Tucson Classical Music Performances 2024

Here’s a comprehensive list of live classical music performances in Tucson for the year 2024 where the program of composers and works has been published. I will keep this Excel document regularly updated. Please post a comment if anything should be added or changed.

I’ve included a column called “Dave’s Faves” which notes the works I am already familiar with and that I highly recommend. This is subjective, of course, but I hope this will help some of you in deciding which concerts to attend.

Happy Listening!

Link below is an Excel file (.xlsx).
Last Updated: January 26, 2023

Tucson Classical Music Performances 2024

Click here for 2023 concerts.

If you live in the Tucson metro area and would like to get together each month to listen to and discuss recordings of favorite classical music pieces we love and would like to introduce to others, I hope you will consider joining:

Tucson Exploring Classical Music

Sources
Tucson Symphony Orchestra
Arizona Friends of Chamber Music
University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music
Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra
Civic Orchestra of Tucson
Tucson Repertory Orchestra
True Concord, Voices & Orchestra
Arizona Opera
Helios Ensemble
Tucson Masterworks Chorale

After The Beatles

What are the best songs Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr recorded after The Beatles? As a lifelong Beatles enthusiast, here are my favorites.

I have purchased all the songs below, but to avoid possible copyright issues, I’ve tried to link to other sources wherever possible. When I could not find an advertising-free source without objectionable video content, I have provided an .mp3 (lossy) audio file from my own record collection. Since my choice for the YouTube videos would have been to include a single static photograph, you may find the video content provided by others to be distracting as I do. In that case, I’d suggest listening to the audio without looking at the videos. It is much better that way, to immerse yourself into the music.

My take on the best songs of each of The Beatles in their post-Beatles career will be presented in chronological order of their release date.

Paul McCartney

Maybe I’m Amazed (April 1970)

This is arguably the best song of Paul McCartney’s entire solo career. Full of musical surprises, as always with McCartney, we can expect the unexpected. The lead guitar solo in the middle and again at the end of the song is incredibly good and deeply moving. This song is “All Paul” but it is nice to hear Linda McCartney on backing vocals as well.

Adrian Allan in Paul McCartney After the Beatles: A Musical Appreciation writes “…tonal ambiguity lies at the heart of Maybe I’m Amazed” and “In this song, perhaps more than any other, McCartney proves his worth as a versatile and skilled multi-instrumentalist, possessing an intuitive understanding of the expressive capabilities of piano, bass, lead guitar, and drums.”

In my opinion, this original studio version of the song is far better than the 1976 live Wings version that was released as a single. That version is slower, longer, and the singing more embellished.


Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey (May 1971)

Who else besides Paul McCartney could produce such a wonderful pastiche? The only other contender that comes to mind is Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen (Freddie Mercury).

Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey demonstrates that McCartney is an amazingly inventive songwriter, and this is another of his best songs that is tonally ambiguous. In this song, McCartney, the “man of a thousand voices”, adds the dialing of a (now) old-style telephone to his vocal sound effects library.

George Martin wrote the orchestral accompaniment, which was performed by the New York Philharmonic with McCartney conducting.

As Jayson Greene wrote in 2012, “Every single second of this song is joyously, deliriously catchy, and no two seconds are the same.”


I Am Your Singer (December 1971)

This song features interesting electric guitar tremolo effects, a consort of recorders (as in the musical instrument), and some pleasant solo and harmony singing by Linda McCartney. The phrase “sing, singing my love song to you” is a nostalgic throwback to the early Beatles.


Little Lamb Dragonfly (April 1973)

This musically sophisticated and lyrically childlike tender ballad was inspired by a newborn lamb in distress on McCartney’s farm, and was originally intended for a children’s film. Three different key signatures, 12-string & acoustic guitars, and lush orchestration by George Martin and performed by the New York Philharmonic make the whole 6+ minute endeavour an auditory treat.


