"Songs My Mother Taught Me"

Saturday, May 01, 2010 - 07:00 AM

piano lesson: mother and child (deanwissing/flickr)

Mother’s Day is coming up and we’d like to invite you to contribute some fun musical programming ideas. What comes to your mind when you mix classical music and mothers?

I think of Van Cliburn’s mother Rildia Bee. (Is there a better name than that for a sweet piano teaching mother?)  Rildia Bee was Van Cliburn’s ONLY piano teacher until he was 17. Keep in mind, he became the first pianist to win the Tchaikovsky International Competition in 1958 at the age of 23. A good argument can be made that Van’s piano playing can be largely attributed to his mother.
Midori’s mother was her first teacher. Then there are those ‘songs my mother taught me’- and the ones she didn’t teach us. Did your mother play music while you were in the womb? Did you come out humming Mozart? Are there some great opera mothers that come to mind?
Ok….so what comes up for you when you mix classical music and Mom? Let us know and we’ll play back some of your suggestions on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 9th.

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Comments [157]


it is my first speaching

Sep. 20 2013 06:16 AM
elsa grotefendt from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

It is TIME - past time - for the 'songs my mother taught me' to vanish into outer space ... them songs are too old!! eg

Jan. 11 2012 11:18 AM

All these tunes speak to my heart.

May. 10 2010 12:20 PM

washington heights got it right.

May. 10 2010 11:48 AM

i love this.

May. 10 2010 11:22 AM
Carol Pearlman from Fort Lee, NJ

No sooner did my family get into the car, on Saturday or Sunday, for our drive to no where in particular my mother would start humming. When my father turned the key in the ignition, my sister and I would start to giggle, he would back out of the driveway and off we would go. By the time we came to the first traffic light my mother would be singing one of the wonderful songs in her repertoire. Usually she would start off with, You Are My Sunshine, or When You're Smiling or when we were really lucky my favorite would spring from her lips, Once I Went In Swimming. These drives were something I will never forget, she would start singing, my father would be beaming from ear to ear and my sister and I would sing-a-long in our off-key voices.

Laughing would fill the car and my mother, in her mezzo soprano voice, would lead us along in song and merriment. These wonderful songs filled my early years with great pleasure and enjoyment. To this day I find myself humming, Shine On Harvest Moon, Good Night Irene, Daisy, Daisy and other greats that have become part of the Great American Song Book. What greater gift could my Mother have left me than the legacy to pass this enchantment on to my grandchildren. The little ones can feel the glee and happily have leaned the lyrics to most of these wonderful tunes and who knows maybe they'll pass these little ditties on to their children one day.

Thank you Momma for the joy and happiness you taught me to love understand from music and laughter.
Carol Pearlman

May. 10 2010 08:34 AM
Douglas E. Klein from Los Angeles, California

I grew up in Brooklyn listening to the Masterwork Hour at 7:00 PM every night on WNYC and on WQXR. My mom taight me all about opera and introduced me to the live Met Opera Broadcasts on WOR. I am very thankful for my mom taking me to Carnagie Hall to see Rudolph Serkin play the Emperior Concerto. I cherish these memories and it has served me in now being fully devoted to listening to classical music and attending concerts here in Los Angeles (some with Gustavo Dudamel conducting) and at Tanglewood.

May. 09 2010 10:17 PM
Edmee from new rochelle, ny

My Mother was:MUSIC,
Born in 1900 in the Manitoba Prairie,
An accomplished pianist and a
classically trained singer,
In 1926, the 1st woman to sing on
the radio in Florida,
My 1st piano teachert, though I was a
disappointing student, I always
retained my love of music.
There was always music in our home in the Bronx, from Chaminade to Chopin to
Cole Porter.
I have been listening to WQXR all of IT'S life.

May. 09 2010 03:53 PM
Gev Sweeney from Ocean Grove, New Jersey

*Gasp* The entire Mother's Day programming has been lovely. But that Ninth ... for Mom and me ... is a splendid surprise! Thank you!

And this is such a Ninth time of year: The work was premiered in Vienna on May 7, 1824.

I hope everyone's enjoying Sir Simon's interpretation as much as I am!

May. 09 2010 01:15 PM

My mom didn't really influence my love of classical music, sometime she pokes a little fun at me for my love of it. It all started with Bach, that's all I can say.


May. 09 2010 12:54 PM
Cecil Williams

when listening to classical music the instrutments make me relax unlike the music of rock and roll with the lyrics. Also ;the circumstances created by the composer sounds like it is about nature or the noble people and more bombastic. My mother and father gave me piano lesson and then clarinet lesson for a marching band. The learning to read music has assisted me in appreciating all kinds of music and I search for classical flamingo guitar. I admit that the college course in music helped me with fugue, concertino and other art forms of music. Cecil

May. 09 2010 12:31 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane from Lake Hiawatha, NJ

Finally, the most popular day of the year, MOTHER'S DAY!! No matter what gender, race, religion, or creed we ALL love and appreciate our mothers. One of the comments mentioned by anther contributor as a proper selection for broadcast today was Maurice Ravel's "Mother Goose Suite". On a concert celebrating my mother's 90th birthday I sang Ben Jonson's "Drink to me only with thine eyes" which he dedicated to a Celia. My mom's name was Celia. Ben Jonson was the colleague of Shakespeare who collected all the written scripts of Shakespeare and had them printed into quartos and eventually to folios. Without his selfless admiration and work to perpetuate the genius of Shakespeare, we would know nothing of him. My mom was an ardent activist for women's issues. She was a lawyer and a Gray Panther in her later years. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY !!!

May. 09 2010 10:22 AM

My mother, youngest daughter of a composer, violinist, and opera conductor,
married a concert pianist, so she and I and my three siblings were all born to the sound of live classical music, which for me, has never stopped, refueled daily by WQXR. My mother was a charming, beautiful, multi-talented woman—a great cook, a talented artist; she wrote and illustrated charming children’s stories for us when we were small and continued to paint all her life. Born in 1908, she trained as a dancer and was just beginning a career when she married, and instead devoted herself to my father and family life. But she could never resist a waltz, tango, or mazurka, and introduced me to ballet, which I love—my sister became a dancer; I play cello and piano (which my mother always appreciated and encouraged), my younger brother composes and plays piano, too.

Favorite childhood musical memories are of her driving us on long summer car trips in Europe, with classical music always playing on the car radio. Whenever an opera would come on, she’d sing the words, but only in Polish—she’d lived in the Warsaw Opera House as a teenager.
My most treasured memory is of her taking just me (I was about 18) to hear Eugene Onegin for the first time at Glyndebourne in England—the two of us got all dressed up and dined in style on the beautiful lawns before the opera. It was an incredibly moving performance; I fell in love with the music, and Pushkin’s poem always reminds me of my mother’s stories of growing up on her mother’s family’s ancient property in Lithuania. I’ll never forget the special connection
I felt sharing that experience with her. That opera always makes me cry.

And I loved it when, after a glass of wine or two, my mother occasionally would “perform” her one childhood piano piece—Mendelssohn’s Spring Song, playing it with comic, melodramatic flourish, but never getting more than half-way through because she and we would be completely overcome with laughter. I miss her enormously but always feel close to her whenever I hear those particular musical works.

May. 09 2010 10:02 AM
Daniel Ott from Flushing, N.Y.

My mother is the reason I became a composer. When I was eleven or twelve, my mother (a violinist) was preparing a recital which included the Bach Chaconne. Hearing that piece, and trying to play it (fumblingly) on the piano, made me want to be a musician. Now, years later, that piece is a staple for any student who studies composition with me. Nothing has given me greater joy than writing for my mom (who's played my music over the years) or at least to have her in the audience for a premiere. And the Bach Chaconne remains the single work above all others that I cannot live without. Thank you, Mom!

May. 09 2010 08:35 AM
Sandy from South Brunswick

I thank my mother Helen Brook for exposing me to the beautiful music on WQXR and for making sure that my sister Sharon and I had piano lessons. She instilled a love of music in me, my sister, and my brother. My sister is now a pianist.
My mother loved listening to Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony, especially the 2nd Movement. At her high school graduation, the class sang a song with words to this music. Whenever my mother heard this movement, she would sing her high school graduation song. I only remember the beginning: God of the dawning...
My mother passed away in 2006 and I didn't listen to music for a long time. Then, one day I turned on the radio, and there was the 2nd movement of Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony and her graduation song. I knew that my mother was communicating with me. Music is an eternal bond between us. I love you Mom.

May. 09 2010 02:19 AM
Jane Harris from Glen Rock, New Jersey

The earliest songs I remember hearing growing up were those of Pete Seeger - at his concerts and hearing so many of his LPs - when I was 4 or 5. She introduced me to Joan Baez and Judy Collins and eventually to the "songs" in opera and the larger world of classical music. To be honest, I groaned and rolled my eyes to the classical stuff until it all clicked sometime in middle school when I could fully appreciate the magnificent and broad taste she had in music. My devotion and delight in it have only deepened over time. WQXR was always on and two pieces in particular always remind me of her and the station when I hear them: Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez and Dances from Terpsichore by Praetorious. Her gift of music has changed the very nature of the living landscape. So "thanks" mom for enduring the groans, bringing me to all those concerts in the city....and having that wonderful radio station on at 96.3 FM, whenever anyone was home.

May. 08 2010 11:34 PM
Naomi Klosner from New York

Annie Certner, age 97, my mother, my best friend, my piano teacher. But I was not her piano-learner....no! My talent was literally "drawn" elsewhere. But here are my recalls. Age 4 -- black notes with yellow eyes and tails, "Three Blind Mice" which I did play, and which represented the peak in my music learning curve. And I did accompany my mother to the Mannes School the day she received her music certificate; and I did accompany her to Carnegie Hall when she sang in the Dessoff Choir. But these were not musical accompaniments, no.

I did take piano lessons under her easy-going tutelage for eight years, to little avail. However, my poor manual dexterity notwithstanding, my ear, my heart, my soul, embraces music, which encompasses my being every day.

Your daughter

May. 08 2010 08:51 PM
Diana Kalechman from Brooklyn, NY

My fondest memory from my mother is when she watched at 4 years old playing Fur Elise. We grew up in Argentina and I remember going to concerts to Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires. Here In the US we continued going to the Met . My mom now 93 and after stroke still listens music hooked to her Ipod, her favorite Operas Aida (her name), Rigoletto, Tosca Mme Butterfly,etc. Happy Mother's Day Mami.

May. 08 2010 07:05 PM
Lynne Brokaw from Navesink,NJ

My earliest memory of music and my mother is Oh Sweet Pea" by Tommy James. I don't even know how old I was, maybe 5, but I remember this was "our song". Then, much later, my mother introduced me to opera. She loved Maria Callas and she especially loved Maria Callas singing Puccini and Verdi. she would explain the art of Callas' singing as well as the story of these operas. But it was "Vissi d'arte" that hooked me. When I saw the flawless performance of Tosca at the Met April 24th, I though of my mother, June, and how she would have loved it too. She's been gone three years now, and I miss her every day; but whenever I listen to opera, and especially Tosca and La Boheme, I know that June is listening.

May. 08 2010 10:51 AM
Gabriel from Manhattan

My mother was a professional dancer in the 60s so my first memories were of the dance studio, sitting next to the pianist pounding out Chopin mazurkas and Brahms waltzes for the dancers. From there it was piano lessons at the age of 5 and on, finding the best teachers she could in each new city, pushing through practice and recitals in my boys department suits and clip on ties. Around 10 years old she took me to a Great Pianists series all summer at the concert hall downtown, seeing the likes of Ashkenazy, Watts, and Barenboim all season... most of which I slept through because it was dark, after 8:00, and I was 10. When I received a partial scholarship to an expensive college conservatory she slept on the couch for two weeks, protesting my well-meaning and beloved father who wanted to save money by sending me to state school instead. In 1997 she suppressed all her motherly fears and helped send me to India for 6 months to study Hindustani classical music. Other memories are too numerous for this space, suffice to say that I owe my musical life and the joy it brings me to the decades of persistent support and encouragement my mother gave. I will be forever grateful.

