Your First Classical Concert in New York

Thursday, November 12, 2009 - 01:39 PM

Well this is my first blog entry on And I want to hear from you.

What was the first live classical concert in New York that you attended? Do you remember?

My first was one I was in--performing with Peter Schickele. He has a great comedy piece for orchestra called NEW HORIZON’S IN MUSIC APPRECIATON, which is basically the first Movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, announced as a sportscast! It is classic PDQ Bach.  

Peter hired me to play the Color Commentator for a live performance at Carnegie Hall. Please let me know about your first New York concert experience.

More in:

Comments [107]

james andrea from Union City, NJ

Some time before Maria Tallchief's retirement in 1965 my mother took me to see her perform. I was told it was a privilege to see her in one of the last times on stage and it didn't hurt to impress on the mind of a young boy that she was an American Indian, and she had the name to boot - and she was tall and regal, like a chief. Grace and bearing - if I wasn't sold on it going in, I was upon leaving. I think my mother also used the opportunity to "lose" my Fess Parker coon-skin hat at the cleaners.

Apr. 11 2010 02:47 AM
L.Zanderer from NY

My first concert was one I went to when I was about six. I was with my parents in a space for concerts at the Brooklyn museum. I grew up on QXR. It was on every night and all weekend. My dad who worked in a leather goods factory relied on things like Symphony Hall and the opera. It was a great great station. It has been until recently. It seems confused about whom to put on at what hour. It relies far too much on what appears to be NYC people. For me QXR in the night hours is a lost cause. There is too much whispery teaching, kind of offensive for those of us who basically live by the music, as my dad did. NYC voices are not good. Shows are not New York enough. I exclude from my criticism the Bob Sherman show, the Philharmonic of course and the Forrest chamber music show. NYC luckily got a great station with absolutely professional hosts. But they abused the QXR people, protecting whatever people and strategies they brought with them. The claim that "we created " a new station is dishonest and sophomoric. The chimes and imperial music to introduce Symphony Hall are gone. Why? The current host is tiresome in his cool regular guy talk about fiddlers and piano players; also gone is the midnight interlude music. Now we end the evening with smartypants gab. What we need are the very hosts who were the core of the lost great station, that is,you,Midge, Jeff Spurgeon, and Steve Sullivan most of the time. I'm not sure a public radio station can do anything but dumb down with popular enthusiasms a true classical music station. It needs the old style responsible patonage which the Times offered. The Times quit on an important responsibility to the detriment of American culture.

Mar. 12 2010 11:50 AM

When I was about 8 my mother took me to a performance of Salome. All I remember was my terror upon seeing the head of John the Baptist. Miraculously, I grew up to be an opera lover nonetheless. The first live classical music experience that did not traumatize me was a year or two later when a close family friend (herself a fine violinist) took me to Carnegie Hall on my birthday to hear Mischa Elman.

Mar. 07 2010 05:37 PM
Robert Sack from NYC

It was shortly after the War. I couldn't have been more than seven. My mother took me a piano recital somewhere in Manhattan. Concerned that I might make a ruckus, she assured me that whenever I said the word, we would leave.

Someone announced that the artist would play this, and then play that, and then play the other thing. But he never seemed to get around to "playing" at all. Disappointed, I told my mother it was time to leave.

Mar. 01 2010 12:17 PM
Mildred Rust from E. Brunswick, NJ

I attended regular concerts from the age of 6 weeks, listening to my father's "Sunnywoods Orchestra" practicing in our living room! I was hooked on classical music with my eye teeth. But the first real NY concerts were a year's subscription to the NY Philharmonic (Bruno Walter as maestro) as a high school graduation present from my aunt, also a musician. Ah, nostalgia!

Feb. 05 2010 03:57 PM
Nancy Jennings from New York City

I am not alone in claiming my first live classical music concert as one of the Young People's performances at Carnegie Hall, led by Leonard Bernstein (Uncle Lenny). I don't remember what was on the program, but it was such an astonishing revelation, that I went around the U-shaped balcony as far as I could go so as to see his face. From that point on I was hooked. I miss your broadcasts! I work on Sat/Sun so cannot tune in when you're on.

Jan. 19 2010 09:08 PM

Nimet Habachy's signature tune for "New York at Night" was Debussy's "En Bateau", for 2 pianos. Does anybody know which recording of "En Bateau" was used in her show?

Dec. 06 2009 03:51 PM
Richard S Mitnick from Highland Park, New Jersey


Please let your listeners know - early and often - that the 105.9 web stream is now at the 128kbit stereo that the music and the listeners deserve.



Nov. 30 2009 07:30 PM
steve o' from Staten Island

I have enough trouble remembering what I did an hour ago but Adele's comment rekindled a memory of either late elemetary school or early high school and a class trip to probably the very same nosebleed seats at the Met for La Traviata. Looking back it was probably a greater influence than I took it for although I had no clue as to what was happening. As an "adult" my next first NYC concert was Peter Schickele! By then, I must've had a clue because I knew why I was laughing! Due in large part to QXR and the 104.3FM of old!

Nov. 29 2009 02:07 PM

My first concert was actually a broadcast of one of the Young People's Concerts. I was hooked. My first actual visit to a live concert in NYC was in the 9th grade. Nose bleed level seats at the Met to see Carmen.The costumes were wonderful, the live music,the dancing.It was magic.

Nov. 27 2009 09:56 PM
Margaret Tobey from Lincoln Center

I was a music student in 1967. I won tickets to 3 events at Lincoln Center. The ballet was Don Quixote. Ballanchine danced the title role. I was breathless. I couldn't believe I was there. I couldn't believe the music and the dancing. It has been over 40 years, and I still remember that night.

Nov. 26 2009 06:14 PM
Bernard I. Negrin from Summit, New Jersey

My first concert was in the late 1950's with the New York Philharmonic conducted by L. Bernstein. One of the works, Rodeo (A. Copland), was breathtaking. As a student of JHS-123 (Bronx), who had never heard such music, this class trip opened the door to the magnificent world of "Classical Music". This door has remained open since that day.

Nov. 23 2009 02:32 PM
Irene from Queens, NY

My first classical performance was when I was 14years old, my mother,an avid Opera lover, had given me her ticket to see Beverly Sills in La Traviata at the NY City Opera. I remember I studied the libretto forwards and backwards so I could savor every note, word and vision. I sat in a box seat which seemed to me right on top of the stage. I was so excited. To this day, this experience has remained with me.

Nov. 22 2009 09:05 PM
rebeca vicki taub from New York

I too was a kid at the Van Cliburn concert at Lewisohn stadium that summer in the 60's. It was a great experience, music under the stars, but overshadowed by the memory of police cars racing across the Brooklyn Bridge on the way home, as there were also riots starting thta night.

Nov. 22 2009 04:06 PM
Alan Oser from Staten Island N.Y.

To me, applause between movements is normally not appropriate. It upsets the artistic integrity of the piece as a whole and the listener's concentration. There is one exception: a section of the piece may end with an extraordinary virtuosic performance by a soloist. That's the time to applaud -- especially for a singer.

