Classic Mornings



It’s a famous line. An American President once said in Berlin that he was a Berliner. If so, he would have known all about Paul Lincke

Do you? If not, chances are you’re not a Berliner. 

Composer and conductor Paul Lincke (1866-1946) has been called the father of Berlin operetta. It’s generally said that he was to Berlin what the Strausses were to Vienna. In fact, the song “Berliner Luft” from his operetta Frau Luna is the unofficial anthem of Berlin. The title literally means the air or atmosphere of Berlin. And I noticed online that both a dessert and a peppermint liqueur are named “Berliner Luft.”

September 3 marked the 75th anniversary of Paul Lincke’s passing in the year that marks the 155th anniversary of his birth. Even if you don’t know about Paul Lincke, you may have heard another of his tunes. It’s from the 1902 operetta Lysistrata. That work is a take-off on the original Lysistrata by Aristophanes, which was staged for the first time in 411 B.C. One of the operetta’s songs, “Das Glühwürmchen” (“Glow-Worm”), acquired English lyrics from Lilla Cayley Robinson in 1907. Johnny Mercer revised and expanded the lyrics in 1952 and it became a hit for The Mills Brothers.  

OK, maybe you can be a Berliner without knowing either of those tunes. You can be a Vivaldi fan even if you don’t know the names of the girls for whom he wrote concertos and sonatas while he served as a teacher and composer at the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice. It’s rare that he specified particular individuals on the manuscripts of his works during those years. But there is a sonata for oboe, violin, chalumeau (the forerunner of the clarinet), and organ which does include the names of the four players.  A girl named Pelegrina played the oboe. Prudenza was the violinist. Candida was featured on the chalumeau. And the organist’s name was Lucietta. There are no family names. The Ospedale was a sort of orphanage.

I played a performance of the sonata featuring oboist Paul Goodwin on September 2, which was his 65th birthday. I wondered if he would have been pleased. That’s because he retired as an oboist years ago and his website seems intent on letting you know that he’s a conductor, while downplaying the fact that he was an oboist. I suggested to listeners that he probably was busy celebrating and wouldn’t be tuned in that day. I also guessed that he has never heard of Classic Mornings.

He was a fine oboist who played with a number of famous early music ensembles in England. In the Friends of WILL Library, we have quite a few recordings from his oboe days, including that which features the Vivaldi Sonata in C major, RV 779 (Harmonia Mundi 907104).

It’s no secret that there were lots of pianists in Paris in the 19th century. The 19th century French pianist, composer and music critic Oscar Comettant observed that pianos and piano playing had become so popular that a separate town, which he dubbed “Pianopolis,” should be set aside for pianists. That was based upon the fact that in 1862 there were 20,000 piano teachers in Paris alone and that if each of them had five students, there must be at least 100,000 pianists residing in the city.

That observation, related by the late organist and musicologist Ted Blair, was included in the notes to a recording made 25 years ago by pianist Peter Donohoe with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra led by Andrew Litton (Hyperion 66889). It features the music of Henry Charles Litolff, who was born in London and settled in Paris in 1860. He’s probably most famous for the scherzo from his Concerto Symphonique No. 4 in D minor for piano and orchestra, written some 10 years before he became a prospective resident – and piano teacher – of “Pianopolis.”

So, what do you call an entire community of classical music radio listeners who make contributions to keep that music on the air? It’s not a riddle. And as clever as I tried to be, I couldn’t really improve upon “Friends of WILL”.

Think about it. There are thousands of listeners in central Illinois tuned in for that music each day! One indicator of that is the ongoing support from those listeners every time another fund drive comes around.

It’s that time again. Yes, it’s been nearly three months since the record-breaking fiscal year ended. That makes this first drive of the new fiscal year so important. If we have a good start, we can reach the current year’s goal, which will enable us to continue to bring you all that you look forward to.

Please consider making a contribution. Call us at 217-244-9455 or make a gift online at And thank you for your support!