Exploring Music

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Gastronomic delights

In many parts of the country, Exploring Music airs right around mealtime, and many listeners have written in to let us know that we join them at the dinner table. (They also write in to let us know we join them in the shower, but that’s another story…)

Always the gastronome, Bill McGlaughlin offhandedly solicited some culinary suggestions in our recent “Arias and Barcarolles” week, and we’re happy to share this submission from Loann Scarpato. She tunes in via WRTI in Philadelphia, and shared the recipe for what sounds like a very delicious soup.

Acorn Squash Vegetable Soup

2 large leeks
1-1/2 Tbsp butter
2 acorn squash, approx. 18 oz each, cooked, seeds and skin discarded, flesh pureed
5-1/3 cups chicken stock
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper
6 oz sliced mushrooms
6 canned plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
4 oz fresh spinach, cut into thin strips

Trim roots and most of green leaves from leeks. Chop finely, wash well and drain, and cook in butter in large pot until soft, about 3 min. Add pureed squash to pot with stock and seasonings; cook 10 min. Stir mushrooms, tomatoes, and spinach into soup; remove from heat. Let stand 2-3 min. before serving.

Yields 2 quarts.
Source: “The Cuisinart Cook,” Oct. 1987

As a main course, Producer Cydne Gillard tracked down this intriguing ravioli recipe from Nicolo Paganini, courtesy of the Library of Congress and NPR.

Paganini’s Ravioli

2 lb. lean beef
1 1/2 lb. flour
1/2 lb. lean veal
A calf’s brain
Lugano sausage
an onion
three eggs
pinch of borage

For a pound and a half of flour, two pounds of good lean beef to make the sauce, place in the frying pan some butter, then a small amount of finely chopped onions, and brown slightly.

Put in the beef, and cook till it begins to take on a bit of color. For a thick sauce, take a few pinches of flour and gradually sprinkle them into the meat juices to brown, then take some tomatoes, break them up in water, pour some of the water into the flour in the frying pan and mix well to dissolve. Finally add some finely chopped and pounded dried mushrooms, and that’s the meat sauce.

Now for the pasta. To lift the eggless dough: a little bit of salt in the pasta will help with its consistency.

Now for the filling. Using the same pan as for the meat, in the sauce, cook half a pound of lean veal, then remove, chop it and pound it. Take a calf’s brain, cook it in the water, then remove the skin covering the brain, chop and pound well, separately take a little lugano sausage, remove the skin, chop and pound separately. Take a good pinch of borage, boil, squeeze out thoroughly and pound as above.

Take three eggs, sufficient for a pound and a half of flour. Beat them thoroughly and add the various ingredients listed above, which should be pounded again, adding a little Parmesan cheese to the eggs. And that’s the filling.

For a ravioli, cut the pasta slightly wet, and leave for an hour covered to give thin sheets.

If there’s still room for dessert, there’s always Justi Mahler’s Marillenknoedel, which her brother, Gustav, immortalized in his song cycle “Des Knaben Wunderknödel”.

Justi Mahler’s Marillenknoedel


2.2 lbs. potatoes
8.75 oz. flour
One egg
Pinch of salt
3.15 oz. butter
3.5 oz. bread crumbs
13 oz. apricots

Preparation: Place the potatoes, cut and peeled, through a mill once, then work them into the flour, egg and salt on a cutting board while they are still warm to make a smooth paste.

With a rolling pin, or by hand, knead the paste, flatten it and cut into fine slices, carefully enclosing an apricot in each slice. Then let the knoedel cook for five to 10 minutes in a sauce pan of boiling salt water. Drain. During this time, melt the butter in a frying pan and brown the bread crumbs over a low flame. Then roll the knodel in bread crumbs and sprinkle with sugar before serving.


One may:

—use cream cheese in place of the potatoes, so as to augment the amount of flour

—replace the apricots with prunes or cherries

—add yeast to the paste

—place a cube of sugar inside each apricot slice

—serve the knoedel with ground poppy seeds in place of bread crumbs, moistening them afterwards with butter and sugar


Bon appétit!