Nov. 22 2009 11:43 AM
Marianne from NYC

By the way, Elliot, I so wish there was another Norman J. Seaman Concert Theater Club. I just read that he died in September. What a great service he provided to struggling artists and the entire NY community! Is there anything comparable today?

Nov. 21 2009 08:23 PM
K. Hahn from New York

Our dentist played classical music while drilling--so for a long time my whole family called it "dentist music." We are a little more appreciative now. And, my daughters when little would lie down on our apartment floor listening to the classical pianist practice below. Much more poetic!

Nov. 21 2009 04:47 PM
Nadine Gill from New York

Unfortunately, I do not remember the year but many a moon ago. Probably late 1950's. Carneigie Hall. John Cage's 4'33.
Fascinating. The music of discomfort from the audience. The whispers, coughing, squirming in their seats.
This was an unforgettable experience.

Nov. 21 2009 10:01 AM
david sarles

My first NY concert actually took place niot in NY but in Denver, in 1959, when Leonard Berstein brought the Philharmonic to Red Rocks for Colorado's 100th centennial. I sat about halfway up in that natural amphiteater and watched Haydn's "Creation" animals crawl across the stage in front of the orchestra. That same summer, the entire Broadway cast of West Side Story performed in Denver. Needless to say, I came east for grad school and have stayed.

Nov. 20 2009 09:08 PM
Lee Knuth from Garden City, NY

I grew up in a family where classical music was the only music played. At the age of 12 my cousin invited me to a concert where the RCA symphony orchestra would be conducted by Toscanini. This was the first live concert I had ever attended. The music was wonderful and to make the evening even more memorable, Gregory Peck was seated in a box near us.

Nov. 20 2009 11:50 AM

I moved to NY in 1977, semi-employed with an illegal sublet in the Village. I had trouble remembering my "first" live concert here, when WQXR gave my memory the needed nudge by playing a recording of Leigh Howard Steven's Bach on the marimba last Sunday evening. Instantly I remembered when, In my first summer here, I was walking home when I sensed that something extraordinary was happening near the Washington Square Arch. As I neared, I saw this very young red-haired man, shirtless under overalls, playing Bach on the marimba inside the Arch to a small but delighted audience. He raved about the acoustics. I marvelled at how well this keyboard instrument suited Bach. When I later heard about Stevens and the record he made of Bach on the Marimba, I wondered if it had been him I heard that summer afternoon. Quickly calculating the pleasure I got from the astonishing experience of this young man's playing compared with the price of a ticket at formal venues, I dropped a tenner in his basket, a large donation for me at the time!

Nov. 19 2009 05:21 PM
David Lubell from Elliott Forrest

In 1958 my aunt and uncle who were regulars at the chamber music concerts at Washington Irving High School invited me to my first NYC and first chamber music concert. I'm still enjoying chamber music.

Nov. 19 2009 02:05 PM
Bill D from Northern NJ

I love the story of you and the PDQ Bach concert (that is one of the favorites of his!).
Like others, I am glad you made the transition. I think, unlike other posters on here, that the merger with the WNYC folks has made for a better station and one hopefully that will evolve and grow.

As far as my first classical concert, it was on a school trip to the NY Philharmonic in 1980. Bernstein was conducting an all Copeland program, including Appalachian Spring and other works, and what made it more special (besides front row seats that cost something like 5 bucks!) was that Copeland was in the audience, it was magical.

Nov. 17 2009 06:22 PM
Nicola Aversa

Frank, that's why "classic" films are still classic. I mean yeah, specifically the classical period (which everyone should love) is officially the classical music, but the random guy off the street wouldn't know that. Anything with a violin and oboe is classical to them, no matter how nuts it sounds

what, were dumb things said and removed? that's sometimes kind of funny...

Nov. 17 2009 02:18 AM
Frank Feldman

That's not the meaning of classical music at all. It has a very precise meaning, as does romantic music. By your definition, The Entertainer and Alexander's Ragtime Band are classical music.

Nov. 17 2009 12:16 AM
Nicola Aversa from Los Angeles

Well Frank, since classical anything is labeled as any work that can stand the test of time I would still classify those as classical. I wouldn't say they were great, since the old joke about Copland's pieces all sounding the same is pretty true....

I don't remember my first concert but my first performance was a set of Vaughn-Williams and Beethoven at MSM about 7 years ago...

Nov. 16 2009 07:36 PM
Frank Feldman

Clearly, we all just have to make nicey nice all the time. Just say what we like or our comments will be canned. I like serious music. I like historical performances. I don't like Aaron Copland, Phillip Glass, Rodrigo's Guitar Concerto, Scheherezade, The Grand Canyon Suite, Gershwin and much else. I do love old music, Schutz, Schein, Byrd, Palestrina, Vittoria, Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Bruckner, Wagner, Brahms, Strauss, Mahler, you know, the heavy-hitters. And their contemporaries. George Gershwin's Cuban Overture is not classical music.

Nov. 16 2009 06:05 PM
Arthur Zemlinsky

I'm so happy to have heard Annie Bergen back on the air. Dare we hope for Clayelle as well?

Nov. 16 2009 05:29 PM
Peter Danish from Nyack, New York

It's great hearing you again Elliott! You're still my favorite classical radio personality!

After learning that "Hoedown" by Emerson Lake and Palmer was actually written by someone named Aaron Copland, I set out to hear the original. My first classical performance was the NY Phil doing, Rodeo and Billy the Kidd in 1979 or 1980 (can't remember which!) I actually got most of my early classical education from ELP: Copland, Bernstein, Sibelius, Holst and Janacek. Go figure!

Nov. 16 2009 04:53 PM
david gross from Carnegie Hall NYC

Although I was taken to many classical concerts as a child - at B'klyn College and Lewisohn Stadium during the summer, the first classical concert that I ever went to by myself was while I was in High School. I purchased a ticket to a NY Philharmonic Pension Concert that was conducted by Bruno Walter. I had a seat way up in the balcony at Carnegie Hall and one of the pieces on the program was Wagner's Sigfried Idyll. The concert was probably in 1958

Nov. 16 2009 04:36 PM
John A. McConville from United States

I shared my first concert with my girlfriend (now my wife of 49 years) in the summer of 1956. It was at Lewisohn Stadium at Columbia University and featured Leopold Stowkowski conducting Beethoven's Seventh. Best part of all: the tickets were free.

Nov. 16 2009 04:03 PM
Pete Drexler

correction to my blog, the movie was Close Encounters of a Third Kind

Nov. 16 2009 02:44 PM
Pete Drexler

I moved to New York area in 1986 and heard about a free concert at Battery Park, presented by a Japanese musical artist. It involved someone playing Rhapsody in Blue on a Staten Island ferry as it passed by, the artist (I forget his name, perhaps Tomiko) playing and controlling the whole concert from a glass pyramid suspended in mid air supported by a crane and the grand finale, a reenactment of the climatic scene in First Encounter, when the alien space ship communicated with Earthlings through music through a recurring musical theme. It was eerie, it looked real even though the space ship was held up by a helicopter (invisible because at night). I knew, then, that anything was possible in New York.

