Show Stopper

Wednesday, December 02, 2009 - 08:32 PM

A few days ago while cleaning my apartment and listening to the radio, a piece of music came on that immediately caught my full attention.

Those four minutes of music led me to two more hours of active listening. I can't pinpoint what it is about Schubert's An die Musik, but for years I've been hearing it again for the first time, each time. And that song isn't the only one - I call these pieces "Show Stoppers".  Saturday night on  Q2 with Terrance McKnight I’ll sprinkle in a few “show stoppers” for you. What pieces of music stop you in your tracks?

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Comments [42]

Mike Shea from NYC

Personally I prefer less "chatter".
Frankly I have less of a problem with commercials as they are LESS irritating than someone trying to sound like an expert.
The title of the song,
the artist,
and then the engineer hits "play"
is fine by me.
Enough said.

Mar. 22 2010 09:57 PM

Posts irrelevant to Terrance's prompt, posted above, were deleted.

While we're developing a Listener Services blog for WQXR, we'd like to direct your more general concerns about the station to Listener Services ( or to the current Listener Services blog (

Jan. 07 2010 09:49 AM
Frank Coffee from NYC

Sebastian Bach is spot on correct for the master. In the German style of the period the first name–in this case Johann–was the throwaway, much like our middle names today. By the same token, it would be perfectly reasonable to call CPE Phil Bach. JC went to London and became John Christian or Chris Bach. Those boys go around!

Dec. 21 2009 10:22 PM
robert Eland from Brooklyn

Just was "stopped in my tracks" by "Hark the Herald Angel Sing." ... Together with the top 50 feature the day before New Year's Eve, I can't help but wonder what you - Terrance - REALLY think about the week just past. Was this the station you wanted to join and "impact?"

The now airing (10+ times a day) promo labeling 2009 as a big year for radio is certainly spot on. I guess I'm among the many who hope that 2010 is a better year for you and yours - and OURS!

Dec. 21 2009 08:03 AM
Richard Mitnick from Highland Park, NJ


"Non illegitimi carborundum est"

Dec. 20 2009 04:56 PM
eloise from NYC

Well, Terrance, the criticism seems tough but I must agree that pronunciation is very important and I, too, am sure that you understand this. Hope my tone isn't condescending as that is the last thing that I'd want to convey here. The classical music audience is probably, by nature, rather purist(ic); all of that high-brow separateness from those commoners who dare to aspire to those exalted sensibilities that only a few can acquire!
Good luck; I'm a lowly schoolteacher and I, too, am probably unworthy to participate in such a rarefied listening atmosphere!

Dec. 20 2009 12:19 PM
Barry Light from NYC

The change in programming from the old QXR is refreshing. More modern music! However, as I listen to the new programming, I note that one genre of 18th, 19th century and 20th century missing is opera. Surely Mozart Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, Wagner, Puccini, Strauss, Stravinsky Britten, Adams, to name a few obvious composers, had a tremendous influence of music of their day and ours. Opera also easily lends itself to excerpts and small segments.
Also where are the new performers? There are so many great ones today. QXR seems to mostly provide older performers. I hope that QXR can find space for many more of the present generation of great musicians in all the programming it presents

Dec. 09 2009 12:53 PM
Serge Ledan from Queens NY

I am back. I decided not to let the deleter(s) win. Rather than disappearing, I decided to stay on and wage a war of attrition with the deleter(s). I will keep posting. They will keep infinitum.... The first who gives up is the loser.
So I will still be there to cheer you on...!!!!!

Dec. 09 2009 11:43 AM
Greg G from Ohio

Great topic! Now that I have listened to"An die Musik" with your ears, it is truly a great centerpiece for this discussion!!

Dec. 08 2009 11:47 PM
martha walker from New York City

Terrance, a show stopper, you ask.

Well, Tchaikovsky's Symphony 6 in B minor Op. 74 (also called "Pathétique"), Op. 74 does command some respect.

This work will reach "show stopper" impact, but not always. The key is to hear the piece by different conductors (not just different orchestras) and to evaluate or to taste how each one presents the piece on its symphonic platter.

Terrance, experiment yourself and play recordings of the Symphony No. 6 conducted by Valery Gergiev, by Herbert von Karajan, by Leonard Berstein and then by Christoph Eschenbach.