May. 08 2010 08:39 AM
SUZY DOOB from forest Hills, NY

On winter nights when I was 6, my mother would take me locally to Long Island Symphony concerts (Huntington, NY). I loved going but would get restless and tired midway through, so she would let me go to sleep on her lap, wrapped in her mink coat turned inside-out. I'm sure this warm, soothing, ubersensual physical environment tied me forever to the classical music I heard while wrapped in her arms.

May. 07 2010 11:54 PM
David Kallman from Metuchen, NJ

My mom got me started in a love of classical music. Many years ago, she brought me to a concert with George Szell of the Cleveland Orchestra.

Beethoven's fifth was on the program. In the last movement, there are a series of staccato notes. On each of these there was a complete bonding between Mr. Szell and the Orchestra.

George Szell would start each of these notes with his right arm pointing pointing upwards. He would then make a sweeping clockwise movement towards his right knee.

What happened next was magical. Somehow, Mr. Szell avoided contact with his right knee. There seemed to be complete mutual trust between the conductor and orchestra.

It was unclear if each note was stopped by the orchestra or conductor. And if the orchestra kept playing whether Mr. Szell would have clobbered his knee.

Ever since then, I've had a complete love of classical music

May. 07 2010 07:09 PM
Scott Munroe from Bethel, CT

In terms of exposure to music at an early age, I was one of the luckiest of children ever. My mother was an accomplished violist and my father was principal cellist at the Philadelphia Orchestra, then the New York Philharmonic. My mother took me to concerts almost weekly. It wasn't the music that held my interest as much as the spectacle of the events, being with my mother and seeing my father on stage. Having now a great affection for classical music, I realize that attending those concerts with my mother spread in my young soul the soil in which that adoration would germinate, even though I wasn't attentive to it as a youngster.
Mom died in 2006. I often think of her as I listen to music, especially Brahms, whose music she favored most.
The gift my mother gave me is constantly being replenished.

May. 07 2010 05:39 PM
Diana Stein from Grants, New Mexico!

There are two ways I learned to love music from my mother: One was her love of Broadway musicals when she would take me to Saturday matinees where I caught the muscial bug. It then led me to work in 1950 for the Theater Guild which had produced Oklahoma in 1943. Working for the Guild I had access to rehersals, first nights, etc. of other, and more current great musicals.

I, on the other hand, gained my love of classical music from listening to WQXR in my hometown of Manahattan in the 1940's as well as going to a Liberty Music Store on Madison Avenue and trying out classical recordings in their glass enclosed listening cubicle. I found that many of them wet my taste for lots more.

Ultimately, I made my home in New Mexico and started collecting classical LPs for our pleasure as well as our bookstore/art gallery customers enjoyment from the 1950's to 2005. Moving to live with my daughter, Sari, in rural, western New Mexico, there simply wasn't room for my now, very large and broad classical LP collection. I finally donated it to the University of New Mexico's Fine Arts Library which caused me both joy and sadness. The sadness has passed and we now delight in listening to WQXR via the internet 24/7!

Thank you WQXR for sticking with me all these years and my luck in finding you once again at the age of 83.

May. 07 2010 04:59 PM
Rhys Ho-Shing

I dont recall her actually teaching me any music or songs. I just came aware of mother always listening to classical music either from the radio or playing the records. Then, she would sing the pieces that were vocal and hum along if it was an arrangement, her head listing in synch as the orchestra filled her bedroom. I watched her drifting in someplace sweet and just went along with her. She seemed sublime and I wanted to be like her. Her music etched a pattern on my skin and I have been lost to music since around age 5years old. She was particulary fond of the Opera so I was introduced to many operas at a very early age and I just grew up taking music to be the most natural thing in all the world. Years later as I discovered the many genres of music, she gave me the gospel of Mahalia Jackson, I listened to her singing in the kitchen as she cooked, "I come to the garden alone", her contralto voice always moved me to tears. I still cry when I listen to any music and is totally caught up. Thanks mama. Rhys.

May. 07 2010 02:32 PM
Mary McGrath from Culver City, CA.

I love the standards....The songwriting was so outstanding, and the music so innovative. They don't make them like this anymore......Anything by Duke Ellington is fine with me....My mom's not around anymore, but I'm sure she'd appreciate the suggestions.

May. 07 2010 02:28 PM
Stephen Orr from NYC

As I kid I was aware that my mother knew how to play the piano but she rarely actually seemed to do it. One day when I was about 8, I came home from school and heard her in the living room quietly playing the piano. I sat down with my book bag on the floor of the dark hall and listened a long time as she played "Clair de Lune" and accompanied herself on old sheet music songs like "Smoke Gets In You Eyes", "Long Ago and Far Away" and "Love Walked In" in a high clear soprano that I was used to hearing only in church.
I think that was the first time that I realized that my mother had a whole other more interior life that had little to do with feeding and organizing her four kids. Now that I am older and she is gone. I wish I could have gotten to know that non-mom Mom who played music when she thought she was alone in the middle of the afternoon a little better.

May. 07 2010 12:30 PM
Michelle Greene from New York, NY

I didn't have the luxury of growing up in NYC but I had a great life growing up with acres of gardens, chicken in the back yard and, yes, you guessed it 'the dreaded piano lassons, recitals and family gatherings'. The years of Tuesdays that my mother brought me to the little house around the corner or across town were horrid, so I thought. "Play it again Michelle, this time a little slower" still resonates in my head. I now have, at 41, the long slender fingers of a piano player and to this day I can not play a note. I do however rememebr 3 very diferent but special to me songs from my mother's listening and my playing. I first remeber the song 'By By Miss American Pie' Mom hated it and told us so everytime it came on the radio. Then there's 'The Bumble Boggie'... oh the bumble boogie... pre aerobics in the livingroom that my friends would witness as we came home form school, how awful to have your friends see your mom in a leotard. and the one that sticks out most is my beloved many-times-over recital piece, Greensleves. Thaks for brings me mso much joy w/ many more songs everyday.

May. 07 2010 11:59 AM
Ken Thompson from NYC

My earliest memory of classical music was listening repeatedly to a 78 of Grieg's Piano Concerto when I was little, in Texas back in the 50's. That recording may have been a "pop" arrangement by Glenn Whiting or someone like that. I also got my first classical LPs from a record club my mom joined for me-- Musical Treasury was the name, I think. I remember loving pieces by J.S. Bach, Chopin, Leroy Anderson and Johann Strauss.

May. 07 2010 11:52 AM

My mother was a bit of a prodigy, having played Chopin's "Minute Waltz" in northern Ohio at age 8. When I was born, she played old lps of Beethoven's symphonies, Schubert's Trout Quintet, Chopin, Gilbert & Sullivan, and many, many others. She also taught piano, and played the Brahms Intermezzi, Mozart, Grieg and Tschicovsky on the piano in her spare time. Growing up, I was always exposed to classical music (along with jazz, pop and - horrors! - even rock 'n roll). We definitely were an eclectic musical family. I began taking violin lessions at Capital University when I was about 6, then later moved to piano lessons. When I went to Indiana University, where I majored in psychology (I am an attorney now), I met entire groups of "kids" my age who also knew and loved classical music, and it was - almost literally - like coming home. Thanks to my mother, I cultivated a deep love of the classics at an early age. God bless you, mother!

May. 07 2010 11:51 AM
Gregory Morris from Manhattan

My mother came to New York from Vancouver to perform on Broadway. She had the talent, but never got the big break. Instead, what she got was me--and my two siblings; a family and a career as a nurse.

Around the house and in the car she never listened to anything but QXR. I thought the radio was only classical music, NY Times news, Woody's children, and opera on Saturdays. I honestly did not know there even were different radio stations until I was eight or nine.

So Mum gave me all of classical music, but the individual songs she gave me were show tunes, standards, and soaring carols. I still well up when I hear "Goodnight My Someone" or "Danny Boy," the songs she sang for community chorales when she should have been on the Great White Way.

May. 07 2010 11:50 AM
Helen Barletta

My mother had a beautiful soprano voice and she sang all the time when I was a little girl. She especially loved the Jeanette MacDonald/Nelson Eddie duets and also the Lehar operettas. On Saturday afternoon, WQXR's broadcast of the opera was always on. Today I am a season subscriber to the Met. It's my favorite evening out and I owe it all to my Mom!! Happy Mother's Day, Mom!!

May. 07 2010 11:49 AM
Joan Greenfield from NCY

Each Christmas, when I was growing up in Rochester, NY, my grandfather gave my parents a subscription series to the Philharmonic. The series always included an opera but my mother had no patience for that genre - so she'd dress me up and send me out with Dad and Grampa in her place. The local classical music station was on in our house all the time, but this annual stand-in was my earliest exposure to live performance. There's nothing like seeing the artists and hearing the music as it's being made. So I thank my mother for that early exposure to La Boheme and Mimi; they always call her to mind.

May. 07 2010 11:47 AM
Jo O'Brien from Nutley, NJ

As a child I spent a great deal of time with my mother while my Dad traveled internationally to work. She would fill our days with music, singing and playing "records" of her beloved operas. She found comfort in music. Her loneliness turned to song! As I got a older she encouraged me to study music. I played the violin for many years, sang in choirs. To this day I listen to WXQR almost every day. I have passed on the gift of music to my children. My daughter is a music industry major in college. She plays many instruments and sings. She performed with her high school choir at St. Marks Basilica and various churches throughout Austria. My little guy at age 11 studies trombone and sings in his school choir. Mom's blessing of music continues through the generations!

May. 07 2010 11:47 AM
Judith Schoolman from New York

Growing up, my family listed to the Texaco Metropolitan Opera broadcasts every Saturday on WQXR. Not being an opera fan as a child, I didn't understant the allure. I remember describing opera to my mother as nothing more than, "a lady sings and then she dies at the end."

May. 07 2010 11:41 AM
Carol Jochnowitz from New York, NY

My mother made me take piano lessons because she knew that an understanding appreciation of music was one of the necessary components of a beautiful life. She herself played very well, with a light, feathery touch I've never heard on anyone else, and sometimes when I was little she would play and I would dance. One day, I remember, I couldn't finish the piece -- I got too tired. "Well, I'm not surprised at that," she said, "because the name of that piece is 'Perpetual Motion'." She had to explain to me what that meant.

I always loved music; I always loved playing the piano. I frequently hated my lessons and my teachers, and really messed up on practicing. Occasionally friends of my mother's would tell me, "Some day you'll thank your mother for making you go through this." I knew adults said things like that so I endured it as well as I could.

And then I grew up and began to realize -- very gradually -- what a source of joy and satisfaction playing the piano was to me, and how much music meant to me because I could understand what it was about. And finally, one day before it was too late, I went to my mother and said, "Did I ever thank you for makingme take piano lessons?"

And, being my mother, she simply smiled and said, "Thank you. That makes it all worth while."

May. 07 2010 11:32 AM
Linda from Randolph, NJ

My mother would get lost in classical music and use it to express her thoughts and feelings. She had a record of E Power Biggs playing Bachs Toccata and Fugue in D Minor on various organs throughout Europe. When you could hear that record outside on the sidewalk - we knew to take the long way home and to keep a low profile. The first few notes of that piece still raise the hairs on my neck.

May. 07 2010 11:31 AM
Nancy from Long Island

My mother was a budding actress before she left it to get married and follow my father around the country, wherever he was stationed, during WWII. My mother told me that, as an infant, I was always singing to myself. WQXR was always on the radio, or LPs on the Hi-Fi - stereo wasn't really out, yet. My parents always had subscriptions to the Met, City Opera, NY Philharmonic, NYC Ballet, and the American Ballet Theatre, plus others who came to the city to perform. I often went with her, as my father's job often had him traveling. My first opera was Aida at the "old" Met when I was 7 or 8, with my mother, and a friend, and that hooked me. Seeing it live after having heard it on the radio and LPs was the best! I joined a school chorus as soon as I could, and I've been in choirs ever since - 52 years and counting. While not particularly musical herself, my mother instilled in me a passion for it that will never die.