Pete Drexler

Nov. 16 2009 02:40 PM
Lisa Kolbe from Washington DC

My first concert in New York was the night before I was born. My parents came to Carnegie Hall to hear the NBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Arturo Toscanini - it was the evening of November 22, 1953.
The program was Brahms and Richard Strauss' Don Quixote. The next afternoon I was born at Columbia Presbyterian. My mother and father bought the recording of the concert and listened to it every year on the eve of my birthday. My mother always said that I was such a considerate baby to have let her enjoy the concert - I agreed as I was enjoying it as well.

Nov. 16 2009 01:04 PM

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Nov. 16 2009 12:56 PM
ANthony B. Bernice from Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

My first concert was teh Lincoln Center sponsored Young People's Concerts in 1963-64.
Free tickets to Philharmonic Hall on a Sunday afternoon were sent to High Schools in the NYC area. This was done to preserve the classical music tradition by introducing teenages to classical music.
At the first concert Leonard Berstein conducted. Aftetr the first number he turened to us and spoke, welcoming the audience and explaining the program.
We came from al over the area. The three of us from Lodi , NJ sat next to teenagers from Levittown, LI.

Nov. 15 2009 10:31 PM
Henry from Southampton, NY

My parents took me to my first classical music concert in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when I was seven. I don't remember if the acoustics were particularly good, but I did like the sound of the Steinway piano. It was much more in tune than ours in our apartment.
I remember the ice cream after the performance too. LOL
Thanks for being on WQXR. I'm glad you are still there, Elliott.
I'm like really glad you are there.

Nov. 15 2009 09:42 PM
npeterson from New Jersey

The first "concerts" I can remember must have been around 1952 when my mother, insisting the "the richest child was poor without a musical education" used to take me for piano lessons to a teacher who had a studio on the top floor of Carnegie Hall. Though my lack of musical talent overcame his sincerest efforts, he used to guide me down a little staircase where, on Saturday mornings Toscanini would be rehearsing the orchestra (Would it have been the NBC Symphony?) I can still recall this little man, all in black, with a shock of white hair launching into some of the greatest tantrums I have ever heard, but between the fury, producing the most glorious sounds. I knew then that though I would never be a pianist, I would always remain a great listener.
Thank you, WQXR.

Nov. 15 2009 06:26 PM

When I was a young boy growing up in the early to mid 70s as a Native New Yorker and also learning how to play the piano, my parents took me to the Young People's concert series at Avery Fisher Hall with the NY Philharmonic held on Saturday morning. During that time, Leonard Bernstein had just retired and Michael Tilson Thomas took over as conductor back then and ran the Young People's concerts and I still remember the very row I always sat in the orchestra row GG. Unfortunately I can't remember which number it was but it was on the right hand side of the hall.

On that particular program, they had performed the Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra by Benjamin Britten also known as the Variations on a theme by Henry Purcell. That was my fondest memory attending that for the very first time.

By the time I grew older and was about 11 or 12 years old I remembered attending my first professional adult concert out of the Young People's series still with the Philharmonic and remembered on that program they played Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor. Vladamir Horowitz was the soloist for this performance.

Nov. 15 2009 06:22 PM
Emily Mikulewicz

I was at the Van Cliburn concert in Lewissohn Stadium too, and was swept away. I think the admission was 50 cents, and you could rend a cussion to put on the concretesitting tiers. I went often. But the first indoor classical concert was, like you, one in which I participated. I was back in the city after college, working at St. Luke's as a nurse, and singing in the Cantata Singers, an amateur chorus directed at that time by Tom Dunn who was pivotal in the resurrection of baroque music. It was 1962 and we did Haydn's "Seasons" in Carnegie Hall. It was heaven. Having been introduced to the glories of the concert hall, I became a regular, and have remained so. Also with QXR which I listened to starting before grade school in the mornings. Thank you for all those years.

Nov. 15 2009 01:55 PM

I came to classical music later than most. This is both odd and to be expected as I was the ungifted product of two classically trained parents. My father graduated with the first degree awarded in piano accompaniment from the University of CO at Boulder where my mother graduated with a degree in voice - a potential Wagnerian soprano. They both came back to Julliard where they reconnected, married, and, sadly, shelved their musical careers for more mundane careers in business and library science. A huge treat in our house was when my father would sit down at the piano - alas, too rarely - and play Fur Elise and the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies among other things. A not so huge treat was the blasting of the Texaco Metropolitan Opera Broadcasts every Saturday when I would flee the house in search of my friends' "more normal" families. Again, alas, what I missed! And let's not even talk about the miserable failure that were the piano lessons!

Other than knowing the words to every verse of every classic Christmas Carol, the first piece of music I can remember really resonating with me and introducing me - finally - to a life-long appreciation of classical music was a concert at Avery Fisher Hall that I attended with my father - a treat in itself - my mother was busy elsewhere I guess - where we heard Mozart's Piano Concerto #21. I was probably about 21 at the time - the mid-seventies! The second movement - the ever popular Elvira Madigan theme - in which the pianist barely touched the keys - brought my father to tears - a memory that brings me to tears all these years later - and I was hooked. My father is long gone but I associate that piece of music and that fond memory with him whenever I hear it.

While my daughter has steadfastly refused to entertain classical music in her life, my son is a huge fan. One of the pieces that brought him into the fold in high school was Gliere's Russian Sailor's Dance from The Red Poppy. Thank you Gliere!

Nov. 15 2009 12:48 PM
Barbara Bar-Nissim from NJ

When I was about 4, in 1946, my parents took me to Carnegie Hall and we sat in a box. This was very exciting. The hush in the hall right before the music began amazed me. The piece I remember is Pictures at an Exhibition. My father told me to listen for the chickens.
I used to feign illness when I was in elementary school so I could stay home and listen to QXR all day. I knew every 'theme song'. I miss them but I'm enjoying the wide variety of music we now hear.

I still listen for those chickens!

Nov. 15 2009 12:32 PM
Taylor from New York

My first live classical music concert in New York was a performance by the New York Philharmonic. However, the first time I experienced classical music live was in Richmond, Virginia as a seven year old, and the program was performed by the Richmond Symphony Orchestra.

Elliott, in this response I focused only on your blog question, but I can't let this opportunity go by without saying how pleased I am to hear your voice again as a radio host. It is reassuring to me that you are there and were also given a blog entry.

Nov. 15 2009 12:22 PM
Judith Greene

I was l5 and lived in Connecticut. I took piano lessons for many years but had never gone to a professional concert. I visited my Aunt Edith in NYC for a first venture to the big city and she took me to hear Josef Hoffman at Carnegie Hall. He was amazing but Carnegie was a wreck in the forties. How wonderful to go there now!

Nov. 15 2009 11:58 AM
Jim Bieker

Van Cliburn and the St Louis Symphony orchestra - it was early 1960's, and I was ~8 yrs old --- fantastic!!

Nov. 15 2009 10:55 AM
Marc Rauch

This would have been in 1957 or 1958, but the date can easily be verified. I would have been 9 or 10 years old. I was living in Trenton, New Jersey with my divorced mother, who was soon to remarry.

My new grandmother took me to visit my new "rich cousins" who lived on Park Avenue in New York City. Taking the Pennsylvania Railroad and entering the City through the old Penn Station was awe-inspiring to a child.

