Remembering George Jellinek and The Vocal Scene

Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - 03:05 PM

I spent a few hours this weekend in renewed admiration and affection of George Jellinek. George died in January of this year, and a public memorial concert is taking place this Sunday (click here for more details).  But the reason I was thinking so much of George this past weekend is that I was listening to some of the programs in the series, The Vocal Scene, which George created and hosted for 36 years on WQXR.

You see, we’re planning to re-broadcast some of those shows this summer, and I get to help choose the episodes we’ll put on the air. I can tell you two of them for sure: A tribute to Titta Ruffo, the Italian baritone whose voice first caught George’s ear and drew him into the magical world of great singing; and a program called "By the Light of the Silvery Moon," which shows George’s amazing breadth of knowledge of song, and his wonderful way of programming and talking about vocal music. 

I’m wondering if fans of The Vocal Scene would like to suggest other favorite episodes for our summer series. Please understand that we may not take your particular suggestion, for reasons including quality and availability of the program tape itself. But it will take us a while to sift through 36 years of The Vocal Scene, so a suggestion or two would be most welcome. And in doing so you may jog a pleasant memory for other WQXR listeners who listened to, and loved, George Jellinek.

What are some of your favorite memories of George and of The Vocal Scene?

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Comments [47]

Earle Mullen from Grand Junction, CO

Bring back George's unforgettable programs on my favorite tenor - and I think his too - Jussi Bjoerling.

Jun. 09 2013 05:06 PM
Earle Mullen from Grand Junction, CO

First in Syracuse in the early 70s and later in Schenectady, I listened to the Vocal Scene. And if I missed a broadcast then, a friend in Syracuse would send me a cassette. I had the impression back then, that George Jellinek shared my view that Jussi Bjoerling was the greatest of tenors and that opinion was re-inforced in subsequent programs. But I enjoyed all fo George's analyses, interviews and comments. Please do bring them back.

Jun. 09 2013 04:50 PM
Earle Mullen from Grand Junction, CO

First in Syracuse in the early 70s and later in Schenectady, I listened to the Vocal Scene. And if I missed a broadcast then, a friend in Syracuse would send me a cassette. I had the impression back then, that George Jellinek shared my view that Jussi Bjoerling was the greatest of tenors and that opinion was re-inforced in subsequent programs. But I enjoyed all fo George's analyses, interviews and comments. Please do bring them back.

Jun. 09 2013 04:50 PM
Earle Mullen from Grand Junction, CO

First in Syracuse in the early 70s and later in Schenectady, I listened to the Vocal Scene. And if I missed a broadcast then, a friend in Syracuse would send me a cassette. I had the impression back then, that George Jellinek shared my view that Jussi Bjoerling was the greatest of tenors and that opinion was re-inforced in subsequent programs. But I enjoyed all fo George's analyses, interviews and comments. Please do bring them back.

Jun. 09 2013 04:49 PM
Earle Mullen from Grand Junction, CO

First in Syracuse in the early 70s and later in Schenectady, I listened to the Vocal Scene. And if I missed a broadcast then, a friend in Syracuse would send me a cassette. I had the impression back then, that George Jellinek shared my view that Jussi Bjoerling was the greatest of tenors and that opinion was re-inforced in subsequent programs. But I enjoyed all fo George's analyses, interviews and comments. Please do bring them back.

Jun. 09 2013 04:49 PM
Earle Mullen from Grand Junction, CO

First in Syracuse in the early 70s and later in Schenectady, I listened to the Vocal Scene. And if I missed a broadcast then, a friend in Syracuse would send me a cassette. I had the impression back then, that George Jellinek shared my view that Jussi Bjoerling was the greatest of tenors and that opinion was re-inforced in subsequent programs. But I enjoyed all fo George's analyses, interviews and comments. Please do bring them back.

Jun. 09 2013 04:49 PM
Earle Mullen from Grand Junction, CO

First in Syracuse in the early 70s and later in Schenectady, I listened to the Vocal Scene. And if I missed a broadcast then, a friend in Syracuse would send me a cassette. I had the impression back then, that George Jellinek shared my view that Jussi Bjoerling was the greatest of tenors and that opinion was re-inforced in subsequent programs. But I enjoyed all fo George's analyses, interviews and comments. Please do bring them back.