May. 07 2010 11:17 AM

My adored mother, Sunya Levy, was a lyric soprano. Although she never sang professionally
(sadly, the Depression and WWII interfered) she sang incessantly. She sang with choral groups, she sang with friends and she sang with the great tenors and baritones of the day: Robert Merrill, Jan Peerce, Richard Tucker, Franco Corelli et al. They never knew how dramatically, how passionately they partnered and dueted with her because Mama was singing in the kitchen or driving me to ballet and piano classes and they were singing on wqxr.
"Voi Che Sapete," "Un Bel Di," "O Mio Babbino Caro" and "Vissi d'Arte" filled our home as my mother sang and wqxr provided accompaniment. It has been a wonderful part of my life and is one of the many gifts my mother gave me.

May. 07 2010 11:07 AM
Jim Bieker from Bronx, NY

From teaching me my first piano lessons at age five, to taking me to see Van Cliburn before I was ten (and shaking his hand backstage – twice!), to being her accompanist when I was a teen as she sang in her beautiful mezzo-soprano at local recitals -- my Mother’s musical influence remains a source of fond memories, and playing this music always removes the mundane stress of day to day living.
Thanks Mom – Happy Mother’s Day!

May. 07 2010 11:06 AM
Stephen from Hunterdon, New Jersey

Mother Memory:

I was reared by a woman whose love of musicals bordered on fanatical. Out to eat with her, my brother, sister and I worked as a team hiding the salt and pepper shakers, lest she grip one up and use it as a prop microphone to sing along with a song she liked that happened to be playing. While my peers shared their love of Guns and Roses and Motley Crue at the grammar school lunch table, I stayed silent. Mother was right of course. I couldn't deny that I'd developed a serious Rodgers and Hammerstein and Judy Garland habit, particularly South Pacific and Meet me In St. Louis.
Then one fateful day I was saved. At home putting make-up on, getting ready to sing-along to the chorus numbers in Gypsy, a friend phoned the house. Would I like to go to the theater? Of course. Broadway! The Great White Way! Then he explained it was to the local Cineplex showing E.T. I reluctantly agreed. I removed the face paint and got a ride from mother to the theater.
The film started slowly. An Alien, a couple of kids living in some California suburb. Where were the song and dance numbers? The singing in the streets? Then it started to happen. The score of the film. It was compelling. It moved me. It was John Williams and my introduction to classical.
Later that night I handed my mother her VHS tapes of Judy and demanded she rent me Jaws.

Thank you mom. I love you.

Happy Mother's day.

May. 07 2010 10:59 AM
George Damasevitz from Upstate

My Mom bought an older piano for her four kids. We all had to take piano lessons for at least several years. It was one of the greatest gifts she could have given. Every time I sit down to play I thank God she was my Mom.

May. 07 2010 10:41 AM
Linda Guerci from Randolph, NJ

My mother always had classical music playing in the house, either WQXR, or a stack of favorite records. These were played so much we all knew each nuance by heart. I remember attending a NYC Ballet performance of Swan Lake with my mother. When the Waltz of the Flowers reached a certain point, we both looked each other to see who would get up since the record always skipped at that spot. And we laughed.

May. 07 2010 10:21 AM
Sheila Browne from New York City

My mother listened every Saturday to Milton Cross's "Live from the Met" opera broadcasts. Everything in our Bronx apartment stopped when she announced, "Here comes the aria. Quiet!" For years, her influence seeped into my life, and now I am a regular Met opera-goer, listen to WQXR every day at work, and of course, listen to the Saturday live broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera. I remember years ago, when Fleetwood was an announcer on WQXR, waking up one morning to the clock radio, and his voice, saying, "Here is the most beautiful piece of music ever to come from the soul of man." It was Mozart's "Ave Verum." I still vividly remember every second of that morning. It's all due to Mom.You are always with me when I hear classical music and opera. Thanks Mom.

May. 07 2010 10:07 AM
Elizabeth Schwebel Wind from Westchester, New York

My Mom took me to the ballet as a little girl because I loved the dance. Now I listen to music and visualize the dancing with it. It opened up my world to classical music. We still go to the ballet together!

May. 07 2010 10:01 AM
Neferlyn Gray from Manhattan

A song that has always been associated with Mother's Day for me is Mother Macree. When I was growing up it was traditionally sung by someone in my church on Mother's Day. One year the pastor learned that my mother had arranged for me to take lessons from the local singing teacher, and he asked me to sing Mother Machree for the Sunday service, an honor which I fulfilled every year until I went away to college. As I stood on the platform to sing, my mother and father were seated a few rows in front of me. My mothers gaze was fixed on me. I'm sure she could see nothing else but me. But I could see so much more. I could see the loving glance my father gave to her when I sang Mother Machree.

May. 07 2010 09:59 AM
Larry Block from Long Island

It was actually my grandmother (do grandmothers count? I would hope so!) who introduced me to opera and classical music by way of our local synagogue. Our cantor before he graduated to the Met was the great Richard Tucker who stunned the congregation with his gorgeous interpretation of the liturgy. When he graduated to the Met we listened to him on Saturdays when WQXR broadcast the operas in the fall. Eventually our old AM radio stayed tuned there ( except, of course when the Dodgers were playing) and classical music became a permanent part of our lives.

May. 07 2010 09:54 AM
Meg D'Incecco from Manhattan, NY

My mother has taught piano since 1968. In fact, she was teaching the day she went to the hospital to deliver me! Our house was always filled with music, some of it better than others...Students try, but few come close to the WQXR selections that play through the house during the rare hours that my mother isn't teaching.

On weekends I remember listening to show tunes as we did chores (Andrew Lloyd Webber still reminds me of dusting the living room!) And my love of choral music comes from our trips to hear mom's performances with the Princeton Pro Musica.

To quote a classic ABBA song for all the music-loving Moms,
"Thank you for the music, the songs I'm singing
Thanks for all the joy they're bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me."

May. 07 2010 09:52 AM

Songs my mother taught me to sing were Je dit que rien, Michaele's aria from Carmen and Mozart's Exultate amoung others.
She was a practicing singer and had QXR on the radio all the time. I grew up with music in the house and in my early teens she gave me singing lessons and I did solo at church and in school plays. A very vivid memory is following the score of some Wagner opera during the Met Saturday broadcast and falling asleep, something which still happens! Her influence still persists and last night I saw the Flying Dutchman at the Met which I first saw with her featuring George London. A lifetime of musical memories from a lady who loved and lived her music and passed it on. I thank her as I listen and learn more everyday. She did however not like too much Bach and the scratchy strings nor my pounding on the piano with a modern clash. Oh well.

May. 07 2010 09:47 AM
Bill from New York

My mother had great impact on my musical life. Both she and my grandmother played the piano. When my mother married my father and moved into her own home, my grandmother gave my mother her precious piano, the piano that I was given lessons on. When I was about ten years old I found a music book that I desperately wanted. A hard covered, beautifully illustrated, Rodgers and Hammerstein Song Book. It was $25. In 1971 that was a lot of money. After much pleading, my mother agreed to purchase it for me. (I wasn't the type of kid that caused a scene in a store...I think I frightened her). When I moved out on my own, my mother bestowed on me, the precious piano that was handed down from my grandmother. I still have, and use the book. If you ask my mother: "what the best $25 you ever spent?" she will tell you it was that book.

As an additional note, about 5 or 6 years ago, I decided to take some lessons as an adult. I got a few names of teachers in New York from some friends. I don't know what made me mention these names to my mom, but as I read down the list I got to a name that made my mom say: "Go to her....I know her grandmother and I remember when she was auditioning for Julliard". Just a coincidence. That teacher was Simone Dinnerstein. I got to study with her for 2 very special years. Way to go Mom!

May. 07 2010 08:41 AM
Rick from new york

both my parents sang and danced since before i could walk they constantly encouraged to do so and praised me during and after i did. but i always sang and danced with my mother and became a sublime musician.

May. 07 2010 07:51 AM
Lisa Kropp from Staten Island New York

From as early as I can remember, music was always playing in our house. My childhood was spent listening to Frank Sinatra on WNEW radio, along with Dean Martin, Perry Como, and many others of that era. However my parents were also huge opera lovers, and my Mom adored taking me to the opera. One of my fondest memories was getting dressed up and going to the Met to see Il Trovatore with Placido Domingo and Leontyne Price. I couldn't have been more than ten at the time, perhaps younger, but I was mesmorized. As the lovers sang their goodbyes to each other the bedroom became the battlefield and my mother watched me with great affection as my eyes widened in amazement. From then on I was hooked and have been ever since.
Now I am happy to impart my love and passion for music with my own young charges at the middle school I work at as a choir director. Our wonderful seventh and eighth grade choir students have won three gold medals at the annual NYSSMA adjudication, and in May of 2007 they won a gold with distinction and sang on the stage of Carnegie Hall. Then it was my turn to watch their faces light up.
Music continues to be a huge part of my life and I still sit in wonder whenever I attend an opera performance. Thanks Mom.

May. 07 2010 07:49 AM
Susan Brown

I grew up in the back of a valley outside Honolulu. We had no car, and my mother was isolated with a couple of very small children. Somehow she got hold of a xylophone and painstakingly taught herself to read the treble clef, and then sat with us, teaching us dozens of songs from The Fireside Book of Folksongs. She didn't always get the rhythm right--I learned that the spiritual "Oh won't you sit down" had a swing to it much,much later--but the love in the teaching and my love of music are inextricably intertwined.

May. 07 2010 06:52 AM
Eric Smith from Ozone Park N.Y.

My mother actually knows very little about classical music as does most of my company. However she shares her birthday with my favorite composer Franz Joseph Haydn. Perhaps the greatest composer that ever lived. My favorite song is his cello concerto in c! Thanks for listening. Cheers!

May. 07 2010 01:04 AM
Robert Demko from Rosedale

Like many others, my mom played classical music on WQXR every day I can remember. She came to the classics noticing bits of it in film scores. (She went to the movies a lot when she was a teenager.) She seemed to have a preference for Dvorak, Brahms, Rachmaninoff and St. Saens. She was enough of a classical fan that she taped a large number of her favorite pieces off the air using an open reel tape recorder. She made dozens of reels, and even went to the trouble of making a box of index cards showing which pieces were on which tapes. All this must have been a big influence on me at a very early age. (For one thing, I aced all the music appreciation tests at school!) Once, when my mother and I were at the beach, I heard some classical music coming from someone else's radio, so I just walked over and told this startled woman that it was Grieg's Second Piano Concerto! I guess I was so proud of my musical knowledge that I felt I had to demonstrate it. My mother was also proud of showing off her musical talents; for awhile, she was a member of the United Choral Society which, at the time, was conducted by none other than David Randolph!

On Valentine's day, you ran a show consisting of listener's romantic favorites. One of them was Saint Saen's Symphony No. 3, one of my mother's favorites. She passed away just four months ago, and when I heard it, it almost seemed as though she were sending me a pleasantly eerie message; it was quite a moving experience. It would be nice if you could play it on Mother's Day for her. Thanks so much, mom. Whenever I hear any classical music anywhere, I'll know, in a way, that you're still around.

May. 06 2010 09:14 PM
Susan from Roslyn Heights, NY

As a girl growing up on Long Island, I listened to my mother sing "Fruhling" in her wobbly voice. She would say that her voice teacher diplomatically suggested to her that she take up a musical instrument. She did sign me up for violin lessons, partially to please my father, who hoped I would become the next female Jascha Heifetz.
Classical music from LP's or the radio always filled our home, Attending concerts in person was a rare treat, necessitating a trip to Manhattan.My resourceful Mom discovered a concert series, held in various high school auditoriums across Long Island. I had the pleasure of hearing Alicia de La Rocha and, on another occasion, Yehuda and Hephzibah Menuhin.
I admit that I wasn't always crazy about classical music, and was bored with it often enough, I appreciate it now, and I'm glad my Mom took the time out to intoduce me to it.

May. 06 2010 08:18 PM
Meg Parsont from Upper W. Side, Manhattan

Despite my mom taking me to classical concerts for young listeners at Lincoln Center when I was a kid, I still preferred Abba to Albinoni and the Steve Miller Band to Mendelsohn. Today, I listen to WQXR while I'm at work, just as she did. And every once in a while, I find myself "air conducting" as she did when she was particularly moved by a piece of music--behavior that I found embarassing then and that I now understand completely!

