Listen: Neil Sedaka's Musical Career Comes Full Circle
Thursday, August 18, 2016
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.