Fanfare Contributor Bio
Unlike some, I discovered classical music and classical recordings relatively late in life. I have always enjoyed the music. My parents gave me a few classical LPs as a youngster and I learned Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony and Beethoven’s Fifth almost note for note; I could sing right along with the orchestra and still can today. But after giving up my rather mediocre career as a French horn player in high school, I spent my time on sports and chasing girls, neither of which I seemed to have much flair for, either. When I listened to music, I listened to what was playing on the radio, pop, early rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and streetcorner doo wop. I still have a quite large 45 rpm collection of many of those classics, though I don’t play them as often anymore.
Checking the records I still own, I seem to have begun acquiring new classical recordings toward the end of the LP era. I quickly developed a love for some of the best of the concerted works and, in particular, gained a life-altering appreciation for the great genius of Mozart. I bought Mozart CDs and downloaded MIDI files of his works I didn’t already have. It soon became clear to me that some of Mozart’s best tunes were works I couldn’t find in his symphonic or chamber music; turned out they were from the typical American male’s don’t-be-caught-dead-there land—opera!
So, tentatively and with many reservations, I began exploring operas, Mozart’s great oeuvre first and then graduating to other masters: Rossini, Verdi, Massenet, Puccini, Strauss. I found an affinity with the music and with the genre, and I have never looked back. Luckily, I live near a city with a rather good full-time professional symphony orchestra and a struggling but still viable opera company, and within a two-hour radius of many other fine musical organizations, so I have ample opportunity to hear and see performances live. I also must thank Peter Gelb and the Metropolitan Opera for the “Live in HD” series, which has allowed me to see and listen to some of the world’s finest opera productions (and some not so fine), hear some of the world’s best singers, and gain a fast-track knowledge of today’s opera repertoire. I have attended almost every HD offering at wonderful budget prices matched by no other classical venue. I now specialize in and collect the Italian bel canto composers—Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti—who charmed the Italian peninsula with spectacular music and then went on to glory in the opera capital of Paris in the early and mid 19th century. I also still listen to and enjoy many other pieces of classical music as well.