While I didn't get to share this love for classical music with her while she was alive, knowing that I now love the music that brought her so much pleasure enhances my enjoyment of it that much more.

May. 06 2010 05:43 PM
Phyllis Sharpe from Teanck, NJ

I grew up in very small town in Kansas, 1,004 population. Daddy was the high school math teach and tenor in the Presbyterian Church. Mama was a soprano in the same choir and ultimately the organist. They had three children, a tenor and 2 more sopranos. Before the end of WWII we all moved from small town Kansas to Kansas City, Mo. After our first visit to church Mama was hired as organist/choir director with her own choir.
At home I had always heard music. Mama believed in practice. As the youngest though I learned music by ear. I never learned to read music, which was a problem as I became older.
In K.C. Mo. Mama took leassons in organ and voice. Mama was a natural coluratura with a high F. She was learning the Queen of the Night aria and hearing it so often I kept trying, but never made a creditable high F. E flat was my best.
But I learned more even though it was painful. When I sang a program or a recital, daddy would say "that was lovely, peaches" and Mama would say "yes it was but---------."
As a teenager that "but" did not make for a good mother-daughter relationship. It fact it took me quite a while to learn that it meant "never be satisfied. Always know that there is more to learn."

May. 06 2010 05:43 PM
John Seaman from New York, NY

I have been a classical music lover for 58 of my 73 years. I have been a faithfuil subscriber to The NY Philharmonic for 35 years. But there was no classical music in my home as a child. I discovered it away at College. BUT my mother DID LOVE Broadway Musicals. As a young child in the 40s and 50s, my mother (and father) made sure that I saw "South Pacific," "The King and I" and "Carousel." I still love the songs from those hits.

May. 06 2010 01:06 PM
Linda Bernstein from New York City

The other day for some peculiar reason I had the urge to play some of Bach's Two-Part Inventions. I went to the music shelf and pulled out the score whose binding had been reinforced more than forty years ago with yellow mystic tape. When I opened the book to the first invention, the yellowed edges of the paper began to crumble and flake into the piano. This music had belonged to my mother when she took her childhood piano lessons in the early 1930s and had been passed down to me. Luckily, enough of the music remained on the page so that the rest could come from fingers' memory. I have been playing the piano for fifty years. I am not so particularly good, but it's something I always have and still keep up with almost every day. I went from my home 1904 Mason & Hamlin to pianos in the practice rooms of Barnard and Columbia. When I married, my parents sent me their piano. The Bach reminded me that this is indeed the music my mother gave me.

May. 06 2010 12:41 PM
Daniel Meeter from Brooklyn

My mother, Trijntje, learned classical music from her father, an immigrant from Amsterdam. She was a preacher's wife in Beford-Stuyvesant, with a low salary, but when I was eight she bought a record a week at the grocery store as part of an album collection, "for you kids." I remember best her playing Dvorak's New World Symphony, and being haunted by the melodies. Because she was devout, and old school, we sang hymns after dinner around the table every night, and we four kids had to learn four-part harmony. A capella. It was just expected; we learned to read words and learned to read music at the kitchen table, before we went to school. My mom was an alto, my dad a tenor, and we each started on soprano and just moved down, till finally in high school I could sing bass. We had hymnals on the kitchen cabinet, next to the Bible. Our family theme song, my mother's favorite, was Bach's Sleeper's Wake.

May. 06 2010 12:01 PM

When I was little my mother loved to sing. It was a treat to go to sleep to her very clear and sweet sounding voice. Her favorite singers were Rosa Poncelle and Renata Tebaldi. She talked about them a good deal especially when we were listening to opera (mostly Italian) on recordings/radio. Her other favorites were Shubert and Chopin. Her love of music had a profound effect on my entire family.

May. 06 2010 10:50 AM
Jim Shelton from Cold Spring, NY

When I was about 9, in a small south Texas town, my mother brought home some classical albums, (yes, 78's) most importantly, Egon Petri playing Chopin - what a revelation for a young fellow! I've loved classical music since and made a living recording and reproducing it. Thank you, Mom!

May. 06 2010 10:13 AM
Jane S. Gabin from New York, NY

In our small apartment kitchen in Queens there was a high white shelf, and on it was a red plastic radio that my mother always had tuned to WQXR. As a small child, I had a soundtrack of classical music ever-present, and for years I did not know there was any other kind of music. I especially enjoyed a WQXR host named Duncan Pirnie, who interspersed the music with recommendations of restaurants and gourmet foods. On Saturdays we listened to the opera broadcasts. When I was about seven my mother decided I was ready for live concerts. Some children may remember their first circus or baseball game -- I remember the first time I went to Carnegie Hall. I also clearly remember the summer evening my parents took me to an outdoor concert at Lewisohn Stadium to hear a young pianist from Texas who had just won a piano competition in Russia -- Van Cliburn. I remember attending my first opera: "Carmen" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music." My mother signed me up for something just getting started -- a series of "Young People's Concerts" led by Leonard Bernstein (my first crush!). By then I wanted to be able to make music myself. My mother told me she had taken piano lessons, but our apartment was too small for a piano. Instead, I learned to read music and navigate the keyboard via the accordion. When I began junior high, my mother encouraged me to take instrumental music, and I chose the bass violin. Through junior high, high school, and Queens College I played in numerous orchestras and my parents came to every concert. That thrill of hearing a symphonic piece coming together through the combined efforts of a hundred players -- and the intellectual and emotional relationship I still have with music -- all started with my mother's encouragement. Only decades later, when I found the high school yearbook she had never shown me, did I realize the full extent of her own musical aspirations. She had wanted to attend a conservatory -- a hope dashed by the Depression. But in the more than fifty years I shared with my mother, I never ever saw her touch a keyboard, even though we had many friends with pianos in their homes. How she must have lived through my playing! My mother was Billie Leiner Gabin, and may her memory be a blessing.

May. 06 2010 07:01 AM
David Rosen from Syosset, New York

My Mom, of blessed memory, didn't know much about classical music, but she knew what I liked. We just didn't have a lot of it around the house, until I reached the 7th grade. Mom was a secretary at Forest Hills High, and that year, the Music Department switched their library from 78s to LPs (which dates this story nicely), intending to throw out all the old stuff. Mom managed to save a few dozen of the huge old albums for me, and that was how I first heard the music I've listened to all my life since. It's almost 50 years later, and the 78s are long gone, replaced by hundreds of LPs and CDs. Still I can't hear the "Jupiter," "Eroica" or "New World" symphonies without wanting to flip the side in the middle of each movement.
Thanks, Mom.

May. 06 2010 07:00 AM
Murton from Keyport, NJ

Elliot, thank you for this...a beautiful way to commemorate Mother's Day, for classical listeners...

My Mother always encouraged enjoyment of classical music (as did my Father)...she saw to it that ALL of us took lessons...I chose piano and viola, and never regretted it to this day.

When she lived on LI or before that in Queens, the radio never went astray from WQXR from the moment she awoke to when she had gorgeous music to lull her to sleep.

In her later years, when her health was failing, we would sit and listen to Met Opera performances on Sat. when I visited her on Long Island, or I would remind her to tune in on her local station that aired it when she moved to Indiana to be nearer my sister. Her favorites were any of the Puccini potboilers, always bringing forth tears with key arias. She also loved chamber music, becoming involved in local ensembles when she was on LI with fundraising, and bringing me along to hear great music.

Her greatest joy was sitting down at our Mason and Hamlin and playing some Chopin Preludes, Debussy's Children's Corner or Schumann's Kinderszenen...sadly, her eyesight went due to macular degeneration, and since she was not a great memorizer, her favorites were gone to her forever.

I will always thank her for making classical music such an important part of MY life.

May. 06 2010 02:46 AM
MB Flynn from Brooklyn, NY

My mother loved music. She sang show tunes, American Songbook standards, the Notre Dame Victory March, and hummed along with the opera on Saturdays. I especially remember her singing "Getting to Know You" to one of my younger siblings when a newborn. But it was the gift of the opera that she gave to me. When my girls' school invited Jerome Hines to give a concert (it was a fundraiser) Mom was so excited she bought several tickets - a real luxury - and then gave me pointers on how long a lady's gloves and pearls were supposed to be were we going to sit in the orchestra of the Met, rather than my school's gymnasium. As a small thank you for instilling a life long love of opera, I treated her for a birthday to a matinee performance of La Nozze di Figaro with Flicka von Stade as Cherubino, with Mom softly humming along throughout the performance.

May. 05 2010 10:27 PM
SusanW from NYC

My mother Melkee (Juliet to us) was born in 1914 in Turkey. She and her family fled to Paris during the Armenian persecution, after which she lived in Cairo and Jerusalem before joining her father in the US at age 15. She was beautiful inside and out and loved music…all sorts of music, actually. WQXR was always playing at our house but she also loved American Bandstand, big band, Latin and, wow, that lady could dance up a storm! And she especially loved Liberace…one of my earliest memories was watching his television show, sitting on her lap while he played classical and ragtime on his piano with the huge candelabra on top. Her fave was “La Mer” and I came to love it, too, since I associated it so closely with her. On my 13th birthday I got a much coveted stereo, the type on which you played LPs and 45s…and a stack of Beatles, Debussy, Stones, Mozart, Elvis…oh, and Charles Aznavour and Khachaturian, of course! Happy Mother’s Day to my funny, adorable, smart and wonderful mom…you gave me so much, musically and in many other ways!

May. 05 2010 09:35 PM
Evelyne Liebmann from Rye, NY

My earliest memories of classical music goes back to age 3-1/2 or 4:00. My mother had our little white Emerson radio on, as she worked around the house. I remember dancing in the living room as the music played and my mother was cooking dinner. When I was older and requested piano lessons she and my father made sure that I had them. My piano was a "gently used" practice piano from Tanglewood a Baldwin Acrosonic spinet. It was my mother who took me from Queens into Manhattan for my first piano lessons and later to Brooklyn to a different piano teacher. My mother also learned to play the piano as a child and often turned pages for my father's amateur musician friends when they played chamber music in our home.
I am now 64 years old and have listened to WQXR since age 3-1/ or 4 (that I can clearly remember). My mother's love of music goes back to her childhood in Germany, before Hitler changed her life.

May. 05 2010 09:04 PM
Deirdre from NYC

Four generations of Classical Music

My earliest recollections of classical music revolve around piano solos played by my mother just for me, or so it seemed. During my youngest years the Blue Danube was my favorite, but it wasn’t before long that my childhood repertoire included Moonlight Sonata, Fur Elise and Barcarolle. These were joyous times although there was a touch of sadness as we watched Madam Butterfly together with my grandparents and a tear rolled down my five year old cheek. Today, my husband and I have passed on this love of classical music to our eight year old son who studies music at Lucy Moses. While his taste is certainly eclectic, his favorites include Beethoven’s Fifth.

Thanks mom for one of the greatest gifts you could have ever given me.

May. 05 2010 08:19 PM
Laurie Abel from United States

My mother played the piano beautifully and whenever I hear Chopin, especially the Polonaises, I see her sitting at the piano, smiling. I have that piano but not her talent. I would sit with her and turn the pages and be quiet, listening, learning and loving being with her.The last Mother's Day we shared was 1964 and while I still miss her she gave a great gift - music.

May. 05 2010 05:58 PM
Diane from Maplewood, NJ

My mother often sang "Home, Home on the Range" as she did the wash or washed the dishes. She truly loved her home, homemaking and her family.
I often sang doing the dishes at that same sink when she was no longer strong enough to stand beside me and help. She'd make the comment "..and still she sings", meaning she thought it was remarkable that I was still singing after doing my part time work, caring for her, doing supper and now the dishes. I realize this year after her passing that it was her good cheer at the tasks of daily life that probably was as much an influence as the beauty of the songs that sontaneously came forth.

May. 05 2010 05:55 PM
Marianne from Nutley, NJ

My mom, born in 1920, is definitely a 'Big Band' kid who shared her love for that era with her children. But, she also loves Madama Butterfly and Carmen and has shared those feelings with her kids. So much so, that one of them...ME, grew up and was fortunate enough to be an 'on-air personality' in radio for 25 years. Her love for music gave me an appreciation for ALL music. My love for classical music is 'endless'...so, thank you mom for my music appreciation and thank you, WQXR for sharing it.