Just as awe-inspiring was the view from the "Top of the Sixes" Restaurant, at 666 Fifth Avenue, where we met my cousins for lunch. I ordered shrimp curry, which seemed like a good idea until fishy white lumps in a gelatinous yellow sauce appeared before me. I did eat the plain white rice around the edges though, that had not been touched by the sauce.

After that it was off to Carnegie Hall with my new cousins for a "young people's" concert -- my first. Just before the concert started someone came out on the stage and announced the "wonderful news" that Carnegie Hall had been "saved". Who knew that Carnegie Hall needed saving, but the grown-ups in the audience clapped, stomped and cheered.

The highlight of the concert that followed was Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf". In the years that followed, I played this piece so often on our old record player at home that the needle wore deep ruts in the vinyl.

More recently, who knew that WQXR needed to be "saved"? But this time I joined those who stomped, clapped and cheered.

Nov. 15 2009 10:26 AM
william pagenkopf from flushing, ny

Used to get student tickets when a student of piano. 50 cents for best seats at Carnegie and Town Hall. Think first was Piatagorsky. However interesting wqxr met opera occasion. In mid 40's was listening to broadcast of Meistersaenger.
Young nephew asked how all those people got inside the small radio........

Nov. 15 2009 10:15 AM
Arnold Frogel

I attended my first classical concert when just before my 14th birthday, in 1942, on a Sunday, at the Brooklyn Museum. I believe the orchestra was conducted by Lukas Foss on that particular afternoon (I know that he did conduct one concert there that I attended), and they played Beethoven's Leonore Overture (the one with the offstage trumpet). I wanted very much to walk out into the corridor of the hall to see the trumpet player. The acoustics were great.

Nov. 15 2009 09:46 AM
Betty from New York

My first live classical music concert was on a
school trip. What good fortune to experience a
performance of The Barber of Seville at the old
Met. It was pure magic-theater,music,art all in one!
It nourished all the senses. Not long after that, I became a French major at Columbia with a
special interest in the 18th century, the time of Beaumarchais. In the course of doing some research for a presentation on La Mere Coupable,
the last part of the trilogy which includes the Barber of Seville and the Marriage of Figaro,
I was in the Special Collections section of the
library at Columbia reading an old edition of the
plays which contained a letter referring to the
arms dealing in which Beaumarchais was involved. I have no idea if this letter was of the time, but it was a fascinating insight into the
period from which the play at the origin of the
opera arose. I still love the 18th century and
have since studied and acted Shakespeare
and studied Art History and practiced painting
and Manuscript Illumination. Memo to all
parents-you never know what chord may be
struck in your child by one well-chosen
performance of the opera. It changed my life.

Nov. 15 2009 08:55 AM
Karen from Tallahassee, Florida

My first exposure to live classical music happened in NYC when I was a freshman in college working part time as a foot messenger. I had to drop a package off at Avery Fischer Hall. On my way out I heard the NY Philharmonic rehearsing a few feet away so I tiptoed into the auditorium and kneeled down behind the back row and listened. They were rehearsing for an all-Wagner program I had wanted to attend but in those days I could never afford such luxuries. So I sat on the floor and enjoyed the sounds of Tannhauser and Die Meistersinger almost giddy with excitement. Since then, I've been blessed enough that I have been able to buy tickets for many live classical concerts but I will always remember what it was like to only to dream of hearing a live orchestra so I will never take it for granted.

Nov. 14 2009 06:17 PM
Bill Pasewark from Lubbock, TX

I sat in the front row of the balcony to hear Brahm's first symphony. The pounding tempo of the first movement was mesmerizing. I went out and bought the album immediately after the performance.

Nov. 14 2009 06:12 PM
Richard S Mitnick from Highland Park, New Jersey


Your comment page has garnered an overwhelming response, mostly positive. There are so many negative comments for David, Terrance and Q2. I swear, there are ad hominem attacks on Terrance, Midge, egad.

For the sake of transparency , I was (am) a WNYC music listener, not a WQXR listener. I live in Q2, the old wnyc2. I worked - as a listener only - with George and Brad on building wnyc2 and then taking it 's influence into Evening Music and Overnight Music.

I loved it that you aired some John Adams today. I loved it that you plugged the Duke Ellington.

There are so many Classical recordings that are not boring:

There is very approachable Philip Glass, e.g., Glass Pieces, and Glassworks.

We hear very little Alan Hovhaness, Olivier Messiaen. I guess Michael Gordon is too much to ask. There is Classical Chick Corea, The Mozart Sessions, there is Keith Jarrett's recording of the Well-Tempered Clavier, also his "Book of Ways" on clavichord and his Goldberg Variations on Harpsichord.

We hear no Lou Harrison, especially pleasant are his gamelon works. Mark O'Connor's Fiddle Concerto, his Fanfare for the Volunteer, The American Seasons, and his new Americana Symphony. Nadia Sirota's First Things First is a beautiful recording.

Ruth Crawford Seeger and Amy Beach - great Classical music we never hear.

The point is, the mission of music outlets on PubRadio is to spread the word, get people heard, get people spending money to support the art.

Everything I mentioned I own. I learned it all from people like John S, David Garland, Sara Fishko and others at WNYC. Also from Marvin Rosen at WPRB, Princeton. Marvin is the most knowledgeable person I know in New Music. Check him out on Wednesday mornings 103.3 or

The BOAC guys I guess are beyond the current stretch of 105.9. But David, Julie, Evan Z. Mark S., these are incredibly creative people. There is amazing stuff coming out of American Composers' Forum, St Paul. Maybe Phil Blackburn sends CD's, I think he did send them to WNYC.

So, Elliott, do more than entertain us. Turn us on to things we do not now hear.

Nov. 14 2009 05:57 PM
Seymour M Solomon from Metropolitan Opera

In the midst of a tense situation during the Battle of the Bulge a soldier asked me where I was from. He said I was very lucky to be from New York because we had the Met Opera. I had no musical backround and did not like the sound of opera and had never been to the Met. However I thought to myself that if I live through this and got back to NY I would go there. Many years later my wife asked me to take her there and remembering this incident I agreed, We saw Renata Tebaldi sing Tosca. I loved it. We bought subscriptions to the Old Met then the new Met for many years thereafter.

Nov. 14 2009 05:18 PM
John Mayurnik from waldwick NJ

I had been attending concerts with my parents since early child hood. m y first one in NY was a piano recital by Mora Lympany in Carnegie Hall in 1957 . By the way I was there at the famous Bernstein -Gould performance of Brahms ist piano concerto . Quite a nite. Gould out with the full score and there was a glass of water on the piano that he would sip during tuttis. There were equal bravos and boos at the end.

Nov. 14 2009 02:37 PM
Rita from White Plains, NY

My first "live" classical music concert wasn't in NY but in my home state of WV. I was in college studying voice and was a banner carrier in "La Boheme" (I was a mezzo and there are no roles for me!). I still enjoyed myself immensely and couldn't wait for more! But my first time at the Met was when I was a Met finalist at the auditions and saw Domingo & Freni in Don Carlos! What a thrill!! I knew I wanted to be on that stage!!