Jun. 09 2013 04:49 PM
Earle Mullen from Grand Junction, CO

First in Syracuse in the early 70s and later in Schenectady, I listened to the Vocal Scene. And if I missed a broadcast then, a friend in Syracuse would send me a cassette. I had the impression back then, that George Jellinek shared my opinion that Jussi Bjoerling was the greatest of tenors and that opinion was re-inforced in subsequent programs. But I enjoyed all fo George's analyses, interviews and comments. Please do bring them back.

Jun. 09 2013 04:48 PM
Earle Mullen from Grand Junction, CO

First in Syracuse in the early 70s and later in Schenectady, I listened to the Vocal Scene. And if I missed a broadcast then, a friend in Syracuse would send me a cassette. I had the impression back then, that George Jellinek shared my opinion that Jussi Bjoerling was the greatest of tenors and that opinion was re-inforced in subsequent programs. But I enjoyed all fo George's analyses, interviews and comments. Please do bring them back.

Jun. 09 2013 04:48 PM
Earle Mullen from Grand Junction, CO

First in Syracuse in the early 70s and later in Schenectady, I listened to the Vocal Scene. And if I missed a broadcast then, a friend in Syracuse would send me a cassette. I had the impression back then, that George Jellinek shared my opinion that Jussi Bjoerling was the greatest of tenors and that opinion was re-inforced in subsequent programs. But I enjoyed all fo George's analyses, interviews and comments. Please do bring them back.

Jun. 09 2013 04:48 PM
Earle Mullen from Grand Junction, CO

First in Syracuse in the early 70s and later in Schenectady, I listened to the Vocal Scene. And if I missed a broadcast then, a friend in Syracuse would send me a cassette. I had the impression back then, that George Jellinek shared my opinion that Jussi Bjoerling was the greatest of tenors and that opinion was re-inforced in subsequent programs. But I enjoyed all fo George's analyses, interviews and comments. Please do bring them back.

Jun. 09 2013 04:47 PM
Earle Mullen from Grand Junction, CO

First in Syracuse in the early 70s and later in Schenectady, I listened to the Vocal Scene. And if I missed a broadcast then, a friend in Syracuse would send me a cassette. I had the impression back then, that George Jellinek shared my opinion that Jussi Bjoerling was the greatest of tenors and that opinion was re-inforced in subsequent programs. But I enjoyed all fo George's analyses, interviews and comments. Please do bring them back.

Jun. 09 2013 04:47 PM
Earle Mullen from Grand Junction, CO

First in Syracuse in the early 70s and later in Schenectady, I listened to the Vocal Scene. And if I missed a broadcast then, a friend in Syracuse would send me a cassette. I had the impression back then, that George Jellinek shared my opinion that Jussi Bjoerling was the greatest of tenors and that opinion was re-inforced in subsequent programs. But I enjoyed all fo George's analyses, interviews and comments. Please do bring them back.

Jun. 09 2013 04:47 PM
Earle Mullen from Grand Junction, CO

First in Syracuse in the early 70s and later in Schenectady, I listened to the Vocal Scene. And if I missed a broadcast then, a friend in Syracuse would send me a cassette. I had the impression back then, that George Jellinek shared my opinion that Jussi Bjoerling was the greatest of tenors and that opinion was re-inforced in subsequent programs. But I enjoyed all fo George's analyses, interviews and comments. Please do bring them back.

Jun. 09 2013 04:47 PM
Earle Mullen from Grand Junction, CO

First in Syracuse in the early 70s and later in Schenectady, I listened to the Vocal Scene. And if I missed a broadcast then, a friend in Syracuse would send me a cassette. I had the impression back then, that George Jellinek shared my opinion that Jussi Bjoerling was the greatest of tenors and that opinion was re-inforced in subsequent programs. But I enjoyed all fo George's analyses, interviews and comments. Please do bring them back.

Jun. 09 2013 04:47 PM
Earle Mullen from Grand Junction, CO

First in Syracuse in the early 70s and later in Schenectady, I listened to the Vocal Scene. And if I missed a broadcast then, a friend in Syracuse would send me a cassette. I had the impression back then, that George Jellinek shared my opinion that Jussi Bjoerling was the greatest of tenors and that opinion was re-inforced in subsequent programs. But I enjoyed all fo George's analyses, interviews and comments. Please do bring them back.

Jun. 09 2013 04:47 PM
Earle Mullen from Grand Junction, CO

First in Syracuse in the early 70s and later in Schenectady, I listened to the Vocal Scene. And if I missed a broadcast then, a friend in Syracuse would send me a cassette. I had the impression back then, that George Jellinek shared my opinion that Jussi Bjoerling was the greatest of tenors and that opinion was re-inforced in subsequent programs. But I enjoyed all fo George's analyses, interviews and comments. Please do bring them back.

