A Schubert Birthday Showdown

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The composer birthday celebrations continue this week with Franz Schubert, who was born on Jan. 31, 1797. For this week's Showdown, we offered up three of Schubert's masterpieces.

With a last minute surge, you chose "Der Hirt auf dem Felsen," Op. 129, D. 965 "The Shepherd on the Rock," and at noon we played the piece performed by soprano Benita Valente with clarinetist Harold Wright and pianist Rudolf Serkin.


Comments [47]

Edgar LaMance

You haven't heard Der Hirt..until you've heard Erna Berger's.
We'll miss you, Midge. All the best.

Feb. 02 2013 02:52 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

FRANZ PETER SCHUBERT WAS ALONG WITH MOZART ONE OF THE MOST PROLIFIC COMPOSERS OF ALL TIME AND ALL FORMATS. Although he studied eventually with SALIERI he was actually an autodidact, having commenced composing at age 13. He completed then a 23 page pianoforte fantasia. From then on, outside of eating and sleepingl, he was constantly composing operas, songs and song cycles, chamber music, three ceremonial cantatas, a Stabat Mater, nine symphonies, two Masses and three string quartets. From boyhood on, he never had any funds, relied on friends to purchase for him the music paper, for lodging and food. Publishers were reluctant to publish his output, yet his own self confidence in his creative abilities was amazing and unwavering. At JUILLIARD I studied all the lieder of the most accomplished composers with SERGIUS KAGEN in the LITERATURE AND MATERIALS courses started under the administration of GEORGE A., WEDGE. My lieder "rep" in those 5 years there amounted to over 400 songs. At my JOINT RECITAL with NORMA JEAN ERDMANN, at CARNEGIE HALL's Main Hall, I sang Shubert's DIE ALLMACHT, which has remained my favorite of Schubert's songs, although I have performed his WINTERREISE, ERLKONIG and HARK , HARK THE LARK. In that concert I sang WAGNER and VERDI and introduced in concert Mosca's GOLD ARIA from GEORGE ANTHEIL'S opera "VOLPONE" [high D flat above high C sustained for 12 seconds, ending the opera which I premiered with 30 performances in New York]. Schubert's home in VIENNA is now a museum and at the VIENNA CONCERT HALL there is on the top floor adjoining the balcony also a fine SCHUBERT MUSEUM. I am a Wagnerian heldentenor, an opera composer, "Shakespeare" and "The Political Shakespeare" and director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute. My websites where one may download my singing in four solo concerts at the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall by going to Recorded Selections; www.WagnerOpera.com, www.ShakespeareOpera.com and www.RichardWagnerMusicDramaInstitute.com.
Roles that are represented in my singing that may be heard on my websites : Tristan, Siegfried, Goetterdaemmerung Siegfried, Tannhauser, Lohengrin, Parsifal, Siegmund, Walther von Stolzing, Florestan, Federico and Eleazar.

Jan. 31 2013 01:20 PM
Pat in NJ

My vote for Der Hirt auf dem Felsen got in just under the wire, and I like to think may have been the vote that tipped the balance for this beautiful piece. I had not been familiar with it, but being a favorite of Midge Woolsey's was enough to get my vote. We will miss you, Midge.

Jan. 30 2013 12:21 PM
Peter O'Malley

Great!! I'm stunned! I really can't believe it!! and by such a wide margin. Maybe there is hope for vocal music after all.

Jan. 30 2013 12:18 PM

Der Hirt auf dem Felsen - some of the BEST transitions from major to minor/minor to major in classical music!

Can't wait to hear this!

Jan. 30 2013 12:08 PM
yko from PA

YES!! "The Shepherd on the Rock" won! Great treat for the day!!! Hooray!

Jan. 30 2013 12:08 PM
Steve Lepp from Verona , NJ

Let's hear the Great Symphony & listen to how he quotes from Beethoven's 9th last movement in his 4th movement!! Very Cool!!


Jan. 30 2013 11:59 AM
Helen Schrier from Manhattan

Der Hirt auf dem Frlsen is a fitting farewell for Midge Woolsey.Listerning to her has felt like welcoming a dear friend into my home. Her impeccable diction, her warmth, but above all her love of music has been inspirational. We will miss her. Auf Widerhoren. Au revoir. Ciao. Helen

Jan. 30 2013 11:59 AM
William Collins from Brown City, Michigan

I voted for Shepherd on the Rock because you said it was special to you, and this is the last time you will do this.

Jan. 30 2013 11:59 AM
Kenneth from Brooklyn

Pitting one song against 2 four movement works is ridiculous. One of the song cycles would have been a much better choice. Besides, as someone else pointed out, vocal music, lieder, was his greatest contribution to classical music. A few nights ago, you played Die schöne Müllerin on the overnight program, but you can't do that during the day?

