Page 22 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • October 21, 2009 hair, but it couldn’t meet the demands. He also had a standard-bred black poodle that traveled with him, and since the valet also got to walk and feed the dog….Well, nobody complained about the big black poodle’s doggie odor while Strauss and his valet were touring America. Antonin Dvorak also toured America, and he wrote “From the New World” in the United States and debuted the symphony at Carnegie Hall. The symphony is like nothing else Dvorak ever wrote: the first movement is a Lakota (Sioux Indian) dance song called “Montana Grass,” the largo is “Go Down, Moses,” an African-American Spiritual, and the explosive fourth movement is a Northern Cheyenne war song. My daughter and son-in-law held their wedding reception in Woodrow Wilson’s old house on the campus of Princeton University, so I shouldn’t say this too loudly, but it was Wilson who started the death cycle of classical music in the United States. Having asked Congress for a declaration of war on Germany, he asked the Creel Commission to make the war palatable, and Two-Minute-Men stalked American telling people that everything German was evil, including their music. (This was during the same campaign that told people that both rubella – “German measles” – and influenza had been invented in German laboratories to kill and cripple Americans before they could get overseas to kill and cripple Germans.) The Germans did not really invent influenza, or even rubella, but they and the German-speaking Austrians like Mozart and Schubert did write most of the orchestral music that Americans once loved, and a lot of people quickly got out of the habit. When Wilhelm Muck, the man who basically built the Boston Symphony, was asked to perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” at a classical concert, he replied that he was not leading a military band. He ended up behind barbed wire for the duration of the war. When Fritz Kreisler, an Austrian of Jewish ancestry, showed up with his charming violin, super-patriots tried to get theaters to cancel his bookings, and sometimes shut out the lights in the middle of his performances. Not all classical music is German or Austrian. But France lost the first phase of World War II, and Mussolini…You know the rest. Germans long dead and sometimes Jewish got another slap-down. Hollywood Jazz Babies in America who may not have known his family was Jewish made fun of Felix Mendelssohn’s sunny, delightful music because he was German. In the meantime, the Nazi government melted down his statue for shell casings. (The Germans put up a new statue after the war was over.) During World War II, the Russian composers got a huge workout. Then the Cold War started and froze the Russian composers out without revitalizing the Germans, the Austrians, and the Italians, as far as most Americans seem to have been concerned. The final reversal seems to have come around the first decades of the 20th century, when those people who were still trying to be composers decided that their efforts could not stand up to Haydn, Beethoven, and Mendelssohn, and started to write music so frantic and dissonant that only a hard-core fan of getting dressed up in a tuxedo or evening gown could put up with it. WQXR used to hold a contest every autumn where fans could nominate their favorites. The countdown at the end of the year featured the Top 100 or the Top 50. Beethoven, Mozart, Bach and Dvorak’s “From the New World” were in Top 10 year after year. Hearing music by Leopold Mozart this morning, I was carried back to a time when my wife showed up in front of my daughter’s class at Glen Rock’s Central School and introduced the kids to the “Toy Symphony” and “A Musical Sleigh Ride,” both by Leopold, Wolfgang’s father and teacher. I had my doubts about how this would go over, but the kids loved it. For years afterwards, they told my daughter how much they enjoyed that lecture, and some of them listened to classical music voluntarily, even if they had never been exposed through music lessons, which, if you do not have an innate talent, can sometimes do more harm than good to music appreciation. My daughter entered school able to sing dozens of operatic arias in French, German, and Italian. The school taught her how to rap. She didn’t rap when she sang back-up for the lead singer with the Princeton Glee Club, but she did get to tour a large part of Europe, Iceland, and a number of American cities. Some of the entertainment at the concert her mother and I attended was a little raucous – having a costumed extra dress up as a geeky nerd with a Harvard sweater and having a buff handsome guy in a Princeton sweater beat him up while the Harvard Glee Club was singing Harvard school songs was outrageous -- but the rest of the music was classical, and delightful. While WQXR flourished, you did not need to be rich to experience a wide range of classical music. All you needed to do was switch on the radio. I hope the new public radio station at 105.9 FM carries on the grand tradition. The station is now publicly supported and you can bet I’m going to let people know about it. I never forget an old friend. This is written not on the worst afternoon of my life: the time I wasn’t sure whether my son was alive, dead, or far worse. A couple of times my wife has also vanished due to schedule problems only to show up and wonder why I was so worried. The time I realized that my mother wasn’t long for this world was also worse than this. Once or twice, when I got a full-time job yanked out from under me, I was also less than suave. This is not as bad as any of those times, but this is a bad time all the same. As I write this, I am listening to the last day of broadcasting at the original location by WQXR, the last classical music station in New York. What is especially tough is that they seem