


When we talk, we formulate a thought, retrieve words from memory and move our mouths to produce sound. We do this quickly, producing, in English, around five syllables every second.

The process for listeners is equally complex and speedy. We hear sounds, which we separate into speech and non-speech information, combine the speech sounds into words, and determine the meanings of these words. Again, this happens nearly instantaneously, and errors rarely occur.

These processes are even more extraordinary when you think more closely about the properties of speech. Unlike writing, speech doesn’t have spaces between words. When people speak, there are typically very few pauses within a sentence.

Yet listeners have little trouble determining word boundaries in real time. This is because there are little cues – like pitch and rhythm – that indicate when one word stops and the next begins.

But problems in speech perception can arise when those kinds of cues are missing, especially when pitch and rhythm are used for non-linguistic purposes, like in music. This is one reason why misheard song lyrics – called “mondegreens” – are common. When singing or rapping, a lot of the speech cues we usually use are shifted to accommodate the song’s beat, which can end up jamming our default perception process.

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[October 18, 2019]  When I was a teenager in the mid 1960s, I actually did some work with computers... designing flow charts and writing code in FORTRAN.  The lines were then put onto punch cards, which then ran through the computer to execute the (very simple) programs.  I didn't stick with it, though, and only came back to computers via a Memorywriter (a word-processor) which the radio station had, and used for awhile to publish the WNIB Program Guide in the late 1980s.  

My reason for mentioning this at all is that some time back then I saw the famous saying which is reproduced below.  Recently I remembered this saying, and looked it up via a Google search.  The many presentations varied a bit, but had the same basic content.  Besides the signs and posters there was a tee-shirt, a coffee mug, and even one going so far as to use faux nazi stationery.

In any event, here is one rendition for your enjoyment.................


In the same Google search, I spotted the following item, which probably should be posted in every office................


[March 23, 2021 (yes, a year after the item which follows)]...  This next image actually belongs with both the items above and below! .................


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[March 24, 2020]  During the coronavirus pandemic, I happened upon this article, and felt it was significant enough to share.  Perhaps it should also be posted in every office, along with the item shown directly above (about the rising cost and increase of stupid questions), as an antidote to the situation . . . . . . . . . (!)

Obviously, there is nothing funny about the coronavirus, but there is some humor to be found in the actions of a few individuals . . . . .


[April 22, 2020]  Current version of old joke:  Why did the chicken cross the road?  To maintain her social-distancing!

[November 9, 2020, and Covid is still the #1 topic everywhere... *sigh*]

van gogh

[April 17, 2021... as it all still drags on]  My local grocery store has gone too far. They’ve put a big X on the floor to show where to stand in line at the register.
                                                                   I’ve seen enough Roadrunner cartoons... I’m not falling for that.

[October 30, 2021]  Do we even need Halloween anymore?  I’ve been wearing a mask and eating candy for 14 months…

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smart car

[June 24, 2020]  We owned a Smart Car (shown on right in the photo above) for about five years.  It was really very comfortable, and fun to drive around town.  Our other car was a mini-van, which we used for transporting larger items, and took on longer road trips.  One day, when our Smart Car was parked in a lot that was full, the owner of the white Smart Car asked if she could use the other half of our space.  The result looks as though our cars are kissing!  In the spirit of admonishing a couple who are showing too much PDA (public display of affection) to “Get a room!”, a passer-by shouted, “GET A GARAGE!!!”  

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[September 12, 2020]  
As people who have read my interview with Charles Nelson Reilly know, one of my guilty pleasures is watching re-runs of Match Game.  The ones I like best are from the 1970s, with host Gene Rayburn, and panelist Richard Dawson, who was there until 1978.  Of course, Reilly was there throughout, and he truly made the show funny.  One of the other regular panelists, Brett Somers, said that a fan had declared that the program should really be called Charles Nelson Reilly's House Party, alluding to another program actually called Art Linkletter's House Party.  One week, Raymond Burr was in the lower-middle position of the six panelists.  My reason for mentioning all of this is that on one episode that week, there were two questions relating to music!  The first one went something like this...  Tough Teddy said, "Our school was soooooo tough... [audience shouts, "How tough was it?"] was so tough that the the school orchestra kidnapped the janitor and put him in the _______."  [The panel and contestants were to fill in the blank at the end of the sentence, and when they matched, it scored a point for the contestant.]  The more popular answer was "Tuba", given by the contestant and four of the panelists, but Reilly (and one other panelist) said "Drum".  This was what the writers were going for, since there was a commercial product called "Janitor in a Drum".  The second musical question was, "Pat Pending (!) invented a juke box for people who hate music.  You drop a quarter in the slot, and it ______s the record."  The obvious answer (which won the game for the contestant) was "breaks" (or smashes).