Is "Pathétique" a show stopper? I don't know. You be the judge. It's like evaluating WQXR under Laura Walker which gives one result, and under The New York Times the result is altogether different. Perhaps I diverged for a second, because in my mail yesterday was the CEO's letter asking me to pay for her gargantuan salary.
... but back to Tchaikovsky, because you will find in playing different recordings of the same musical work how we can exercise our ability to discern. I think it all comes down to a few things: the effect on our souls and our minds; obviously the construction of the content, but how something is delivered by the conductor.. Sort of like which radio host is pleasant on the ears when speaking on the air, and which one is completely "in over their head". We all experience a host now and then who bumps into the wall and stumps the toe while missing a beat and filling up airtime until it's convenient to press the button for playing the next selection. In another scenario we hear a host who is "spot on" with clear diction, soothing on the ears and full of energy, saying just enough but not too much, and who is truly commanding our attention as a "show stopper".

Conclusion: Whether we talk of a "show stopper" piece of music, a classical radio station or a radio host it is really all about the quality of personality in the conducting that makes the experience memorable and excellent... or not.

Thanks for letting me ramble, Terrance.

Dec. 08 2009 09:08 PM
Nancy de Flon from Metro NY

My goodness, so that was William Walton conducting that performance of Finlandia? What a trip! Walton went through a phase when his music was so influenced by Sibelius. One of the top concerts I ever attended in my life was Lorin Maazel conducting Sibelius no. 7 and Walton no. 1. The most cerebral concert I've ever heard. A long time ago, with the Royal Phil in London. Thanks for playing that.

Dec. 08 2009 07:27 PM
jim from dover, nj

just got done listening to a message that touted the reduction in interruptions since the move. hah! I clocked the broadcast for awhile, and there are more total interruptions, though shorter, than when you ran commercials. please, more musical selections back-to-back; and can we get some more varied selections without playing the same music day after day. but for your question re show stoppers, the main theme from "Victory at Sea" does it for me. if you listen attentively, you'll detect that Richard Rogers used themes from classical pieces of music, a snippet here, a chord there to create that small masterpiece. in fact, you can detect a lost of classical themes in a great deal of his music, just like Gershwin and Bernstein built on richer grounds to create their works

Dec. 08 2009 07:11 PM
Nessa from NYC

Frank Feldman, I worship you. What absolutely brilliant Show Stoppers. But what about anything by Rameau? And Borodin (those dancing Polevetzians)? Don't forget him and Ferde Grofet's
Grand Canyon Suite. Also Dvorak's New World and anything by Leonard Bernstein - especially Joshua Bell's interpretation of the West Side Story Suite. I never get to hear it anymore.

Dec. 08 2009 04:41 PM
Henry from New York

My favorite show stopper is Louis Moreau Gottschalk's Grand Tarantelle for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 67 and maybe his Grand Walkaround or his Gala Cakewalk performed by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra... music which is uplifting and helps promote the fund drive for Laura Walker's salary at the family of stations we cannot get enough of these days.
Hope someone else enjoys these.
Admittedly they are not sober and serious music, but we seem to be about diversity here and not necessarily quality. ENJOY.

Dec. 08 2009 11:33 AM
Composer David Saperstein from New York City

One of my works is apparently a real show stopper. It is Antiphonies for Percussion available on a Nonesuch CD called "Percussion Music". The artist is Raymond Des Roches leading the New Jersey Percussion Ensemble. A critic from the Star Ledger heard it live in concert and said it stole the show. It is only 5 3/4 minutes long. I would be really honored if you would care to introduce it.

Dec. 08 2009 10:47 AM
Frank Feldman

My favorite showstoppers are 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 the four or five other chestnuts which you play 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 09:08 AM
Faith Frankel from Hunterdon County, NJ

I love all the music you play on your programs but for the sake of future business I must correct your pronunciation of a sponsor's script you just read. (Mon. Dec. 7 ~8:20 pm). The first syllable of "palliative" is pronounced like the word "pal", not like the word "pale."