May. 05 2010 05:06 PM
Sharon Shepard-Levine from South Orange, NJ

Where do I begin to explain the music influence my Mother, Charlotte Vineburg, has had on me. She was a piano teacher, a liturgical composer, singer, choir director and organist. I grew up with classical music being played in my house from as far back as I can remember. One of my favorite pieces that my Mom used to play on the piano was "Ritual Fire Dance" by Manuel de Falla. I loved watching how fast her fingers would fly over the keyboard and the passion of the piece was unlike anything I had ever heard!
My mother discovered my singing talent at a very early age and signed me up to take singing lessons with a voice teacher who felt like my 2nd Mother. Madame Era Tagnoli had her own opera company, the Metro Lyric Opera Company in NJ and that's literally how I grew up - in this amazing Opera Company.
But I digress - back to my Mom. She and I sang together for years performing for organizations and clubs in NJ. What was so very special about singing and performing with her is that even though we were definitely a Mother / Daughter act, we were much more than that. We harmonized and made music together and always had each others back. If one of us forgot the lyrics the other would come to her rescue. It was a wonderful experience that I will treasure always.

Happy, Happy Mother's Day!

May. 05 2010 04:22 PM
Janet P. Levitt from New York, New York

I wish my mother were here to share this Mother's Day with me but she is not. However, the memories of listening to QXR with her will last forever. Especially every Saturday, we would sit together in the kitchen with the radio on listening to the Opera Broadcast from the Met. She would tell me stories of the earlier productions she had seen including people like Caruso and Leonard Warren and so many others. I heard classical music and QXR from the earliest days even before I was born and as an infant (according to stories I was told) I would wave my hands to the music as if conducting the opera each Saturday. Although I didn't pursue my conducting skills, I still listen to the Saturday broadcasts and remember the hours spent just sitting there quietly with the woman who was everything to me - mother, advisor, best friend, confidante and source of support every day of her life.

May. 05 2010 03:46 PM
John Goodwin from Demarest, NJ

My mother sent me first to piano lessons then to clarinet lessons setting me up for many years of school instrumental and vocal participation.
My parents often listened to classical music on the radio. Living in Tenafly, NJ, it was probably WQXR.
My mother bought me 78 RPM records, my favorite was "Tubby The Tuba" about a tuba who was sad because he never got to play the melody. The other instruments laughed at him as he played om pa, om pa. But at last he got a beautiful tuba melody and he was good at it and he was happy. I loved it. The record was a kind of child's guide to the orchestra.
I don't believe my parents ever took me to a classical concert but they did take me to Broadway musicals including South Pacific and Wonderful Town. I think my folks did a good job,
I have enjoyed good, mostly classical, music for
more than 60 years.

May. 05 2010 03:36 PM
Tze-Yu Lo from Baltimore, MD

For me, my mother has left an indelible mark on my musical taste during my adolescence. I immigrated to the US when I was 10 years of age, and at the time did not really have any preference for music. My mother, who enjoys listening to classical music, bought CD’s with various recordings by renowned artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Emmanuel Ax, and Wynton Marsalis. I became interested enough that I took up lessons in playing the trumpet when I entered junior high school, and that interest persisted throughout high school. It was also my mother who brought me to my first opera performance at the Met, and I was captivated by the display. To this day, I vividly remember crying when Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s Rodrigo sang his piece, as he lay, dying, in the arms of Don Carlo. Indeed, if not for my mother, I would not have had the opportunity to sample so much of what classical music has to offer, and I am indebted to her for having given me such an enriching experience in my life.

May. 05 2010 02:12 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane from Lake Hiawatha, NJ

All the world loves their mothers and every mother loves her children and does everything she can to nurture them and secure as best she cfan the best possible future for them. That was true of my mom, Celia, who lived to age 96. She was a lawyer who represented the women's issues and was a Gray Panther, a genuine activist for woman's equality in jobs and in every activity. My career as a Wagnerian heldentenor and opera composer and my brother's, Dr. Ben C. Lane's as a leading nutritional optometrist, would not have been so achieved without her. As a lawyer, she got the NJ Optometry Board to keepthe office going temporarily with another optometrist for one year until my brother got his doctorate. My dad, Dr. Morris J. Lane had died before Ben could join him in the office. Dvorak's "Songs my mother taught me" applies also to the melodic memorable "melodies" of love and concern that our mothers bequeath us.

May. 05 2010 01:51 PM
Shelah Leader from NYC

My 93 year old mother, Betty, always listened to classical music, especially the Sat. afternoon live broadcasts of the Met opera. She impressed me with two stories: as a child in a very poor family, her oldest brother begged my grandmother for money to buy a classical record. My grandmother replied she only had enough money for food for the day. My uncle replied, "But Mom, music feeds the soul!" Grandma gave him the money.

As a young secretary, Mom worked for the radio company Davega in NYC. When the first live radio broadcast of orchestral music conducted by Toscanini took place, she was there. Everyone came in evening gowns and tuxedos because it was such an important cultural event.

These stories told me how important classical music is and it has shaped my love of WQXR and live classical music performances.

May. 05 2010 12:59 PM
Bernie from Roseland, NJ

My mother, Rosemarie, taught me by example that a child’s first music teacher is the parent. She patiently taught me the piano, gave ceaseless encouragement, and spent many hours at the “record store” with me. Her love of music has fostered my own lifelong passion for music, which I pass down to my own young children. They play egg shakers, harmonicas, and recorders in the family “band,” and they often ask me to play the violin (another instrument that mom ardently encouraged me to play when I was thirty-four!).

I truly treasure the gift of music that mom has infused into our lives. This is no small accomplishment for a woman who didn’t have the opportunity to pursue her own dream of becoming a professional pianist. Yet, her musical influence on our family will endure forever. To honor mom’s musical legacy, I would like to request music from Clara Schumann, the great piano virtuosa and composer, and mother of eight children.

With deep gratitude, respect, and love to you, mom!

May. 05 2010 12:10 PM
Lorrie Meyer

My Mother is the reason I listen to WQXR every morning/evening. Both she and my grandfather were classical music lovers - and the reason I have a Westinghouse console circa 1940's in my living room from a WQXR contest my grandfather won. My Mom could not read music but had a great ear and a baby grand piano. She taught herself at 17 to play Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata by ear.THat always amazed me. Her best friend went to Juillard. I can read music and play the piano.We played all the classical albums she had on my grandfather's console. Somewhere along with rock'n' roll I learned to appreciate Chopin, Tchcaikovsky, ballet & the symphony and love your station. Her love of music makes me wonder what would life be without it?
Thought she is gone, my joy of music is because of her. Thanks. Mom.

May. 05 2010 10:36 AM
Guy Suabedissen from Piscataway, NJ

There was always music in our house and I knew my mother had been a dancer. Music lessons were a given for me and my brother by eight years old. It became a lifestyle when I turned 10 and Mom started dancing and teaching again, both at a school and in our home. The music I heard over and over as she taught was, as I learned later, all Chopin. As she rehearsed and choreographed, we were surrounded by Die Fledermaus, Giselle, Pas des Quatre, Hungarian Dances, Peter and the Wolf. The result: I have been in bands, orchestras, choirs and musicals all my life. My brother became a music teacher and band director.
She stopped teaching after two hip replacements, but didn't stop dancing, taking line dance and tai chi classes. She said she couldn't listen to music without her feet moving. There were mirrors and a practice bar in her rec room that she still used.
She died last month at 88. But the music is still here.

May. 05 2010 10:15 AM

With my mom, I may never have known the joys of the greatest ever, Prince! Purple rain, purple, rain...

May. 05 2010 12:19 AM
Lauren from Ringwood, NJ

If it weren't for my Mom, I would have never have achieved Clementi's Sonatina C nor sang Faure's Requiem nor lived a life filled with classical music. Our home was filled with music and the songs play on as my siblings and I have grown up and wrote our own personal scores ... to life. This weekend I am lucky enough to enjoy Mother's Day at the NY Symphony with my Mom... 72 years young and she doesn't miss a beat! We are grateful fans of WQXR and thank you for bringing harmony into our lives.

May. 04 2010 09:54 PM
Dale Sims from New York, New York

The song "Songs My MotherTaught Me" by
Dvorak has memories for me also. My mother was a voice student at theJuilliard School of Music, and she was constantly practicing arias from operas, particularly from the Magic Flute. She sang duets with my father,whom she met at Juilliard. Songs My Mother Taught Me sums up what she taught me about the soprano repertoire(Classical) and also Her Mother was also a musician-a piano teacher. We all learned a lot about the Classical piano repertoire from her. So, its three generations of Classical Music Lovers. My daughter prefers gospel music, but she listens to Classical Music also.

May. 04 2010 09:40 PM

My mother, Leah Rappaport Williams, did not just teach me songs and music, she taught lots of people. She was a piano teacher and also taught music at the Horace Mann schools of Teachers College in NYC in the 1930's and 1940's. She played Chopin & Liszt at home, but not often enough!

My mother and father were also the most devoted QXR listeners, and brought up my sister, Nina Williams Leichter and me on a steady diet of classical radio music. I twas born in 1935. Since QXR started in 1936, it was a constant companion as I grew up, and to this day. (Now I play it on my computer while at work.)

I remember my Aunt coming to our house when I was quite small and saying to mother "What you have QXR on again, are you always teaching those children? My mother told her that we all listened for enjoyment, and there was no forced teaching at all.

While my parents had a phonograph, they preferred QXR. Whenever there was a violin concerto early in the morning on QXRR, my mother would say, "It's going to be a great day!"

My father, George Williams, loved my mother and her music. She had not been able to attend college before marriage, so after marriage he sent her to Teachers College in NYC, and to the precursor of Juilliard, which was called "The Institute."
They took a picture of my sister with Mom's graduation hat on to celebrate her graduation in Piano.

Early in their marriage, they moved to the uptown Julliard neighborhood. We lived on 120th Street where mother taught piano every afternoon. Iused to come home and chat with the mothers while their children played. I even lived to see my mother teaching our four children, and Nina's children, informally, comfortably, with skill and tenderness.

My mother did teach me piano, and used to correct me from the kitchen when I practiced. "No, no, it's a D" came the word wafting down the hall. My sioster became a good cellist, and my parents encourage my interest in ballet, and their interest in having me take violin lessons.

We went to many concerts. A special time was when just mother and I went to Lewisohn Stadium to hear a wonderful violin concerto in the great outdoors. Our hands were sore from the wild clapping and audience enthusiasm for the encores..

Three cheers for Leah, for everyone's mother, for music and WQXR. May there be many wonderful encores in your futures!!

May. 04 2010 09:35 PM
Mary C. Rorro from Brick, N.J.

My most treasured memory is of my mother teaching me and playing classical violin duets together at the break of dawn. We marveled as the birds were drawn to our music, singing around us. The way my mother smiled at me filled me with joy, as did the music we shared together. She was and always will be my guiding light. I wrote this poem, dedicated to her for Mother's Day:

Dawn's Duet

Dawn unfolds with glorious song
sparrows sing to lilting violins
awakening the sleeping fawn

c. May 4, 2010 Mary C. Rorro

May. 04 2010 09:12 PM
Shannon Chapa

My mother was a professional ballet dancer until becoming a mom and switching to teaching. From the earliest times I can remember, she was always playing old records of her favorite ballets for my sister and I: Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Le Sylphide, Copelia, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, etc, etc, etc. We would listen to them for hours on end while we drew, played with dolls or danced around the room, moving in tune with the music. I have loved classical music (and especially the ballets) ever since and am so grateful for the early exposure to it that I received from her.

May. 04 2010 05:57 PM
Liz Williams from Ridgewood, NJ

I thank my mother, Nancy for introducing me to one of life’s riches, classical music. Not only did she offer me violin lessons and shuffle me around to countless rehearsals throughout my childhood, but she shared her knowledge and encouraged me. Now as adults, we share our love of classical music by attending concerts together and discussing classical music. Througout my childhood, upon my return from school, I was greeted by my mother and the sound of classical music (especially operatic favorites) blaring from the stereo. Please broadcast Gil Shaham playing Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy for her. She is a loyal WQXR listener!