[November  2, 2020... amazingly this goes with the Match Game item above!]  I continue to enjoy these re-runs, and now they have added the evening series Match Game PM.  Each week had a stand-alone game which was edited a bit to get through the entire game in one segment.  (The weekday edition just played for the time allotted, and games spread over to the next day when necessary - which was most of the time!)  Anyway, there were two music questions in recent PM programs...  The first was "Lawrence _______".  The panelists gave Lawrence of Arabia, and Lawrence Welk, then Reilly chimed in with, "I know this is an old reference, but Lawrence Tibbett!"  Rayburn acknowledged that he knew of "the famous baritone", and began singing the Toreador Song from Carmen, but the audience was not impressed.  The third response from the polled audience was Lawrence Olivier.  For the record, Lawrence Welk was chosen by the contestant, and won the top prize.  The other question was more obscure.  The question was "_______ foxes."  The panel suggested sly foxes, and, being theater people, Little Foxes (the play by Lillian Hellman).  I don't remember the third choice, nor which was the winning item.  I was engrossed in the fact that while Somers and Rayburn were trying to remember which actress starred as Regina on Broadway, and which one was in the film, Reilly screamed, "AND BRENDA LEWIS STARRED IN THE OPERA REGINA BY MARC BLITZSTEIN."  I was so proud of him at that point.  For the record, it was Tallulah Bankhead on Broadway (1939), and Bette Davis in the film (1941).  The opera premiered in 1949 at the 46th Street Theatre, with Jane Pickens as Regina, conducted by Maurice Abravanel.  Lewis sang Birdie, but then moved to the title role when the opera was revived in 1953 at the City Centre Opera.

[December 2, 2020... a couple more related items]  Two more questions come to mind, and both relate to music in the nude. (!)  A well-endowed lady volunteered for the All-Nude Orchestra.  Unfortunately, she played _________.  The contestant responded with Cymbals, and some panelists also said that.  But after all six made their contribution, Rayburn said that his answer was the Accordion!  [Huge laugh from the audience.]  On another episode was this question...  A man complains to the conductor of the All-Nude Marching Band, "I don't mind playing in your ensemble, but do I have to walk in front of the _________???"  Again, the contestant said Cymbals, but a couple of the panelists said Trombone!

[December 27, 2020... one more item!]  This is from the third version of the program, the Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour.  This incantation of the program only lasted one season (October, 1983 - July, 1984).  Rayburn returned as host of the Match Game portions, and Jon Bauman (who had been Bowzer with Sha Na Na) hosted the Hollywood Squares segment.  Bauman dressed normally, in a suit and tie, with regular hair, not all greased up.  However, he did occasionally refer to his Bowzer character "from a previous life," and sometimes showed his famous open-mouth fists-in-the-air pose.  Anyway, on one segment, there was this (musical) question:  "When well-endowed Wanda played her accordion, Lady of Spain became Lady of _______."  As it happened, one panelist (Mark Russell) gave away the punch line by saying that the title became Lady of Pain, and they had to throw out the question before the contestant had a chance to respond.  For those who are interested, see my interview with accordionist Robert Davine.

On another program, the question was "George was always tired when he got home from work because he was a ________ salesman."  I don't remember any of the other responses, but Bauman said "Anvil", and promptly started singing the "Anvil Chorus" from Il Trovatore.  (Remember that Bauman had attended Juilliard!)  Rayburn also joined in, but no one else seemed to respond to their rendition.  *sigh*

[January 16, 2021... though the date of my posting is not really relevant since all the Match Game programs are re-runs from 45 or more years ago!]  Another couple of musical questions...  "George knew his son would be a musician because his head was shaped like a __________."  The contestant said Violin, and the six panelists said Drum, Grand Piano, Heart - which is an Organ (the panelist made that clarification!), Triangle, Tuba, and Reilly said a G-Clef, and drew a very respectable image on his card.  The last panelist (Joyce Bulifant) noted that it was quite an ensemble, and Rayburn pointed out that there were seven different excellent responses.  [The following was added on November 27, 2021, but placed here for obvious reasons]   On another program, there was a different set of seven responses.  The question was, "Ugly Edna was the center-fold of Musician's Monthly because her legs looked like a ___________.  The contestant said Violin, and the six celebreties said Baton, Tuba, Piano Legs (Reilly), Cello, Slide Trombone, and a Pair of Bassoons (Patti Deutsch).