Dec. 07 2009 08:22 PM
Frank Feldman

I have some great ideas for showstoppers which should fit right in with Terrance's eclectic and wonderful musical taste: George M. Cohan, Ravel's Bolero, the 1812 overture, Fanfare for the Common Man, really high-end stuff that Terrance could give us all sorts of relevant musicological information about. I don't feel that any of that Bach and complete Schubert quartets or Bruckner symphonies are really what constitute SHOWSTOPPERS in the GRAND tradition that is so appropriate for the new WQXR! Of course, choral and kazoo arrangements of the Adagio for Strings and Pachelbel Canon would be most welcome as well. Thanks for the whole showstoppers blog, Terrance! You're really keeping us on our toes!

Dec. 07 2009 06:05 PM
S Wilkinson from New York

I have a suggestion:
Now that you have such diverse musical programming on WQXR, could you play some Barry Manilow? (My best recommendations would be "Mandy" or "Looks like we made it" and "Copacabana". They would be great.)
Thank you.

Dec. 07 2009 12:28 AM

We would like to encourage users to express their opinions in the correct forum so that they can be addressed by the appropriate people. This blog is meant for responses to Terrance's comment, posted above.

While we're developing a Listener Services blog for WQXR, we'd like to direct your more general concerns about the station to Listener Services ( or to the current Listener Services blog (

Dec. 06 2009 07:41 PM
martha walker from New York

thanks, Frank Feldman.
I'm glad you're still posting on these blogs.

your expertise and experience is quite good to have around.


Dec. 06 2009 05:17 PM
Frank Feldman

First of all, Frank and Frank Feldman are two different people. "Frank", Nimet used many different recordings of En Bateau over the years, which was obvious to anyone who listened closely.

Dec. 06 2009 05:04 PM
martha walker from New York

I'm not really sure, but I think Nimet ran on her show the version of "En Bateau" played by L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

I'm going to ask one of the old time hosts sometime during a gathering this holiday season.
Hope to get back to you again if I find out definitively.

And wow.. FRANK that's a wonderful blog question which WQXR should be asking people here, just to show the former WQXR listeners that they have a little sensitivity to the changes made which have made people feel uprooted and dislocated from their familiar radio station.

I'm so glad you asked this question !!

Dec. 06 2009 04:07 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 03:52 PM
Serge Ledan from QUEENS, NY

I had to come back, Terrance, because I forgot to tell you this (and that is coming from a purist who is not a jazz fan and known to resent the mixture of jazz and classical music): the Mahalia Jackson, last night, was also BREATH-TAKING!! Whew!! What a voice!! I could see and feel what this GREAT WOMAN would do to opera houses around the world!!!

Dec. 06 2009 11:58 AM
Serge Ledan from Queens, NY

2 or 3 show stoppers on your show tonight Terrance!! Congratulations!! I would feel so small if I was one of your close-minded critics tonight. And you let the music do the talk too!!

Dec. 06 2009 12:04 AM

Love you Terrance and loving your show tonight. I can't even begin to describe how much I miss Nightly Music as it played on WNYC.

Dec. 05 2009 11:05 PM
Frank Feldman

I don't think it's unfair to suggest that Mr. McKnight check any pronunciations of which he is unsure with a colleague first and to expect him to announce performers BEFORE as well as after the selection. For folks that have been listening to classical music for a long time, how becomes even more interesting than what. I'm not quite sure Mr. McKnight has arrived at that point yet, but I know he loves music, has good intentions and will eventually arrive. His on-air MANNER is pretty much impeccable. I do wish he simply say J.S. Bach or Johann Sebastian Bach instead of Sebastian Bach. But that's a trivial pet peeve.

Dec. 05 2009 07:44 PM
Richard Mitnick from Highland Park, NJ

jonathankyou -

Best to just ignore these people. try to not get down in the mud with them.

Hey, all, what ever happened to the "Ghost"? Just disappeared, never even took up my invitation to come and comment at my weblog, "Whither Public Radio and serious music", at .

Anyone can come there and find the post "Invitation to the Ghost" posted 10.31.2009. You are certainly free to comment, you need not even be polite. And, hey, I will probably answer your comment, but I will remain polite.

Dec. 05 2009 08:39 AM
Jonathan Kaplan from Valley Stream NY

Arc by James Blackshaw, Cloudburst by Eric Whitacre, Umoja by Imani Winds, Paddington by Hauschka, cantus in memory of Benjamin Britten by Arvo Part. Showstoppers!

