It seems unnaturally quiet at the WDAV headquarters on Main Street today. After eight days of our spring membership campaign, with its hustle and bustle, the stillness today is a little unnerving – and a little welcome, too, I have to admit.
Gone are the volunteers huddling over the telephones, or in the kitchen over generously donated snacks, meals and drinks. Gone, too, is the hubbub of the “back shop,” the staffers who are primarily responsible for processing the paperwork associated with the pledges that increase exponentially as the campaign progresses.
Our Women’s History Month special focus will be wrapping up soon. As usual with efforts of this kind, I’m left wondering if it really makes a difference. We’ve commemorated Women’s History Month before, as well as Black History Month and everything from the Summer Olympics to Mozart’s 250th Anniversary and Shostakovich’s 100th, with specials and programming “focuses.” That’s “radio speak” for scheduling – and making a special point of talking about – a certain type of music. We’ll be doing this again on March 21st to mark the anniversary of Bach’s birth. We used to use this type of tactic fairly regularly in the 90s. Then somewhere along the way, we stopped doing as many after we collectively thought: “Does this really make anyone tune in?” And also, “If this ‘special’ music is worth hearing, shouldn’t we be playing it regularly, anyway?”
A recent article in The New York Times provides an appreciation of the sort of composer who makes a regular appearance in The Mozart Café (weekdays at Noon here on WDAV).
The composer in this case is the 18th century Czech composer Josef Mysliveček, known as Il divino boémo (“The Divine Bohemian”) because of the sublime beauty of his music. His admirers included no less a figure than Mozart himself, whose own name, Amadeus, means “beloved of God” (which might have qualified him to know a thing or two about the divine).
Composers such as Mysliviček, Wagenseil, Vanhal and Cannabich are hardly household names, nor are their Baroque counterparts such as Veracini, Tartini, Fasch and Quantz. Occasionally when WDAV plays their music, someone will say to us, “Why?” The argument is generally along the lines that, since these composers have been judged by history to be “minor” figures, we shouldn’t waste air time with their music.
The classical music world has been abuzz in recent weeks with a controversy that would appear to be more in keeping with corrupt corporate CEOs than with earnest classical artists and producers.
Well, perhaps it’s an overstatement to say the classical music “world” has been concerned with this scandal. I doubt that few classical music professionals, let alone average music lovers, had ever even heard of the late pianist Joyce Hatto outside of her native England. Until recently, that is.