The Pound Is Sinking (April 1982)

This delightful musical pastiche is reminiscent of Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey.


Fine Line (September 2005)

This catchy, upbeat, and bluesy song leads off the amazing album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, in my opinion his best since McCartney in 1970. And like that album, McCartney plays almost all of the instruments on every song.


Friends To Go (September 2005)

Paul McCartney was thinking about and musically inspired by George Harrison—who had died a couple of years or so earlier—when he wrote this propulsive, delightful song. McCartney’s vocal style is reminiscent of Harrison on his final album, Brainwashed (2002, posthumous).


Promise To You Girl (September 2005)

This song began its development as a bluesy piano tune, and add to that some lavish harmonies, two fantastic lead guitar solos, and more McCartney magic, and you have the makings of another great McCartney song.


Mr. Bellamy (June 2007)

This is another creative McCartney musical pastiche, in the tradition of Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey and The Pound Is Sinking.


John Lennon

Isolation (December 1970)

The raw emotion Lennon expresses in this song and his poignant lyrics—perhaps even more relevant today—is incredibly moving. I just love his double-tracked vocals here, especially “you’re just a human, a victim of the insane.” John Lennon plays piano and Hammond organ, Ringo Starr plays drums, and Klaus Voormann, bass guitar.


Imagine (September 1971)

I think this is the most important song that John Lennon ever wrote. It is a masterpiece. It is a prayer for humanity, not to our imaginary gods. Yoko Ono was hugely influential in its development.


Gimme Some Truth (September 1971)

Here is one of the best political protest songs ever written. As Lisa Wright wrote, “Scorn never sounded so good.” It is enjoyable to fantasize about what penetrating songs John Lennon would have written about politics during the Trump era. George Harrison plays a great slide guitar solo.


Aisumasen (I’m Sorry) (November 1973)

A deeply personal song about vulnerability and regret. This song ends with a remarkable guitar solo by David Spinozza. This song features great bass guitar playing by Gordon Edwards, too.


(Just Like) Starting Over (November 1980)

This is the first song on Double Fantasy, Lennon’s first studio album of original songs in six years. (Just Like) Starting Over was released as a single on October 23, 1980. Less than seven weeks later, Lennon would be dead. His murder so devastated millions of people (including me) that at least three people died by suicide. I will never forget the moment I heard the news. My wife and I were then living in an apartment in Ames, Iowa, and while I was listening to a phonograph record of Alexander Borodin’s Symphony No. 2, I received a phone call from my friend John Salzer informing me of the horrific news.

(Just Like) Starting Over is a 1950s-style rock ‘n’ roll song where Lennon emulates the vocal styles of Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison. Even though his voice is slightly flat in a few spots, it does not detract from the song at all.


George Harrison

Isn’t It A Pity (November 1970)

This is arguably the best song of George’s solo career, and certainly the most profound. Clocking in at over seven minutes long, this hypnotic song features the largest number of musicians ever assembled for a Harrison song. George’s slide guitar parts are amazing. Ringo Starr plays drums.


His Name Is Legs (Ladies and Gentlemen) (October 1975)

And now, for something completely different. Here is a Monty-Pythonesque comedic tribute to Harrison’s friend, Larry “Legs” Smith, who also adds a spoken monologue to this recording. It’s a fun pastiche, and even includes a “telephone dialing” vocal sound effect that must have made Paul McCartney smile. (See Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey above.) This is the final song on the album Extra Texture (Read All About It).


Save The World (June 1981)

Save The World is an environmental protest song with a serious message but presented in a Monty-Pythoneque humorous way. Perhaps like a nervous laugh, it is an expression of ecological anxiety. Sound effects are effectively used throughout the piece, and at one point, the explosion of a nuclear bomb puts an end to all else. This is the final track on the album Somewhere in England. Gary Brooker (of Procol Harum fame) plays keyboards, and the saxophones, etc. remind me of Savoy Truffle.


When We Was Fab (November 1987)

Musical and lyrical references to The Beatles and Apple Records abound (I Am The Walrus, Taxman, Magical Mystery Tour, and even Badfinger) in this finely-crafted song co-written, co-performed, and co-produced with Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra fame. Ringo Starr plays drums and contributes backing vocals on this very Beatle-ish tune.


Any Road (November 2002)

This folk rock song reminiscent of The Traveling Wilburys is the first track on the album Brainwashed, released posthumously. Performers are George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Dhani Harrison, and Jim Keltner. Gotta love George’s slide guitar.


P2 Vatican Blues (Last Saturday Night) (November 2002)

Even as his health failed, George never lost his wry sense of humor, and his vocal expressiveness is at its very best on this and the other songs on Brainwashed. The guitar playing in this song is fabulous. Once again, performers are George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Dhani Harrison, and Jim Keltner.


Rising Sun (November 2002)

This one’s classic George Harrison, with great guitars and string arrangement by Marc Mann. George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Dhani Harrison, and Jim Keltner are the performers on this one, too. Thank you, George Harrison, for all that you gave us. And thank you, Jeff Lynne, extraordinarily talented musician and producer that you are, for working with him.


Ringo Starr

Easy For Me (November 1974)

Harry Nilsson wrote this haunting, poignant ballad for Ringo, and Ringo sings it perfectly. Lincoln Mayorga is the pianist, and Trevor Lawrence & Vini Poncia wrote the strings arrangement, conducted by Richard Perry.


King of Broken Hearts (June 1998)

This Beatle-ish song was written by Ringo, Mark Hudson, Dean Grakal, and Steve Dudas. George Harrison plays slide guitar and the string arrangement is by Graham Preskett.


Instant Amnesia (March 2003)

Here we have a fantastic rocker, again written by Ringo, Mark Hudson, Dean Grakal, and Steve Dudas. This song is delightfully Lennonesque, with even a mention of Instant Karma—except for the unexpected yet cool middle section. Highlights are great drumming by Ringo and a lead guitar solo by Steve Dudas.


Elizabeth Reigns (March 2003)

This whimsical song referencing Queen Elizabeth II and the British monarchy was written by Ringo, Mark Hudson, Gary Burr, Steve Dudas, and Dean Grakal. For me, it brings back memories of Sexy Sadie. At the end of the song, Ringo laments, “well, there goes me knighthood”. Sir Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr) did receive his knighthood in 2018 after all, administered by Prince William.


For Love (January 2008)

Written by Ringo and Mark Hudson, this song reminds me a little of John Lennon’s (Just Like) Starting Over, particularly the call and response vocal harmonies.


Harry’s Song (January 2008)

We’ve come full circle with Ringo, from a song written by Harry Nilsson to a song about Harry Nilsson. This bouncy number was written by Ringo, Mark Hudson, Gary Burr, and Steve Dudas—the performers of this song.


Dvořák – Symphony No. 8

Antonín Dvořák in 1890

Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) was a remarkably talented composer, and though he is best known for his Symphony No. 9, “From the New World”, there is so much more to explore. Here is one writer, at least, who believes that his renown has not yet reached its peak.

One Dvořák compact disc that soars high above the crowd is the October 26, 1984 recording by the Cleveland Orchestra under Christoph von Dohnányi of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 and Scherzo capriccioso, released by Decca London in 1986. These are superlative performances.

This recording is still available through Presto Music, along with Dvořák’s other best symphonies, Nos. 7 & 9, and you might be able to find a copy of the original recording through Amazon, or elsewhere.

Dvořák composed and orchestrated his Symphony No. 8 in just two and a half months (August 26 to November 9) in 1889 at his summer resort in Vysoká u Příbramě, Bohemia (Czech Republic, today). The 8th is a high-energy work, cheerful and optimistic, with minor key excursions adding depth and emotional weight. Each of the four movements exhibit a tremendous variety of thematic material, much of it inspired by Bohemian folk music.