Jun. 09 2013 04:47 PM
Earle Mullen from Grand Junction, CO

First in Syracuse in the early 70s and later in Schenectady, I listened to the Vocal Scene. And if I missed a broadcast then, a friend in Syracuse would send me a cassette. I had the impression back then, that George Jellinek shared my opinion that Jussi Bjoerling was the greatest of tenors and that opinion was re-inforced in subsequent programs. But I enjoyed all fo George's analyses, interviews and comments. Please do bring them back.

Jun. 09 2013 04:46 PM
Earle Mullen from Grand Junction, CO

First in Syracuse in the early 70s and later in Schenectady, I listened to the Vocal Scene. And if I missed a broadcast then, a friend in Syracuse would send me a cassette. I had the impression back then, that George Jellinek shared my opinion that Jussi Bjoerling was the greatest of tenors and that opinion was re-inforced in subsequent programs. But I enjoyed all fo George's analyses, interviews and comments. Please do bring them back.

Jun. 09 2013 04:46 PM
Douglas Cherry from Bronx, NY

Shortly after arriving in New York City in the early 70's, I discovered Mr. George Jellinek and the Vocal Scene. Being a student of the voice, I immediately fell in love with the program and it's warm, gracious and knowledgable host. Thursday nights at 10:00pm became an absolute ritual for me. I worked as a word processor at night for a law firm and was able to listen on my walkman. It became firmly established that no one was to interrupt me during the Vocal Scene.

Mr. Jellinek's soothing voice, knowledge and love of the art form kept me informed and entertained for many years. I looked forward to my Thursday nights with him with much anticipation and was never disappointed.

I will always treasure the wonderful music which nourished my soul for over twenty years thanks to Mr. Jellinek.

Thank you WQXR and my deepest gratitude to Mr. George Jellinek.

Douglas Cherry

Mar. 19 2012 01:34 PM
Gilbert

For Paul

Feb. 27 2012 09:23 PM
mirella sanseviero from Long Island

I listened Maestro Jellinek
all the time and learned so much!
Thankyou Maestro,
and thaks WQXR

Feb. 10 2011 06:26 AM

There is pretty much no reason to keep WQXR from re-broadcasting "The Vocal Scene" right from its beginnings. After all, we are getting "Classic Peanuts" in the funnies every day.

Oct. 04 2010 02:47 PM
Herman Joseph

The Vocal Scene was one of my very favorite programs. Could you please rebroadcast the programs with Bidu Sayao, Martina Arroyo, Adele Addison,Russell Oberlin, Betty Allen, Cesare Valletti and of course the great Siepi.

Oct. 03 2010 11:59 PM
Michael Thomas from Little Rock AR

George Jellinek's program "Remembering DelMonaco" was fantastic and thrilling,he said "in this age of undersized voices these recordings will remind us in the years to come the true sound of the Dramatic Tenor". When my city stoped broadcasting his program, I had to install 2 of the biggest FM antennas in the world in order to turn it in 140 miles away,and I did it too.

Jul. 24 2010 01:33 PM
Tom Milburn from Washington DC

I loved all of his programs which I heard on WOSU/FM in Colombus Ohio while I was in college. I would particularly like to hear the one he did about live opera. It featured Nicolai Gedda singing "Magike Tune" and Maria Callas in the 1951 Mexico City Aida plus others.

Jun. 22 2010 06:54 AM
Ruy Silva from Paraná - Brasil

Thanks for skipping my very sincere and cordial salutation to the memory of George Jellinek. Of course, we down here from Brasil, South of the Border, deserve nuthin' mo' than Britney Spears an' Jay-Z an' Rihanna. Humph! Arriba, Gringo!

Jun. 19 2010 12:33 PM
Enid Benezra from Brooklyn, NY

Thank you for scheduling rebroadcasts of "The Vocal Scene." Mr. Jellinek's gentle commentaries on various topics relating to vocal music, singers, etc. were something I looked forward to hearing each week when the series aired many years ago. It is especially wonderful to hear him once again because I had the privilege of meeting him more than 30 years ago when I sang as a soloist in two NYC premieres of operas for which he wrote the librettos. The sunny, gentle personality that he diplayed on air was genuine. He was a delightful, kind and caring person, especially to young singers.