Nov. 14 2009 02:31 PM
Robert von Gutfeld from New York City 10025

Dear Mr. Forrest,

The first concert I heard was not in NY but in Richmond, VA at the Great Mosque Theater, where I heard the National Symphony from Washington DC in the Fall of 1943. Shortly after that (1944), I was an extra in Tosca (cross- bearer in Act I,paid $1) again at the Mosque Theater, where a well known touring opera Co. came to perform in Richmond. My mother played in the orchestra for that performance.

My first concert in NY was probably in studio 8H of Rockefeller Center to hear Toscanini conduct the NBC Symphony, in early ~1947 or 1948. Unforgettable!

My first performance as cellist of a professional string quartet was on WNYC TV in 1962. This was an hour long performance with no break, no one running the camera except to turn the camera on and off. We were told not to spend time tuning during the hour long performance and not to blow our noses since that wouldn't look good. Those were the days.


Robert J. von Gutfeld, PhD
Columbia University

Nov. 14 2009 01:52 PM

Elliot, congrats on making the transition to the far edge of the dial and on your first blog post.

I am also astonished that you were unfamiliar with the story of Bernstein's disclaimer about the Brahms concerto. It was a live radio broadcast (possibly on WQXR?) and has lived on in the Glenn Gould lore. Supposedly it was a major factor in Gould's decision to stop playing in public.

Recordings of the disclaimer (and the concert) have been circulating samizdat-style for many years, and a few years ago, Sony Classical released an official CD of the performance.

Here's the link to the Wikipedia article about this performance:,_1962

Nov. 14 2009 12:22 PM
Joseph Rutkowski from Carnegie Recital Hall, November 1970

In November of 1970, I was an 11th grader at Smithtown Central High School on Long Island and our band teacher, Lawrence Sobol performed with his chamber ensemble on Bob Sherman's "The Listening Room" during band class and the substitute teacher let us listen to the broadcast. That night, 6 of us took the LIRR into New York City and walked up to Carnegie Recital Hall (before it was named Weill) and watched our teacher perform with the Long Island Chamber Ensemble: Lawrence Sobol, clarinet, Richard Locker, cello and Martin Berkofsky, piano. The program included Poulenc Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Barber Sonata for Cello and Piano, a Romantic Piano Sonata (I forgot the composer), the Beethoven Trio, Op. 11 for Clarinet, Cello and Piano. They did a beautiful arrangement of the Beatles' "Yesterday" for Clarinet, Cello and Piano. After the concert, my friends Nelson Kolazek, Joe London, Marcia Butler, Sue Stavrides, Bruce Figue and I took the train back to Long Island. I think Joe London practiced that night before he went to bed. The next day we all practiced ALOT.

Nov. 14 2009 12:09 PM
Kay Finch from Forest Hills, NY

I grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch farm country, near Reading. We had little exposure to classical music, although my parents ensured that we saw all the movie musicals, including West Side Story and all the amateur productions and professional music in the Reading area. But in August 1962 we moved to Westport, CT. Friends of my parents gave us tickets to the first Children's Concert at the newly opened Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center. We sat in one of the first rows, so I remember the perspiration, fluffy hair and resonant voice of Leonard Bernstein. I was impressed with a slender young man exactly my age. Sixteen year old Andre Watts was introduced on that day to the audience of serious children and their earnest parents. He played brilliantly. He has fulfilled Bernstein's prediction that he would have a great career.

Nov. 14 2009 12:02 PM
Paul C Pocaro from United States

I can't believe that you never heard that story about Lenny Bernstein and Glen Gould. That is the musical scandal of this century. In addition, the entire statement that Bernstein made is on the recording with Glen Gould. You should try to listen to it if you can. Bernstein later regretted making that statement.

Nov. 14 2009 11:44 AM
Alan from Woodbury, NY

The story about Leonard Berstein's disclaimer before conducting the Brahms' First Piano Concerto with Glenn Gould can be heard st the beginning of the recording of the work, which has been reissued.

Nov. 14 2009 11:41 AM
Katelin Roberts

The first music I remember was on the other side of the wall of my nursery. We lived at 99 Claremont Ave., part of Union Seminary, and on the other side of the wall was Virgil Fox. He liked to practice the organ late at night. So, my first music was Bach, the ground of all being. My parents had invited Mr. Fox to dinner. I do not remember meeting him because I thought he was a real fox, like in Beatrix Potter, and I hid.

Nov. 14 2009 11:32 AM
Jim Sherlock from Farmington Hills, Michigan

As a child growing up in the small Ohio town of Clark (pop.125), I spent much of my time fishing, listening to the radio, or going to school. Mr. Yockey, my sixth grade teacher, was intent on giving his students the ability to identify all the orchestral instruments by playing a variety of selections on his old phonograph. Although he could identify the individual instruments Mr. Yockey, either wouldn't or couldn't, tell us the name of the orchestral composition being played!

Then one evening surfing the dial of my old Sears Superhytrodyne AM radio I heard, loud and clear, the Tannhauser overture Mr. Yockey had played to illustrate the trombone! I was ecstatic!

It was a new station appearing at 1560 on the AM dial, and I vowed to listen to it again in order to identify more of Mr. Yockey's instruments, and I wasn't disappointed. A few days later the station played the Overture to "Orpheus in the Underworld," which Mr. Yockey had played for us to illustrate the clarinet. And of course the piece from "Sleeping Beauty" for the celeste. And many many more that I recognize even today.

And mixed in with the great music were memorable talks by Gilbert Highet and even fine, nonoffensive commercials for G&D Wine.

Thank you Mr. Yockey! Thank you WQXR!!


Jim Sherlock
(I'm 85 in case you're interested.)
30239 W. 13Mile Rd.
Farmington Hills, MI 48334-2222

Nov. 14 2009 11:16 AM
JoAnne from New Jersey

A friend and I attended the last of a series of "Avant Garde" programs at LIncoln Center in 1963. Leonard Bernstein himself left before the final selection, since the conductor was replaced by an electonic device which controlled the perfomance. Not many people were left in the auditorium at the end.

Nov. 14 2009 11:09 AM
Warner from upstate NY

Having heard you read one of these realized should have said more.

Meistersinger was chosen because it was the only opera title I was familiar with that was available during my stay. I had played the overture in HS band and liked it,. Did not realize it was a 5.5 hour work.

Nov. 14 2009 11:09 AM
nancy quigley

My first live classical concert in NYC was a dramatic and unusual - and thrilling - Philharmonic concert at Carnegie Hall in 1960 or -61. Leonard Bernstein introduced the Brahms concerto soloist, Glenn Gould, with a disclaimer, stating that conductor and soloist could not agree on their approach to the concerto, and Lennie said he could take no responsibility for the performance, but nevertheless they would proceed. Which they did, making beautiful music in spite of all that.

Of course I had no frame of reference for how extraordinary this was, and naively asked whether this sort of thing happened often!

Nov. 14 2009 11:05 AM
Clarence Fanto from Lenox,MA

Anyone remember the WQXR String Quartet? That was my first live concert, in 1956, and it was the Dvorak Piano Quintet, with Jascha Zayde as pianist. From then on, I attended virtually every Saturday night live broadcast from the old New York Times building on West 43rd Street. I've loved chamber music ever since, and was very happy to hear you play Dvorak's Bagatelles today.