May. 04 2010 04:49 PM
Monica from Long Island, NY

I can clearly recall my mother waltzing across the kitchen floor, dishtowel in hand. Her favorite of the "tanz-lieders," as she called them, was Strauss' Blue Danube Waltz. Though Mom passed away several years ago, she hums the tune still in my memory.

May. 04 2010 03:38 PM
Thomas Bias from Sparta, NJ

When I was a baby, my parents only had a 45 rpm record player; classical music did come on 45s, but in big stacks, and my mother would play them for me—it kept me quiet. My favorite was Manuel de Falla's dances from the "Three-Cornered Hat." I also liked the overture from "Carmen" and the "Nutcracker" suite. Mother tells me that I would cry when the music ended. Well, I love classical music to this day, and enjoy performing it—as a pianist and as a singer—as well as listening to it.

May. 04 2010 03:00 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane from Lake Hiawatha, NJ

Mom, Celia, loved the singing of Jeannette Macdonald, Nelson Eddy, Sinatra, Perry Como, Jan Peerce, Pete Seeger Joan Baez, Kate Smith and listened regularly to the weekly broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic and Symphony of the Air and the "Met" Opera broadcasts. Mom graduated from St. Lawrence's Brooklyn Law School and with my dad, Dr. Morris J. Lane, a published poet and optometrist, supported my interests in composing and singing classical and "pop" and my brother's, Dr. Ben C. Lane, in his research in vision and nutrition. She was active in supporting as well women's issues. True to her generation, ballads and big bands attracted her most loyal interest.
My early hearing, over WNYC, on the 9 AM Masterwork Hour, of Toscanini's conducting of the New York Philharmonic in Wagner's Rhine Journey and Funeral Music from Gotterdammerung convinced me that singing Wagner, and composing, should be my life's activities. That was at age 12. Happy MOTHER'S DAY!!!

May. 04 2010 01:14 PM
Kim Kellogg from New York

Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio in the 60's, my Mother always listened to WCLV and it served as the musical background in our lives. We also had the privilege of frequently attending concerts at Severence Hall which featured The Cleveland Orchestra.

As a very young child, the first album I ever received as a gift was Sergei Prokofiev's,
Peter and the Wolf. I often requested my Mother play "my" album over-and-over again on our family stereo. Of course, she obliged. To me, it was so incredibly magical and I never got tired of hearing the tale and listening in amazement as the instruments brought the story to life. To this day, it still evokes wonderful childhood memories and holds a very special place my heart.

Thanks Mom! Happy Mother's Day!

May. 04 2010 01:09 PM
Diane (also for Nancy, Don and Chip) from Ramsey, NJ

The Songs Our Mother Taught Us - range from the silly to the sublime. She and our Dad met on the stage of the fledgling Ridgewood NJ Gilbert and Sullivan ensemble after 'the war.' Music, therefore, became the life-blood of our family. Everything from - her autoharp accompaniment for teaching Sunday School; the scouting campfire songs; the silly songs to occupy 4 busy children; the rehearsals of her Sweet Adeline barbershop quartet that often gathered 'round our treasured hand-me-down sunporch upright; her love of the Broadway musicals - to the hours she has since spent at that very upright, lost in her private musical wonderland. How fitting that WQXR asks for 'songs' (plural) - since she taught us, by example, to enjoy it all - the broad spectrum of music she introduced us to - without limiting us to the magnificent classic composers that we each studied more formally to varying degrees. When the 4 of us, now with grown children of our own, reminisce of our childhood, it is so often to the lyrics of a patter song, barbershop harmonies, the melodies that keep Broadway in lights or one of Dad's favorite arias. Thanks Mom for watching our performances from the audience, making us feel like stars. Our Mother, Our "Buttercup"

May. 04 2010 12:27 PM
David A. Johnson from Union Twp, NJ

If you are looking for something appropriate for Mother's Day, you cannot possibly go wrong if you play something from one of the following:

Ricardo's Muti
Anne-Sophie's Mutter
Yo Yo's Ma
Zubin's Mater



May. 04 2010 12:01 PM
Rita from Cresskill NJ

My mother instilled in me my love for the piano. She gave me my first classical LP: Van Cliburn playing the Emperor Concerto,bought my piano and found a wonderful teacher for me. Later in life, I shared the opera with her, enjoying a Met subscription for many years. Mutual gratitude for the gift of music!

May. 04 2010 11:52 AM
Marilyn from Brooklyn

My Mom, born in 1921 in Detroit, was a young woman during the "golden years of Broadway musicals" in the 40's and 50's. One of my first memories was her singing "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning" from "Oklahoma!" when I was four or five, in our tiny house in South Bend. She had no formal training, couldn't play an instrument, but dragged me to every Mario Lanza movie in the back seat of our Studebaker at the drive-in theater. She taught me to love music, and was a wonderful Mother to me and my five brothers. Mom died in 1973, but knows, I think, how much music means to me, and my children and grandchildren. I think she would enjoy anything that Elliot Forest would play on Mother's Day--but especially "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning."

May. 04 2010 11:28 AM
Fran Troiano from Glendale, NY

The Italian folk tune, "Bella Ragazza dalle Trece Bionde," was always sung to me by my mother. Little did she know that her favorite and that of Tchaikovsky's were the same. Whenever I hear his "Capriccio Italien" , I think of my mom and how in her later years she was thrilled by this piece as I still am.

May. 03 2010 02:37 PM
Stu Chamberlain from New York, NY

As a very small child, I used to sit and watch my mother play Chopin on her piano. That piano was her wedding present from my father.... he bought it at an "artist-owned" piano sale, and the artist who had previously owned it was Lily Pons of the Metropolitan Opera. Sometimes my little hands would start banging on the piano keys.... my mother immediately saw to it that I started piano lessons at age 4, and the ability to play a piano is still a wonderful part of my life. ANYway.... the song my mother taught me.... Chopin's "Raindrops" prelude.

May. 03 2010 11:27 AM
Luis A. Colon from Paterson,NJ

I am 63 and my mother always played WQXR. She had a great passion for Chopin and alas, so do I. I have many favorite composers, but confess that Chopin stirs my soul and calls to me like
no other. I have read everything about his
tortured lfe and cannot fathom creating
such beauty out of so much pain. I'll get a headache and don't even want to go to work, much less think and create.

May. 03 2010 10:21 AM
Erica Levin from Madison, NJ

My mother's love of the American Songbook was infectious. One of my earliest memories is watching "Singin in the Rain" with my mother. I remember the faraway look on her face, the little smile - and how I laughed at Donold O'Connor throughout the entire movie. Our home was always filled with standards playing, and my mother enthusiastically singing wildly off-key, knowing every word. Those songs became the touchstone of my life, having attended school for jazz vocals - I am now a mother who sings "Embraceable You" to soothe her baby. My 3 year old is crazy about the Central Park dance scene in "The Bandwagon" - Cyd Cherrisse and Fred Astaire. She sits 6 inches from the TV, like I did, seemingly not breathing. The first time I showed it to her, she whispered as the dance ended, "mommy, again!"

May. 03 2010 10:20 AM
John Christiano from Franklin NJ

Livia from Fresh Meadows reminds me of the records we used to have in the house. My favorite was my mother's multi-record set of 78s called "Lanza SIngs Caruso". Another was Shubert's Serenade (Stanchen).

We lost all these beautiful recordings in house fire when I was nine. Gone but never forgotten.

May. 03 2010 09:21 AM
Jeanette Friedman McKee from New York City

Whenever I hear "Songs My Mother Taught Me," by Dvorak, I always think of my mom, who loved and lived to sing the standards of the American Songbook. While growing up in a three-room apartment in New York City, I remember -- from whichever room I was in -- hearing her play the piano and sing the incomparable melodies of Cole Porter, Gershwin, and many other composers/lyricists of that era. How could I NOT fall in love with those splendid melodies?

Many years later, when my mom was living in a long-term residence, I would bring her music books to the facility and play her favorite tunes. While she was unable to sing because of a stroke, we spent many precious hours enjoying each other and all that grand music -- just like old times!!

It's been about eight years since her passing, and, although I never sang as a young woman, I've come to realize that I have inherited some of my mom's vocal gifts. So, with the help of a great vocal instructor, I'm NOW singing many of those great tunes -- and even performing them with "The PhilHallmonic Society," a new group of professional singers who love to sing and bring joy to others.

May. 03 2010 09:17 AM
Pasquale Simonelli from Long Branch, NJ

My mother always started her piano playing with Gershwin’s "The Man I Love." When I was five, she took me to my first opera, “Tosca” with Renata Tebaldi, at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, Italy. My paternal grandfather’s family was traditionally connected with the Bel Canto (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasquale_Simonelli).

May. 03 2010 09:10 AM
Ruth Detjen from Poughkeepsie, NY

My mother knew nothing about classical music, but she thought it was important that I have piano lessons and managed to get lessons for me from our neighbor My parents bought a used spinet, and, my mother enjoyed listening to me play "Fur Elise", "The Swan" and "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" Because of my mother's determination to get me music lessons, I learned to love classical music.

May. 03 2010 09:03 AM
John Christiano from Franklin NJ

Actually, it was my great grandmother who gave me the gift of music. When I was a child, she took care of me while everyone went to work. She spoke no English and there was no Italian TV in the 50s, only radio. So all day I would hear Italian folk tunes and, of course, opera.

The love of that music has stayed with me all my life. Grazie, mama nonna!

May. 03 2010 08:41 AM
Victoria Warne from Clifton, NJ

Believe it or not, when I remember my mom, I think of the 1812 Overture. She would play that piece quite loudly when she cleaned the house, which was often. There's nothing as funny as hearing cannons firing and bells ringing, only to see a woman in her housedress scrubbing the sink. I still laugh to this day. Happy Mother's Day!

May. 03 2010 08:23 AM
Mardi-Ellen Hill from Brooklyn Heigths NY

And speaking of Phyllis Curtin's dynamic roles, if you could play some of her opera roles in Mozart, Strauss, etc, as well as her intimate song literature -- her fabulous Faure and Debussy, Rorem, that would be really grand.........

May. 02 2010 09:48 PM
Mardi-Ellen Hill from Brooklyn Heights NY

I vote for the ever beautiful Phyllis Curtin as the opera mother for Mother's Day honoring. I honor Phyllis in the character role of the Matriarch, Rose Barrington, in my new fictional book series, THE SPELL OF VAUGIRARD, prequel book: THE SKELETON SCORE.
When I first met Phyllis I was taken by her presence, and how she drove her power across a room full of people, pulling them in, casting a spell around her; a family unit evolving as the music she distilled circled the room. I studied with Phyllis' first teacher Olga Averino in Boston. I will never forget the importance of these singing mothers and their iconic message for us in the 21st century.

May. 02 2010 09:36 PM
Karen M. Tylutki from Bayonne, NJ

My mom is 81 and dad is 84. Mom introduced dad to Mario Lanza and the love-affair never ended!
I wish you could play a song that goes "Take me as you find me...love and let me go..." it is a haunting melody from The Vagabond King ! Pucinni's "Musetta's Waltz" and "Mama" are other songs that Mario, Enzo Stuarti, Franco Corelli sang that she loves sung to her
Mom is the music in our family's life..

Your station and announcers are just tops!

May. 02 2010 07:48 PM
LIVIA from Fresh Meadws, New York


My mother was a survivor of Auschwitz. When she returned to Slovakia, to her sister’s house, after the 2nd World War, she had a beautiful accordion in her possession. This accordion was given to her by an American soldier when she was liberated in 1945. According to my cousin, who then was 10 years old, my mother loved to play the tango: JALOUSIE on her accordion. In addition to the accordion, my mother was also an avid piano player throughout my early childhood. I remember her playing waltzes such as the BLUE DANUBE on the piano. She wanted me to pick up her love and knowledge of music and piano and arranged for me to take piano lessons back in Hungary in the 1950’s. As I remember, I loved learning to play the piano; but then came the 1956 revolution, we had to give up the piano and move to Budapest.