Another question was, "When Joshua wanted to destroy the wall in Jericho, his trumpet wasn't enough, so he used a _________."  The contestant and one panelist said Tuba, another panelist said Piano, one said Bulldozer, and the other three said Hammer.  Rayburn lamented that four of the six panelists just didn't understand the question!  Though there were no 'right' or 'wrong' answers, he often would gently deride them when there was one (or more) obvious answer, and the contestant or panelists would completely miss the joke.

[February 12, 2021]   Yet another "Audience Match" question was, "Bella _______."  Dawson rightly said that the audience often mis-spelled their responses, and that despite his name being Bela, they might have said "Lugosi," which, indeed was the number-one answer.  Incidentally, other questions on the program often used the character of Count Dracula, and Rayburn spoke the quote in an accent quite close to Lugosi's.  Again, I forget what the number two response was, but Reilly's (third position) response was, "Bella figlia dell'amore," which is the opening phrase of the Quartet from Rigoletto.  Rayburn then began singing the phrase (correctly).  It's just another reason why I love that show.

[March 21, 2021... yet another one to SPRING up... !  (Sorry for the pun.  I just wanted to SEASON this line.)]  Rose phoned her psychiatrist.  She said, "My husband is on the roof!  He thinks he's a ________"  The contestant said Cat.  Three panelists said Bird, one panelist said Weather Vane, and another said TV Antenna.  Reilly said FIDDLER !   (Get it?  Fiddler on the Roof!)

[January 23, 2022]  One more re-run just seen...  The question for the big money was "______ toast".  One celebrity response was "French" (which was the $500 (top) audience response, and the one the contestant chose).  The next celebrity response was "White", and then Reilly said, "I'm going to give a Nellie answer.  MELBA!"  He had to explain who Nellie Melba was, and that she was a famous opera singer.  It turned out that Melba Toast was the $100 audience response.

[February 19, 2022]  From another re-run of Match Game 75...  The tuba player said, "I don't think that new conductor likes me.  In the middle of my solo, he started __________ing in my tuba!"  While the celebrities were writing their responses, CNR asked, "How far was the tuba from the conductor?"  
(Some laughter from the audience)  Betty White asked, "And what was the trajectory?"  (More laughter)  CNR continued, "How old was the conductor?  All those strings to get across..."  (Much laughter)  The contestant's response was, "Tinkling".  Rayburn then pretended to be on the podium looking at the orchestra, pointing to the violins, then the cellos, then the basses farther away, and, "Waaaay in the back are the tubas."  The celebrity answers were a bit boring...  Allen Ludden said "Blowing", Brett Somers said, "Barfing", CNR said "Eating lunch", Dolly Martin said "Expectorating", and Betty White said "Pouring Water."  Richard Dawson was the only one who matched the contestant with "Tinkling".

[March 7, 2022...  I just keep watching the progams, and they keep serving up the music questions]  On a PM show, the question was: A Marching Band member said, "I learned a painful lesson today.  Never stop fast when there's a ______ player behind you."  The contestant said Tuba, but all six celebrities said the 'right' answer, which was Trombone!

From another (regular weekday) show from 1978...  Jack said, "This t-shirt craze is really wild.  I saw a girl with an entire orchestra on her front.  She had the biggest ________ I ever saw!"  The contestant said Cymbals.  The celebrities said Tubas, Instruments, Bassoons, and Maracas.  CNR said Kettle Drums, to which Rayburn commented that when they were upside down they'd look... (he never bothered to finish the sentence since everyone was laughing).  By this time, Richard Dawson had departed for Family Feud, and Bob Barker (host of The Price is Right) sat in the lower-center seat that week.  He said Boobs, to which the audience loudly booed.  He then said, "This audience is the pits... like orchestra pits!" and the audience continued to boo.  After everything settled down, Rayburn said that in the office, they all thought the answer would be Bongo Drums.  Yes, there were more boos from the audience.  It's really a fun show...........

