Page 18 THE VILLADOM TIMES IV • 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: I would like to comment on the three and a half years that I have been serving with Robert Hermansen on the Mahwah Township Council. I find it a pleasure to serve with Rob in the capacity of councilman. Rob is always well prepared for the meetings. He spends the time needed to review the paperwork and speak to the concerned parties so that he can make informed decisions on the meeting agenda items. Many of our constituents have commented to me on how approachable Rob is. When they need something, they feel comfortable calling Rob, knowing that he will bring it to the attention of the council in a professional manner. There have been a few times that Rob and I have been on opposite sides of an issue. During these times, he has always been respectful of my position. He listens to my comments, as I listen to his, and when the meeting is over we are still friends with no hard feelings. When you meet Rob’s family you can see how much love and happiness is in the household. He has a very positive attitude and it rubs off on the people around him. I feel honored to call Rob my friend and colleague. I hope you will join me on Nov. 3 and vote for Rob Hermansen for Bergen County Freeholder. It will be an honor for Mahwah to have one of our own at the county level of government. John Da Puzzo, President Mahwah Township Council Dear Editor: I have lived in Mahwah for over 30 years. It is the town I grew up in and in which I’m now raising my family. On Nov. 3, Mahwah residents have an opportunity to elect one of our own to become a Bergen County Freeholder. Supports Hermansen for freeholder Time for a new direction For the past six months, I have had the pleasure of working hard on Councilman Rob Hermansen’s campaign for freeholder. I volunteered for Rob’s campaign for two important reasons. First, I felt that with all that Mahwah has to offer and gives to Bergen, Mahwah’s voice needs to be heard more clearly at the county level. For the past three years, Rob has represented Mahwah well, with diligence and fiscal restraint. But now we need to send him to Hackensack, so Mahwah has a seat at the county table and in the process, our county government can begin to learn the same fiscal responsibility Rob has shown here. I also volunteered, because what has happened at the county level with regard to taxes and spending is nothing short of a travesty. Before this election, I never really knew what a freeholder’s job was. All I knew was that our taxes continued to rise to a point where some can’t even afford to live here anymore. Year after year, the Bergen County Freeholders have raised our taxes to where we are now the fourth highest taxed county in the nation. Having watched several of their meetings, it’s no wonder why. There aren’t many projects on which they won’t spend our money. I’ve even watched as they once voted to approve approximately $100,000 for a project that none of them even could find on their agendas for the evening. When you go to the polls on Nov. 3, ask yourself, “Isn’t it time for a new direction for our county?” Please vote for Rob Hermansen and his running mate John Driscoll for Bergen County Freeholder. For more information about Rob and his campaign, please visit www. Ben Kezmarsky Mahwah Dear Editor: Three and a half years ago I appealed to you to please (continued on page 17) County needs a fresh approach