The first performance of the Symphony No. 8 in G major, op. 88 was on February 2, 1890 in Prague. During Dvořák’s extended stay in the United States, 1892-1895, he conducted the Exposition Orchestra (the Chicago Orchestra—later the Chicago Symphony Orchestra—expanded to 114 players) in a rousing performance of the 8th symphony and two other of his works at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The August 12, 1893 performance was enthusiastically received by an audience estimated to number at least 8,000.

At that time, Dvořák’s symphonies were numbered in order of publication, and the first four were published after the last five, hence Symphony No. 4 = Symphony No. 8 today

Here are samples from each of the four movements, as performed by Christoph von Dohnányi conducting the Cleveland Orchestra in the fabulous recording recommended here.

Symphony No. 8 – Antonín Dvořák: I. Allegro con brio [excerpt]
Symphony No. 8 – Antonín Dvořák: II. Adagio [excerpt]
Symphony No. 8 – Antonín Dvořák: III. Allegretto grazioso [excerpt]
Symphony No. 8 – Antonín Dvořák: IV. Allegro, ma non troppo [excerpt]

This disc finishes out with another superb work by Antonín Dvořák, the Scherzo capriccioso in D♭ major, op. 66, written six years earlier in 1883. It also received its first performance in Prague, on May 16, 1883.

“Scherzo capriccioso” translates to “lively, playful character, with animated rhythm” (scherzo) and “capricious” (capriccioso). In other words, a capricious scherzo. And indeed it is—Enjoy!

Scherzo capriccioso – Antonín Dvořák [excerpt]

Classical Music Exploration Club

You’ve heard of a book club, where people get together to discuss an assigned book that everyone in the group has read. Well, how about a music club? A music club would be a group of people who get together to listen to and discuss music. Unlike a book club, however, it wouldn’t be necessary for the participants to listen to the music prior to meeting.

I’d like to help start a Classical Music Exploration Club here in Tucson. We would need a place to meet that has decent audio equipment. We’d get together, say, once a month, and each month a member of the group would bring a favorite piece of music to share with the group. We’d all listen to the music, perhaps take some notes, and then discuss afterwards. The presenter-of-the-month would certainly have the opportunity to present information about the composer and the work both before and after the work is played.

I’m sure I’m not the only one in Tucson who is bursting at the seams with great music we’d love to share with others. Much of that music will be new and exciting for other members of the group, and that’s the idea. The pieces we’ve heard in live performance and even on the radio is but a small subset of all the great music that is out there, waiting to be heard and to be performed.

If you’d like to help me start a Classical Music Exploration Club here in Tucson (or elsewhere, for that matter), please post a comment here, or email me at doesper@icloud.com.


A little over a year ago, I created an online discussion group to showcase great classical music that is not currently available on CD. It is called Classical Music Little-Known Favorites and is on groups.io.

I realize that there probably aren’t a lot of people who are actively researching little-known works and composers, but it profoundly saddens me that after 15 months, our group only has three members, and I am the only one who has posted anything. Perhaps serious classical music enthusiasts are not familiar with groups.io, or the folks most likely to participate do not reside in the U.S., or they are not fluent in English, or…

Nothing would make me happier right now than to have at least one other person actively participating. Please join, or let others know about it.


A friend of mine recently told me (emphatically) that “Classical music is boring”. I told him that I agree that a lot of it is boring, but that there is so much that isn’t! He probably just hasn’t heard any of the “good stuff”. I grew up in the heady days for popular music in the 1960s and 1970s, and I still love a lot of rock and roll and “pop” music – especially from that era. But for me, popular music took a nosedive starting with the disco craze of the late 1970s, and since then I’ve turned increasingly towards classical music.

