Listen: Neil Sedaka's Musical Career Comes Full Circle

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka in a 2012 portrait. Singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka in a 2012 portrait. (Courtesy of the artist)

Before he wrote chart toppers like "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" and "Calendar Girl," singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka was a rising star at the piano, studying at the Juilliard prep school. His talent was such that even Arthur Rubinstein took notice.

In 1956, Sedaka, then 16, was invited to peform on WQXR after winning a competition called "Musical Talent in Our Schools." (The broadcast of Sedaka's full 1956 appearance is available here). Though he performs works by Debussy and Prokofiev, in a prescient moment, he confessed that he enjoys writing "ballads and musical-comedy material."

After finding success in pop music, Sedaka returned to the classical realm around 2010. "I’ve written three symphonic pieces and a piano concerto," he said. "At first there were some hurdles, of course. But I’m happy to say that little by little I’m breaking through that barrier. You have to reinvent yourself. You have to raise the bar."

His latest album, I Do It for Applause, just came out, and in addition to its 12 songs is his first symphony, Joie de Vivre.

He spoke to WQXR morning host Jeff Spurgeon about this latest project as well as highlights from his 64-year career. Click on the above audio to hear the full interview. 

Hosted by:

Jeff Spurgeon

Produced by:

Merrin Lazyan


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Comments [9]

Dave from Manhattan

Best of luck to Neil in his continuing, expanding musical career.
His pop music is still with me, an aging boomer.

Aug. 24 2016 11:40 AM
Dr. Elliot Grotell DDS from NYC

Hi Paul and Neil! As a fan of WQXR, and a fan as well as friend and former classmate at Abe Lincoln High School of Neil, I was thrilled to listen to the interview, and brought a tear of joy to my Eye. I remember when Neil invited me to a Sweet sixteen Party for Carol King on the good Ship " Chianti 111, out of Sheepsed Bay in Brooklyn, and there was a Guitar player and the youthful Joy of Music,and friendship, that warmed even the Ocean. Over the years whenever I listened to the song: There's a Place for Us", I think , of how the Kids on that Party boat, as Neil and I, found their "Place", so as to contribute to all our lives. I now wish that same Mitzvah and opportunities to all of America's Kids . Best Regards;. Doc Elliot!

Aug. 19 2016 08:09 PM
janet borg from New City New York

Neil Sedaka is so very very talented. A true musical genius.

Aug. 19 2016 05:50 PM
Trude from Norway from Drammen

Amazing. What a wonderful interview ☺🎤

Aug. 19 2016 08:20 AM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

Very nice. thanks.

Aug. 19 2016 06:49 AM
eduard from new york

beautiful piece of music! really happy enjoying talented people bringing us wonderful music, showing a lot of emotion and full of life... congratulation.

Aug. 18 2016 09:05 PM
isolde blum from NYC

a wonderful insight into a truly gifted musician..but did I miss something? My audio of it was, at most, 3 minutes long..what did I do wrong?

thanks you...

Aug. 18 2016 01:05 PM
Ian Carter from Pince Edward Island Canada

What a wonderful interview ... thanks for fresh insights into this amazingly talented artist.

Aug. 18 2016 11:52 AM
anita from nyc

Amazing, God Bless Him, what a treat to see him back in the limelight & in performance.

Aug. 18 2016 11:04 AM

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