The Spirit of Radio


While on a flight from New York to Berlin just now, I chanced to listen to some music by Ralph Vaughan Williams on an old MP3 player I filled up years ago. We take for granted how incredibly fortunate we are to be able to listen to music whenever we please, wherever we are, in such variety. Little more than 100 years ago the only music you might hear was whatever was played in a church or perhaps a pub, or the music that you or your family and friends made.

One of the pieces I listened to was the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. I still recall the evening in college when I first heard this music on the radio. The woman who lived across the hall from me at the time (and with whom I was in a musical group) heard it too, and was amazed to hear it again a few days later blaring from the speakers hooked up to my little portable CD player. She too had loved the music, but didn't take the initiative to track it down. I've had a similar experience with some of my other favorite pieces of music -- among them "Introspect" by Padraig O'Connor (which I first heard driving to work on the back roads of Hunterdon County, New Jersey) and Catrin Finch's recording on harp of Bach's Goldberg Variations (which I first heard in the car during the "Five O'Clock Bach" segment on KVOD in Denver). Whenever I listen to these latter pieces again, I can recall the exact stretches of road where I first heard them.

And lest you think that the only music I care for is of the classical variety, I could speak similarly of, say, Henry Butler's great jazz piano playing on "Fivin' Around" or Joe Cocker's mind-blowing cover of "With A Little Help From My Friends"...

Peter Saint-Andre > Journal