Jan. 30 2013 11:54 AM

I voted for Der Hirt auf dem Felsen ("The Shepherd on the Rock") because I've not heard this work before and on the last request hour Midge is hosting, I'd like to have one more special WQXR memory to add to the many I already have of Midge and the other magnificent announcers I've enjoyed over the years from this station. The Trout and the Great C Major Symphony are both excellent works and I hope we hear these particular performances soon on WQXR.

Jan. 30 2013 11:48 AM
Wayne Gregory from Michigan

The Shepherd on the Rock to celebrate Midge Woolsey's extraordinary contribution to great classical radio

Jan. 30 2013 11:48 AM
Lee Lieberman from Fort Lee, NJ

The Szell-Cleveland .I heard them in person as a student at Case Inst of Tech
in the 1960s at Severance Hall when my ears were NEW and still working really well--I knew then that I would never hear better!

Jan. 30 2013 11:47 AM
Diana Gordon from North Fork of Long Island

I'm delighted that we will be getting more Schubert this week so if the Great symphony isn't played I will not be distressed. Thanks for your gentle voice and fine choices for your many appreciative listeners.

Jan. 30 2013 11:46 AM

As a tribute to Midge Woolsey, I vote for "The Shepherd on the Rock." Thanks for all of your dedication to classical music and to this station for so many years. Best wishes to you!

Jan. 30 2013 11:45 AM
William Leo Coakley from Manhattan

The "Trout" is the most delighful of chamber pieces, and Ax himself always a delight--and it's too foggy this morning to see Cleveland and the great Szell. By the way, one thing we don't want to hear, endlessly repeated no less, are those off-pitch hummed beginnings of needless "public relations" announcements for WQXR, an insult to classical music.

Jan. 30 2013 11:44 AM
Jill from Manhattan

The Trout is one of my favorites. It always feels like a breath of spring to me - something we could use right now.

Jan. 30 2013 11:43 AM
John Blasdale from Whippany NJ

I vote for "The Shepherd on the Rock". Both of the others are very well known, but I would have preferred a longer vocal item -- a song-cycle like "Die Schoene Muellerin" -- to compete better in terms of length with the others; "Shepherd" may seem slight in comparison.

Jan. 30 2013 11:42 AM
Ed from NYC

Since I'll be whistling this for the rest of the day, let's have the Trout!!

Jan. 30 2013 11:41 AM
Thomas Cassidy from Rockaway, NJ

The Great Symphony please.
Midge - Wish you well as you spend time with family.
Please come back soon .... love your program.

Jan. 30 2013 11:41 AM
Glenn Naumovitz from Paris, France

What suspense! Only one vote apart! I vote for the Shepherd on the Rock for the very simple reason that I have never heard of it before, but if it's Schubert, it's got to be amazingly good.

Jan. 30 2013 11:40 AM
Art Cumming from Township of Washington

The Great Symphony please.
Thank you Midge for everything.

Jan. 30 2013 11:35 AM
Julia de Bary from Verona, NJ

Very difficult to choose between these great pieces...I will go for "Trout". Thank you !

Jan. 30 2013 11:34 AM
David from Westchester County, NY

I love both the Trout and the Great Symphony but voted for the Trout. If either one wins please play the other some time soon. The trout brings back memories of my wedding day. We honeymooned in the Berkshires and while we were driving around we passed a sign said concert 1 PM.It was 12:30 so even though we were dressed in shorts and T-shirts we went. Everyone else was dressed to the nines because some local dignitary was being honored. Nevertheless, we were welcomed. The musicians (no one we had heard of) played one of the most beautiful Trouit;s we had ever heard. The audience knew enough not to clap at the "false ending", something very rare ceven today. An absolutely beautiful experience. My wife is gone now but every time I hear the Trout, I remember those happy days of being in love.

Jan. 30 2013 11:31 AM
Audrey Schneider from West Hempstead

"Shepherd on the Rock", because of its intrinsic beauty and because it is so special to Midge. A fond farewell, with all good wishes for continuing to bring joy and beauty wherever you are! And please return, for some special ocaasions!

Jan. 30 2013 11:23 AM
Raymond Banacki from Brooklyn, New York

In honor of Midge Woolsey's last "Showdown" and last Wednesday at WQXR, I would have to choose "The Trout" with the Guarneri Quartet and Emmanuel Ax - a great piece of music for a memorable lady, who will be greatly missed every single day.

Jan. 30 2013 11:17 AM
bill from NYC

Fish, Shepherds? Not Great!

Jan. 30 2013 11:13 AM
Zulema from Bronx, NY

I fully agree with Oliver David and with Nancy and everyone else, and The Shepherd on the Rock is it, but do let us hear some more lieder in the time remaining. Schubert is one of our greatest, most profound composers. Mozart is delightful but Schubert is indescribable. The Trout is wonderful, but we hear it played often. The recordings chosen are great vintage, and Benita Valente was singing when I was a young woman, so many years ago. And I am sorry, Midge, that you are leaving us and wish you well.

