Various Thoughts About My Work
(and a few other things)
by Bruce Duffie
First posted in
March, 2017, with additions from time to
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.
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 Midnight
— Lyric for Strings by George Walker
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,
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
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.
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
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
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
. . .
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.
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
(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
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 abound.
= = = = = = = = =
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 exactly — to
the day — 100 years younger than
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
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
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 city’s hired gladiators. [GO
= = = = = = = = = = =
[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
= = = = = = = = = = =
[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 HERE.
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
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
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
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
. . . . .
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
Next, yet another vinyl gag [added to this page on July 16,
= = = = = = = = = = =
[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.
= = = = = = = = = = =
[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.
= = = = = = = = = = =
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
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
= = = = = = = = = = =
[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 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.
= = = = = = = = = = =
[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
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
= = = = = = = = = = =
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
The judge asks, “First offender?”
She replies, “No, first a Gibson, then a Fender.”
Musical variation on an old joke... If Mezzo-Soprano
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,
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"
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
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 enjoyment.................
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 . . . . . . . . .
there is nothing funny about the coronavirus,
but there is some humor to be found in the actions of a
few individuals . . . . .
22, 2020] Current version of old joke: Why
did the chicken cross the road? To maintain her
[November 9, 2020,
and Covid is still the #1 topic everywhere... *sigh*]
[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
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
= = = = = = = = = = =
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.
[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
[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
[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
[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.....
[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.
= = = = = = = = =
[December 20, 2020]
A couple of images for the season . . . . . The
first one is not new, but does involve some wonderfully
On the 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
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 Chord.
= = = = = = = = =
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.
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.
= = = = = = = = =
[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
MacDuffie, 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] Well, 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 "eight o'calendar."
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... *sigh*
= = = = = = = = =
[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
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...
[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 . . . . .
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.
* * * *
[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.’
* * * *
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
= = = = = = = = =
[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*
= = = = = = = = =