As much as I love rock and roll (especially The Beatles), the emotional response that that sort of music evokes in me is different than it is with classical music. When I listen to a great piece of rock music such as the medley at the end of Abbey Road, or Maybe I’m Amazed, it makes me feel happy, motivated, and alive. But only classical music can profoundly move me and bring tears to my eyes.


I’m at the age now where a lot of people I knew and admired in my youth are dying. Often, I’ll read an obituary of someone I worked with or casually knew outside of work, only to discover something fascinating about their background or an interest that we shared, and feeling sad that I never talked with them about x, y, or z.


It is so hard to get to know your neighbors these days. COVID-19 and its numerous variants, partisanship, and (for some of us) working remotely have acted to isolate us even further. Much of our interaction with other humans is of a superficial nature. This seems especially true for older adults. I now live in a large but beautiful gated community. It is obvious that a lot of thought and good planning went into designing it 20 years ago. And yet, we have a community swimming pool but alas no meeting room or common house.


Much to my delight, I now live in a neighborhood where the streets are well-maintained. Riding a bicycle is no longer a bone-jarring experience across “rubblized” pavement, as it was in Dodgeville (Wisconsin) and Alpine (Texas). Our HOA dues here are $43 per month, and much of that money goes towards resurfacing the streets every four years. As far as I’m concerned, it is money well spent. I wonder how many people living in Dodgeville or Alpine would be willing to pay a monthly fee of $43 per month (and probably less) to keep all their city streets in good condition?

Howard Goodall – Britain’s Treasured Music Communicator

Howard Goodall

Howard Goodall deserves a place within the pantheon of the world’s greatest documentary series presenters, among them Jacob Bronowski, Carl Sagan, David Attenborough, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. I first encountered Howard Goodall in 2017 when PBS Wisconsin aired his “Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution” and I was wowed by his enthusiasm, knowledge of music, and presentation style. Since then, I’ve purchased several of his music documentary series (some of them are not currently available, at least not here in the U.S.), and there is no question he is not only a British treasure, but a world treasure.

If you want to obtain a deeper knowledge of the music theory behind classical and popular music, seek him out! You won’t be disappointed.


Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution (2017)
DVD (includes Lennon/McCartney from Howard Goodall’s 20th Century Greats)


Howard Goodall’s The Story of Music (2013)

  1. The Popular Age
  2. The Age of Rebellion
  3. The Age of Tragedy
  4. The Age of Elegance & Sensibility
  5. The Age of Invention
  6. The Age of Discovery
    MP4 download – make your own DVD with Wondershare DVD Creator

Music Room with Howard Goodall (2010)

  1. Julian Lloyd Webber (cellist)
  2. Lang Lang (pianist)
  3. Nicola Beneditti (violinist)
  4. Alison Balsom (trumpeter)
  5. Leif Ove Andsnes (pianist)
  6. Emma Johnson (clarinetist)
  7. Natalie Clein (cellist)
  8. Evelyn Glennie (percussionist)
    Not currently available?

How Music Works (2006)

  1. Melody
  2. Rhythm
  3. Harmony
  4. Bass
    MP4 download – make your own DVD with Wondershare DVD Creator

Howard Goodall’s 20th Century Greats (2004)

  1. Lennon/McCartney
  2. Bernard Herrmann
  3. Leonard Bernstein
  4. Cole Porter
    DVD

Howard Goodall’s Great Dates (2002)

  1. 1564
  2. 1791
  3. 1874
  4. 1937
    Not currently available?

Howard Goodall’s Big Bangs (2000)

  1. The Thin Red Line: Guido of Arezzo & the Invention of Notation
  2. The Inventing of Opera
  3. Accidentals will happen: The Invention of Equal Temperament
  4. Bartolomeo Cristofori and his Amazing Loud and Soft Machine
  5. Mary and her Little Lamb: The Invention of Recorded Sound
    DVD

Howard Goodall’s Choir Works (1998)

  1. Bulgaria & Estonia
  2. Nashville
  3. South Africa
  4. Oxford
    DVD

Howard Goodall’s Organ Works (1997)

  1. Medieval Organs
  2. Baroque Organs
  3. 19th Century
  4. Contemporary
    DVD

Tucson Classical Music Performances 2023

Here’s a comprehensive list of live classical music performances in Tucson for the year 2023 where the program of composers and works has been published. I will keep this Excel document regularly updated. Please post a comment if anything should be added or changed.