Jun. 05 2010 01:15 PM
rob Schachter from Indianapolis

Ah...
tears of gentle joy
a mixture
of memories
evocative of what?
An old Zenith
through which
my father's world
became
mine.
And now
no matter
how digitalized
'The Vocal Scene'
reflects
resonates
reverberates
that era
that time
to make
it this time
Now.
Again.

Thank you Jeffrey!

Rob!

when I hear
these programs
a mixture

Jun. 05 2010 01:09 PM
Mr. Donato Pavia from Queens, New York

I am very happy to hear that WQXR will rebroadcast some of Mr. Jellinek's Vocal Scene radio shows. I would like to hear so many of them again. One that I would especially like to hear is entitled, "Ten Tenors." Thank you.

Jun. 03 2010 05:37 PM
Alan Edelson from Irvington-on-Hudson, NY

One of the most memorable of the Vocal Scene programs was George's 1996 two-part interview with Renata Tebaldi during her book tour in New York after an absence from the city of at least two decades. The program consisted of Tebaldi's reminiscences of her life in opera, interspersed with some of her finest recorded aria performances made during her prime. It was an unforgetable experience, and I hope it will be rebroadcast.

Alan Edelson

May. 30 2010 09:22 PM
MISS Teresa Pavia from Woodside, Queens, New York

I would enjoy listening to any show in its entirety. There is something to like in every show as well as something to learn. I would especially love hearing any show that includes Enrico Caruso, Rosa Ponselle, Tito Schipa or Ezio Pinza. I can't wait to hear these shows again! Please air them in their entirety--not pieces of a show as was done at his passing.

Apr. 30 2010 11:45 AM
Amy Martin

I am sure many people who listen to W QXR remember Tito Gobbi. I think George Jellinek did a couple of interviews and shows on him, would love to hear again. Also I KNOW those people who have heard Iussi Bjoerling would enjoy hearing more of his great voice. When George did the Gobbi interviews am fairly certain he emphasized his acting and intelligence rather than his great voice...he would mention and play the great Verdi baritones who were around before WW2. All of his shows would be so valluable to today's audience. We only hear the latest singers on WQXR. Where is Maria Callas, how about CARUSO. The great warmth and humanity of the earlier singers is sorely missing on WQXR.

Apr. 27 2010 05:47 PM
edith gruen from NYC

I,m looking forward to going down memory lane with the rebroadcasts ofGeorge Jellinek andThe Vocal Scene as it will bring back fond memories of listening and commentary shared with my father, Leslie Blau, who shares many qualities with Mr. Jelinek - old world gentleman, love and knowledge of classical music, and that special delivery - accent and all...Many thnks!

Apr. 25 2010 04:01 PM
Steve Berens

I listened for countless years and learned so much. Where else to hear Chaliapin, Alexander Kipnis (greatest leider singer) and even with Igor, Kathlene Ferrier his(greatest voice and unsurpassed technique and artistry, Calas and Muzio, Giobi, Ruffo and Warren.

But the best was the comparison of Fritz Kreisler and Richard Tauber in performances of Viennese classics which I would love to hear again.

Apr. 21 2010 10:15 PM
Arie Ribon, MD from New York City

Please repeat the program "Mozart's Angry Women" -- actully, please repeat all of George Jellinek's programs! Not possible -- as many as you can. I can't wait.
Thank you

Apr. 20 2010 10:51 AM
Bob from PA

The one I remember best is "Leoncavallo without Pagliacci". Would love to hear it again.

Apr. 19 2010 09:41 PM
Nellie Robinson

As I consider myself a very loyal listener to WQXR and a great admirer of George Jellinek, I was puzzled by the seating arrangement. The center section was roped off for "VIP's". Who were the VIP's?

Weren't we all there to remember a man who treated everyone equally?

Just wondering...

Apr. 19 2010 12:04 PM
Susan Daum from New York

I always loved the programs he did on great singers: especially Victoria De los Angeles, (I know she was his favorite, and mine); Theresa Berganza, but also many more come to mind -- Fritz Wunderlich too. Any of those would be wonderful to hear again. And then there was one on the American Song book (Kern, Gershwin, Berlin, Porter) I'd like to hear again. Thanks for planning this!