[March 17, 2022... and the shows just keep coming along!]  A Match Game Limerick:  A kinky young pianist named Twist/Played piano with only his wrist./When he got on his knees/And banged on the keys/He said, "I'm bound to be ________."  The contestant and four on the panel (including CNR) said Kissed.  Dawson said Hissed (which was my answer), but Bobby Van had the best response, which was LISZT !  

Another question from another show...  A stripper said to the night club owner, "I want a new dressing room!  The musician next door just poked a peep hole through the wall with his __________."  The contestant had the best answer, which was Trombone, but none of the panel said that.  CNR was away doing a Broadway show, so Gary Burghoff sat in his seat and said Drum Stick.  (He had actually worked as a jazz drummer, and was seen in M*A*S*H playing a drum solo (which was not overdubbed!).  Other responses were Piccolo, Horn (which matched), French Horn (which did NOT match), and two said Instrument.

[August 19, 2022]  From a very early program in the series, since Rayburn was called the Host rather than the Star...  A music teacher said to Dumb Dora, "You don't play a _________ by blowing on it."  The contestant and five of the panelists all said Piano.  CNR was the only one who said Violin.

[October 17, 2022]   Here's yet another pair of questions...   They call Oscar the Orchestra Leader "The Ostrich" because when the band plays bad, Oscar sticks his head in the _______.  The contestant and three panelists said Tuba.  Arlene Francis said Pit, and CNR said Toilet.  [The contestant had matched one in the previous round, so only 5 panelists responded.  

The other question was an Audience Match.  Slide _________.  Brett suggested Rule, Betty White said Projector, and Richard Dawson made a joke of Slide, Kelly, Slide (the 1927 silent film), but then opted for Trombone.  I was amazed that Trombone did not show up as any of the audience's responses.  The third most popular response ($100) was Home, the second ($250) was Projector, and the top one ($500) was Rule.  I don't remember what the contestant picked, but it was not Trombone.....  *sigh*  

[November 18, 2022]   A baritone asked a tenor, "How do you hit those high notes?"  The tenor replies, "Before each performance, my wife _______s my shorts."  The contestant and four of the panelists said starches.  Patti Deutsch said heats, and clarified that it was because the theater was cold.  CNR said lights.  Dawson then remarked that if she lights the shorts, only dobermans would hear the high notes!

[March 18, 2024]  Each year there are some 'new' additions to the re-run rotation, and now the syndicated version (without a date attached) is being seen.  One show from 1980 had this item... Old Oscar the musician is really old.  He played his first duet with ________.  The contestant said Beethoven, and when Rayburn asked why she had come up with that, she said it was the only song she knew.  However, she soon started saying "Jesu joy (of man's desiring)" which some audience members shouted was by Bach.  The panelists' responses were Brahms (Robert Walden), Bach (Brett Somers), then CNR said he had The Definitive Answer: Gabriel, because he blew his horn!  Judy Landers then said Eve, Bill Daily said Lawrence Welk, and Marcia Wallace said, "That good little tuba player, Noah!"  CNR then chimed in that Noah would have played the Double Bass, since everything on the Ark came in pairs!  

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I am proud to say that a quotation from my interview with Maria Tallchief was used as the text with the animation in this Google Doodle.

To see the video, and read about its creation, click HERE.

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[December 20, 2020]  A couple of images for the season . . . . .  The first one is not new, but does involve some wonderfully appropriate critters!


On the other hand, it has been a very tough year . . . . .

tough year

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The following panel contains two separate jokes.  Do NOT try to make them into one idea.  They just happened to be inspired by the world situation . . . . .


key sig

All of his reminds me of an actual musical chord, concocted by Nicolas Slonimsky,
which he calls The Grandmother Chord (shown immediately below)

grandmother chord

From the interview, here is how he explains its derivation...

Technically, it is a mathematical problem because you have to use all twelve different notes and all eleven different intervals.  It's not so easy; if you start by just trial and error, you won't get anywhere because you will either repeat a note or repeat an interval!  But I also found that musically it's very easy.  Jocularly I say that great adventures always have very elementary fundamental principles, and this principle is extremely simple!  Using a convergent system of intervallic progression, the first note of the scale, let's say C, then the last note of the chromatic scale, B.  Then the second note of the chromatic scale, C-sharp and the one beforethe penultimateB-flat, then D, A, E-flat, A-flat, E, G, F, F-sharp.  So it's convergent, and when it's expanded [sings, alternating between low and high notes] "da-DAH-dee-DAH-dah-DAH" and developed throughout seven octaves, then I have my Grandmother Chord.

