Friday, August 24, 2007


This is just great! Exactly what it needs to keep itself going. Another instance of the punitive use of classical music by the unappreciative on the unwilling.

This morning as Mars I were driving to the health club we were, as usual, listening to Beethoven Radio "Classical Music Without the Attitude". The on-air host, Nicole-Marie, was reading a news item about how in the country of Wales retail establishments are playing classical music to drive away the undesirable teenagers that are hanging around and intimidating and harassing customers. The volume of the music can be controlled by the clerks within the stores - apparently the louder the more successful it is.

And it works. That's not a surprise because the same gimmick has been used with a similar favorable outcome in various places in the United States: malls, public parks, town squares, etc..

Truth is it would have worked on me when I was the same age as these sound-sensitive troublesome teens. In fact it might have still been effective several years later when, now married and a father of my own teenager, I was probably one of those offended by the behavior of the same type of hangers-around at the shopping centers that Mars and I visited.

Now classical music is about all that we listen to. And we are volunteer members of the classical music staff at "WWUH 91.3 on the FM Dial and on the internet at - listener supported and volunteer staffed 'Public Alternative Radio' broadcasting from the campus of the University of Hartford". In spite of that brief lapse into station identification we are behind-the-scene workers rather than on-air hosts, having shown that we added more value to the back-office than the studio. But some day, who knows?

Still, when it comes to the classics we don't know Jack! - or perhaps it should be Johann. Our conversion to classic music lovers, albeit uneducated ones, began ironically with our homebound commutes from work and our discovery of the soothing effect on that drive home of "Evening Classics" on WWUH. It grew when we began providing background for our reading by listening to the same music on other stations, mostly National Public Radio - "our" station being way too eclectic in its programming to limit itself to any one kind of anything. In the last couple of years before we retired we pretty much converted to all classical commuting when started up in Hartford.

The morning-commute programming on WWUH is folk music, which was what drew us to that station in the first place and to which we had listened for years until (1) the majority of our drive-time coincided with the announcers reading and talking about the list of music they had just played and (2) had actual music playing at that time.

So now that my classical conversion is complete like all good "Born-Agains" I of course take umbrage at the continuing retributive use of my favorite music.

When people get married or get buried they love it - a little Pachelbel's Canon to walk down the aisle to, a few notes of Bach as background for their trip to eternity. The advertising world looks to Vivaldi to sell its diamonds and uses Aaron Copland to enhance the glamour of beef. And the movies steal snatches of just about anyone to add (dare I say it) a touch of class. But, as we have discovered, classical music can be something more than an accompaniment to "I doing" and "Good byeing".

As I am writing this I'm listening to streaming audio from WFCR, National Public Radio in Amherst Massachusetts. (Normally I would be tuned to, a 24 x 7 all-classical public radio station from Cincinnati, but today that connection is not working.) I have no idea what the piece is that I am listening to. It is mostly piano with an orchestra. I could look online at the playlist to find out its name if I really needed to know. Or not.


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