Notes from the underground

Two weeks ago, in my column reviewing a CD of works by Witold Lutoslawski, I gave out my e-mail address in the vain hope that someone might actually have a question or comment. Since this is the last issue of the Record for the year, and as I have no plans to independently publish this column, I have decided to show you a few of the letters I received, and my brief responses. (Names have been shortened to initials for partial anonymity.)

Judd – Great column! Keep up the good work. I listened to the Lutoslawski, and it was wonderful. What other CDs should I listen to?


Well, “M”, you should certainly listen to the Concerto for Orchestra, a fairly early work that is paired with the great Bartok work by the same name in a Cleveland Orchestra recording (CD B28 18). Also check out the Piano Concerto (CD L87 15), and the Fourth Symphony and Les Espaces du Sommeil (CD L87 11). There are other works that are wonderful, too, but these provide a good introduction.

Underground guy – This isn’t really about music, but I have a question anyway – why are you wearing those dark glasses in your column picture? I’ve seen you with your other glasses on, and frankly, you’re much better looking. In fact, give me a call at x____ and we can talk about music in person.


Well! Maybe I’ll take you up on that offer. Anyway, I switch off glasses periodically, and like both pairs equally.

Mr. Greenstein: – Fine job with the column. I wonder, why have you not reviewed any CDs of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff, a particular favorite of mine? He wrote most of his music in the Twentieth Century, you know.


While that’s true, you wouldn’t know it from listening to the music. I must say, however, that I believe Rachmaninoff to be a good composer who has been stigmatized because of his Romantic bombosity, much in the same way that Liszt has been (which I learned in my 208 class). If you want to listen to one CD of his, try one with the Paganini Variations and the Symphonic Dances (CD R23 24), two of his strongest works.

To that “underground” bastard – You sicken me. Every week, I have to stare at your ugly face, with those stupid glasses, then read about how you like all this modern crap. Half of it shouldn’t be considered music, and the other half should be considered terrible music. Why not write about good composers, like Mozart? Or Beethoven? What the hell is your problem, anyway?


P.S. You sicken me.

This is what most of the letters were like. I considered cancelling the column, since the public is obviously against me. But then I realized that this letter was an act of journalistic terrorism, and if I don’t stand up to it, I’m ruining the futures of little kids, little kids who want to grow up and write columns about 20th century classical music. How could I live with myself? Instead, I found this guy and broke his jaw.

Judd – Hi, sweety. I really am proud of you for writing this column. I sent copies of it to Michigan, and Nana loved it. She’s sending it to the Jewish Week magazine. And Grandma likes it too. She’s baking you cookies in the shape of your horrible glasses that you wear in that picture. Anyway, let me ask you a question, since you seem to want that – what do those little numbers that you put in the column mean? Is it some sort of code?



P.S. Why don’t you call more often?

Thanks, Mom. I appreciate the support. And thank Nana and Grandma, too. Those numbers are the call numbers for the CDs in the library here on campus, so that students can go take them out without looking them up on the computer. When you come visit I’ll show you. And I’ll call home tonight.

Here’s the last letter – have a great summer, readers!

Judd – As your editors, it gives us no great pleasure to do this, but after such an absurd column as you’ve put out this week, we at the Record have no choice but to terminate your column. As part of the new anti-drinking policy on campus, we’re not allowed to print anything which may have been written while under the influence. We took a vote of the editorial staff, and decided, with a count of fifteen “yays” and four “nays” (ourselves among them – the other may have been a dog barking), that you must have been drinking before you wrote this column. We are very sorry. It may please you to know, however, that we will be replacing it with a new column, one entitled “Death Metal – the only good music of the 20th Century.” In every cloud, there’s a silver lining!


K.B,. S.S., B.R.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *