Classic Mornings

Greetings from Johann Sebastian Beach!


It’s not exactly the Stanley Cup or NBA playoffs, the French Open or the World Cup. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t had its own share of excitement and surprises.

If you haven’t been following the WILL fiscal year-end campaign, you should know that listeners met a challenge for $40,000 (the biggest single challenge in the WILL fundraising record books, I’m told) within the first few of hours of the “June Jump Start” last week! It didn’t end there. Listeners continued to pledge support for 3 days, helping us to edge closer and closer to the June 30th fiscal year end goal.  Supporting public media is a real team effort involving thousands of participants who are more than mere spectators. It’s not over yet – not until June 30th. If you’ve contributed already, thank you very much!  If you haven’t had the chance yet, you can still do your part to help us reach the goal. The winners will be you and everybody else in Central Illinois served by the WILL stations. You may contribute by clicking on “Support” above.

Speaking of participating, in my last post I gave you a chance to play a puzzle/game of sorts called: “Send a Letter.”  I provided clues about a particular musician. You were to take the last name of that musician and “send” that last name a letter – that is, insert a letter (without scrambling any letters). The “resulting recipient” of the letter would be a different musician – a different addressee, as it were. I provided clues about the recipients as well. Let’s see how well you did:

1. Send a letter (add a letter to the last name) to a famous 20th century conductor, whose centennial we celebrated a few weeks ago and who spent years at La Scala in Milan and with the CSO in  Chicago. The resulting recipient is a famous late 18th/early 19th century guitarist/composer. Who is the conductor? Who is the guitarist/composer?

Giulini/Giuliani (“a” is the letter “sent”)

We celebrated the centennial of the birth of Carlo Maria Giulini on May 9th. He died in 2005. Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829) was not only a guitarist and composer. He played the cello in the first performance of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony.

2. Send a Finnish conductor of our time a letter. The resulting recipient will be a 19th century Spanish violin virtuoso & composer. Who is the conductor? Who is the violinist/composer?

Saraste/Sarasate (once again, “a” is the letter sent)

Jukka-Pekka Saraste is one of Finland’s best known conductors. Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908) in addition to writing his own virtuostic showpieces for violin and orchestra, had other composers write works for him including Camille Saint-Saëns (Introduction and Rondo capriccioso) and Max Bruch (Scottish Fantasy).

3. Send a letter – if you dare – to one of the most famous organist/composers of all time, who was just one member of a large family of musicians. The resulting recipient (depending on where you “send the letter” in the organist/composer’s name)  will either be a rather obscure 19th century English pianist/composer or a late19th/early 20th century pianist/composer who had fan clubs throughout the United States in the early 20th Century. Who is the organist/composer? Who are the pianist/composers?

Bach/Bache & Beach (this time “e” is the letter sent)

Just the thought of sending a letter to the legendary Johann Sebastian Bach is awe-inspiring. Anyway, Francis Edward Bache (1833-1858) was one of several members of a 19th Century English musical family. He died of tuberculosis weeks before his 25th birthday, but showed great promise as a pianist and composer. We have a recording of just one of his works in the Friends of WILL Library. Amy Beach (1867-1944) was well known on both sides of the Atlantic as a performer and composer. She wrote many songs and piano pieces, but is recognized as the first American woman composer of larger works including a symphony and a mass.

I hope you had fun with “Send a Letter.” It’s funny how the word play never ends. Within a week of the last post, I came upon the name of the concertmaster of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra – Ronnie Bauch - yet another musician’s name created by “sending a letter” to Bach. Then I noticed in the course of preparing the puzzle/game a most interesting name: “Johann Sebastian Beach.”  That sparked some amusing thoughts about such a place.  Do people pull up in cars with Bach’s music blaring from their radios?  Is there a local eatery called “Bach’s Lunches?” Do they serve Brandenburgers in some of the restaurants and organic specialties in others? Do they have French and English sweets or Hot Fugue Sundaes?  If you make it there this summer, send a postcard.

The story is told that some 20 years ago, Neville Marriner “sent an invitation” to violinist Iona Brown to become the music director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. According to Margaret Campbell of The Independent, Iona Brown’s response was: “You’re crazy.”  Sir Neville replied: “No, I’m not crazy. And you can do it standing on your head.” She never had to go to that extreme when she led the Academy from 1974 until 1980 and continued to be involved with the ensemble well after that. She went on to become the Music Director of the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra as well. June 5th marked the 10th anniversary of her passing – just a couple of months after Sir Neville’s 90th birthday. We remembered her on the Classic Morning Prelude that morning. Recently someone here at WILL was shocked to hear that Iona Brown had passed away – and so long ago. I guess I wasn’t surprised by that.  Iona Brown made a good number of recordings with the Academy, some of which are played regularly on WILL-FM.  Given her recorded legacy, she always will be with us. So will those whose support over the decades has made it possible for us to celebrate daily the recorded legacies of many performers. Thank you again!

Join me for Classic Mornings Monday through Friday from 9-noon, with the Classic Morning Prelude just before at 8:50 on FM 90.9 and streaming live at