Classic Mornings

A Pitch For Another Judge


I was glancing at his season stats. The big one still stands out: 62 home runs. It set the new American League record.

Then I looked at his post-season stats. We won’t talk about those. The Yankees were swept by Houston in the playoffs. The Astros went on to win the World Series.

The reason I mention New York Yankees star Aaron Judge is that while he was in the running for the home run record and in the news, the thought came to me to present some of the stats of the 18th century composer Franz Xaver Richter. Why? Well, “Richter” is the German word for ‘judge.” And Franz Xaver Richter managed to compose some 80 symphonies. No, that’s not a record. But it’s rather impressive.

If you’re not familiar with Richter’s symphonies, most are in three movements, and a lot shorter than those of other 18th century composers. But just as nobody has to hit a home run to dead center field for it to count, three movement symphonies were certainly “regulation” symphonies in his time. He did write some with four movements as well.

So, now you’re wondering if Richter’s symphonies are memorable and whether he “hit it out of the park,” so to speak, with any of them. All I can say is that you’ll have to listen to them and be the judge. Did you know that was coming?

After that little introduction to the composer, I played a symphony by Richter on Classic Mornings. Wondering if audience members were moved by it, I thought about the scale designed by the 20th century American physicist and seismologist Charles Francis Richter to measure movement of the earth: earthquake magnitude, that is. I’m not sure you can apply the ideas of that scale to individuals being “moved” by a performance. Yet, if many individuals are “moved” at the same time and in a common space like a concert hall or auditorium, they might convert that internal “movement” into applause.

There are studies of crowd noise. And just glancing at the introductions to several that are described online, I came to understand that there were practical reasons for conducting some of them. Those include having to comply with city noise ordinances and avoiding penalties against home teams because of the excessive noise of their fans. The installation of sound absorbing material is one solution that’s mentioned.

Wynton Marsalis always draws a crowd. And when I was preparing to celebrate Marsalis’s 61st birthday (October 18), I learned that there were more than 110,000 on hand when he appeared at the Michigan-Penn State game just days before his birthday. Marsalis and his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra were featured in the halftime show as a part of the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Michigan Marching Band. The show itself was a tribute to Marsalis’s hometown: New Orleans. With the link his website provided, I was able to watch and listen to the show.

The band performed on the field. Marsalis and company were off to the side in rows of chairs. He sat humbly in the back row. But with a tiny mic on his “horn,” he had no trouble being heard over the crowd.  Marsalis was in top form as a soloist with the orchestra and the band – even in some brisk weather that afternoon.

On the third anniversary of the release of the recording featuring violinist Kamen Gomyo and guitarist Ismo Eskelinen, I wanted to find out if they were still performing together. Though they’re not an established duo, the recording was our introduction to both players. At Gomyo’s website, I learned that she’s been on tour as a soloist in concertos by Mendelssohn and Prokofiev these days. And I did notice that back in May, she and Eskelinen appeared together in a concert in Finland.

I also decided to check the performance schedule of the Failoni Orchestra from Budapest. After playing their recording of symphonies by the 18th century composer Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf over the years, I realized that I never had explored the orchestra’s background. It turns out that it was formed for the purpose of recording and made up of players from various orchestras in Budapest. It does present concerts, mostly featuring soloists who have earned music diplomas. And there have been recent and regular programs which include the musical children of orchestra members.

I was aware that the orchestra had been named for an Italian conductor, Sergio Failoni, who led productions of the Hungarian State Opera for years. But I also came to learn that he conducted the Chicago Civic Opera in 1946 and 1947. I tried to find out if he had made his way to a Cubs or White Sox game back then. With that I struck out.