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[February 10, 2021]  While editing my interview with my old bassoon teacher Wilbur Simpson, he said something which led me to find more info about it.  To wit:  "When you were a kid, some of the most interesting things that I can remember real early were when Walter Damrosch was piped into school.  We used to listen to those programs."  My research produced the material shown in the box below...


Walter Johannes Damrosch
(January 30, 1862 – December 22, 1950) was a German-born American conductor and composer. He is best remembered today as long-time director of the New York Symphony Orchestra and for conducting the world premiere performances of George Gershwin's Piano Concerto in F (1925) and An American in Paris (1928). Damrosch was also instrumental in the founding of Carnegie Hall. He also conducted the first performance of Rachmaninov's third piano concerto with Rachmaninov himself as a soloist.

Damrosch was the National Broadcasting Company's music director under David Sarnoff, and from 1928 to 1942, he hosted the network's Music Appreciation Hour, a popular series of radio lectures on classic music aimed at students. (The show was broadcast during school hours, and teachers were provided with textbooks and worksheets by the network.) According to former New York Times critic Harold C. Schonberg in his collection Facing the Music, Damrosch was notorious for making up silly lyrics for the music he discussed in order to "help" young people appreciate it, rather than letting the music speak for itself.


Now, ninety years later, what would be the long-term effect of even a mere five million listeners (and viewers) of similar presentations on their computers?  I hereby "donate" all the interviews which are posted on my website as research materials to be used as any kind of compendium or supporting material to a venture such as this.

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[October 16, 2021]  Occasionally, people notice that my name (DUFFIE) is spelled differently than usual.  As a young boy, I asked my father about it, but he just dismissed it with a shrug and a throw-away line about an ancestor being a horse-thief.  In any event, when heard and not seen, most people will assume it's DUFFY.  That has never bothered me, except when necessary... like directing people to my website!  There, the name needs to be spelled correctly.

When speaking with composers, or others involved with new music, they often asked if I was related to John Duffy.  A few even thought I was him!  John was a composer himself, who also founded Meet The Composer in 1974, and ran it until 1996.  When John and I eventually met, I distinctly remember that we both had to carefully write the other's name when scribbling our contact info.  I also interviewed the violinist Robert McDuffie, and there is a woman named Duffie Adelson, who ran the Merit School of Music in Chicago.  In college, after we music students learned about the early Renaissance composer Guillaume Dufay (or Du Fay, pronounced doo-FYE, or dew-FY, in either case it rhymes with defy) (1397-1474), I was always called by that name.

What brought all this to my mind recently was watching baseball games of the Chicago Cubs.  (Yes, even after trading away several of their best players, I will still follow them, as I have since I was a kid.)   After being with other teams, the infielder Matt DUFFY signed with the Cubs for 2021.  It always pleased me to hear the TV announcers say his name, especially when he hit a home run, or made a spectacular fielding play.  As it happened, there were a couple of Cubs games against the Minnesota Twins.  (They don't play each other very often because they are in different leagues, but now, with inter-league contests, they do meet every few years.)  Until I happened to hear my family name spoken on the Twins' roster, I was unaware of pitcher Tyler DUFFEY.  Unfortunately, I didn't pay close enough attention at the time to know if DUFFEY pitched to DUFFY.  

After the fact, I e-mailed the Cubs to find out, but received no answer.  So, I sent the same e-mail to the Twins.  Again, no answer.  Finally, I contacted the Cubs Insider, an unofficial website.  Well, you guessed it, I got no response.  That's three strikes, so I'm out.  This is too bad, because it would have been fun to speculate about DUFFIE watching DUFFEY pitching to DUFFY.  Of course, the best would be if I was at Wrigley Field to catch a homer, or even a foul ball in this situation!  *sigh*

Oh well, as they say, "Wait 'til next year . . . . ."

[May, 2022]   It's now 'next year', and DUFFY has been traded to the Los Angeles Angels.  *big sigh*

[October 19, 2021]  Also regarding names...  The Poet and Peasant Overture by Franz von Suppé is certainly one of the more popular items on concerts of light music.  It's from an 1846 Viennese operetta Dichter und Bauer, to use the original title.  For a long time, my interview with pianist Mischa Dichter has been posted on this website.  Earlier today, I uploaded my conversation with conductor Harold Bauer.  I just thought it was a nifty happenstance.

