From WILL - Classic Mornings -

That Number Again Is…!

Some of you may wonder if, after a fund drive, those of us who have repeated the pledge telephone number hundreds of times over the course of several days accidentally give that number instead of our own telephone numbers and follow it up by saying: “That number again is......!” 

Or you may wonder if we sometimes make a purchase and surprise an unsuspecting clerk with something like: “You know that comes out to be just 22 cents a day!”  No, not really.  It’s an amusing thought. Years ago we had a series of tiny lights in the studio to let us know how many of the limited number of pledge telephones back then were in use at any given moment.  After those fund drives, it would take about a week or so to get over the newly acquired habit of glancing incessantly at those lights.

One thing that always does stay with me long after the fund drives is the fact that so many listeners did contribute, one at a time. Many also mentioned that they were pledging their support for the classical music on WILL-FM.  Keeping that in mind makes me look forward to bringing you the very best each day on Classic Mornings.

I won’t forget some of the fun moments of the recent fund drive either.  On April 7th those pledging were invited to mention the names of their pets. During the Classic Morning Prelude, I reminded listeners of some famous musical cats and dogs. There’s the legendary dog that is said to have chased its tail and inspired Frédéric Chopin to write the so-called “Minute” Waltz (op. 64, no. 1). In Antonio Vivaldi’s Spring Concerto from The Four Seasons, there’s a musical representation of a barking dog accompanying the song of a goatherd. You might call that dog “man’s bass friend.”  I suggested naming the dog “Viola” since the barking is represented by a viola.  Vivaldi also portrayed cats and dogs together in The Four Seasons – in the finale of the Summer Concerto when it rains like cats and dogs!  I played the clarinet tune that represents the cat in Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. It’s the tune used for the ‘Bertha’s Kitty Boutique’ jingle on A Prairie Home Companion. I also played a bit of Arthur Pryor’s The Whistler and His Dog. All of that was just... scratching the surface, you might say. 

On Classic Mornings that day I passed along the story which pianist Angela Hewitt included in the notes to her recording of Mozart piano concertos last year. She tells us that Mozart owned a dog, a horse, a canary and a musically talented starling – a bird that he taught to sing the tune which he used in the finale of his Piano Concerto No. 17. There’s an entry in his diary with the musical notation of the tune as it was sung by the bird – slightly different than the way he had taught it. But Mozart noted in his diary that it was lovely nevertheless. There are all sorts of musical characterizations of birds, chickens, galloping horses, fish and donkeys. Animals have been a part of classical music for centuries. Perhaps if your pets seem to enjoy the music, they have a sense for that too!

During the recent drive we also celebrated generations of listener support for WILL radio and the 40th anniversary of the Friends of WILL. We often hear about generations of musicians within families – besides the Bach family. I often play performances in our time led by cellist/ conductor Christian Benda of the music of Jiři Benda, one of his 18th century ancestors. During the drive I played a selection from a new recording featuring 15 year old pianist Karin Kei Nagano, the daughter of conductor Kent Nagano. Her new CD features Mozart’s 12th and 13th piano concertos, played as piano quintets. Karin is joined on the recording by the Cecilia String Quartet from Canada (Analekta  8765).

On the Friday of the fund drive, it happened to be the 200th anniversary of the first performance of the piano trio by Beethoven which is known as the “Archduke.”  The name refers to Joseph Johann Rainer Rudolph, better known in music history as Archduke Rudolph. (An archduke is another name for a prince in a royal family). Archduke Rudolf was a friend, pupil and patron of Beethoven. Beethoven dedicated a number of works to the Archduke, including his 4th & 5th piano concertos, his Missa Solemnis (Solemn Mass) and the Piano Trio in B flat, op. 96 – the one known as the “Archduke.” I found it so appropriate that on a day when we were celebrating the first performance of the work dedicated to Beethoven’s friend, pupil and patron, we were asking listeners to join the Friends of WILL as patrons (supporters). Indeed we’ve heard from many listeners who are grateful for all that they learn about music on WILL-FM. 

In addition to that little bicentennial celebration, we recently had on the Classic Morning Prelude a centennial celebration of the birth of a famous actor. I made a little guessing game out of it. I observed that the actor was closely associated with 3 very different pieces of music over the years.  I played excerpts from each of the pieces. For those who missed it, I’d like to try it out here, giving you only the titles of the pieces of music. As I suggested at the outset of the little game on the radio, the clues may well be simple, but perhaps not so simple for everyone. It’s worth another round online just for the fun of it, though without the music clips.  Here are the pieces: the Minuet from the String Quintet in E, op. 13, no. 5, G. 275 (hint – the most famous minuet in classical music), Colonel Bogey (March) and the original Star Wars theme. . I’ll tell you the name of the actor as well as those of the composers in my next entry.  Look for it in a couple of weeks.

Thanks again for checking out the Classic Mornings blog. Join me for Classic Mornings Monday through Friday from 9-noon (with the Classic Morning Prelude at 8:50) on FM 90.9 and online at will.illinois.edu.