Stop playing those same old classics all over again

Stop playing those same old classics all over again


norman lebrecht

April 17, 2020

One of the most irritating aspects of the Coronacrisis is the safety-first policy of most classical radio stations, urging listeners to relax, playing them what they already know.

On Lebrecht Album of the Week, we’re pushing into unmapped musical lands, full of surprises:

….At a time when radio stations are playing familiar stuff from a crisis playlist, I try to reach out for something off the beaten track, something to take me to a different angle of contemplation. This composer took me there, and I’m glad of it. In these weeks of isolation, we need our ears to get us out of the house….

Read on here.

And here.



  • anon says:

    Take a look at the playlist for Chicago’s WFMT. My better half remarked this morning that we are lucky to have them in a time of crisis.

    This morning while “staying safe at home”, I’ve heard Mussorgsky’s piano pieces Memories of Childhood Rêverie and Near the Southern Shore of the Crimea for the first time, enjoyed Baroque composer Carl Heinrich Graun’s Horn Concerto which was also new to me, John Barry’s Themes from Dances with Wolves which I don’t consider standard fare, the perhaps more common Korngold Violin Concerto and the variety continues. All periods, orchestra, concerto, solo instrument, choral.

    How about live stream????

    • Chilynne says:

      We are fortunate, indeed, to have WFMT at any time! Still, I wouldn’t be distressed by a 2-year break from the Leonard Bernstein oeuvre…

    • steven holloway says:

      This is also true of numerous classical stations globally. When I first found a list of links to about 200 such stations, I went sampling, and was soon a touch amazed to find a morning of 20th.c. British music coming from Radio Toscana. Bax was playing when I first clicked onto it, and the repertoire got even less familiar to many listeners, I am sure. Also in Italy, RAI5 Auditorium is a cornucopia for those who seek the less or unfamiliar in fine performances. I’ve found the same thing, very notably, issuing from some South American and European stations. There’s one in the Balkans that’s rather nifty. There are a few US stations akin to WMFT, but most now seems to follow the Classic FM route. Why we have such differences among stations in different countries, which suggests different cultural milieux are of great significance, and that in itself is worth study. Thank God for those lists of stations and links. Thanks for a spot-on comment, anon.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Norman, you have been a champion for bringing lesser known gems to the public. No better time than now where the music takes precedence over ticket sales. Stay safe.

  • Mary Zoeter says:

    Well over half a year before the virus hit, I gave up on our local classical music station. I asked myself why the station almost never plays anything by Poulenc, Stravinsky, or Shostakovich. Now I listen to my large collection of CDs (yes, I am of that generation) in my car.

    • Karl says:

      How big is your CD collection? I have run out of space. I must have about 20,000.

      • John Borstlap says:

        I know of two people who sleep in their car because their house is filled-up with CD’s. Good to hear there are still music enthusiasts.

  • Cubs Fan says:

    That picture accompanying this page sure hits home. It looks like home! Well, about 20 minutes from here where we frequently take the horses. Yes, off the beaten track…and with Beethoven, Raff or Wagner in the headphones, a very wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning.

  • Jung says:

    If I hear Bizet’s L’Arlesienne suite one more time I will vomit!

  • Westfan says:

    I have some sympathy for classical radio stations in America whose support comes almost exclusively from listeners, they play what their supporters want to hear. My local independent classical station has a weekly evening show with more unusual music, most of it modern, but not all. And the music tastes vary somewhat, depending on the time of day and the host. I give my station credit for walking a fine line between the old familiar and expanding our horizons. Aren’t we all trying to do our best with a less than happy situation? I say cut them some slack in these times.