Nov. 14 2009 10:49 AM
Nancy de Flon from NY Metro Area

Hi Elliott, I'm glad that one of the "old WQXR" veterans has finally been given a blog. My early forays into "serious" music involved religious choral music in which I was actually performing in church choirs. So the first composers with whom I had a close working knowledge were Palestrina, Victoria, Byrd. and others from that era. (So, yes, I most definitely have a "choral fixation.") My first experience of a classical music concert in NY came when I was a senior in high school. What was then called Philharmonic Hall had opened within the previous few years and they were offering a program in which selected students got free tickets to a series of NY Phil concerts. I was one of the students selected from my school, and the first concert I attended was with Josef Krips conducting the NY Phil. I don't remember the rest of the program but I do remember Mozart's Jupiter Symphony. That really made an impression, and it has always remained one of my favorite works. I think for me the most memorable interpretation was Neville Marriner conducting at a Mostly Mozart concert.

Nov. 14 2009 10:48 AM
Lila Duckett from Fresh Meadows, NY

In the 1950's, I attended The City College of New York. At that time, Lewisholm Stadium was on campus, and the conductor of the Philharmonic, Demitri Mitroulos played summer concerts at the Stadium. As a young studen from Southern Illinois, I heard "The Ninth Symphony" with "The Ode for Joy" for the first time in my life, live! It was memorable!


Nov. 14 2009 10:45 AM
Martina D'Alton from New York City

I grew up in Manhattan in the 1950s. My father was a doctor in the days when they made housecalls and kept very irregular hours. My parents’ big indulgence was an opera subscription. One snowy Saturday the year I was 8 or 9, I was sledding with my 3 sisters and what seemed like thousands of other children on the big hill at 79th Street in Central Park. Not a parent in sight (parents didn’t need to hover so much in those different times). So it was absolutely wild, lots of argy bargy on the slope, accompanied by piercing shrieks of terrified delight. I reached the bottom of the hill, face down on my sled, and looked up to see my mother, all dressed up and holding a sort of satchel. It held my best dress. My father had had an emergency call, and next thing I know I’m pulling icicles from my hair and changing into dressup clothes in a taxi headed for the old opera house on 40th Street and Broadway. Can’t remember the opera but it was magical. To be plucked from the present and taken to the future, drafted into an adult world of perfume, fur coats, darkness in the afternoon, and music, wonderful music.

Nov. 14 2009 10:13 AM
Robert Frank

I was listening to you this morning while taking my daughter to band rehersal and heard you talking about one's first live classical experience. I thought about it for a while- my parents were not interested in classical music but we had Ravel's Bolero on 2 12 inch 78s [ it came with the RCA tv they bought in 1948], but what was the first live concert . Live jazz -easy Mingus Coltrane Birdland 1964. Classical ? Then the light bulb went on. I was a choirboy at St. Barbara's in Brooklyn. We practiced a minimum of 3-1/2 hours a week and our Christmas concert consisted of Britten's Ceremony of Carols and Bach's Magnificat in D. Myself and one of the other boys were sent to Schrmiers to pick up the music. When we came back and looked at the music the Britten seemed do-able, the Bach was frightening- the pages looked as if they had been machine gunned with notes. For the concert Mr. Twynham hired professional soloists and trumpeters for the Bach and a harpist for the Britten . The concert was so successful that the next year there were two performances. It would not be possible to find the words to express how exciting the concert was. We also performed a Handel oratorio with orchestra and adult choir at St. John's University. One weekday the choirboys were told not to go to class but to go to the church. We went up to the choir loft . The church was empty and most of the lights were off. Mr. Twynham directed us to sing Jean Langlais's Missa Solennelle. After we sang we were taken down to the church vestibule. Mr. Twynham was standing next to two men. The shorter man was balding and in some way seemed odd. It took me a while to realize he was blind. He said that if the good lord were to find a place for him in heaven and the angels were to sing his mass he did not think that they would sound more beautiful than we did. Mr. Twynham then told us that the man who spoke was Jean Langlais. We cheered him very loudly. Sister Denise Patrick tried , not very hard, to silence us but she realized sometimes cheering in church is permissible.

Nov. 14 2009 10:11 AM
Jack Neher from New York

My first live classical concert was indeed a great way to start: Artturo Toscanini conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra in Studio 8H -- when I was a page there back in the early Forties.(My first job)
I attended all rehearsals because I was assigned to escort about ten invited special guests, including the Maestro's wife, daughter Wanda, son Walter, and se versal RCA Victor execs.
At these rehearsals I heard the orchestral parts of a Beethoven piano concerto sans piano, Wagner's "Liebestod" without Helen Jepson -- and many more.
At the actual broadcasts I heard them all the right way. One performance was particularly exciting: a "Fidelio", with Eleanor Steber and Rose Bampton. These were wonderful experiences for a newcomer to classical music -- and I've been listenng to WQXR ever since.

Nov. 14 2009 10:04 AM
Ray from New Jersey

My first classical concert in New York was at Carnegie Recital Hall in the early 1960's - Haydn's Piano Concerto in D. I don't remember the soloist BUT I was playing the oboe part in the accordion orchestra backing up the pianist. The director of the Elmwood Conservatory in Passaic, NJ, Mr. Casmano, rented the hall on a Sunday morning so all the students could have the New York experience. This became an annual event for many years at either Carnegie Recital Hall or across the street at Steinway Hall. When I graduated to playing an accordion solo at Carnegie Hall, dare you guess the piece? I'll always be grateful to Mr. Casmano for making us aware of the New York Scene and classical music.

Nov. 14 2009 09:59 AM
Chris from Glimmerglass country aka Cooperstown

Living "upstate" my first concert in NYC was the Philharmonic when I was in 5th grade - I played clarinet and enjoyed Stanley Drucker. When I was in kindergarten I went to Tanglewood with my family - sat on the lawn and played cards with my older brother.

Nov. 14 2009 09:50 AM
Barbara Gatje from New York

My father was the Thursday night doctor at the Met downtown and finally, at 10 years old, it was my turn to go. He had chosen "Carmen" with Rise Stevens for me as an exciting one and explained the plot omitting some of the sex and violence. I wore a long yellow tulle dress with blue velvet ribbons across the front. He wore his top hat which magically collapsed into a pancake for storage under the seat. We stopped off at the stage manager's office to leave our coats, then proceeded to our aisle seats (so that he could be easily tapped by an usher in case of an emergency). We watched the thrilling performance with libretti on our laps. My favorite part was the spooky gypsy smuggler's camp in the mountains. An addiction now. I have been a subscriber ever since that night almost 70 years ago.

Nov. 14 2009 09:47 AM
philip calkins from greenwich village

my first concert was at the Brooklyn Museum. At the time, there was a program for elementary school kids to be introduced to the orchestra. i remember how exciting it was to hear live music and, the role each instrument had . i don't remember the piece or who the musicians were. just the memory of the music taking me away...

Nov. 14 2009 09:46 AM

I'll recount two.

The first would have been early 60s in my early teens, at the Met at Lincoln Center, it was also my first opera. I stood through all but the last act of Die Meistersinger, a very nice couple leaving at the last intermission gifted two of us with their stubs, so I got to sit.

