Select a Date

September 2011
« Aug   Oct »
Andrew Patner on Arts and Culture

Critical Thinking: A Conversation with Jay Tunney (Rebroadcast)

Gene Tunney and Bernard Shaw vacationing together on the island of Brioni in 1929 — Associated Press

My guest is author Jay R. Tunney, discussing his new book The Prizefighter and the Playwright: Gene Tunney and Bernard Shaw (Firefly Books, Buffalo and Richmond Hill, Ontario) about the long and deep friendship between his father, the American boxer and bibliophile, and the greatest English-language playwright of the 20th century. (Rebroadcast from 2010)

Tunney (1897-1978) was the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world (who beat Jack Dempsey twice, in 1926 and 1927, the latter in Chicago’s Soldier Field) when he retired from boxing in 1928 at age 31. Shaw (1856-1950) had a lifelong fascination with boxing and had published an early novel, Cashel Byron’s Profession (1886), on an intellectual boxer who prefigured the bookish Tunney.

The two men met in the late 1920s and Tunney and his wife Polly Lauder Tunney spent a month of their honeymoon in 1929 together with Shaw and his wife Charlotte on the Adriatic island of Brioni. Among others they spent time with that month? The German composer Richard Strauss. Tunney and Shaw remained close until Shaw’s death at 94 in 1950.

It’s a beautifully written book on a fascinating and little-known subject.


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Maxim Vengerov

    It’s very difficult to narrow down, but I would have to say that the most
    important Chicago musical event of my lifetime has unequivocally been Matthew
    Lipman’s June 2013 performance of Benjamin Britten’s “Lachrymae”, Op. 48.
    Somehow, Lipman managed to dazzle the audience with the few notes provided in
    the score. From the first note he played, it was clear that it was a performance
    that would define a generation of Lachrymae-performances.

  • Cindy Serikaku

    Attending a Simon & Garfunkel concert in Chicago with a girlfriend (my parents dropped us off and picked us up). I can’t recall the venue, but I was in high school at the time (late 1960s) and felt very “grown-up” to be allowed to attend a concert of my choosing, especially one in the city. Seeing these beloved vinyl artists in person made a huge impact on me, and was influential in launching a life-long love affair with live music.

  • Richard Valentino

    The establishment of a world class opera company, Lyric Opera of Chicago, in 1954.
    In the years before that, annual opera offerings at the Civic Opera House were
    very uneven with what seemed to be ad hoc touring companies coming to Chicago (one
    or two a year, it seemed), to present several performances of a single opera within a week or on a weekend. These touring companies always had one or two well known singers in lead roles. The reviews were usually moderately complimentary, as I remember. The orchestra was composed largely of local
    musicians, with possibly a core of first chair musicians touring with the company for stability.

    • Richard Valentino

      Regarding “Most Important Musical Event ?: It’s a tie!

      Peter Reinhard’s suggestion, “…the Birth of WFMT…,” in my moderately humble opinion, deserves to share the top spot with Lyric Opera. I am sure, to Chicagoland music lovers, they are both absolutely necessary to the cultural health; emotional well being; and ( considering the times we’re living in) the sanity of the city.
      Note: Looking at the “year of origin” for both entries (1954), One might conclude there was a
      “whole lot of sanity” flowing through that part of the atmosphere lying over Chicago
      in 1954.

  • lou dudas

    My important musical event occurs every evening as I listen to the excellent programming provided by Bill McGlaughlin. I’m a former Chicagoan and now live in Tucson Arizona. Each evening I sit on my patio and face the mountain range while listening to Bill’s music and it’s a wonderful way to end the day. I so appreciate the fine music. What a contrast to all the junk we’re subjected to everywhere. Thankyou so much. I dread the day when this last vestige of peace and harmony comes to an end.

  • Lynda Lane

    I was just in Maine listening to the classical music station in Bangor, Waterville, and Portland. One of the announcers was tearfully saying goodbye to Maine and hello to her new station, WFMT, in Chicago. Can you tell me more about this?

  • Visage Joli

    Difficult to choose but certainly one of the most exciting was hearing & seeing Itzhak Perlman at Orchestra Hall playing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. WFMT you are the greatest…Thank you for the last 38 years that you have shared with me !

  • Bill Curtin

    Will you play “The Lumberjack Song” by Monty Python for a Labor Day tribute?

  • Lannae Graham

    Pete Seeger as the worlds most well-known player????? Um, Earl Scruggs comes to mind.

  • Steve Edfors

    I think you play the Academic Festival Overture and Haydn Variations way too often. Brahms wrote so much more wonderful music……..We hardly ever hear his songs……could use more chamber music as well….

  • Daina Cers

    Good morning,
    In times of sorrow, I find consolation in the music and lyrics of the Beatles’ “Let it Be” as well as Sibelius’ Finlandia. Also, quite a few Latvian folk songs have beautiful lyrics and melodies that are comforting.
    Thank you!

  • JOHN

    Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne in Semiramide-Rossini.
    Hot Dog!