to be playing all the music I like, interspersed with the music I love, and not punctuated by the frenetic dissonant stuff I can do without. This is metaphorically like sitting by the bedside of a friend in need and hoping for a recovery. WQXR had been around for more years than I have been walking the Earth, and for many more years than I have been a steady listener. I regret to say that, many times, I have had to turn the music off so I could concentrate on serious writing. I also regret that when my wife and I were engaged in room to room communication that was not functioning, I blamed the poor radio station for the fact that her gentle voice does not travel around three corners while Mozart is playing in two different rooms. Now I’m sorry I said anything. Classical music is perhaps less appreciated in the United States than in any other industrial nation. This was not always so. When the United States celebrated its centennial in 1876, the people who were sponsoring the Philadelphia Centennial got in touch with Richard Wagner, then considered the world’s greatest living composer, and commissioned him to write a Centennial March. Wagner may have begun the decline and fall of classical music in America because the march was undoubtedly the worst piece of music he ever wrote. He supposedly remarked with satisfaction that the only good writing he did on the whole project was when he endorsed the back of the check. Wagner was a great composer. He was not a very nice man, as his former best friend and second wife’s deceived former husband and a number of creditors were wont to observe. Other composers have been cribbing his music ever since he wrote it, including Mendelssohn and Verdi while he was still alive. Themes showed up in Bugs Bunny cartoons. Two or three replays of the overture to “Tannhaeuser” hit the Top 20 even before rappers took over the popular music world, but since most fans have never heard the overture to “Tannhaeuser” they didn’t scream and turn off the radio when Shocking Blue and Meatloaf held forth. Johann Strauss Junior was perhaps even more popular than Wagner, since you generally can’t dance to Wagner without dropping your helmet or spear, and he and his valet made a good thing out of his American tour. Strauss once conducted an American orchestra said to number 1,000 musicians while the valet sold locks of his perfumed hair to doting female fans. Johann Strauss had a great head of At the bedside of a friend Letters to the Editor Dear Editor: As busy as families are at this time of year, getting back into a routine with school, sports and activities, it is also the calm before the storm of the holiday season. The Midland Park Children’s Love Fund is thinking about the holidays and the families who continue to need help to make ends meet. The holiday season adds additional burdens and stress on these femilies. Shopping for special holiday meals and purchasing gifts for their children can create very difficult financial situations and decisions. Perhaps before the business of the holidays take hold, you might consider making a holiday donation to the Children’s Love Fund. Every penny that is donated goes directly to families. We hope to help all our Love Fund families to provide a Merry Christmas for their children this year. Please remember the Love Fund in your holiday budget. Your donation of any amount may be sent to P.O. Box 327, Midland Park, NJ 07432. Your donation is an act of love and is deeply appreciated. Noreen Desbiens The Children’s Love Fund Dear Editor: I object to a letter by Peggy Conley. Ms. Conley’s opinion about Wyckoff’s Zoning Board of Adjustment and Shade Tree Commission is misinformed and unfair. Conley admits not knowing what the Commission does, but renders an opinion that it doesn’t oversee the maintaining of trees in Wyckoff’s rights-of-way. She ridicules the board of adjustment’s handling of applications reviewed during a period called “the real estate boom,” concluding Wyckoff consequently lost its character to what she termed “McMansionization.” Conley expresses distrust toward the board’s anticipated handling of a pending application submitted by Love Fund prepares for holidays Hoping for harmony the Christian Health Care Center. I’m not surprised, but am disappointed with Conley’s statements. I’m not surprised because she is a member of a local group that publicly and wrongly accused the board of adjustment of prejudging the CHCC application. Still, Conley’s negative overtones are similar to overtones I’ve heard expressed by others in this group. I’ve served on the board of adjustment for over 10 years. In recent years, I’ve listened to residents speak before the board on behalf of this group, and criticize the board’s actions with negative and hateful claims. I’m disappointed because, of late, I was sensing a change in attitude from these same people. In fact, two members, one being a co-chair of the group, commended the board’s handling of a recent application that could have resulted in an unfavorable impact on the community. It was stated that Kevin Rooney, as chairman, navigated the session with sensitivity to open space and contextual conformity. Before Conley’s letter, I was hopeful that harmony would again be part of Wyckoff’s landscape. Now, I’m not sure if the intent to improve the quality of life in Wyckoff by the likes of her is real and if the underlining hostility will rid itself from our community. Rich Bonsignore Wyckoff Dear Editor: After reading the platform statement from the Rooney/ DePhillips campaign for Wyckoff Township Committee, I can’t help but think they forgot to list three important things: mom, apple pie, and Chevrolet. Who are these two politicians kidding? Mr. Rooney, a real estate developer/manager, is the current chairman of the zoning board and one of the major (continued on page 21) Finds platform disingenuous