Strange Nostalgia

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I felt it a few years ago at a concert where Robert White and Dick Hyman shared memories of the Golden Age of Radio, the time when Bobby was a child singer and actor and Dick was playing the piano and organ on live radio soap operas. I felt it recently, attending South Pacific, when the orchestra struck up that amazing overture.  And I feel it every time I hear live music at the Naumburg Band Shell in Central Park.

Now, I wasn't alive during the Golden Age of Radio; my earthly existence post-dates the South Pacific premiere by a decade; and even my parents were just little children when the Naumburg Band Shell was opened in 1923. And yet, all those performances evoke in me a most powerful and strange nostalgia: a longing for a time in the past and--this is the strange part--a time I never actually experienced. 

How special must it have been to hear an orchestra perform at that gleaming new Band Shell when live music was almost the only music there was?  The new season of free Naumburg Orchestral Concerts in Central Park begins Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The Knights and cellist Jan Vogler will play Mendelssohn, Dvorak and Schubert.

I’m sure many of those who attend will remember other performances they’ve seen at the Band Shell. But I, for some strange reason, will be feeling nostalgic for those long-gone performances I was never alive to hear.