Classical Gas

I have no idea what I’m listening to on the radio these days, but I’ve been finding it preferable to what I was listening to.

But Gerry, how can you not know what you’re listening to?

I’ve been listening to classical music in the car.  I’ve never much listened to it before, so I have no idea whatsoever whether I’m listening to Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, or Rachmaninoff.  I have not a clue as to the name of the piece I’m listening to.

It may just be a phase, but right now it’s working for me.

I find it soothing on the way to work, and I find it even more soothing on the way home.  Ironically, I’m listening to WFCR, a station I walked by hundreds of times while I was at UMass.  Never gave the place a second thought.  Then.

Now, I’m accompanied home every night by a radio host named Peter Van de Graaff(You can’t call ’em disc jockeys if they play classical, right?)  Has there ever been a better name for a classical radio host than Peter Van de Graaff?  (At WAVZ in New Haven, I worked with a man who had the best name ever for a top-40 DJ:  Bill Rock.  And that’s his real name.  I’ll bet Peter Van de Graaf uses his real name, too.)

Peter Van de Graaff

Mr. Van de Graaff (I’m not comfortable calling him Peter yet) has a most pleasant voice and delivery, and explains exactly what he’s playing.  Kind of like “Classical Music for Idiots.” 

Last week, Mr. Van de Graaff offered a wonderful and understandable lesson in “vocalise.”  (Not to be confused with the Manhattan Transfer album “Vocalese.”)   Last night, we delved into the “ballade,” featuring works by Sibelius and Grieg.

I couldn’t believe I cared.  I couldn’t believe I enjoyed it.  I couldn’t believe I learned something.  But I did, I did, I did.

I suppose I’ll eventually return to the oldies, the screamers on sportstalk, and whatever’s on my iPod.  But until then, bravo, Mr. Van de Graaff. 



About Gerry

I've been covering Connecticut news and sports since 1974. I know, I don't look that old.
This entry was posted in It's all about me, Media, People and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Classical Gas

  1. Shar says:

    I think it is great about the classical music. I had been in a small Chinese Buffet last week, and they were playing piano music. It was nice and smooth, just comforting.
    I like just about all kinds of music going back to my younger years, and even when I was a singer. You’d be able to see that with the CD’s I have at home as well as what is in my car now. I’m still trying to get one CD by Straight No Chaser though.

    I hope where you had the root canal is feeling better today.

  2. Wendy says:

    Bravo, Gerry! Bravo! Classical music can be marvelous and offer so many different kinds of sounds. Having played the piano most of my life, I enjoy things like The Moonlight Sonata, Chopin Waltzes and Etudes, Tchaikovsky, Grieg, etc. You will recognize many tunes you hear as they often were used as the basis for familiar songs we often hear! Remember the series “Hooked on Classics”? Try finding that and listening as it’s grand fun! Hope your tooth is better today, too.

  3. Gerry's Mentor says:

    I would tell you that it is on in my office all day and has been for years, but that would ruin my reputation.

  4. You’d have loved Robert J. Lurtzema, who used to host a classical music show on the Boston NPR station. Long gone, but not forgotten. And. About the only classical piece I always recognize ( and Ludwig’s fifth of course ) is Mozart’s piano concerto#21 in c minor. It was part of the soundtrack for the 60s film Elvira Madigan, which I saw with a girlfriend back then. I didn’t make much of an impression on her, but that music made one on me.

    Try listening to the Kronos Quartet. And Colin McEnroe is doing some very creative stuff with the HSO at the Bushnell. Google him and there are some interviews with him on what he’s been doing over there at that fine hall.

    • James says:

      Robert J! He was the gold standard for classical music announcers. Articulate but never stuffy, informative without being condecending, and possessed of a delightful dry wit. Every time I traveled from So Cal to Boston or CT on business, I’d make it a point to listen to him in the morning.

  5. I hear you- every now and then I also take a radio detour away from rock and jazz to classical.
    You would love XM Radio! Plenty of options for whatever musical tastes you wish to indulge and some great “radio personalities” as hosts.

  6. Beckie says:

    Before my daughter was born, I didn’t listen to classical much, but many of the baby toys have classical music now. And she got a LOT of Baby Einstein DVDs and CDs when she was born (along with a couple of cd’s mommy picked out, like lullabys to the music of the Ramones, Led Zepplin and The Cure, though she never much cared for those.) She loves music in general, but classical and Motown are her favorites.
    After researching, we found that classical music stimulates the mathematical and logical parts of the brain. Daddy’s family is made up of actuaries, engineers, a biochemist and computer geeks. His engineer uncle takes extreme delight in sending his great-niece songs and CDs by “their” favorite composer…Mozart.
    So Gerry, are you training for your next career????? 🙂

  7. Cat says:

    Ya think it could be the meds? “-)
    Just kidding Gerry,
    I am an oldies person through and through.
    Its nice to be able to understand what they are saying and ahhh, those memories…lol
    When I need to chill, its classical tunes.
    I hope the tooth works out alright for you, I mean that & tell Kevin, I hope he’s doing much better, I think he likes sitting in that white chair……
    See you at 6!

  8. AnnieBnanny says:

    I owe my entire music education to John Montenary at WFCR in the morning, and listening in during my kids’ piano lessons. I know, I am from the vintage that had no music in the schools, and that remembers you from your radio days back on Cedar St. at WPOP. I outgrew all news all the time once we moved a little further north from Hartford and I stepped out of the classroom to stay home with my kids. Listening to the January countdown of Mozart, and the very informative narration with the music made me feel like appreciating and understanding classical music was an accessible accomplishment. Now I get all misty when I hear a piece my kids played in recital, or one that harkens back to special time in my life. Maybe the neurons aren’t too old to learn to play the piano sitting in my living room. Even if the music is not sweet, it might be a great way to keep the brain from going to Alzheimer’s . Inverse deduction: if playing music is supposed to produce baby Einstein’s, shouldn’t former brainiacs be able to play music?

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