The other was in the 70s and probably my first NYC concert as an adult, unless G&S counts as classicl. PDQ Bach, entering on a rope from the balcony at Carneige Hall. I think Xmas of 76 but it could have been earlier.

Nov. 14 2009 09:42 AM
James S. from New Rochelle, NY

When I was about seven years old, my parents brought me to see Carmen at Lincoln Center. I remember having to dress up for the occassion, wearing a jacket and clip on tie, but not knowing what to expect. Back then, opera sounded to me like people screaming over the airwaves, which I was forced to listen to when I helped my father in his workshop. But I was enthralled, and I still think back to my childhood whenever I hear Carmen.

Nov. 14 2009 09:32 AM
Eugene F. Shewmaker

In March 1944 I was on liberty in NYC & was lucky enough to hear my first Philharmonic concert in Carnegie Hall. Arthur Rodzinski was conducting, and the soloist was Josef Hofmann.

It was a glorious concert, with Hofmann playing Anton Rubinstein's Third Piano Concerto. Don't remember much about his playing, except that at one point there was a great burst of octaves in the left hand that was truly astounding.

What an afternoon! To be in NYC, and in Carnegie Hall at last, to hear a live concert by the Philharmonic & to experience the playing of one of the truly great pianists of that or any other day.

Eugene F. Shewmaker

Nov. 14 2009 09:27 AM
Susan McFeatters from New York City

I remember the first opera I ever saw, Turandot, and the first classical album I ever bought, Sviatoslav Richter playing Pictures at an Exhibition. By coincidence this weekend the Met is doing Turandot and last night I thoroughly enjoyed Pictures Reframed at Alice Tully Hall, pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and artist Robin Rhode's collaboration of Mussorgsky's visit to an art exhibition. But try as I might, I cannot remember my first live classical concert. Central Park, perhaps?

Nov. 14 2009 09:24 AM
Marie from Wanamassa, NJ

My first experience with live classical (or semi-classical) music was a little different from my fellow listeners.

It was my father singing Gilbert and Sullivan to me as we drove every Saturday morning from our home in the Bronx to Yonkers, where I took ballet lessons with my cousins. This was in the late 1950's.

He taught me the songs and we would sing our way up and back. It was my favorite part of the day and a precious memory. It was also the beginning of my love for classical music.

Probably one of the most memorable concerts I attended was in the early 80's. Dudley Moore played with the Saint Paul's Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. He was really a wonderful musician and was at the height of his popularity at that time. It is bittersweet to remember that talent and the sense of combined fun and professionalism he displayed.

Elliot, you are going to have so much fun with your blog!! It is delightful to hear from people all over the world you never would have known otherwise. Mine is and I have the best time with it, both writing it and engaging with my readers.

Great topic! Thanks!

Nov. 14 2009 09:19 AM
Bill Richards, NYC from 10011

As an art student at Pratt Institute I was visiting the Cloisters and stumbled on a recital given by Noah Greenberg and his New Pro Musica. I remember sitting on the floor near the positiv organ. Loving early music ever since...and organ music too. I listen to Pipe dreams or record it each week!

Nov. 14 2009 09:18 AM

A young man named Van Cliburn had just won the Tschaikovsky piano competition in Moscow, the first American to have done so. Now he was coming to NY to give an outdoor concert at Lewisohn Stadium in Manhattan. It was a hot summer night, and people who lived in the apartment houses around the stadium had opened their windows to listen. The place was jammed. I was a child with my parents, and I don't think I had ever been anywhere so crowded. And yet when Van Cliburn began to play, all fell silent. I was enraptured. But my parents insisted upon leaving during the intermission -- I had to go to camp the next day, and had to be up early for the bus. They wanted me to get a good night's sleep. I didn't care -- I wanted to stay for the rest of the music! I remember being led, weeping, from the stadium. And never again in my life did I leave a concert early.

Nov. 14 2009 09:06 AM
Fr. Kenneth W. Ekdahl from Keyport, N.J.

I am a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Trenton, 62 years old. When I was in High School, I used to travel to Brooklyn to visit my bachelor Uncle Jack. I remember that at about 6am I would always awaken to the voice of Greg Whiteside on WQXR. Those times when I would stay on Jay St and listen to the classical music on WQXR seems like a magical time for me. My greatest thrill was the day when we had dinner in a restaurant that had a live Christmas tree in the middle. We then went to see (and hear) Handel's Messiah for the first time at Lincoln Center, or was it Avery Fisher Hall? That was probably in 1962 or so...

Nov. 14 2009 09:06 AM
Saul Zalkin from Manhattan

I grew up in Brooklyn. My earliest classical music experience was when my mother would take us to the Brooklyn Museum to hear free concerts on Sunday.

You wrote about your first classical performance. I attended the 3rd Street Music Settlement House. I took piano and cello lessons. There were scheduled student performances on Saturdays and I played as part fo those events.

Nov. 14 2009 08:47 AM
Owa from NYC

My first time was over fifty years ago. At 13 yearsold I saw Sir John Barbarolli conduct at Conegie Hall.

Nov. 14 2009 08:33 AM
cindy hawkins-legorreta from Union Square, NYC

I grew up in a family of musicians: Mom sang in a quartet with one of the 40's big bands (Tex Beneke) and Dad played in the orchestra on the American Express Lines cruises, sailing the Mediterranean and Europe in the 1950's. Though I heard all kinds of music as a child, my "baptism" had to be a concert in Central Park, when I was in my early 20's (1970). I was recovering from a breakup, and a good friend suggested I "stay away from popular love songs for awhile and dig a little longhair stuff." We ended up in the Sheep Meadow, with a blanket spread out. We brought along fat roast beef sandwiches from the Stage Delicatessen, munching away to the strains of the "Carmen Suite" by Bizet. (Of course you might say that for sheer passion and drama, is there anything that compares with "Carmen"?) Whatever. Not only was my broken heart healed, I fell in love with classical music right there and then. THAT love affair continues - to this day!

Nov. 14 2009 08:21 AM
nancy sciales from Flushing, N.Y.

I am 79 and i remember Martin Green waving to me as I leaned over the 1st balcony as he left the stage after performing in The Mikado.

Also I remember Eine Kleine Nachte Musik performed by I think The Little Music Society of N.Y. when I was 4 or 5 and feeling very grown up at a real concert with my godmother.

Nov. 14 2009 08:16 AM
Bob Gross from Mamaroneck, NY

During World War II, there were free concerts and recitals on Saurday afternoons at the Metropolitan Museum of
Art. I was five or six years old, and as
best as I can recall, some were in an
auditorium, and some were in an exhibit
area where we sat on stone benches.
That exposure to good music got me hooked, and I have been a lifelong listener
to WQXR, and frequent concert goer.

Nov. 14 2009 08:13 AM
Candy Dato

I went to a Young People's Concert at Lincoln Center in the 1960s with Bergenfield High School (NJ).

Nov. 14 2009 08:05 AM
Frank Lachmann from New York

In about 1940 two years after my parents and I had come to Nw York from Nazi Germany we learned that U.S Steel was sponsoring free concerts by the New York Philharmonic on Sunday afternoon. I was about 10 years old when my parents took me to hear Brahms' Fourth Symphony and Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks, Dimitri Mitropoulos conducting. I was hooked!