In Budapest we no longer could own a piano or pay for any piano lessons. My mother still had her accordion, which she continued to play. I remember beautiful YIDDISH, HUNGARIAN and RUSSIAN melodies that she played on the accordion and she sang them too. She entertained the family and our friends with these beautiful renditions. When we left Hungary in 1963 she tried to bring the accordion across the border, but it was confiscated from her.

Music was absent from our home for a while. We could not afford to replace the accordion or the piano, and maybe she didn’t want to. The memories were too painful in spite of the pleasure the music brought into our lives. However, when we lived in Cleveland we purchased a radio/record player combination with all types of records. From Russian folk music to Hungarian operettas to Mario Lanza and Italian music, we listened to everything. I now realize that music was never really absent from her life and it definitely has never been absent from mine. I remember all the times she used to call me to turn on the TV and listen to the Lawrence Welk Orchestra, listen to Mario Lanza, listen to Caruso, and then in the more recent times she introduced me to Andrea Boccelli. She had tapes, records, CD’s of these singers and musicians. And now I listen to WQXR, go to Broadway musicals, operas, concerts, operettas, popular music. My children also have a love for music of different styles. Mom, the music came from you and will follow us forever.

May. 02 2010 05:25 PM
Frank Feldman

For my exquisite wife and mother of my beloved daughter, Emily Isolda, perhaps either Canteloube's or Strauss' lovely lullabies?

May. 02 2010 04:45 PM
Frank Feldman

I did not have a kind mother. So I vote for "Night on Bald Mountain" or perhaps the witch's music from Hansel and Gretel, or Ortrud's from Lohengrin. Perhaps something particularly hideous by Schoenberg might also be an appropriate remembrance.

May. 02 2010 04:39 PM
Bob Reminick from now in Mastic, LI (listening online, all the time)

When I was in 4th grade (Dutch Broadway Elementary, Elmont 1964 ) , we were fortunate & the school taught us all to play "Tonette" (a small, plastic, end-blown flute, anyone remember?). At year end, we were given permission slips to sign up for fifth grade instrument lessons.
At this time, the school had a band, & for many of us, those kids playing pop & jazz tunes were our heroes. Inspired by them, I checked "Saxophone", & brought the form home to mom.
Mom said "fine", except that I would have to learn "Violin" first. "Why?" I wondered. "Cause," she said, "Violin has such a range", that if I would learn it, I could then learn any instrument I wanted. & " we already had one in the attic".
So, in 5th grade, I learned on that 1/2 size "Ole Bull" fiddle.
Later, I played guitar, bass, & harmonica; by myself & in bands, from high school orchestra to punk rock. I eventually bought a used sax shortly after college, but never spent much time w/ it. These days, I mainly play jazz, blues, & country, on a great fiddle my cousin lent me 35 years ago. My mom was right (she always was), & I can't express how fortunate I feel that she was my mom. I shouldn't forget to say: she had WQXR on the radio all the time, and she was another mom that played 'Fur Elise', luv that tune.

May. 02 2010 04:04 PM
Cindy Legorreta from Union Square

My sister Val and I were really blessed: Dad was a musician who played on the various cruise ships in the orchestras, aboard American Export Lines in its heydays - the 1950's. Mom was a vocalist with the Tex Beneke Band in the 1940's as Susan Shepard. I remember vividly as a kid that our house in Flushing was FULL of the sounds of jazz, old 78 records Dad brought from the Middle East, piano music of every description! I think the musical DNA handed down by Dad and Mom gave us our 'democratic ears' which we both use in different manners, to this day. It also taught us an invaluable lesson: the love of music (all types) is something that can and should last a lifetime. Val is a superb musician and singer, writing and performing her own work and that of others, always with gusto! As for me, I count myself lucky: my CD collection moves across a palate of musical colors from Bach to Brubeck, zarzuela to Zydeco, Clapton to Callas, Placido Domingo to Philip Glass, New Age, ragtime, sea chanties, on and on. I can savor a Saturday afternoon opera broadcast live from the Met as thoroughly as I can George Shearing at the Carlyle. Thanks to Dad, who brought those unusual records home and let us hear them, and to Mom...who sang with such heartfelt pleasure.

May. 02 2010 03:30 PM
Jose D Romero from Bayonne, NJ

I was maybe between 6 and 8 years old at the time and my mother purchased some records through a "TV guide" promotion were you would purchase ten albums for a dollar and evey month you would have to buy one.
One of those albums was Chopin.We sat in the living room and we fell in love the moment we listen to it on the turn table. A total new experience for me and my brothers at that moment.

I love you mom for giving us that exerience and may you rest in peace!

May. 02 2010 03:00 PM
Julio Kuplinsky

My mother did not have musical training, but had excellent intonation, which I inherited from her. In those days (before iPods, MP3's or even TV!) the only way to collect music was on 78 rpm's. She enjoyed classical music in general, but the piece that she really loved was Debussy's "Clair de Lune". I may be a little partial here, but I think it's a wonderful choice.

May. 02 2010 02:42 PM
Pamela Lewis from Elmhurst, Queens

Through her membership in the Columbia Record Club, my mother gave me a recording of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker." It was actually only the suite, performed by L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, under Ernest Ansermet. Margot Fonteyn and Michael Soames, surrounded by piles of candies and sugarplums, graced the album cover. This was my very first classical album, and it began a lifelong love affair with classical music, all thanks to my mother.

I agree that something should be played to honor mothers who have died: perhaps the very beautiful "Death of Aase" section from Grieg's "Peer Gynt."

May. 02 2010 01:43 PM
Gerlinde Brixius from New York

When i was 13, grand dad had opera tickets -- and grandma could not go. Mom aske me to step in. "No, mom, i want to go ice skating with my boyfriend!" "Gerlinde, your grandpa has opera tickets and you'll not going to waste them". I loved what I saw and heard, a couple of years after, we had a performance at school - and i volunteered for a speaking role -that put me on the front page of the school paper....again some years later, i worked my way thru college with a job at the Classical Music Department of Deutschlandwelle in Koeln--- thrilled to be able to listen to music while working! Again, many years later, I married a Chinese Bass --- my mother could never talk to him -as she spoke German and he Chinese and English. Both are not with us any more and both loved music --- his favorite role was the King in Don Carlo --- and that has also become mine and the connection with Mom.....

May. 02 2010 12:09 PM
Richard from New York City

Mother introduced me to classical music by purchasing the Music Masters Series published by Vox Recordings, Vox Symphony Orchestra conducted by Max Goberman. Jose Ferrer narrated "His Story and His Music" about Mozart, Chopin Schubert, and Grieg. I loved them!

May. 02 2010 12:07 PM
Lilly Knuth from Garden City South

My mother was a devoted listener to the Saturday Met opera broadcasts. Her favorite was Carmen, especially when Rise Stevens was Carmen. I'd love to hear that Mother's Day.

May. 02 2010 11:09 AM
Lou Gerbino from Easton,CT & Silver City,IA

When I was about 2 years old my mother,who worked in downtown Bridgeport,brought me a recording of The Wasps by RVW. It was on at least 2 12-in. 78s & had a narration by Milton Cross.Shortly afterward, I discovered WQXR(AM only then).I've been a constant listener,& a sucker for RVW,ever since.Now, I'm delighted to be a WQXR supporter & give back a small fraction of what you have given me my whole life.

May. 02 2010 10:47 AM
Scott Beatty from Astoria

My mother never knew how I got into classical music, and neither do I. though I have a degree in music.

May. 02 2010 10:10 AM
elsa grotefendt from brooklyn, ny 718-836-7393

Cavalleria Rusticana ... Turiddu sings to his mother, Lucia, to take care of his 'friend' Santuzza in case he is killed.

May. 02 2010 08:50 AM
elsa grotefendt

Suor Angelica sings to her son who died
Senza Mama

May. 02 2010 08:31 AM
Michael Jarosz from Metuchen, NJ


That New Years gala performance of Fledermaus, with Leotyne Price singing "Summertime" was recorded! I have it. There's a comment in the dialogue to the effect "how can she be here? She hasn't been born yet"

By the way, I listen to mom's Puccini album "senza mama"

May. 01 2010 11:15 PM
Mark Stubis from Great Neck, NY

One of the greatest of all the wonderful gifts my mother Patricia Stubis gave me was the love of classical music. She was trained as a ballet dancer, and had a beautiful voice as well as a natural facility at the piano. She played Mozart for me while I was still in the womb (long before it became a fad), sang to me at night, helped me learn my first notes on the recorder, and of course took me to the New York City Ballet "Nutcracker" during the Christmas season, dressing herself to the nines and letting me have a tiny sip of champagne at intermission. She made classical music seem almost impossibly glamorous. But the greatest, most profound revelation, and one that changed my life, came one night when I was eight years old. She sat me down in one of those "modern" Danish chairs everyone had in the '60s, warmed up our old tube stereo, and put on a record of "Madame Butterfly" with Jussi Bjorling and Victoria de los Angeles. Sitting with my mother, I was completely overwhelmed by the music, the words (which she helped me follow in the dual-language libretto), and the tragic story. It was one of the transformative moments of my life. Years later, I went to Juilliard as a pianist, and though I did not pursue a career in music I often think back to that night when my mother tightly held my hand and introduced me to the deepest mysteries of music. For that and much, much more, I love her and wish her a happy Mother's Day!

May. 01 2010 08:21 PM
Connie from New York, NY

My mother dearly wished she could sing, but it was not to be. She did share her loves in music, and they were numerous and eclectic. Mom adored Gilbert & Sullivan, and in those years when I first heard about them, WQXR had a weekly (I think) program devoted to recordings of G&S operettas. We'd sit together and listen. She was as delighted as could be with the clever lyrics and the catchy tunes.
I also caught the opera bug from her and my Dad. She was not a specialist, but loved going, and never got over her crush on Ezio Pinza as Don Giovanni.
One New Year's Eve when I was 8, the family sat in the Family Circle of the old Met for a performance of Die Fledermaus. During Orlovsky's party, I could not keep my head up, and she gently woke me to say, "It's Leontyne Price singing Summertime," or in a stage whisper: "George London!" She didn't want me to miss a thing. When we got home, we found I had a fever of 104 -- one of the most memorable of my early New Year's Eves.

May. 01 2010 05:21 PM
Connie from New York, NY

My mother dearly wished she could sing, but it was not to be. She did share her loves in music, and they were numerous and eclectic. Mom adored Gilbert & Sullivan, and in those years when I first heard about them, WQXR had a weekly (I think) program devoted to recordings of G&S operettas. We'd sit together and listen. She was as delighted as could be with the clever lyrics and the catchy tunes.
I also caught the opera bug from her and my Dad. She was not a specialist, but loved going, and never got over her crush on Ezio Pinza as Don Giovanni.
One New Year's Eve when I was 8, the family sat in the Family Circle of the old Met for a performance of Die Fledermaus. During Orlovsky's party, I could not keep my head up, and she gently woke me to say, "It's Leontyne Price singing Summertime," or in a stage whisper: "George London!" She didn't want me to miss a thing. When we got home, we found I had a fever of 104 -- one of the most memorable of my early New Year's Eves.

May. 01 2010 05:20 PM
Gloria from Ft. Lee, N.J. from Ft. Lee,NJ

My memories start with my mother winding up the RCA Victrola and putting on the records of Giovanni Martinelli and Enrico Caruso. Time and technology march on(with the benefit of Sousa Marches) and then watching with her, the Leonard Bernstein "Young Peoples Concerts" on TV.
In between as I was growing up and going on dates, she and I would polish our nails on Saturday afternoon at the kitchen table listening to Milton Cross and the Metropolitan Opera. Nowadays I go to a Nail Salon, never on a Sat.afternoon because that's reserved for my Bose, my husband and WQXR .

May. 01 2010 04:33 PM
Pauline from WQXR 105.9 FM

When I was very young, I can remember my mother playing the large 78 records which contained voices of the opera stars of the day. Every Saturday, she would turn on the Metropolitan Broadcast and we would listen together dreaming of the day we would see an opera in person. That dream came true when we became subscribers to the opera. Suddenly all the music we had listened to came to life. It was a special time for us! I still listen to the opera almost every Saturday and am at this moment. I thank my mother for introducing me to opera and classical music because it is food for the soul.