I’ve included a column called “Dave’s Faves” which notes the works I am already familiar with and that I highly recommend. This is subjective, of course, but I hope this will help some of you in deciding which concerts to attend.

Happy Listening!

Link below is an Excel file (.xlsx).
Last Updated: January 26, 2023

Tucson Classical Music Performances 2023

Click here for 2024 concerts.

If you live in the Tucson metro area and would like to get together each month to listen to and discuss recordings of favorite classical music pieces we love and would like to introduce to others, I hope you will consider joining:

Tucson Exploring Classical Music

Sources
Tucson Symphony Orchestra
Arizona Friends of Chamber Music
University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music
Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra
Civic Orchestra of Tucson
Tucson Repertory Orchestra
True Concord, Voices & Orchestra
Arizona Opera
Helios Ensemble
Tucson Masterworks Chorale

Sibelius Violin Concerto

The Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) aspired to be a virtuoso violinist, but abandoned that career because he felt that he had begun his “training for the exacting career of a virtuoso too late.” But it must have been some consolation that his violin concerto of 1904/1905—his only concerto—is one of the most inspired works of that genre in the repertoire.

There are many fine recordings of the Sibelius Violin Concerto, but one I am especially fond of is a 1951 recording with Isaac Stern and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham.

Here’s the conclusion of the work, nicely illustrating the passion and energy of this performance by Stern and Beecham’s Royal Philharmonic despite the primitive recording technology available at the time. Just goes to show that there were some remarkable recordings made more than 70 years ago!

Conclusion of the 1951 recording of Isaac Stern playing the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Thomas Beecham, conducting

While we’re on the topic of violin concertos, here are the best I’ve heard, in chronological order of their composition. Seek them out and enjoy!

Concerto for 2 Violins in D minor, BWV 1043 – Johann Sebastian Bach (c. 1730)

Violin Concerto in D major, op. 61 – Ludwig van Beethoven (1806)

Violin Concerto in E minor, op. 64 – Felix Mendelssohn (1844)

Violin Concerto No. 8 in D major, op. 99 – Charles-Auguste de Bériot (c. 1845)

Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, op. 26 – Max Bruch (1867)

Violin Concerto in D major, op. 77 – Johannes Brahms (1878)

Violin Concerto in D major, op. 35 – Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1878)

Violin Concerto in A minor, op. 53 – Antonín Dvořák (1879)

Violin Concerto in D minor, op. 47 – Jean Sibelius (1905)

Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major, op. 19 – Sergei Prokofiev (1917)

Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, op. 63 – Sergei Prokofiev (1935)

Violin Concerto, op. 14 – Samuel Barber (1939)

Violin Concerto in D minor – Aram Khachaturian (1940)

Violin Concerto in D major, op. 35 – Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1945)

Violin Concerto in C major, op. 48 – Dmitry Kabalevsky (1948)

And, outstanding violin concerto movements:

Intermezzo (Poco adagio) [2nd & final movement] from Violin Concerto, op. 33 – Carl Nielsen (1911)

Sicilienne (Andantino) [2nd movement] from Concierto de estío, for violin and orchestra – Joaquín Rodrigo (1943)

Curious as to why so many violin concertos are written in the key of D major? I was.

“D major is well-suited to violin music because of the structure of the instrument, which is tuned G D A E. The open strings resonate sympathetically with the D string, producing a sound that is especially brilliant. This is also the case with all other orchestral strings.” – Wikipedia entry for D major

Tucson Classical Music Performances 2022

Here’s a comprehensive list of live classical music performances in Tucson for the year 2022 where the program of composers and works has been published. I will keep this Excel document regularly updated. Please post a comment if anything should be added or changed.

