Classic Mornings

Pass It On!

 

I especially enjoy saying it on a warm day. I’m sure you’ve heard it a number of times over the years: “We’re putting on our coats.” That’s what it sounds like. But I really mean: we’re putting on a selection by English composer Eric Coates (1886-1957). Given the fact that he’s remembered as a “light music” composer, a lighthearted introduction to his music seems appropriate.

A similar sort of introduction came to mind earlier in the week as I announced that we were bringing out our blocks. I felt compelled to apologize to the little ones who may have heard me and were excited about the idea of playing with blocks on the radio. What I intended to suggest – again in a misleading sort of way – was that I was bringing out one of our selections by the Belgian Flemish composer Jan Blockx (1851-1912).

In preparing for that, I searched online to see if there was something about Jan Blockx that I hadn’t discovered before. What a surprise! It was a caricature of Jan Blockx drawn by Enrico Caruso – yes, the legendary tenor. It turns out that he was a caricaturist as well as a tenor. And I understand that he drew caricatures of all sorts of people. I came upon one of President Theodore Roosevelt.

There was a time when it took a trip to the library – and hours of random browsing – to discover things like that. That’s still a great way to find stories and information. But online searches can nicely complement that. In another recent search, I just happened to check up on a conductor whose name appears on only one recording in the Friends of WILL Library: Lorenz Duftschmied.

I’ve identified him over the years as the director of the Austrian ensemble Armonico Tributo, which he founded. He’s a viola da gamba player (that’s one of those bowed, fretted string instruments) from Linz, Austria. I’m guessing that even before he became an expert in historic music performance he was an expert taster of that city’s famous Linzertorte (tort) or Linzerkeks (cookies). And after all these years, the thought came to me that his German name suggests one who fashions fragrances, much like a smith (Schmied or Schmid) fashions works of metal. I’m sure there’s a poetic way of applying that to music.

There are lots of Smiths. There are lots of Newmans as well, many of whom have been associated with Hollywood. Those include actor Paul Newman and seven composers from the same family: Alfred, Emil, Lionel, Randy, David, Thomas, and Joey Newman.

The Los Angeles-born Anthony Newman is not connected with the film industry. But he’s a star in his own right as an organist, harpsichordist, pianist, conductor, and composer. On May 12, he had his pick. He could celebrate his 80th birthday or the 25th anniversary of the CD release of his collaboration with Wynton Marsalis and the English Chamber Orchestra titled In Gabriel’s Garden (Sony 66244), which was two days before his 55th birthday. I’m guessing he chose to celebrate both. We did.

Pianist Cecile Licad celebrated her 60th birthday on May 11. Born in the Philippines – in Manilla, she began piano lessons at age 3 with her mother. She made her public debut at 7 with the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Philippines. There’s a recording in the Friends of WILL Library celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Marlboro Festival with various artists from over the years (Bridge 9108). Included on the recording is the 18-year-old Licad featured in the Three Marches, op. 45 for piano 4-hands by Beethoven. She’s joined by the legendary Polish-born American pianist Mieceslaw Horszowski, who was 87 at the time. He went on to perform for another decade and died a month before his 101st birthday. 

I’ve been playing their rendering of one of the Beethoven marches for decades. But I’d forgotten the black and white photo of the two on stage, which is included in the recording notes. He, smiling, has stepped back to allow the young pianist to enjoy and acknowledge the audience’s applause. It’s a reminder of the continuous passing on of the legacy of classical music. Horszowski was around for a century to help accomplish that. His final student Rieko Aizawa went on to be a founding member of the Horszowski Trio, a piano trio named for her teacher. And I understand that she was the youngest ever performer in the history of the Marlboro Festival, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this summer.

You can be a part of the continuing legacy of classical music. Your contributions help WILL-FM bring that music to you and to so many others in the community. As we approach the end of the fiscal year on June 30, please consider making a gift online at willgive.org. Thank you!