Posted by Jesse McQuarters (Producer, Exploring Music)

Extras for Unfinished Symphonies (Exploring Music)

As producers of Exploring Music, we’re perpetually running into the unfortunate situation of having to cut material to make it fit in the time allotted for the program (58 minutes and 30 seconds, to be exact). There’s just no way to fit it all in, as much as we’d like to. Here are a few of the bits that ended up on the cutting room floor, along with some supplemental material for this week.


We mentioned clarinetist Robert Stallman, who has a label named after Schubert’s favorite Viennese watering hole, Bogner’s Café. It has some very nice releases, and not just of Schubert’s music.

Brian Newbould’s book Schubert and the Symphony: A New Perspective was invaluable in the research leading up to this week. Here Bill reads a few excerpts:

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Newbould’s realizations of Schubert’s music, as performed by Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, were central to the first two programs.

Mr. Lucas Amory

We were only able to feature about 5 minutes of Bill’s interview with the nine-year-old Lucas Amory on Tuesday, but here’s the full interview:

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The whole shebang started off with a NY Times article by music critic Anthony Tommasini, presenting a personal list of his ten favorite composers.

That inspired young Mr. Amory to send in his list of favorite composers via handwritten letter, which Mr. Tommasini reprinted in the Times.


Any discussion of Bruckner symphonies can quickly be derailed by attempts to make sense of the composer’s many revisions (and subsequent alternate versions put out by well-intentioned publishers). Luckily for us, the two movements of Bruckner’s 9th that we programmed took up almost the whole show, so we were able to just revel in the music and sidestep the discussion. For a glimpse into the rabbit hole, check out this run-down by Bruckner fan José Oscar Marques of all the various iterations and discography by David Griegel.

We used Kurt Eichhorn’s marvelous recording with the Bruckner Orchester Linz, recommended by John Proffitt at KUHA (formerly KUHF) in Houston.


Quite often in the pages of his 10th symphony, a dying Gustav Mahler wrote very personal notes to his wife and muse, Alma. Reading them, one can understand why she was so reticent to share it with the world. Here, at the end of the Scherzo, for example, he inscribed:

Du allein weisst was es bedeutet, Ach! Ach! Got! Leb’wohl mein Saitenspiel! Leb’wohl. Leb’wohl. Leb’wohl.

You alone know what it means. Ah! Ah! God! Farewell my lyre. Farewell. Farewell. Farewell.

I was thrilled to find this newly released album of Mahler’s music on Testment Records, which features Deryck Cooke’s original BBC lectures on the 10th and recordings of the symphony’s two premiere performances. Gramophone posted a summary here that gives an overview of the set.


This page from the Elgar Society contains a wealth of information on the composer’s Symphony No. 3, including Anthony Payne’s own account of working on the symphony, links to buy the CD and the score, and much more.

It’s interesting to note that Elgar himself wanted the unfinished score of the 3rd destroyed, creating a conundrum for the musicologists and Elgarphiles that followed. Should they honor the wishes of the composer and deprive the world of his fantastic music? Or reconstruct the music to the best of their ability, knowing that it inherently wouldn’t be the same as if Elgar had finished it himself?

Colin Matthews posts a response here.

News from the audio department

Hi, Bill Siegmund here, longtime reader, first time blogger.

I’m the Technical Director for Exploring music, which means I push all the buttons on the electronic things we use to record the show. And what are those electronic things?

Microphone: Audio Technica 4077 cardioid condenser
Mic Pre: Metric Halo MIO 2882 +DSP
A-D converter: Metric Halo MIO 2882 +DSP
Recorder: Apple Macintosh 1.67 GHz PPC G4, 15″ w/ Glyph HD
Recorder: Tascam CD-RW2000 (backup)
Console: PRE BMX III-14
Ace technician: Rodney Belizaire (without him we’re sunk!)
Host facility: WQXR
Piano: Yamaha PF-500
i-Tunes: i-Tunes

Geeky enough for ya? Wait, there’s more.