Nov. 14 2009 07:34 AM
Martha Counihan from New Rochelle, NY

My first NYC classical concert experience was in the autumn of 1963 with a college classmate from a small town in the Adirondacks who was pianist. We went to listen to Otto Klemperer at the new Avery Fisher Hall--keyboard side. I recall the descending sound panels. I shared her rapture at the performance, and we were both awed by Lincoln Center and Avery Fisher's architecture.

Nov. 14 2009 07:31 AM
Richard Newburger from New York City

My first childhood recollection of hearing classical music was listening to the Vox recordings of the "Great Composers" narrated by the wonderful Jose Ferrer. I well remember my first opera: "Carmen" at the Paris Opera when I was 16. Dazzling and awesome.

Nov. 14 2009 07:14 AM
Colonel Ernest Auerbach from Austin, Texas

On Sunday, 27 May 1945, my parents had tickets for the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall conducted by Bruno Walter. They were excited to go. But I went with my aunt who stepped in with me because my mother went into labor that morning and came back a few days later with my new brother.

It was an eye opener, that concert, and I've been a live music fan ever since. And much later I was a volunteer at Carnegie Hall, the best!

Nov. 14 2009 07:11 AM
a long time listener

Duncan Pirnie ---A name from the past. I remember first hearing him on WQRX in 1959.
Elliot, it great hearing you, a familiar voice, on weekend mornings. We normally didn't listen on Sundays until later in morning

Nov. 13 2009 05:10 PM
June Severino Feldman from NYC

So glad you made the transition! I spoke with you just before the move when I won tix to "Gardens of Spain" concerts at Inst. Cervantes and at the time you weren't sure yet. This is great! Anyway, the first concerts I can recall were Bernstein's Young People's Concerts at Philharmonic Hall. Can't recall the music, just the overwhelming joy of experiencing the hall and the new Lincoln Center with my culture vulture parents. Lincoln Center still gives me goosebumps. Even just riding past it on the bus.

Nov. 13 2009 01:36 PM
Robin O. from New Jersey

Elliott, your voice is comfortingly familiar in this new phase of listening at WQXR.

My first exposure to classical music came from the ballet studio with live music--piano, here in New Jersey. I was three. Fifty years later, I still take ballet classes with live music. When I began to listen to classical music regularly, I found myself amazed by the amount of music familiar to me from the ballet studio.

I attended my first concert in New York when I was maybe seven or eight. My elementary school took us on a field trip to New York City. To my best recollection, we heard Sibelius' "Finlandia" and I remember singing Bach's "Ode to Joy" in English. I think I remember being told the program was being recorded for release on vinyl.

My favorite radio experiences regarding classical music were back in the 1960's when the "underground" radio stations I listened to would scatter classical pieces amongst the folk and rock music. It was a relatively rare occurrence, so the surprise of it made it even sweeter. Twenty years later, I found myself listening to classical exclusively.

Nov. 12 2009 08:29 PM
Jonathan Bates from Greenwich Village

I was so young, I don't remember it. The first one I remember I was about eight. It was a rehearsal of the NY Phil, and the guest conductor was Arturo Toscanini. All I remember was him running through a Beethoven symphony and getting furious and yelling and my Dad saying Toscanini was right, the orchestra was ragged, so something like that. Then we heard the actual concert, and I understood, even at that age, what it took to play great music.

Nov. 12 2009 07:51 PM
Rose from Ardsley, New York

My first concert experience was in the early fifties at Radio City Music Hall. I was in grade school and my dad adored taking my mother, sister and I to Radio City. The feature film was always accompanied by a live show with a live orchestra and oh that Wurlitzer organ! I remember hearing (and seeing) all of those musicians play many classical "hits". One piece that remains in my memory is Ravel's "Bolero". I was familiar with the piece as I had heard Duncan Pirnie play on WQXR which was a listening staple at our house.

Nov. 12 2009 07:50 PM
George Jochnowitz from New York

My first concert was an opera. A high school friend and I saw Carmen at the New York City Center in 1952, when I was 15. It was thrilling.
But one of the concerts that most impressed me was the Mendelssohn Concert about 10 months ago. You spoke at that time. Some of the music was really great, especially a trio for violin, viola and piano. What happened to all that rediscovered music? I have never heard any of it again. Nobody has spoken about it since then. Could you play some of it on WQXR?

Nov. 12 2009 06:19 PM
SusanW from NYC

Elliott, so glad you made the transition...and congrats on your first blog entry! For me, my first live event was when I was five years old and my Nana took me to the Birdcage in Lord & Taylor for lunch (wow, I can still recall the gilt chairs, plants, fancy waitress uniforms and all the ladies who lunched at L&T). After tea sandwiches and ice cream, we went to the home of her friend Madame Blanche on Park Avenue (my grandmother custom sewed Madam's silk underwear and was fluent in French and the classics, so they became fast friends). There were about twenty guests and a quartet played beautiful music. When they ended the concert they played "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" just for me. It was a very memorable day!

Nov. 12 2009 05:57 PM
Ben from New Jersey

My first exposure to classical music was from the cartoons in the early 1950.
I saw the "Nutcracker" at the Met after waiting almost two years with my wife in the Seventies.

What an experience it was.

With our freinds we otain season tickets to the NYC Ballet and saw many productions.

Today Novemer 12, 2009, I was informed that you had sucessfully completed the items for this blog and you were "dancing" in the control room. Good for you.

Nov. 12 2009 05:56 PM
lorraine b

I remember back in the late 50,s-early 60s
my public elementary would take us on field trips to BAM where they staged young people's concerts, full orchestra. I don't remember the programs but I do remember being totally delighted. I'd never heard anything as wonderful as that.

Nov. 12 2009 04:36 PM
JB from NYC

Hello, Elliott! I am so happy I can still listen to you on WQXR. My first live concert experience was at Carnegie Hall in the 1950s. I remember being far more impressed with the surroundings than with the music being performed. As was usual for my family when I was a child, we were sitting just about as high up in the last balcony as you could get. Carnegie was so beautiful, all tastefully gold and white, like an understated wedding cake. I don't remember all of the program, but I know that one selection was Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand, which I found astounding. How come he didn't have to use his other hand, I kept asking. I do recall that the pianist was John Browning, but I can't recall which orchestra. I think the conductor might have been Josef Krips, who was a favorite of my father's.

Nov. 12 2009 03:44 PM
Marianne from Manhattan

p.s. that should have read: when I was a student AND broke. As in no money! The violinist performed at what is now Weill Hall.

Nov. 12 2009 02:34 PM
Marianne from Manhattan

When I was a student a broke I attended concerts and recitals through the Norman Seaman Concert-Theater club. Free tickets! The first recital I remember well was of a solo violinist performing the Bach Chaconne in D Minor and having a terrible memory lapse; he tried to continue; finally, in frustration, he started the piece over. We were all so relieved when he finished! Extremely exciting, but nerve wracking for all involved.

Nov. 12 2009 02:32 PM
Aaron Cohen from New York, NY

Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra at Carnegie Hall with the Solti Project Orchestra. My brother was playing in the horn section. A terrific show.

Nov. 12 2009 02:23 PM

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