I’ve included a column called “Dave’s Faves” which notes the works I am already familiar with and that I highly recommend. This is subjective, of course, but I hope this will help some of you in deciding which concerts to attend.

Happy Listening!

Link below is an Excel file (.xlsx).
Last Updated: December 7, 2022

Tucson Classical Music Performances 2022

Click here for 2023 concerts.

If you live in the Tucson metro area and would like to get together each month to listen to and discuss recordings of favorite classical music pieces we love and would like to introduce to others, I hope you will consider joining:

Tucson Exploring Classical Music

Sources
Tucson Symphony Orchestra
Arizona Friends of Chamber Music
University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music
Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra
Civic Orchestra of Tucson
Tucson Repertory Orchestra
True Concord, Voices & Orchestra
Arizona Opera
Helios Ensemble
Tucson Masterworks Chorale

Korngold & The Prince and the Pauper

Robert J. Mauch and Errol Flynn in The Prince and the Pauper, 1937

Sometimes you hear a piece of film music that is so good that it makes you want to see the film. That is certainly what brought me to the 1937 film adaptation of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957) wrote the film score for The Prince and the Pauper. Here is the Main Title:

André Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra (Deutsche Grammophon 289 471 347-2)

Korngold reused this theme in his wonderful Violin Concerto of 1945:

André Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra; Gil Shaham, violin
(Deutsche Grammophon 439 886-2)

Erich Wolfgang Korngold was a Viennese compositional wunderkind whose father was the overbearing Julius Leopold Korngold (1860-1945), chief music critic for the Neue Freie Presse and the most influential music critic in all of Vienna during Erich’s formative years. (Another Leopold was also an overbearing father to another extraordinarily talented child prodigy whose middle name was Wolfgang.) Undoubtedly molded by his father’s extreme distaste for atonal modernism, young Erich developed a style that was tonal and melodic. However, the classical music world was “evolving” away from tonality and Romanticism, and as often happens with composers who write new music using an old idiom, they are largely ignored or, worse yet, forgotten. Fortunately, Erich Wolfgang Korngold was discovered by Hollywood where his tonal music was appreciated, and he went on to write scores for sixteen Hollywood films to great acclaim. He also wrote a great deal of classical music not associated with films that has been neglected for decades and only recently is receiving a fresh hearing and long-overdue appreciation.

The Prince and the Pauper, starring Billy & Bobby Mauch, Errol Flynn, Claude Rains, Phyllis Barry, and many other notable actors, is a delightful movie suitable for the entire family. Highly recommended!

Classics by Request

One of the joys of my life right now is tuning in to “Classics by Request” on Wisconsin Public Radio each Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. This program has been on the air at WPR since 1980, and Ruthanne Bessman has been superbly hosting the program since 1999. When Ruthanne is away, Anders Yocom fills in and he is outstanding as well.

What makes this program work is that it occurs at a convenient time for most people, is a live call-in request program, offers a web form for your request with an area for a short narrative that can be read on air, and allows you to use the web form or call in at any time in advance of the program. And, importantly, the host reads your first name and city immediately before and after each request is played.

During a lifetime of listening to classical music, I’m bursting at the seams with great music I’d like to share with others, so I’m a regular contributor to “Classics by Request” and identified on air as “David in Dodgeville”.

We should never take for granted our classical music stations. During my years in central Iowa 1970-2005, WOI-FM 90.1 in Ames was one of the best classical stations in the country. I will never forget Doug Brown, Jake Graves, Mike Gowdy, Karen Bryan, Curt Snook, Hollis Monroe, and Rachel Jeffries, and the profoundly positive effect they had on my life and my love of classical music. I fondly remember the live request program on WOI-FM where they devoted an entire evening each week (7-11 p.m.) to classical music requests and played entire works and not just excerpts. Tragically, the WOI-FM I knew and loved is no more. It was absorbed a few years ago into Iowa Public Radio and the special magic is gone. A few listeners have tried to pick up the pieces and recreate some of the magic of the original WOI-FM on KHOI-FM Community Radio 89.1.

