Page 18 THE VILLADOM TIMES III • October 21, 2009 to doting female fans. Johann Strauss had a great head of 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 backup 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 At the bedside of a friend Letters to the Editor Dear Editor: One of the many wonderful traditions at Northern Highlands Regional High School is an annual celebration known as Project Graduation. The concept was introduced about 18 years ago by the U.S. Department of Transportation as a means of keeping graduating seniors safe from the perils of drinking and driving on the high-risk night of graduation. It has evolved into a huge alcohol-and-drug-free graduation party planned and executed by a committee of Highlands’ parent volunteers. Planning is currently underway for the Class of 2010. Immediately following the graduation ceremony and reception, graduates will board buses and be whisked to a secret location where an evening of surprises and fun awaits them. The event will be funded primarily through student assessments and other fundraisers, but due to the high costs of throwing a party for over 250 students, we are also hoping for the support of local families and businesses. The community has been incredibly generous in the past, which is why this event is always a memorable success. Please mail your financial contributions to Project Graduation 2010, c/o Northern Highlands Regional High School, 298 Hillside Avenue, Allendale, NJ 07401. The graduates of the Class of 2010 and their parents appreciate and thank you for your support! Kari Sheehan Parent Committee NHRHS Project Graduation 2010 Dear Editor: No doubt about it, times are tough in our communities. Prices are rising, grant money is scarce, and many of us are out of work. We need proven leaders that have a strong Donations sought for Project Graduation track record of putting our residents first and having that rare combination of toughness and compassion during difficult financial times. That’s why I encourage my Waldwick neighbors to reelect Anita Bozzo and Chuck Farricker to borough council. Anita and Chuck have no personal agenda, only a desire to serve our community. They have no expensive campaign paraphernalia and are beholden to no special interests or political machine. They are independent advocates for the taxpayers who aren’t afraid to make difficult but fair decisions now to secure Waldwick’s future. Let’s preserve the Waldwick we love by re-electing candidates of integrity and action; please join me in voting for Anita Bozzo and Chuck Farricker for Waldwick Council. Rick Vander Wende Waldwick Dear Editor: Waldwick is extremely fortunate to have both Anita Bozzo and Chuck Farricker running for reelection to the Waldwick Council. Anita has served as chairperson to the all so important Finance Committee. In this capacity, Anita uses her business sense (as a Waldwick store owner) to keep municipality costs in check. I have seen firsthand how Anita fights to reduce municipal costs. Similarly, Chuck has done an exceptional job as chairperson for the recreation and health committee. Under Chuck’s leadership, the borough recreational facilities are maintained, safe, and equitably shared among the many township organizations. This is a testament to Chuck’s managerial skills, and, above all, the pride he has in Waldwick and its citizens. It is critical that we have council members who appreciate our small town appeal, who know and understand the Waldwick people, and who have experience in the private (continued on page 19) Elect Bozzo and Farricker Endorses Bozzo and Farricker