George Jellinek's Vocal Scene

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Former WQXR music director George Jellinek, best-known for hosting WQXR's The Vocal Scene, died recently. Jellinek created The Vocal Scene in 1969, a year after he became WQXR’s music director. The weekly, one-hour show was devoted to opera and great opera singers. The show continued for 36 years, and was syndicated on classical stations around the country.

In memory of George Jellinek, WQXR is featuring prized segments from the archives of The Vocal Scene.


December, 1976

George speaks with Marilyn Horne about the future of her career, her training as a soprano rather than a mezzo, and her Bel Canto techinique. Together they critique an early recording of a lullaby and a later selection from Rossinni's Semiramide.


January, 2000

On the 100th anniversary of the premiere of Tosca, George explores recordings from the opera throughout the century, including Enrico Caruso's Recondita armonia, Geraldine Ferrar's Vissi d'arte, and several duets.


November, 1974

George compares recordings of pieces which influenced each other--they're remarkable conincidences.

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Comments [35]

Nancy Dennis from Santa Fe, NM

I would LOVE to have CDs of ALL of Jellinek's Vocal Scene programs. I have quite a few that I recorded on tapes off the air, but I do not have ALL of them. I would definitely BUY the complete collection if it were available.
Jellinek was a treasure.

Aug. 08 2013 11:07 PM
Shelly Spritzer from NYC

I listened to The Vocal Scene for many years - I miss these programs - are you ever going to digitize them so we can buy them or listen to them, perhaps you should rebroascast them more often. I liked the programs where George caompared several singers singing the same aria.
Thanks for these excerpts they are much appreicated

Feb. 26 2013 09:54 PM

Yes, please make these programmes available. They are a very good resourse for lovers of opera.

Feb. 03 2013 12:07 PM
Bob Tonucci from Odenton, MD

As an archivist wannabe, I've had people ask me if I can find episodes of "The Vocal Scene," especially the episodes with interviews and those with Bidú Sayão. What's delaying digitizing them and uploading them to the internet?

Feb. 02 2013 06:33 AM
Mike from Wallkill, NY

The show with the greatest emotional impact was about Josef Schmidt. Fortunately, I had my tape recorder set up and caught it. I've listened to it every year since.

Mar. 29 2011 10:58 AM
David A. Johnson from Union, NJ

I am so glad that the Vocal Scene will be rebroadcast. I listened to this programme when I was in high school in the late 1960s, and all throughout the 36 years it was on the radio. I also wrote to Mr. Jellinek several times; he always replied.

My favourite show is 'I know the overture!' which was broadcast in 1972 or 1973.

I hope WQXR carries the re-broadcasting of these shows well beyond this summer. They are well worth the time and effort, and there are enough programmes to last for years.

With thanks,

David A. Johnson

Jun. 03 2010 12:04 PM


WQXR will begin rebroadcasting episodes of The Vocal Scene Saturdays at noon this week:

Jun. 03 2010 09:50 AM
Ruy Mauricio de Lima e Silva Neto from Paraná - Brasil

I would like to add may long-distance endorsement for the release of several CDs containing this precious program, or at leat its return to WQXR's schedule. My one and only contact with Mr.Jellinek's expertise and intelligence dates way back to early 70's through his monthly contribution to oh so moaned Stereo Review. What a pleasure to read and what a plethoric transfusion of knowledge! How do I miss this, nowadays, with googles, wikipedias and the like!

Jun. 02 2010 10:22 PM
Ihor from NJ

I discovered this wonderful program
just before it went of the air.
I'm wondering if we couldn't bring it
back,one way or the other or at least offer collection on CD's as pledge drive bonuses.


Mar. 23 2010 10:40 PM
Thomas Castner from NYC

Please make space sometime each week to play these programs again. Although you kept WQXR alive, Vocal Programs and The Voice are somewhat neglected with your new management. Jellinek's programs are gems. Give us an hour a week with some regular host to play Vocal Selections, but also, find a steady spot to replay Jellinek's program.

Mar. 14 2010 07:08 PM
Michael Miller from Brooklyn, NY

Just in case you're counting votes, I, too, would love to have these available on CD. I moved to NYC too late to catch Mr. Jellinek on WQXR, but I grew up with DeKoven on WAMC and Robert J. Lurtsema on WFCR and it's so wonderful to hear this kind of thoughtful commentary.

Mar. 14 2010 06:59 PM
Perry from Brooklyn

Honoring George Jellineck and his marvelously informative show is commendable; but WQXR opted not to take David Dubal with it into public radio, which for me was a loss. There really is a dearth of scholarly classical music shows noow, and they were once the glory of your station. Only Bill McGlaughlin's Exploring Music program begins to fill in the gap!

Mar. 13 2010 04:08 PM
Gregory St. John from New York, New York

I would LOVE to have these available on CD, or even just rebroadcast on a regular basis - not just a few partial programs, but all of them. This used to be one of my favorite programs on WQXR. It would be a great device to use for furture fundraisers - either as 10 days of broadcasting them or as a give-away for a substantial donation.

Mar. 05 2010 09:30 AM
luis from new york city

I'm all for THE VOCAL SCENE to be available on CD's. It would be a great reference material with vast educational information and, most of all, a huge source of pleasure.

Mar. 01 2010 10:58 AM
Basil De Pinto from PIedmont, California

Mr. Jellinek was the epitome of the amateur/connoisseur: he treated every piece of music not as a professional but as a true lover of musical, especially operatic, art. His credentials were impeccable, not because he was an "expert" iin the current sense but because he had an inerrant sense of musical values and treated all the music he knew with total respect. He is irreplaceable.

