Friday, November 13, 2009 - 05:10 PM

In the comments on last week's blog, listener Michael wrote of the "brilliantly talented artists" who worked in advertising in the mid-20th Century. He's right, they certainly were brilliant.

I'm enjoying the unique possibilities of the 21st Century, so I don't want to sound like a luddite, but I think the average person had a lot more everyday contact with evidence of hand-made artistry during much of the 20th. Before photography became the dominant commercial art (subsequently trounced by the computer as art-making tool), illustrators of amazing skill were putting beautifully made work in thousands of magazines and books--work which displayed keen observation, sophisticated design sense, and recognizable human interaction with the materials of pen, brush, ink, paint, and paper. Maybe the excellence of the work wasn't always consciously noticed by the reader or consumer, but it was the visual context for a lot of mass communication, and surely had an effect.

These thoughts make me want to point out a couple of blogs I like to visit, where the work of some of these artists are celebrated. One is Today's Inspiration, where blogger Leif Peng posts wonderful examples of, and commentary about, such unknown greats as Fletcher Martin, Louis S. Glanzman, Naiad and Walter Einsel, Lowell Hess, and Al Parker.

Another is Golden Age Comic Book Stories, which occasionally features exactly that, but is also a compendium of amazing artistic arcana, including recent posts covering such things as photos of Marilyn Monroe, The Fighting Yank comics, paperback covers by George Barr and Jim Steranko, 19th Century illustrator Walter Appleton Clark, railroad illustrations by William Harnden Foster, and numerous examples of N. C. Wyeth. The blogger is "Mr. Door Tree," and he posts gorgeous scans (click on the small versions to see them large) at a prolific, generous pace.

Another celebration of creative, hand-crafted design is the new Bauhaus exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. After seeing part of the exhibit earlier this week I had to leave to avoid brain-stimulation-overload, but I'll return to see the rest soon!

What inspiring things have you been seeing?

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Comments [15]

Terrnce O'Keeffe from Pearl River, New York

Listening to John Schaefer's current show pairing various aspects of music with boxing, I'd like to point out an extremely unusual and effective pairing of music and imagery -- the opening of the film Raging Bull, in which a brutal and graphic slow-motion sequence of close-up shots of a fight between Jake LaMotta and Sugar Ray Robinson is accompanied by the swelling and oh-so-beautiful melody from the intermmezzo of Cavaliera Rusticana.

Jan. 05 2012 02:41 PM
Frank Feldman

I am inspired to hear the composers you and David understand best: Tartini, Spontini, Bertini, Splendini, Pachelbel, Jinglbel, etc. There's really no need to play difficult composers like Vivaldi, I think they just alienate your core audience. To say nothing of all those Schuberts and Bruckners and Bartoks. If you must play twentieth-century music, stick to Appalachian Spring, Rhapsody in Blue, the Grand Canyon Suite. Stuff you guys can really give us your deep insights into. Arvo Part and Phillip Glass too, incredibly rich and challenging composers.

Dec. 09 2009 12:11 PM
Frank Feldman

I am inspired by the chance to hear Scherezade, the Rodrigo guitar concerto, the newest flavor of the month CD some company is pushing, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, a Brahms serenade, Appalachian Spring and four or five other chestnuts over and over again. It makes me want to donate my life savings to WQXR. Which wouldn't pay Laura Walker's salary for a single year, but that's another story.

Dec. 08 2009 09:07 AM
Sean from Newburgh, NY


How wonderful to hear some pieces last night from Copland, as well as the guitar piece and Gabriela Montera's Bach Improv. There may be hope yet! Please continue to include similar pieces (and I'm sorry I missed Cage's Music for Toy Piano!)

Nov. 30 2009 08:18 AM

Thanks for the fantasy movie scores and your comments this evening. A perfect background for a novel I'm trying to get through reading.

Nov. 28 2009 10:48 PM
Robert Marcus from Brooklyn, NY

Seeing Vermeer's Milkmaid in person was overwhelming. I need Vermeer's paintings to help me make peace with world. The exquisiteness of the hidden light source always coming into the painting from some window or, "offstage" place is so mystical.

The intense calmness of Vermeer draws me into his world, which is also offstage, and I am transported.

Vermeer allows me to see the depth of Rembrandt as well - and deep he is -. The famous Polish Rider at the Frick draws me in for hours at a time.

Also, at the Firck is Holbein, the Younger's portrait of Sir Thomas More. When I see it I think I could take what he is wearing (cloak, jacket) and hang it up for him if he could ask.

Ah, lets go there to spend time with it again.

Robert M

Nov. 24 2009 12:41 AM
Susan Gutterman from Manhattan

I'm also concerned about the "money issue" that Richard discussed. Before the changeover of WQXR occured, we had given our "allowance" of support of public radio for 2009 to WNYC & NHPR. We don't feel able to make an additional gift to WQXR this year, but wish we could show support. It's a problem. Next year we may give our whole NY allowance to WQXR & nothing to WNYC. Problem there also -- the well is not bottomless.

