Monday, November 26, 2007


Do me a favor and think about what you want from a classical music radio station?
If you are someone who does not use radio at all, or for whom the idea of an all classical station is new, tell me what you think you would need-what would make you want to tune it. Should we limit the format? No long Teutonic symphonies, or opera or music wirtten after 1960 during business hours, would that help? Or hurt?
Do you want background music? Do you want to be provoked, entertained, all three or just be left alone?
There are so many schools of thought out there. I began with the model that public broadcasting serves the underserved by presenting what is not commercially viable. But at 50, I fear I'm the last of that generation. Today, if it isn't comercially viable-if it can't bring in donors (thus serving the wealthy) or keep a maximum number of listeners happy-it doesn't play. I'm one of those people who got turned on during the 60s by the Met opera boradcasts. Are you? What would make you tune in? Some news and public affairs? Some specials? Or all music, and if all music what do you think would play best and what would you want feaured. Bottom line, how do I get you to listen?

No wrong answers of course. It's subjective. But tell me what you think.



Media critic Howard Kurtz's new book, Reality Show is entertaining, a bit gossipy
(Katie Couric's dog poops on the floor) and enlightening. It seems that our high profile news anchors, Katie , Brian and Charlie face the same challenges as many of us who live work and function on far less an exalted plane. They answer to younger people paid far less than they are (can't relate to that!) whose first mantra is to save money and cut corners. One way to do that is to increase revenue with cutesy newscasts. The Couric team tried that and failed--BIG. They're back now with a classier product. Newshounds like Williams seem to fight constant battles as to what is news. I thought Brian-and I'm a Brian fan-was paid all this money because he's supposed to know. Kurtz seems t0 give the overall nod to Charlie Gibson at ABC, and is fair to Couric. It's a good book.

All of us here fight to say what is music. And what do people want to hear? I don't presume to know m0re than anyone but one of the reasons my colleagues and I are here is because WE are supposed to know that. The new "no harpsichord-major keys-few vocals" rule is coming in. Sure we all want more listeners and we all want a wide variety but I just wish the focus wasn't so much on money and capturing people and more on "what is something fantastic we can offer to the public today?" A joyful job is getting harder to do.
And I wonder if Brian Williams deals with people who solicit his opinion , then ingnores it and does what they secret!

But Kurtz's book is a good read. Recommended.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


TANEYEV: String Quartets 1 and 3;
Carpe Diem Quartet
Charles Wetherbee, violin
Robert Firdman, violin
Korine Fujiwara, viola
Wedny Morton, cello

NAXOS 8.570437

Carpe Diem is a string quartet based in Columbus, Ohio, on its way to an international presence via a new recording deal with Klaus Heyman's Classical music cash cow, Naxos recordings.
Plans call for a cycle of the complete String Quartets by Sergei Ivanovich Taneyev (1856-1915) of which volume one, including the quartets number 1 in b flat minor and number 3 in d, has just been released.

Is it bad luck to be born a good composer among giants? For years even Haydn was dwarfed by Mozart and Beethoven, though Haydn was older, lived longer, wrote more and perfected the musical form Taneyev wrote in so ingratiatingly one hundred years later. Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky were the giants of Taneyev's Russia, with Rimsky-Korsakov's gift for pedagogy and orchestration nipping at everyone heels, and the young Stravinsky ready to cause riots with his pre World War I ballets. In fact, Tchaikovsky taught Taneyev, and the teacher mentor relationship switched in later years as Tchaikovsky began to depend upon the younger man's counsel and advice. In his lifetime Taneyev, well connected to the Russian nobility, had official posts in the government and -like Borodin the chemist-pursued music as an avocation.
He left several volumes of songs, six numbered string quartets plus three 0thers and parts of a seventh, two symphonies, numerous keyboard works and a massive opera The Orestia, the latter admired by Rimsky-Korsakov and Stanislavski and very successful in its day.
His support of the 1905 revolution cost Taneyev his place in the Moscow conservatory and even his connections and positions didn't keep him safe from retribution. He did manage to live under the radar, and was known as a complete gentleman with a gentle and aristocratic bearing. He died at fifty -nine in 1915.

Carpe Diem's new recording project is a blessing for anyone looking to explore under served repertoire. The performances are first rate and the recorded sound a fat, rich delight. The inner voices are scrupulously balanced, thank goodness- since Taneyev weaves a tight web of musical textures. There is not one voice more important that the others. This total synthesis of musical lines leaves room plenty of melodic developments, with the almost oriental
(Mozart called 'Turkish!') themes of seconds and pungent, non text book harmonies giving the music excitement and forward motion. Carpe Diem obviously plays together a lot, listens to one another intently and the experience of playing together and working together closely as first class musicians is evident throughout. There's no ego in this playing, but exquisite music making. Smooth when Taneyev requires, and more punchy and dramatic, as befits the heir to Tchaikovsky. For an heir Taneyev was, a gifted composer, in no way a routinier, who seized the day just as this fine new quartet is doing one hundred years later.

Christopher Purdy

Thursday, November 01, 2007


My cousin Deb Martin Plugh has gone to work on the Purdy family genealogy and in just a short
time I've learned a lot, seen some photos that I never knew existed, heard of some PEOPLE
I never knew existed, shed some tears and had some laughs.

I have already posted the letters my father wrote home to his mother
during WWII. Scroll on down. They're here.
Here's one more letter, also to Grandmother Purdy.
It's on USO stationary, dated August 21, 1942
I've typed it exactly as it appears in the original.

Dear Mrs. Purdy:

This is just a few lines to let you know that I am a very good friend
of your son, Curtis.
I knew him only about three weeks, but during that time we
became very close and dear to each other.
But a week ago they separated us for good.
I am just about certain and I was just going to let you
know that he is okay, and in the 7th Army Division in Camp Polk.
I was just wanting to make sure that you would not worry about him
as he is a real good and honest man.
I say, this knowing that inside of me, there is an empty feeling
for I don't ever expect to meet a buddy like him again.
And feeling this way I wanted to let you know that I feel sorry for you
and my mother, to, for she has three of us boys in the service and I know her heart is very heavy for we had been with her all of our life.

So maybe you can understand why I write this letter to you, for it is to ease the minds of the
ones who are most dear to us. Bill has told me a lot about you, and I feel
as if you are my own mother. So please take this letter as if it was
from your own boy. I may never be able to meet you. But you most know that
somewhere there are lots of boys who are thinking of their homes and folks.
And Bill and I, I called him Bill, when we told each other about our homes
and what we did in civilian life, and we were just about the same in our ways
of what we like to do and we had the same reasons to and the funny fact of it
is that we lived across the country from each other.
My home is in the state of Washington so you
can see that we were strangers from far away.
And if this war is over in the near future, I will be coming
up there with Bill and visit with you for a while for I would surely
love to and the world famous New York.

So please don't worry to much about Bill cause I know he is
being watched over by someone great and mighty, our Lord.

So write if you wish to.

Pvt. H.C. Whiting
Corps of Military Police
Ft. Benning, Georgia