Classic Mornings

8–O de Waart


What a great birthday billboard that would make!  I’m sure it would get his attention, just as he’s tried to get the attention of orchestra players from the podium over the years. 

The Dutch conductor Edo de Waart celebrated the big “8-0” on June 1.  And “8-0” turns out to be the perfect pun for Edo, which is short for Eduard. (Both his name and the pun rhyme with Plato.)

Born in Amsterdam, de Waart was an oboist with the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and the (Royal} Concertgebouw Orchestra. In 1964 he won the Dimitri Mitropoulos Conducting Competition, which helped him earn the opportunity to be Leonard Bernstein’s assistant with the New York Philharmonic. He then became Bernard Haitink’s assistant with the Concertgebouw Orchestra.

Music directorships followed with the Netherlands Wind Ensemble, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. He also has had conducting or advisory affiliations with the Sidney Symphony Orchestra, the Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Royal Flemish Philharmonic (now the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra).

Within a week of de Waart’s 80th there were three others. Martha Argerich celebrated her 80th on June 5.  Born in Buenos Aires, she began lessons when she was 3 and made her debut at age 8.  Just as Edo de Waart seems to have collected music directorships over the years, Argerich collected competition awards early on, including first prize at the 1965 Chopin Piano Competition. I suggested at the outset of last Friday’s program that in addition to Martha Argerich getting to blow out 80 candles, she’s blown away thousands upon thousands of listeners over the decades with her playing.

Jaime Laredo turned 80 on June 7. Born in Bolivia, the violinist, violist, conductor and music educator was the youngest ever winner of the Queen Elizabeth of Belgium International Music Competition in 1959. I know I’ve mentioned before that in Bolivia there was a postage stamp in his honor which featured his picture and 3 musical notes: A, D & C ( “la”, “re” & “do”).   In La Paz, a soccer stadium named for him has become an open air concert venue. And since 1977, his name has been attached to the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio.

American flutist and flute teacher Paula Robison celebrated her 80th birthday on June 8.  She was born in Tenessee but grew up in California, where she learned to play the flute in her school orchestra.  At age 12 she chose the flute over acting and dancing, which also were a part of her childhood. In 1966, she became the first American to win the top prize at the Geneva International Music Competition. A founding member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and her own chamber music series, she’s commissioned quite a number of composers to write works for her.  

All four of those musicians have had their share of travels. And I’m sure their schedules have been demanding at times.  I can only admit to having a busy schedule of flights of fancy.  A most amusing one came last week during Classic Mornings.

While playing the lovely slow movement of Karl Goldmark’s violin concerto, I happened to glance at the descriptive details about the piece on the cover of the CD booklet. Although the two words are separated by a period and a space, I only saw “Air Andante.”

You didn’t hear me laugh. The microphone was off. I wouldn’t have wanted to spoil the performance with Sarah Chang. But now I can tell you about it.

“Air” is another word for a song or tune. ”Andante” is an Italian word which means: “at a walking pace.”  What made it amusing was the thought of an airline with the name “Air Andante” and a slogan like: “We get there without all the rush.” or “We’ll get there.”  I’m not sure they’d be around very long.

Some andantes have endured. Among the most famous is the “andante cantabile” – the 2nd movement - of Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet No. 1, which Tchaikovsky arranged as an orchestral work for cello and orchestra as well.  “Cantabile” means song-like. In case you wonder why they don’t just translate those words the way they sometimes do the titles of compositions, somehow the sound of “andante cantabile” is a bit more poetic than “song-like and at a walking pace”

Andante isn’t a bad way of describing how we reach our annual goal of listener support. It’s still one contribution at a time over the course of 365 days. And as we approach the end of our fiscal year on June 30, please consider making a gift in support of the classical music on WILL-FM. You may do that at or by calling 217-244-9455. Thank you!