Apr. 18 2010 05:09 PM
Anne Freeny from Morristown, NJ

I loved The Vocal Scene. My favorite programs were the ones in which several different singers sang the same aria and George pointed out the strengths and weaknesses (if any) of each one. I also enjoyed his interviews with singers. But I think my all-time favorite might have been a program called "Roots of Gilbert and Sullivan", in which he compared an operatic excerpt with it's G&S descendant.

Apr. 17 2010 07:47 PM
dennis gurtwitt from new york city

Some time ago George Jellineck paid tribute to the great Tito Ruffo; I wrote and thanked him, expressing my feeling that he was the Ruffo of commentators. (like Ruffo there was a pathos, and nobility about his voice and comments, with the anticipation of something special to be presented) Mr. Jellineck sent me a post card with these words: "The Ruffo of commentators, boy, that's something"

Apr. 15 2010 11:45 AM
John Herzfeld

I have always wanted a second chance to hear a show in which George Jellinek played examples of musical terms such as messa di voce, pianissimo, etc. I know that isn't much to go on, but maybe you can locate it.
Another one would be "Mozart's Arias for Operas by Others,'' a selection of the so-called interpolation or concert arias Mozart wrote for singers to insert into operas by other composers.
It has one of the best Mozart buffa arias I've ever heard: "Un bacio di mano,'' sung by Fischer-Dieskau.
We'll miss George, but he has enriched our lives beyond measure.

Apr. 14 2010 04:24 PM
Peter O'Malley from Oakland, New Jersey

It was a sad day for WQXR and for vocal music when "The Vocal Scene" went off the air, and I remember thinking, when rading about George Jellinek's death this past January, that his passion for, and knowledge of, vocal music was never picked up by the station with the same vigor or commitment thereafter. The show was one of the highlights of Thursday nights when we were home, and the fact that nothing to succeed it was ever programmed in was a disappointment. "On Wings of Song" was good as far as it went, but it too, alas, is succumbing to the pressures of economic reality.
George Jellinek's scope of knowledge is certainly not matched by, for example, the stiff and awkward chatter of Margaret Juntwait and Ira Siff on the Met broadcasts, and Jeff Spurgeon's interview today with Bryn Terfel, though surprising to me (since QXR's old commercial bias against vocal music is still in evidence: witness the frequent playing of what is essentially the accompaniment to Vaughan Williams's "Serenade to Music" rather than the sumptuous whole, as recently as yesterday) was not on the same level. I wonder what George would have done with last week's featured album of "die schone Mullerin": I'm sure he would have played more than three songs, yet every time I heard an excerpt last week, it was usually always "Wandern","wohin", or "Mein."
On the plus side, though, we have two back to back vocal albums of the week.

To Gus of Mahwah: it was Elly Ameling.

Apr. 14 2010 10:42 AM
Bob Schiffmann from New York City

I, too, was a great fan of George and his wonderful programs. There are two I'd especially remember and would love to have re-broadcasted:
Tauber sings Kreisler
Interview with Lauritz Melchior who was in his 80's.

Apr. 14 2010 08:58 AM
Jeff Spurgeon

Mr. Markowitz, George did finish his memoir and find a publisher. The story of his early years and journey to America is fascinating, as is the story of how he came to work at WQXR. The book is called "My Road to Radio and the Vocal Scene: Memoir of an Opera Commentator." If you plug that title into your handy web search engine, you'll find a number of retail sources for it.

Apr. 14 2010 05:57 AM
Jack Markowitz from Pittsburgh, PA

I, too, loved The Vocal Scene, although it came on at odd hours via Pittsburgh's WQED-FM. I wrote to Mr. Jellinek about it and he wrote back that at least WQED did carry the broadcasts! It seems to me an irresistible one for re-broadcast would be a bunch of tenors singing Di quella pira and/or Otello's monologue. I especially admired Mr. J's highlights and defense of La Gioconda as well, a work often dissed by snobs. When his broadcast series ended, I wrote suggesting he do his memoirs, as he was a link to golden age of opera pre-World War II. He replied he was working on such a project and hoped to find a publisher if and when completed. I don't know whether he ever finished, but I'd strongly suggest his manuscript be completed by an emphathetic writer or friend and submitted for publication. Wish I could attend the Sunday April 18 memorial concert. May you have a full house!
Jack Markowitz

Apr. 13 2010 05:21 PM
Gus Vasiliadis from Mahwah, NJ

I recall one program on Amy Emling (Sp ?) which was memorable. ...and of course many others, especially those in which he interviewed the stars being featured.

Apr. 13 2010 05:04 PM

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