We record Bill using the above mentioned Metric Halo, which I’m nuts about. It’s a really cool single rackspace unit. (For those of you scoring at home, a single rackspace is 19″ wide and about as thick as Gideon’s Bible.) It’s got eight channels of analog inputs and outputs and 10 channels of digital inputs and outputs. It connects to a computer via a Fire Wire cable, and this is how the audio gets recorded to the Mac. The 2882 also has built-in effects, which we exploit shamelessly. We put a little dynamics processing (compressors & limiters) and equalization (EQ) on Bill McGlaughlin’s voice. Each show is a four channel recording as we record his microphone dry (no effects), wet (with effects), and we record stereo tracks of the piano. The piano also gets a little EQ and other top-secret enhancements. I also make a rough mix of all the elements on the CD recorder as a backup. The system is quite stable and we’ve never needed to use the backup, although now I’ve probably jinxed it.

And how do we record the show, you ask? Very well, thank you. Bill M. may also write a bit about the process, but what we do is take _A TON_ of music and load it into i-Tunes. For each theme (a theme is a week, or occasionally two weeks, of shows) our production team in Chicago goes through the library at WFMT and pulls material to be considered, then they make mp3s (low resolution audio files) of everything, burn ’em onto DVDs and Fed-Ex them to Bill Mac in NYC. Meanwhile, we also comb the library here at WQXR for more gems and pull what seems interesting, and then drop all the audio into i-Tunes (Bill Mac also uses a Mac – no relation).

During the taping of the show (OK – there isn’t actually any tape involved in the recording process, but it’s still a convenient expression, like Dial M for Murder) I play excerpts of each piece. So Bill M. might introduce, say, the Finale of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung with Georg Solti and the Wiener Philharmoniker, and then I’ll play the first 30 seconds or so, and then I’ll skip to the last minute of the piece and play that before Bill says something like, “What a fiery performance of the Finale of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung with Georg Solti and the Wiener Philharmoniker.” (You see why I don’t write the scripts for the show.) Believe me, Bill has listened and listened and listened to all of the performances we use on the show, he knows them inside and out from his years as a musician and conductor and music fan, so that when it comes time to record the shows we need only hear enough of each cut to establish a tone, or sometimes remember a detail that we want to point out. All the music gets added in later by the crack production team in Chicago.

OK – that’s enough blogging for now. If you’ve read this far, then I invite you to tune back in and I’ll tell more about the rest of the production process, and add some photos, and talk about audio, and music, and other possibly relevant but hopefully interesting things. Thanks for reading, and of course thanks for listening.



Bill Siegmund Digital Island Studios, LLC
71 West 23rd Street Suite 504
NY NY 10010
212.243.9753 vox
347.262.6951 cell

Secretary, Audio Engineering Society New York Section

Entry No. 2

Thursday November 27, 2008 – NYC – 2:38pm

I’m starting to feel more optimistic about the blog. Some good omens have appeared.

Yesterday I opened the file I’d written at the restaurant in Chelsea on Tuesday and wondered if it would do. I also realize that I’d have to quote some of the NYRB article for the piece to make sense. But that’s copyrighted material. I looked at the NYRB web site, found the permissions page and wrote a request.

When I got home from Dizzies’ at Lincoln Center last night there was a reply.

On Nov 26, 2008, at 10:55 PM, The New York Review of Books wrote:

Dear Mr. McGlaughlin,

Thanks for your message. You are welcome to quote from the piece. I’m a cellist and a big fan of your program and of St Paul Sunday Morning. I’m delighted to learn that you read the NYRB. Please let me know if we can be of any further help.

Best regards,

Matthew Howard Director of Electronic Publishing The New York Review of Books

At 8:35 PM +0000 11/26/08, Bill McGlaughlin wrote:

Dear NYRB,

I am the host of Exploring Music, a classical music radio show that plays across the country (WQXR in NYC, WFMT in Chicago, etc.). I was enjoying Tim Flannery’s wonderful piece on Richard Fortey’s Dry Store Room No. 1 and was struck by the parallel between the lives of paleontologists (say) and classical musicians.

We’re instituting a blog for in which I’d love to be able to quote from Mr. Flannery’s piece, starting with the passage on p. 40, column 3 which begins “Accountability was the tool….” and continuing with a little editing through the line on the top of column four, “London’s Natural History Museum being an exception….”

Could you please let me know if this would be possible. If not, I can paraphrase the passage and point readers to your web site.

Thank you for your consideration,

Bill McGlaughlin

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