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[October 30, 2021]  A friend of mine sent me the following item.  It reminds me of Emily Litella, the malaprop character played by Gilda Radner in the early years of Saturday Night Live.


[November 17, 2021]     With all the re-thinking about language these days, just as we call 8:00 "eight o'clock", perhaps we should call August "eight o'calendar."  

                                       Also, what is the difference between a thingamajig and a doohickey?

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[November 27, 2021]   The cartoon below could easily have been inspired by my own work-space... *sigh*


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[December 31, 2021]  Three thoughts as we move from one year to the next.....

A guy walks into a bar on New Year’s Eve and orders a glass of champagne.

“It’s finally happened!” he exclaims. “I’ve made enough money that I don’t have to work for the rest of the year!”


My New Year’s Resolution is to go to the gym more often, get into grad school, pay off my bills, and learn a new language.

I don’t have a clue how I’m going to get all that done by tomorrow.


I’m going to stay up on New Year’s Eve this year.

Not to see the New Year in, but to ensure this one leaves.

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[January 8, 2022]   First, let me say that I am NOT a gamer.  I don't play video games, and really never have.  When I was in undergraduate school, I played Pinball, which had flippers controlled by my hands, and a round steel ball which knocked down targets and banged into bumpers to accumulate points.  It was kinda fun, and I wasted a bit of time on the machine in the basement of my dorm.  Partly, it was also that we discovered a way to 'cheat' a bit, thus gaining free games, and allowing us to keep playing for no extra cash.  

Later, while working for WNIB, there was a pinball machine in the coin laundry next to my 'L' stop, and I'd sometimes go in and play a bit.  Being cheap, I'd put in 50 cents, and play until that was gone.  Sometimes I'd spend an additional 50 cents, but never more than that amount of money.  Usually, that meant fifteen to twenty minutes, but occasionally a half hour, and sometimes a mere five minutes.

outsidehornmachine What brings this all to mind was an article by Jake Peterson which I just stumbled on in the Lifehacker website.  It was titled, "Why Do Retro Games Look Better On Old TVs?"  The subtitle was, "8-bit Mario is never going to look great on your 65-inch 4K TV."  Here are the opening two paragraphs...

<<<If you own retro consoles—say, a Super Nintendo or a Sega Genesis—you have access to some of gaming’s greatest roots. However, you might find plugging these awesome consoles into your current TV doesn’t result in the experience you remember from years past. Games look fuzzy and distorted, and it can be tempting to think your memory is playing tricks on you. It’s not your memory, though; it’s your TV.

For retro gamers, the CRT is the display of choice. Those giant, boxy television sets that nearly everyone threw out or gave away in favor of modern flat panels are actually coveted for their ability to properly display games from the ‘80s, ‘90s, and even part of the aughts. Retro games are not designed for modern, pixel-dense TVs.>>>

The article then goes on to explain the thesis in detail, most of which I do not understand and don't care to explore further.  

My reason for bringing this up is that since discovering 78 rpm records as a teenager, and learning of the difference between 'acoustics' and 'electrics', the old collectors insisted that acoustics sounded better on outside-horn machines [as shown here on the right, and also seen above where the dog Nipper is listening to His Master's Voice].  This means that these records do not sound as good when played by equipment which has speakers.  A variation of the outside-horn machine was the inside-horn cabinet, which simply put the horn into the box, and allowed it all to look nicer in one's living room.  In the photo at left, the horn is in the short chamber immediately below the turntable, and below that is a larger chamber where records could be stored.  When not in use, it could be all closed up, and was a distinguished piece of furniture.  A photo of two of the greatest singers of that era, Tita Ruffo and Enrico Caruso, listening to their efforts can be seen on the page of my interview with George Jellinek.  They only made one record together, on January 8, 1914.  That page also has a self-caricature made by the tenor of the recording process of singing into the horn.

Acoustic records were recorded by singing or playing into a horn that looked like a megaphone, and electrics were recorded by using a microphone.  The date of change from one to the other is 1925.  All records made prior to that date are acoustics, and after that date they all are electrics.  The change was almost immediate, and generally universal, because it was the record companies which had to invest in the new equipment, which they did.  Both acoustics and electrics would be playable on either horn or speaker machines, so it was not that urgent for the public to get new equipment.  It is similar to film, in that all movies prior to The Jazz Singer of 1927 were silent, but after that date, little by little sound was incorporated, and they were called talkies.  But the change was more gradual because it meant that all the movie houses had to invest in sound reproduction equipment.  Other huge changes happened in 1948 with the introduction of Long Playing records, (although a few 78s were still being made as late as 1955 or so), and again in the mid-1950s when Stereo came along.