In my opinion, every metropolitan area and geographic region should have a radio station that primarily plays classical music and has at least one “local” on-air classical music host. (Depending on a national feed for all of your music depersonalizes the experience for me and many other listeners.) Each of these stations should have a “Classics by Request” program.

To be most effective and enjoyable, a “Classics by Request” program should have the following features:

  • Air at one or more convenient times for most people (Saturday or Sunday mid-morning to early afternoon, or Monday-Thursday evenings)
  • Be long enough so that an entire work can be played in addition to movements or sections of a work
  • Web request form that includes a section for notes about the work being requested (WPR has a great example of this)
  • Offer both phone-in and web-form options during a live call-in program, and at any time before the program
  • Play any particular work no more often than once per month
  • Identify the requester on air before and after the work is played, by first name and city, unless the requester wishes to remain anonymous; in cities with a lot of requesters, the requester could be identified using their first name and the first letter of their last name (e.g., David O.), or even a “handle”
  • Include relevant and accurate information about the work and composer that the requester provides, on-air
  • The requester should know when their requested work will be played (date and program)

As I prepare to move to Tucson, Arizona to be closer to family and an active classical music scene with volunteer music education and symphony support opportunities, I am disappointed to see that Arizona Public Media Classical 90.5 FM does not appear to have a call-in request program. Hopefully, I can successfully encourage them to add such a program. If not, I’d be interested in working with others to create a listener-supported classical music station in Tucson that frequently features requests, including recordings provided by listeners. I’d also like to host an on-air program each week, and I have a large classical music library to draw upon for that program.


Here is a list of U.S. classical stations that have request programs.

WFMT • Chicago, IL
Saturdays 8-9 a.m.

Interlochen Public Radio • Interlochen, MI
Saturdays 9 a.m. – noon

Illinois Public Media
Saturdays 9-11 a.m.

Wisconsin Public Radio
Saturdays 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. (noon during Metropolitan Opera season)
Plays shorter works or portions of longer works
Host: Ruthanne Bessman (sometimes Anders Yocom)

WFYI, HD2 • Indianapolis, IN
Sundays 6-7 p.m.

KHOI • Ames, IA
Mondays 8-10 a.m.
Rebroadcast Sundays 6-8 a.m.
“Paul is the one Morning Masterpieces host who will take music requests during live shows. He likes to play music by living composers, obscure works of classical music, and works that push the boundaries of ‘classical music’.”

WRTI • Philadelphia, PA
Wednesdays 12-3 p.m.

Radio Kansas • Hutchinson, KS
Fridays 9 a.m. – noon

Nebraska Public Media
Fridays 1-4 p.m.

KVNO • Omaha, NE
Fridays 2-4 p.m.

Minnesota Public Radio
Fridays 3-7 p.m.

WWNO • New Orleans, LA
Weekdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

WSMC • Collegedale, TN
Southern Adventist University
Weekdays 12-1 p.m.

KUSC • Los Angeles, CA
Weekdays 3-5 p.m.

KFMA • Austin, TX
Weekdays 6-7 p.m.

WCPE • Wake Forest, NC
Fridays 9-10 p.m.
Saturdays 6 p.m. – midnight

WNED Classical • Buffalo, NY
Weekdays 7:30 a.m. – one “Off to School” request
Weekdays 5 p.m. – one “Oasis of Sanity” request

Iowa Public Radio
“On the last Friday of the month IPR Classical plays requests”
1-5 p.m.

KDFC • San Francisco, CA
“Due to the volume of requests, unfortunately, we won’t be able to let you know when your request will be played.”