Classical Error?



I listen to classical music when I’m writing. My first choice is Colorado Public Radio because it provides a quiet background and lets me keep up with doings where my dear friend Marcia lives. When vocal music appears, I either silence it or change stations – Seattle, Portland, and WSHU in Connecticut are all likely options. I also listen to Pandora but dislike interrupting my train of thought to like or dislike the music. If one stays silent too long, it cuts out.

Generally I have no quarrel with the selections on any of these stations. They play the heavy-hitters the three “Bs,” Mozart, Dvořák. I’ve come to love the music of Philip Glass, Telemann, Respighi (love the sound of that name!), and Mendelssohn.

The selections yesterday resurrected a question that I’ve pondered on and off since I began listening. That is: What makes a piece “classical”? CPR played all American music in honor of the Fourth.  Are these classical?

  • Star Wars – no
  •  ditto other John Williams music
  •  West Side Story – no
  • ditto most of Lenny Bernstein
  • “Rhapsody in Blue” – borderline but can be included
  •  ditto “American in Paris”
  • “Summertime” from Porgy & Bess – no
  • “My Country ’Tis of Thee” – absolutely not
  •  “Stars and Stripes Forever” – absolutely not
  • music of William Grant Still – mostly yes
  • “Solace” (Scott Joplin) – no
  • “Rodeo” – borderline
  • “Black, Brown and Beige” (Duke Ellington) – no
  • “The Entertainer” (Scott Joplin) – no

I suppose I shouldn’t complain and should be grateful that I didn’t have to listen to the “1812 Overture” – again.

What I’m Reading Now


Bluehost is cropping my images. What gives?

Another in the series. When Susan Allison had her office hours as poet laureate, I bought a copy of Down by the Riverside Ways . The poems are gems – layered and magical. Sometimes subtle: “I read the spring and hope that by gazing in my rapture, I will align, inspired./It is spring and world-joy bursts from every bloom…” from “Wife Reading.” Sometimes in-your-face: “Skirting Disaster”: “Wake up sisters, hos, mothers and other irrational women to our wildest ideas. We are needed at this time.” And sometimes she upends a story, as in “The Myth of Sisyphus.” What a glorious narrative!

As John Basinger said, “Susan Allison has create poems that seem to have become naturally what they are as diamonds emerge from carbon under pressure, not laid out on black velvet, but set in mother earth.”

I marvel at the breadth and depth of Susan’s perception. We have seen the same people and places – Tommy Moses, Rapallo Avenue, Indian Hill, the river, but only she perceives them with such clarity. Riverside is a collection to dip into at random – or to read straight through. Most of all, these are poems to be savored – to be read and read again. They restored something in me I didn’t know was missling.

Thank you, Susan!