Anyway, it just hit me that no matter what development comes along, a similar upheaval probably occurred in the past... *sigh*

[January 13, 2022]  Continuing with the idea of recordings, while preparing to post my interview with oboist Ray Still, he mentioned that early in his career he had played on a record called Classical Music For People Who Don
t Know Anything About Classical Music, conducted by Robert Russell Bennett.  A bit of searching turned up some interesting items, which are shown below.


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[January 30, 2022]  For a very special music joke about Mary Had a Little Lamb, click HERE.

[February 5, 2022]  Remember the old PSA (public service announcement) shown below-left?  Well, I've devised a new one relevant to my topic, shown below-right . . . . .

brain on music

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[March 5, 2022]  Three computer jokes . . . . .

I heard Reggae music coming from my printer.

The paper was jammin’.

I bought a 3D printer, but I didn’t like it.

So I 3D printed a dumpster to throw it in.


On Ash Wednesday I will be giving up spreadsheets for 40 days and 40 nights.

It’s going to be completely Excel Lent.

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[April 28, 2022]  C'mon... we all knew this was going to happen, right???


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[August 21, 2022]   As the new school year begins, perhaps we should re-examine the curriculum . . . . .


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[September 17, 2022]    It is known that I never discuss politics, and rarely post items of topical interest.  However, back in 1987, I had a wonderful interview with Lord Harewood.  During his lifetime, he was (among other things) editor of Opera Magazine and the famous Kobbé's Complete Opera Book, Director of the Royal Opera Covent Garden and the English National Opera, as well as several festivals, and the BBC.  He had boundless enthusiasm for opera in general and Verdi in particular – equating his music with Shakespeare's plays.

He was also a member of the British Royal Family.  Captain George Henry Hubert Lascelles acceded to the title of 7th Earl of Harewood on 23 May 1947.  Lord Harewood [pronounced HAHR-wood] was the grandson of King George V, and first cousin to the late Queen Elizabeth.

With her passing, and the accession of King Charles III, I wanted to present this small bit of my conversation . . . . .

BD:  You are first cousin to the Queen.  Has your involvement and interest in the arts engendered more interest on her part?

H:  I don’t think she would put it down first in her list of hobbies if she were asked to write in Who’s Who.  The one member of the family who likes it a lot and is very involved is Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales.  He likes music a lot, but he is the first person for a generation who has.

BD:  Permit me to ask one question, and you may dodge it if you like.  Will he make a good king?

H:  [Matter of factly]  Oh yes.  I think he’s a marvelous man.  He has so many qualities and so many experiences and he’s so judicious about how he estimates them and how he goes about them.  I think he’ll be extraordinary.

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[September 19, 2022]  
[This item by Norman Lebrecht appeared on September 18, 2022, in the column SlippedDisc, the #1 Classical Music News Site.]

In 2016, Judith Weir received the Royal Command to become the first woman ever to serve as Master of the Queen’s Musick, a title that dates back to 1626. No-one proposed, then or now, to modify the term Master in a manner that made it more gender inclusive.  Now she is Master of the King’s Musick.

She tells the Washington Post: ‘I think most of us have grown up with, as we knew him, Prince Charles. He actually is a most unusual lover of classical music. He was a cellist in his youth, played in college orchestra and really intensely loves classical music. He’s made some very touching statements when interviewed about his interests and has made it clear that it’s absolutely top of the list. I don’t expect there to be less interest in what we musicians do, and I’m sort of anticipating that there’s a chance for us to do even more, once he gets over the huge backlog of work he has to do.’

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In another item, Weir says: ‘“For this funeral service, Westminster Abbey requested that I set to music the first seven verses of Psalm 42, “Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks: so longeth my soul after thee, O God”. The words and music speak at first of the soul’s great sadness and thirst for God’s reassurance; but as the psalm progresses, the mood becomes calmer and more resolved, culminating in consolation, with the words “Put thy trust in God”. The Queen’s strong faith in, and support of, Anglican worship was an inspiration for me when setting this psalm to music.”’

