Various Thoughts About My Work
(and a few other things)
by Bruce Duffie
in March, 2017, with additions from time
On editing my
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.
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
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 Midnight
— Lyric 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
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
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’
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.
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.
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.
= = = = = = = = = = =
The following list
appears on a couple of the interview pages,
but since people continue to ask, here is the
answer . . .
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.
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
27, 1894). Then come mezzo-soprano Sonia Sharnova
(May 2, 1896), composer/critic Virgil
Thomson (November 25, 1896), and composer Vittorio Rieti (January
The order continues with composer/pianist
(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.....
= = = = = = = = = = =
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.
= = = = = = = = = = =
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 times — that
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 copies — not just of themselves
but of others, both past and current — even
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
= = = = = = =
= = = =
A few random
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
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 exactly
— to the day — 100
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
They left out the
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.
delight when our city’s hired
gladiators defeat any other city’s hired
gladiators. [GO CUBS!]
= = = = = = = = = = =
[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
(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
(3) On November 2, 2016, the Chicago Cubs won the
= = = = = = = = = = =
[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 Radio
— there 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
use — such 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.
= = = = = = = = = = =
[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’.]
= = = = = =
= = = = =
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.
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 .
. . . .
[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
His Master's Voice (HMV) is a
famous trademark in the recording industry, and
was the unofficial name of a major British record
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'
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
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
. . . . .
[Another observation, from May 11, 2020] Future
generations may wonder why something called
a "compact" disc held more material than a "long playing"
Next is a cartoon from 2017 (below-right),
which was originally placed on this page on September 27,
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
Next, yet another vinyl gag [added to this page on July
= = = = = = = = = = =
[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
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.
= = = = = = = = = = =
[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
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.
= = = = = = = = = = =
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...
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.
= = = = = = = = = = =
[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 . . . . .
= = = = = = = = = = =
[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
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
= = = = = = = = = = =
[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 repertoire’s
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 1978-2006
— I 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
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.
= = = = = = = = = = =
Music Joke... Question: What
are the names of the Three Bears?
Answer: Smokey Bear, Yogi Bear, Jacques
Second Music Joke... What
if we discover that’s what it
really is all about? [Reference: Hokey
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.
= = = = = = = = = = =
[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.
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.
= = = = = = = = = = =
[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.
[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
In the same Google search, I spotted the following
item, which probably should be posted in every
[March 23, 2021 (yes, a year
after the item which follows)]... This next image
actually belongs with both the items above and below! .................
= = = = = = = = = = =
[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!
9, 2020, and Covid is still the #1 topic everywhere...
[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…
= = = = = = = = = = =
[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
= = = = = = = = = = =
[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?"] ...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).
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.
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!
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
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!
= = = = = = = = = = =
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.
= = = = = =
= = = = =
20, 2020] A couple of images for the season
. . . . . The first one is not new, but does involve
some wonderfully appropriate critters!
other hand, it has been a very tough year .
. . . .
= = = = = = = = = = =
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
. . . . .
[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...
All of his reminds me of an actual
musical chord, concocted by Nicolas Slonimsky,
which he calls The Grandmother Chord
(shown immediately below)
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 before — the
penultimate — B-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
= = = = = = = = =
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.
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.
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.
= = = = = = = = =
[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!
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.
= = = = = = = = =
[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
Also, what is the difference
between a thingamajig and a doohickey?
= = = = = = = = =
[November 27, 2021] The cartoon
below could easily have been inspired by my own work-space...
= = = = = = = = =
[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
“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.
= = = = = = = = =
[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.
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
<<<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.
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.
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
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.
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.
= = = = = = = = =
[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
. . . . .
[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.
= = = = = = = = =
[April 28, 2022] C'mon... we all knew
this was going to happen, right???
[August 21, 2022] As the new school year
begins, perhaps we should re-examine the curriculum . . . . .
= = = = = = = = =
[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 . . . . .
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.
me to ask one question, and you may dodge it if you like. Will
he make a good king?
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.
* * * *
[September 19, 2022] [This item by Norman
Lebrecht appeared on September 18, 2022, in the column SlippedDisc,
‘the #1 Classical Music
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.’
* * * *
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.”’
= = = = = = = = =
[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.
= = = = = = = = =
[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.
= = = = = = = = =
[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.
= = = = = = = = =
[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 . . . . . . . . .
= = = = = = = = =
[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*
= = = = = = = = =
[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... (!)
= = = = = = = = =
[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
Here are more details from the following day ...
= = = = = = = = =
[March 14, 2023 (
day) ] A special version.....
= = = = = = = = =
[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.]
= = = = = = = = =
[April 30, 2023] With budget considerations
always being discussed, this item should be kept handy . . . . . . . . .