May. 01 2010 04:05 PM
Marianne from short hills, NJ

One of the fondest memories of my mom is seeing her sitting on the floor by the Hallicrafter TV/radio, listening to the Texaco Saturday Opera at the Met (the speakers were located at the bottom). She would stir the batter of a bundt cake while listening, and the more beautiful arias that the opera contained, the smoother the cake turned out.

May. 01 2010 03:56 PM
nancyflute from westchester, NY

I remember a piece with Robert Sherman playing piano and talking about playing piano 4 hands with his mother. They did Scaramouche with his mother playing all the hard parts. It was a very funny and charming interview. Maybe you can find it to play again

May. 01 2010 03:54 PM

My dear mother, who passed away 2 years ago, played classical music on her grand piano almost every day until the end of a very long, rich life. Her favorite was Chopin. Whenever I hear Chopin on WQXR, like this morning, I stop what I'm doing, feel a swelling in my heart, a tear in my eye, and a warm feeling sweeps over me. My mom played for all my school events when I was younger, and for her all her adult community events and plays when she became older. I have a life-long love of classical music. I am well-educated with varied professional degrees. My all-time favorite course in college, though, was my two-semester course on Music History!

May. 01 2010 12:43 PM
Mender from New Jersey

I can't say enough about how my mother opened my ears to the world of sounds. An extremely accomplished pianist, and coincidentally for this year, a devotee of Chopin, she exposed me to both the world of music and her love for it, from my time in the womb in 1953 to the present day (she is turning 84 this May.) Listening to her practice the piano simply for the joy of it, frequently waking to her sounds on the weekends, transported me, When she wasn't playing, there were recordings of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn, and others resounding through the house. She snuck me into the Young People's Concerts when I was underage, where Leonard Bernstein mesmerized me. (She somehow got us seats in the center, just a few rows back, so that I was basically looking straight up at him, and arranged for me to meet him twice.) We played piano duets together, and had fun quizzing each other identifying intervals and chords by ear. When I was away from her, Chopin made me homesick and still fills me with love for her. Music became, and still is, the one thing in life that consistently gives me goosebumps. I went on after college to study musicology and music education, and ran a private school music department. My mother continued to amaze me, when, at the age of 60, she began to write books about music (learning to use a computer for the first time for this purpose.): "Extraordinary Women in Support of Music", "Music Manuscript Preparation", and a novel, "The Cock Crows No More" (a mystery about the murder of a music critic!) Although my mother never performed professionally, she has influenced me and so many others so profoundly, and I am so proud to be her daughter for this, and a million other reasons. Happy almost birthday, mom!

May. 01 2010 12:42 PM
Jack Feingold from New York, NY

I always think of Lloyd Moss when signing off before Mothers' Day he would send greetings to: Zubin's Mehta, Ann Sophie's Mutter, Yo Yo's Ma, Carlo's Mutti, etc.

I think he had a few others but I can't recall them.

Not only did that remind me of Mothers' Day but it made me smile.

May. 01 2010 12:11 PM
sandra b. george from Flushing, New York

My mother was a piano teacher. She started me and my brothers with piano lessons at age 4. Classical or religious music was the only music we heard while young. My father hated it. Since we lived in a three-family home, we kept the piano in the first floor apartment, belonging to my Grandmother. Granny purchased the upright Steinway in 1920. It had 'ivory' keys with mohogany encasement and bench that held sheet music, exercise books, etc. My mother also held her 'sing-alongs' on Sunday afternoons. I was expected to sing The Lord's prayer, Ave Maria, You'll never walk alone, etc. I will never forget the wonderful world of music, ballet, modern dance, and opera she exposed me to. Although she died
December 24, 2009 at age 97, she still lives within me and my family.

May. 01 2010 12:09 PM
Michael Jarosz from Metuchen NJ

Shortly after getting our first stereo set, about 1963 or so, my mother bought herself the first classical record we had in the house, Eileen Farrell's collection of Puccini arias. She loved it, but guess what? So did I! Mom's gone now, but for years I held onto that worn out vinyl album. Fortunately, it was finally rereleased on CD and now I can listen to the great Eileen Farrell in pristine sound, just like mom did so many years ago. Happy mother's day mom.

May. 01 2010 12:07 PM
Jane Binkoff from Valley Stream, NY

My mother, Florence Binder, hated classical music and we battled over my love if it, from an early age. My spinet piano, when she finally gave in to my requests of piano lessons, was kept in my bedroom until I married and took it into my home. My first big purchase, after I started working, was a Steinway Grand piano, which is my treasure.
Ironically, after my father died and she went to work, she became the Comptroller of Carnegie Hall!

May. 01 2010 11:51 AM
Bonnie Gustafsson from Bloomfield, NJ

A PS to my post: My parents live outside of Charleston, SC, now, but we are helping them move back up north.

A few years ago, they were at a seniors' meeting that featured a Lowrey organ instructor. They signed up for lessons, and now Mom has her own organ. A Lowrey, yes, and with one-finger buttons, but an organ. Mom, at 79, is now playing an organ! It is never too late to fulfill your dreams, even if they are not as you had originally envisioned them!

May. 01 2010 11:45 AM
Renate Perls from New York

My mother was a renowned psychotherapist whose other fabulous talent was playing the piano. Our family had to leave Germany in 1933 and went to live in South Africa. During the war years my mother and emigrants from the Berlin Philharmonic and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw came to our home every week and played practically the entire chamber repertoire. I thank her and particularly her main partner (violinist from Berlin) for the joy I now have every day of my life even though as a teenager I hated having to listen to what I now realize was a group of superb musicians. I unknowingly inhaled every note and eventually I became an agent for classical musicians.

May. 01 2010 11:45 AM
Marian Weisberg from Manhattan

My mother, the concert pianist loved performing Chopin. She specialized in Duo piano performances. I learned to play the orchestra parts both loving the experience and squirming about my lesser ability. The soaring moments almost made it worthwhile...she carried her European training and standards with her, but also was relaxed and passionate...ergo Chopin. I am still moved when I hear the scherzos played, and my gratitude for this heritage and her gift to me remains forever.

May. 01 2010 11:41 AM
Bonnie Gustafsson from Bloomfield, NJ

Ah! Music was the other "mother's milk" I was nursed with! She (and often my grandmother) would sing me to sleep. We had classical music playing all the time in our house--33s, some 78s, and the radio. I've listened to WQXR since I had ears. My parents used to try to trick me by playing one of the Mozart horn concertos (2 and 4 were on the same record, and I favored one over the other) that I liked less, and I would scream at the first phrase. As it turns out, I have perfect ptich, and they couldn't fool me. :-) We had an old upright piano in the porch, and my mom would play on it for hours--mostly hymns. She had never had a piano lesson. I would sit next to her and watch. She and my dad played in the band together as children (they were childhood sweethearts), and even recently as seniors (she, flute; he, tuba).

We had several organ recordings, and I later found out my mom really wanted to be an organist. We went to hear Carl Weinrich when I was about three. At six, I started piano lessons. At 13, I began studying organ, although my feet could barely reach the pedals (I'm short and I still have trouble sometimes, depending on the organ and the bench). I sang in church and school choirs.

I majored in music in college--organ and some voice--and was in the college choir and went on tour every year (twice, though, I had laryngitis and was a portable audience member). I studied musicology for a while, but found it ruined my enjoyment of music. I was a church organist/choir director for many years and still do substitute work on occasion. I recently found out that I had fulfilled my mother's dream. She wanted to be an organist, and as a kid, I played the flute because I wanted to be like Mommy.

My parents are elderly now, but they always have music on in the background. As I write this, I'm getting tearful, becuase your blog has made me think about all those early times. I wish I could get them back. Music was an important part of our lives, and it still is.

Thank you!

May. 01 2010 11:39 AM
Jane Cooperman

I don't remember my mother ever listening to music at all (it was my father who started the morning with WQXR), but she was the one who insisted I take piano lessons. I wanted to be in Girl Scouts, or learn ballet, but she insisted I would regret it all my life if I didn't learn to play piano. I studied for only about six years, but piano compositions of Chopin, Liszt, Paderewski, Debussy, and Tchaikowsky are hard-wired for me now.

May. 01 2010 11:10 AM
Ruth Kulerman, Ph.D. from Upper West Side, NYC

I was raised in the truly primitive backwoods of the USA South -- no electricity or running water -- by a British mother. Because of the cost, our battery radio was used only for news broadcasts AND the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts which mother listened to. I was enchanted by the high soprano voices. And here in Manhattan, 70 years later, rather than watch TV, I listen to WQXR because of loving those Met voices, a love that spilled over into all classical music.

May. 01 2010 11:00 AM
Wally from Manhattan

As a very young boy, growing up in the 1940s,
I remember my mother had a record player in
her bedroom, a Victrola. She played a lot of
Caruso who she saw at the Met when she was very young. She also liked Jerome Kern and
when she was feeling more casual, Vic Damone and Buddy Clark.

May. 01 2010 10:56 AM
Judy-Lynne from Manhattan

I grew up listening to WQXR; my mother played classical music every day. When I had music appreciation class in the sixth grade I recognized all the music (I didn't know the names, but my teacher was impressed, nonetheless). To this day, hearing certain composers evokes memories of light streaming into the living room window on a summer afternoon in our apartment in the Bronx. All classical music reminds me of her, which is why I, too, listen to it daily.

May. 01 2010 10:54 AM
lana from new york

my mother was a violinist who played with the women's symphony in the 30's. she was also a high school music teacher. all we EVER listened to was WQXR. the radio was on all of the time and we always awoke to "der rosenkavalier."
to this day i listen to WQXR exclusively.

May. 01 2010 10:49 AM
Emily Mikulewicz from Weehawken, N.J.

My mother influenced my musical life by disliking classical music and being viscious about opera. It was my father who kept WQXR on before he went to work in the 40s and 50s. My life has been full of music, instrumental and choral, and I actually plan to see Figaro at the Glimmerglass this summer. I could listen to Mozart operas daily, but never overcame my mother's bias for most others, certainly not live. Too bad.

May. 01 2010 10:33 AM
Wally from Manhattan

"Summertime" from Porgy & Bess, which really is a lullaby. And "Senza Mama."

May. 01 2010 10:16 AM
Larry Block from East Northport, NY

Something performed by YoYo Ma?

May. 01 2010 09:43 AM
Wally from manhattan

dvorak's "songs my mother taught me"


virgil thomson's "the mother of us all"

May. 01 2010 08:58 AM
Shari from NYC

My fondest memory of my mother is watching her sit calmly at the piano and play 'Fur Elise'. She seemed so pensive, stealing a peaceful moment from a not so peaceful life.

May. 01 2010 08:58 AM
Gev Sweeney from Ocean Grove, New Jersey

My mother (and I can now write this without tears blobbing the keyboard) came from a family that included minor composers and university professors in Germany. I remember her playing recordings of Strauss, Beethoven, Rossini, Liszt and Gilbert and Sullivan when I was very little. So at a very early age, I knew there was something more musically substantial than the pop stuff my friends listened to. When I was nine, I asked for a recording of the complete Beethoven symphonies for my birthday. I studied classical instruments and later became a musicologist. I don't know if I'd have pursued that path if Mom hadn't been who she was and hadn't done what she did. Dad was a rough-and-tumble Army officer who didn't know a tuba from a trumpet!

May. 01 2010 08:57 AM
George Spira

Call Lloyd Moss. He has a list of performers whose recordings you should include, for example: Ricardo Muti, Anne-Sofie Mutter.

May. 01 2010 08:44 AM
Gev Sweeney from Ocean Grove, New Jersey

Something for the moms we've lost would be nice. My mom, who died too soon in 1994, loved the Brahms Requiem. So did the mom of one of my dearest childhood friends. A quiet, contemplative segment from the Requiem would be fitting and lovely, thanks.

May. 01 2010 08:35 AM
marcie from washington heights, nyc

not a story, just a suggestion for mom-day programming:

ravel's mother goose suite

May. 01 2010 07:52 AM

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