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[October 1, 2022]    Over the years, Kathy Cunningham has created several groups of hand-made ceramic pumpkins.  One is pictured below, and more can be found HERE.


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[Thanksgiving, 2022]  As we head into the Holiday Season once again, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago presents their annual exhibit Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light.  Since 2011, Kathy Cunningham has been in charge of the USA TREE, which is always a highlight of the display.  This year, she made a set of enamel ornaments depicting the birds, flowers, and trees of each state, plus Washington D.C., and the four US Territories.  These, along with the set of wooden ornaments and other items from previous years adorn the tree.  Everything except the crystal icicles and the flags is hand-made, and can be seen on the various webpages starting HERE.  Shown below-left is a shot of the tree after being decorated by the Friends of the USA Tree, but before it had been placed into the exhibit.  On the right is a close-up of one of the new ornaments (front and back) as an example.

2022 tree

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[December 4, 2022]     I ran across the following cartoon a couple months ago, and saved it for Christmastide.  Having grown up as a choral singer, this particular carol appeared regularly.  Like Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall, it can become repetitious.  (!)  If I may, allow me to recommend one (of many) recorded versions for your listening pleasure.  When Joan Sutherland committed it to disc, she used an arrangement by Douglas Gamley.  Since it only runs 3:10, let me suggest that you listen to it twice.  The first time, just enjoy her lovely voice.  The second time, ignore her singing (as much as possible), and concentrate on the rest of the sounds.  It is the 'arrangement' which is notable, and can even be used as a teaching-device to demonstrate the possibilities of making a terrific version of an over-familiar (and over-repetitive) piece.

12 days of Christmas

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[December 27, 2022]    A few months ago, I ran across some cartoons by a Canadian pianist.  I saved this one (below) for an appropriate time . . . . . . . . .

new year

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[January 19, 2023]    As we head into the New Year, here's a bit of news that's sure to cause consternation among lovers of Classical Music...  *huge sigh*

daily mail

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[February 14, 2023]    It's Valentine's Day, which reminds me of a wise-crack I used to say in years when I was on the air that evening (1975-2001).  [Note that when one hears the term 'VD', it usually refers to venereal disease, which is now called STD, or sexually transmitted disease.]  Anyway, on Valentine's Day I would, "Wish everyone a safe, happy, and prosperous V.D."  While I was never reprimanded by the management for saying that, I do wonder if such a phrase might not be decried as unacceptable in today's socio-political climate.  Being on a Classical Music station, perhaps my listeners were a bit more sophisticated than those tuned to the Top-40 bubble-gum frequency...  (!)

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[March 2, 2023]    Throughout my adult life, I have always encouraged people to experience live Classical Music concerts.  As far back as when I was in junior high school (7th and 8th grades), my growing knowledge and enthusiasm manifested itself in this quest.  Later, I have been quoted as saying that though I made my living on radio via recorded performances, the LIVE variety was The True Way.

Some months ago, I saw the following cartoon, and stuck it in my file for future amusement...


Little did I know that the idea would actually come to pass...  What follows are two news items from a regular daily feed called Slippedisc.  There have, of course, been occasional disruptions in concert halls over the years, but this seems to be a first.  Let us hope that it is the last...


Here are more details from the following day ...


[April 19, 2024]  A little more than a year later, we find this report . . . . .


[A couple weeks later...]   Next, we have an 'official' statement, and then the perfect input from Stephen Hough, dealing with his upcoming performance . . . . .



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[March 14, 2023   (pi day) ]    A special version.....

simple simon

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[April 2, 2023]     I  wonder if anyone has ever tried speakng the phrase, "Alexa: Klaatu barada nikto."  [Reference: The 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still.]

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[April 30, 2023]    With budget considerations always being discussed, this item should be kept handy . . . . . . . . .

why music

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[August 8, 2023]     Some bad news, and then some good news.....



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[October 28, 2023]      For those who drive around looking at Halloween decorations, here's a scary group that might appear on your dashboard...


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[December 31, 2023]    As the year comes to a close . . . . .   [12/31/23]


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[March 11, 2024]    Today I am 73.  A quick Google search of that number presented several items.  This one was my favorite . . . . .


[June 16, 2024]   In case I don't make it to 74, at least there is something for me after my demise . . . . .


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[May 12, 2024]    This admonishment (below) was seen on a bus in Birmingham, England.  Whether or not it has anything to do with the uproar at the Symphony concerts (cited above) is anyone's guess . . . . .