The Music Column

The Vocal Scene


photo of Rosa Ponselle as Reiza in Oberon

Of course my account of “the vocal scene” is not by the late George Jellinek—that cultured gentleman of Hungarian background.  He had an extensive, even encyclopedic knowledge of the history of singing.  His presentations of The Vocal Scene were the best things of their kind I have ever heard or heard about, and those were not the only services to this country that Jellinek performed.

But since we have to survive without George Jellinek (1919-2010)—at least for a while—then we would need to know something to restore the sense of perspective that he exuded.  We would have to know something to give us what we miss in his absence from the old WQXR, broadcast from New York City, or his syndicated shows.  Things have changed as the ideals of music have shifted and the financing of musical access has been rewritten.  Toward the end of his career, Jellinek declared that not only was he becoming older, but his audience was, as well.  He was a realist and could see where things were heading before we experienced them and lived them out—and here I am thinking of the changing status of music and its presentation on disc and on the radio and the Internet,...

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