Nov. 22 2009 05:20 PM
Richard S Mitnick from Highland Park, New Jersey


That is very good news. Thanks. I have just never understood why WQXR could not use the 128kbit stereo stream previously used by 93.9 for Evening Music and Overnight music.

The first really good benchmark was set by KUSC, a 96kbit stereo .mp3 stream. They were quite alone with this for a while; but as we all know, the world has caught up to and surpassed that. KUSC has also gone to 128kbit. While there are higher bit rates, especially for .mp3 recordings, there really is little to be gained for probably a lot more money.

So, 96kbit should be a minimum, but 128kbit should be what we try to reach.

And, then, once we have whatever good we have, on-air hosts should pitch it, let people know what we have and how good it is. A couple of years ago, WCNY, Syracuse, went from about 20kbit mono to 80 kbit stereo. The difference was vast. They let us all know, and we were grateful. Many of us reacted to an appeal to send extra money to pay for the transition and some of the upkeep.

WPRB, Princeton, NJ also went to 128kbit stereo .mp3. They never told anyone. I discovered it and immediately went to the station manager and we got it out onto the broadcast. They made it very obvious on their web site.

As you can see, I am a bit of a PubRadio gadflly. This began when WNYC ended day time music on FM. We had to fend for ourselves. I fended pretty well, ultimately joining WCNY, KUSC, and WCPE.

Now with wnyc2 - oops, Q2, I brought all of those member dollars back to WNYC. But, I still keep track of who is doing what and I still have "friends" at some of these other stations.

I currently belong to WNYC, WPRB, and WBGO, Jazz 88 in Newark.

Also, no one has answered the question, if I am a music listener, should I be moving member dollars from WNYC to WQXR? Also, since WQXR did not really actively participate in the last WNYC fund drive, will WQXR have its own fund drive?

Your efforts here have been greatly appreciated. We have had some very obstreperous belligerent and just plain nasty folks coming in to comment.


Nov. 22 2009 02:09 PM


The mistake was not in the information, but rather in the verb tense. WQXR's web stream will soon stream at a higher bit rate.

Nov. 21 2009 11:33 PM
Richard S Mitnick from Highland Park, New Jersey


Just a note from the Peanut Gallery. And, no disrespect intended.

I already put some of this on the WNYC Listener Services comment page.

Last night, you told listeners that they might get the broadcast via the web steam, which you said was "improved".

Improved, yes, but good, no. I checked in Winamp, which never lies. We went from 32kbit mono to 32kbit stereo. So, I mean, yes, sure "improved". But these days 32kbit anything does not do it for music if the outlet wants to compete with its peers and be heard.

If you want o check your peers, just go to Click on the main tab for Classical. MPR, WGBH, WKSU, WWFM, Classical South Florida, KCSN, WFMT, KAMU, that's just the first 8 out of 26 pages and only the Americna streamers in PubRadio. There are all of those many more pages and all of the streamers outside of the USA.

The minimum stream specs for music are 96kbit stereo. Basically, on a scale of 1 (bad) to 10 (wonderful), we went from 2 (present) to 4 (greater presence).

Meanwhile, I clicked over to to 93.9 web stream and there was talk going on at 128kbit stereo. Talk can sound pretty darn good at 20kbit mono. So, what sense does that make.

As I said, I have already put some of this on the WNYC Listener Services page. This is just to let you know "where it's at", which is basically not very good.


Nov. 21 2009 05:42 PM
Richard S Mitnick from Highland Park, New Jersey


Thanks for the attention to the personal attacks.

Nov. 20 2009 05:02 PM

The posts previously found below were removed because they contained personal attacks. (Responses to these comments were also removed because they were no longer in context. We apologize for this inconvenience.)

Nov. 20 2009 03:00 PM
Joan Dietrich from NYC, NY

My first classical music experience was in the 1940's as a young child who went with my family to the old Opera House in NYC to see Die Fledermouse with Risa Stevens as the Prince.

I'l never fiorget it!!!

I'm a native of NYC and proud to be a listener of WQXR every day since then.

Nov. 14 2009 04:48 PM
walter schretz from in my parlour

Nov. 13 2009 09:07 PM
walter schretz from mine own parlour

No Longer Empty,a not for profit org that places art in vacted storefronts! Current exhibit features Janet Nolan's sculpture made from discarded umbrella carcasses!
A metal spider parlour!
And Bauhaus exhibit is absolutely mandatory study this fall/winter semester-
No longer empty currently at 223 E. Broadway near Clinton Street(F tran to E. BDWY)Sunday 2pm -7pm;Tues Wed Thurs 2pm-6pm closes Dec.1st.

Nov. 13 2009 09:02 PM

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Ignite your love of classical music every day with the articles published in the WQXR blog. Here you can find blogs about classical music, playlist selections, curated videos, and other features highlighting the joy of great music.