Classic Mornings

For Beethoven, Press 2


I’m guessing you just hate it. How could anybody be excited about being put on hold?  Are you at least open to the suggestion that it might come with an unexpected surprise now and then?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not particularly fond of being put on hold. I spend hours with headphones auditioning recordings day after day, week after week, month after month with the ears of thousands of WILL radio listeners.  I’m used to moving on when there’s no particularly good reason to continue listening to a CD track or a sound file. When I’m awaiting assistance on the telephone, I have no choice but to “stay tuned,” as we say. And sometimes I wonder whether all those years of auditioning has made me pay closer attention than most callers to what goes on during hold periods.

I do know that intensive listening to music with headphones has led me to hear some most interesting sounds I probably wasn’t supposed to hear. I’ve heard a variety of motor vehicle engines accelerating outside of a number of not-so-soundproof studios during soft passages in pieces of music. And there’s a recording that I play regularly in which somebody dropped something onto the floor. Otherwise it’s a great performance that perhaps wasn’t duplicated in any of the other takes.

I mentioned in an earlier blog post the CD featuring Cyprien Katsaris playing Josef Gelinek’s piano rendering of the song of Papageno, the bird catcher from Mozart’s The Magic Flute (Sony 52551). During the recording, a bird that made its way into the hall began to sing during a pause in the playing. It was brought to my attention in the CD notes and is indeed memorable, though inaudible except with either headphones or a quiet listening environment and at a fairly loud playback volume. 

I usually don’t alert you to unintended or “surprise” sounds during a performance. I don’t even mention before playing Haydn’s 94th symphony, the so-called “Surprise Symphony,” what the “surprise” is or when it might show up so that those who haven’t heard it before can indeed be surprised for the first time.

On a number of occasions on the telephone, I’ve enjoyed the surprise of hearing the opening of Vivaldi’s ”Spring” Concerto from The Four Seasons while being put on hold. I do enjoy the rare treat of hearing classical music while waiting to speak with the next available service representative. Though I have held the phone up in the air during some blaring messages and/or music, when there’s classical music playing, I’m a happy camper. I do everything from try to guess the piece to just enjoy it in the incidental opportunity. Over the years the Vivaldi “Spring” Concerto, the finale (Badinerie) of Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 2, the opening of Beethoven’s 6th (Pastoral) Symphony or his piano miniature “Für Elise” have all appeared on the telephone stage.

Whenever I hear classical music on the telephone, it gets to the point that it’s hard for me to break away from it. The last thing I want to hear in that moment is a voice interrupting to remind me how important my call is to them.  What’s worse is when the piece of music starts over again from the beginning, rather than continuing from where the interruption occurred. If you’ve been waiting a while, it begins to feel as if you’ll never get beyond the arrival of Spring in Vivaldi’s concerto. Or you may wonder if the “Awakening of Cheerful Feelings upon Arrival in the Country” (which is what Beethoven titled the opening of his 6th symphony) has a built-in “snooze” feature that forces it to continually re-awaken. And what would poor Elise have said with Beethoven abruptly stopping and starting over so many times?

Years ago when I was sitting in a plane that was long delayed in takeoff, I heard on the overhead sound system all 4 of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons concertos from start to finish. For me, it was the unanticipated joy of an unplanned journey through the most famous of all musical seasons even before the scheduled trip began. For others, it probably seemed as if they had waited an entire year before takeoff.

In the end, there’s no reason to be upset about the shortcomings of the telephone concert hall. I don’t make telephone calls to hear classical music while on hold. The fact that I sometimes do get to hear it is sort of a bonus.

You, on the other hand, tune into WILL-FM to listen to classical music.  A couple of weeks ago, you helped us raise in just 26.2 hours what normally would have taken a week to raise in the successful WILL Marathon. The result was that we didn’t have to put your music on hold for any longer than a few minutes now and then during that day. And, hopefully, something that we said during those breaks about the value of having classical music on the radio in our community was music to your ears. Thank you for your support!