Feb. 27 2010 05:48 PM
Jerry Allford from Roxbury, CT

What a wonderful treat! A replay of his programs would be a real joy. No one could approach the way he communicated his love of music and appreciation of artists.

Feb. 27 2010 11:03 AM


Feb. 26 2010 06:36 PM
Joseph Pace from Brooklyn

I am definitely interested in the idea of having "The Vocal Scene" on CD. Maybe,a great notion would be to add CDs as a bonus to Fund Drives.

Feb. 26 2010 08:43 AM
Ilana from New York City

Please, WQXR, take a look at these comments - you have an audience for vocal works!
Please stop neglecting vocal repertoire! The Met on Saturdays is wonderful - but there's a lot more airtime out there.

Feb. 26 2010 12:30 AM
Bill Welborn from 23rd street Talk of the Town

Hello, and how do you do. When we are picking and choosing, the voice and content become a pillow, a welcoming, comforting pillow. Whenever the chance allowed it was always a wonderful experience and I was certain that George knew I was listening. Thank you, George

Feb. 24 2010 08:29 AM
Lana Tonkoschkur from Tappan, NY 10983

I have enjoyed "The Vocal Scen" with George Jellinek for many years. His love of human voice and knowledge of compositions devoted to voice was remarkable and unsurpassed. I miss this program very much. Isn't there anybody who could present similar program?

Member of the Board of Rockland County Music Teachers Guild

Feb. 22 2010 10:57 AM
Gerald Lively from Baton Rouge, LA

As an on-air volunteer on public radio for many years, I know the value of something like Mr. Jellinek's programs. I suggest that you rerun the series, and offer a number of CDs as premiums each time you have a membership drive. Please don't let these magnificent programs simply gather dust somewhere.

Feb. 21 2010 05:16 PM
Ottilie Zollner from ny

I am very sad about george's passing. It is like losing a dear friend. My husband and I used to look forward every thursday to "the vocal scene" He brought many excerpts from Operettas, interviews with well known singers etc.and since we came from Vienna we enjoyed his hour so much.
And his comments were so appreciated...
Pls. do bring repeats of the Vocal Scene!

Feb. 18 2010 10:22 PM
john s. dietrich

geoge was like a very pleasant familymember whom we looked forward to listen to every chance we had,with his knowledge in opera and music and his very pleasant voice,he made it a real treat to listen to him.we will miss him very much and no program without him will ever be the same.we are sad and deeply sorry for his passing.sinc. john s dietrich

Feb. 18 2010 02:37 PM
Roni Gordon from New York, NY

These extraordinary recordings must not only be preserved but made accessible on a regular basis. George Jellinek's knowledge, insight and love of great music shines as brightly today as when they were first broadcast. Bravo WQXR!

Feb. 17 2010 09:16 PM
Michael Garland

Please do whatever can be done to see that these invaluable programs be made available for future listeners. There was no one like George Jellinek and his insights and graciousness remain as precious now as they were when "The Vocal Scene" was first aired. I can think of no finer tribute to him that preservation of these labors of love. Thank you for sharing them.

Feb. 17 2010 09:51 AM
Norwin Becker from NY

While I can hardly imagine the technical and economic difficulties of making CDs of the entire series, a panel of knowledgeable judges could bring about the creation of 10-12 CDs. I would buy them, or even the entire series, tomorrow. They could also form the basis for courses in vocal/operatic history. Listening to George was the highlight of my musical week.

Feb. 16 2010 03:47 PM
Jeff Haller from Miami, Florida

Ummm, how about leaving this on here forever so we can learn something. These are a gift to voice lovers.

Feb. 16 2010 01:05 PM
Melania Ahuja from United States

I had the opportunity to enjoy only a few years of The Vocal Scene and I agree with previous comments about selling a CD collection of the programs both for the pleasure of fans of vocal music and as a tribute to Mr. Jellinek.

Feb. 16 2010 12:57 PM
D W Hopkins from Bethesda, MD

George Jellinek's Vocal Scene had a piano intro 'theme' piece before every show.

Can anyone please provide the name and composer of said piece of music?

Thank you,


Feb. 16 2010 12:14 PM
Peter Tey from Springfield, PA

I would love to own a CD collection of the Vocal Scene. It would an invaluable document on the art of singing.

Feb. 16 2010 01:06 AM
Rudro De from Bronx, NY

Selling all the program recordings of "The Vocal Scene" as a CD collection is a great idea that should be seriously considered by WQXR. This would be a great treat for the numerous fans. Also, reruns of all "The Vocal Scene" pregrams on WQXR will be greatly apperciated and may result in an exponential increase my contributions to WQXR.

Feb. 15 2010 09:11 PM
Ed O'Bara from Manville, NJ

Excerpts are good, reruns are better, and collections of CDs would be even better. In the past, WNYC aired reruns of the Bob and Ray Show and these are now available on CDs, along with those of Jean Shepherd. This would be a fitting tribute to the memory of a fine gentleman and a scholar, as well as an opportunity for people like me who missed the first two-thirds of Mr. Jellinek's long-running program.

Feb. 15 2010 08:29 PM
Asya Kunik

Would be remarkably to repeat the all archives of The Vocal Scene and also to sell CDs: "George Jellinek: The Vocal Scene." I am assured, there will be many people who will want to have such CDs at his home collection of music.

Feb. 15 2010 07:03 PM
Jason Raphael from NYC

Bis. Bis.

These superb excerpts whet our appetites for the full-length programs and make us long for at least a sampling of the others.

Feb. 15 2010 04:37 PM

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