Dec. 04 2009 04:57 PM
Serge Ledan from Queens, NY

Thanks and kudos to whoever is editing this blog. Well done job!! And this is not censure. The elimination of whatever negates or contradicts the subject and purpose of a blog is intelligent editing. Good job!!!!

Dec. 04 2009 03:15 PM

Neva - thanks for writing us. I'm not teaching an appreciation class currently and neither is David as far as I know. Perhaps we can offer that in the future. thanks for listening.

Dec. 03 2009 10:19 PM
neva from NYC

I do love your selections and your musicology.
However, how I miss my old choices- WQXR and OR WNYC.
The current day time ( at least until late afternoon) selection at WQXR_ is too
heavy handed. It is not musical in the the rich uplifting way- I had come to rely on as my quality of life.
What specifically is that heavy style?
Bing back Beetoven, Bernstein and Britten!
Also - Paul Robeson and other vocals!
Also- the signal, when I am on the Merritt Parkway is not as good.
Finally- do you and David ever teach a music appreciation course?

Dec. 03 2009 08:57 PM
John from Westchester

Dear Terrance,

I like your show. You usually have an interesting and enjoyable mix of music to offer. The only suggestion I would make is to include some more contemporary classical alongside Mozart. And for this time of year climatically really long dramatic romantic pieces are great.

Dec. 03 2009 08:46 PM
Frank Feldman

Transformation Music and Good Friday Spell from Parsifal, Four Last Songs, esp. the last, Adagio Bruckner 7, Cantata 82, esp. Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's recording. Almost anything from Barbara Bonney's Fairest Isle record.

Dec. 03 2009 07:59 PM
Carol Buchanan from Maplewood, NJ

The first time I heard your show was a few months ago when you played something by Still and later maybe a Scott Joplin. I said to myself, this guy plays interesting music and not the same old war horses. Your knowledge of music is very informative for me. One night I turned on the radio in the car and there was "Round Midnight" on qxr. As your promo's time to relax." No more lousy tv as a background noise for me. Now I really listen to what you are playing. Thanks for sharing your knowledge & love of music.

Dec. 03 2009 04:28 PM
Serge Ledan from Queens, NY

My answer to this will be short and sweet: Everytime and without fail: Beethooven piano concerto #5 (The Emperor concerto). Last time that happened: on your show, last Saturday, after you played Andante Cantabile of Tchaikovsky, sung by Bobby Macferrin.
Terrance, please don't let the pronunciation thing inhibit you in any way, particularly as far as foreign names are concerned. We all had to learn to pronounce them. It is something that I am absolutely sure you will correct and have a handle on very soon. Just be vigilant and work on it. We all do.

Dec. 03 2009 01:31 PM
Harris M from Poughkeepsie,NY

Music written for a minor key seems to have a lasting impression. Here's 2 of my personal favorites that never fail to get my attention:
(1) Mozart - Piano Concerto #24 - a very dramatic opening and long orchestral lead in before we ever hear the soloist
(2) Michael Haydn - Symphony #30 - the only minor key symphony he ever wrote! Lots of percussion that will definitely wake you up.

Dec. 03 2009 12:33 PM
Michael Meltzer

Schumann: Carnival. Audiences in 1835 must have thought Schumann was from Mars.

Dec. 03 2009 03:34 AM
fwilliams from nyc

Seems as if you are still getting stuff about pronunciation; I'm finding that it has made you so up tight, that it has rendered you almost speechless.
Try to relax and concentrate on one thing.
If you could just say, going to play, instead of goen to play, it may help.
I was only writing to say that i have a beautiful vinyl version of the Schubert An die Musik,scored for Altos, Tenors and Orchestra, from the 60's, which highlights all of the beautiful descending 6ths in the music.
If you were able to find it, I'm sure the listeners would love it.

Dec. 02 2009 11:30 PM
Peter H. from Pleasantville, NY

"An die Musik" - did you know that Schumann quoted this song in his Phantasie in C, opus17? This song is really the quintessence of music appriciation.

Dec. 02 2009 10:49 PM
schoolmarm from NYC

If you find "An die Musik" so enchanting and considering that you are a host on the premiere classical music station in the country, you might at least learn how to say it correctly. The German is moo-ZEEK.

Dec. 02 2009 10:12 PM

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