Jan. 30 2013 11:02 AM
Chris from suburb of Cooperstown

I chose the Shepherd on the Rock because I play the clarinet and am sure that Harold Wright was principal clarinet of the BSO for many years. I have gone to Tanglewood every year since I was five (I'm now retired) and love the BSO.

Jan. 30 2013 10:54 AM
oliver david from Westchester

Very hard to find a Schubert piece that's anything but wonderful. Since I'm not as familiar with the last piece as I am with the 1st 2 I voted for it. There is, however no losing if my choice is not picked.

Jan. 30 2013 10:50 AM
Nancy from NYC

If you do play Shepherd on the Rock, I hope that you accompany it by adding some of the many beautiful art songs. Playing a whole symphony obviously takes far more time than playing this delightful little piece, and there is so much brilliant art song writing that can be played as well. With the wonderful exception of Saturday afternoons, I have often been struck by the discrepancy in time given to vocal music compared to instrumental, so here's a chance to get a little even.

Lastly, I hope you do get to play "Shepherd," since it is what you wished for. I will miss hearing you on QXR. Thank you for all the hours you have spent on QXR. It's been lovely tuning you in!

Jan. 30 2013 10:46 AM
bill corry from brooklyn

can't go wrong with the "Trout"
I'll miss you Mid-gella!

Jan. 30 2013 10:45 AM
Edith Ries

Very difficult choice.....but I cannot resist The Trout. Look forward to high noon today.

Jan. 30 2013 10:45 AM
Victor from Brooklyn

All the best, Midge.

Jan. 30 2013 10:43 AM
Peter O'Malley from Oakland, N.J.

I'm with Joyce Duffy: (a) we never hear this; (b) it's beautiful;(c) it's quintessentially Schubert because it's a vocal work which is, of course, the area of his greatest accomplishment. Alas,(a) above is true because it is a vocal work, and that is probably why it won't win, but it gets my vote.

Jan. 30 2013 10:40 AM

Very difficult to choose; I love all of them but going with Trout. My favorite recordings include Maestro Ma and company and the wonderful 1969 performance by Itzy, Pinky, Zubie, Dani and Jackie.

Jan. 30 2013 10:38 AM

For you, Midge, with thanks.

Jan. 30 2013 10:25 AM
H.Joyce Duffy from Yonkers, NY

I'm choosing "The Shepherd on the Rock" because it is so beautiful and rarely performed or heard on the radio.
Also, I have enjoyed singing it. I'm so glad that it is one of your favorite pieces!

Jan. 30 2013 10:19 AM

Years ago, as a young bassoonist I played in a community orchestra. We played The Great Schubert 9th and it was a wonderful experience. One almost floated along with the beautiful melodies and repetitions. I'm 80 now, and hardly hear this symphony played on the radio. I hope to hear it today!

Jan. 30 2013 10:17 AM
Germaine from NJ

Trout swimming in a brook. A beautiful thought on a foggy day such as this. Voted for the "Trout."

Jan. 30 2013 10:15 AM
Lifesart from Hicksville NY

I love the 'great' symphony. It was the first piece I played with an orchestra after I switched from violin to viola. The themes are wonderful! And again, Midge, we'll miss you so much!

Jan. 30 2013 10:15 AM
Lawrence from Brooklyn

Midge says that Der Hirt Auf Dem Felsen was her favorite. So, as a way of saying thanks for all her years at WQXR, I voted for this piece. Thanks for everything Midge!

Jan. 30 2013 10:14 AM
Benita Ober from Cary, NC

Good morning. I've picked "The Shepherd on the Rock" in honor of you since it's your favorite. Ms. Woolsey you will be sorely missed and the hours between 10-3 will be very strange without you. I wish you the very best in your new journey. May peace and rainbows follow you. Benita

Jan. 30 2013 10:13 AM

The Shepherd on the Rock is so extraordinary. I hope this will be the one!

Jan. 30 2013 10:13 AM
David Fantina from Bernardsville, NJ

My son, Andrew, played this piece in a youth orchestra a few years ago and I grew to love it.

Jan. 30 2013 10:11 AM

Voted for Der Hirt Auf Dem Felsen as it's a favorite of mine, but I can think of quite a few other recordings of it I'd rather hear than Benita Valente's.

Jan. 30 2013 07:53 AM
Frank from UWS

Whichever piece wins, I hope you play the full thing and not interrupt it like you did the Goldberg Variations this morning. I tuned in at 6:00 and was delighted to hear the Aria. Wow, I thought, am I going to be treated to the Goldbergs as I get ready for work this morning? No such luck. The announcer came in and interrupted it after the aria and moved on to a piece by some forgotten 18th century composer. I'm curious to know why this happens. It's not like you have to play commercials. Are you afraid people won't enjoy the full Goldbergs?

At any rate, my vote goes for the Der Hirt auf dem Felsen, simply because we don't hear enough vocal music on WQXR.

Jan. 30 2013 06:25 AM

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