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Collection
WNYC
Series
Mad About Music
Episode
William F. Buckley, Jr.
Contributing Organization
WNYC (New York, New York)
AAPB ID
cpb-aacip/80-52w3rpfz
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Description
His biography reads that he is an author, columnist, politician, adventurer, editor, philosopher and television personality, and goes on to say that no celebrity in the world wears as many hats. But two hats that are not mentioned in that biography are the ones we explore today - a harpsichordist and a music lover. William Buckley, Jr. on this edition of Mad About Music. Airs the first Sunday of every month at 9PM on 93.9 FM GUEST: William F. Buckley, Jr. RECORDINGS: J. S. Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major. [First Movement] The Sofia Soloists. Plamen Djuro, conductor. Joo Carlos Martins, piano. Lydia Oshakova, flute and Liudmil Nenchev, violin. Concord Concerto CCD-42042. Domenico Scarlatti Sonata in E Major, L470, Fernando Valenti, harpsichord. Westminster W-9324. Schroder-Weisman Don't Leave Me Now, Elvis Presley. BMG BVCM-37186. Ludwig van Beethoven 33 Variations on a Waltz by Anton Diabelli, Op. 120 [Excerpt] Maurizio Pollini, Piano. Deutsche Grammophon 289 459 645-2. Richard Wagner Tristan und Isolde. "Liebestod" Berlin Philharmonic; Herbert von Karajan; Helga Dernesch, soprano. Musical Heritage Society 544623T. TRANSCRIPT: Kaplan: His biography reads that he is an author, columnist, politician, adventurer, editor, philosopher and television personality, and goes on to say that no celebrity in the world wears as many hats. But two hats that are not mentioned in that biography are the ones we'll explore today - a harpsichordist and a music lover. William Buckley, Jr. on today's edition of Mad About Music. [Theme Music] Kaplan: For almost 50 years, William Buckley has perhaps been the most visible symbol of conservative politics in America. Starting when he was 30 in rapid fire, he launched the National Review Magazine, began a column, "On the Right", syndicated to 300 newspapers. Then in 1965 he jumped into politics itself and ran for the Mayor of New York picking up more than 13% of the vote. And the following year launched his award winning TV interview show "Firing Line". At every step of the way though, music has played a centering role in his life. William Buckley, welcome to "Mad About Music". Buckley: Thank you. Nice to be here. Kaplan: Now today your instrument of choice is the harpsichord. I assume as a child though you didn't start with that. Buckley: That is correct. I didn't really start it until I was in college and it was actually the clavichord that I began fooling with. It was another ten years before I started playing; but incidentally, I don't want to give the impression that I consider myself a harpsichordist that anybody discriminating would listen to. I did play nine times in public and after the ninth I simply convinced myself that it was a desecration for me to do so in public, so I quit. Kaplan: Now I preface my next question by confessing that I personally love the harpsichord. I even built one myself in the 20's, not the 20's, but in my 20's. But for many listeners I think it's fair to say it's a transitional instrument leading to the modern piano, and the sound doesn't please everyone. The conductor Sir Thomas Beecham likened the sound of the harpsichord - I remember this quote as "Two skeletons copulating on a tin roof." I've often wondered if Bach and Scarlatti ever heard the modern piano, would they have continued to compose for the harpsichord. What do you think about that? Buckley: I think Bach would have composed for any instrument that accomplished anything singular and although much of what was written for the harpsichord I would just as soon hear on the piano; nevertheless there's some pieces in my judgment which only really come alive in the harpsichord. It's also inconceivable to me that he would scorn what a piano uniquely gives you. So I think he would have been enormously excited to hear his own compositions played on the piano. Kaplan: Now one of the composers you've chosen for today, Scarlatti, of course, was entranced with the harpsichord. He wrote something like 500 sonatas for them and I see you'd like us to play one of them today. Buckley: I wanted a sonata by Scarlatti. I could have picked any of 40 maybe - 30 or 40. Some of them I find rather tedious, but some of them are just fantastic. The one I simply picked, I picked in part in deference to the memory of Fernando Valenti who was a dear friend and he recorded, I think as you mentioned, 500 Scarlatti sonatas, and that this is one that he played from time to time. [Music] Kaplan: Domenico Scarlatti Sonata in E Major, Longo 470 performed by the legendary Fernando Valenti who was a close friend of my guest today on "Mad About Music", William Buckley. Now Valenti, to me, stands out for his flair with the instrument, where it's often hard to achieve and not necessarily admired. How would you characterize your own approach to playing the instrument? Buckley: Hazardous. I really wasn't proficient enough to develop my own style. I knew how I liked the music to sound and in that sense it was imitative. There was something concerning which I was a partisan and that was the question of whether the Sixteen Foot register added something to it. Along, around four or five years after I first met Fernando Valenti, he offered in his anfractuous way to sell me his own harpsichord on which he had recorded 85 LPs. It had a Sixteen Foot but it had gone suddenly out of style. Everybody stopped using Sixteen Foot and I thought it a pity because it gives sort of a wonderful taste of thunder every now and then and brilliantly exploited by Valenti in my opinion. Kaplan: Now I understand you came to know Wanda Landowska and at least the article I read said you met her when you carried a clavichord under your arm to her house to seek advice how to get it repaired. Is that true? Buckley: Well the answer is I didn't come to know her, but I did meet her on that occasion. Kaplan: You just walked up and knocked on the door? Buckley: Well, I came back from my honeymoon and went to look at my clavichord and found it completely clogged. I was hysterical. And she lived 5 miles away in Lakeville, Connecticut. So, age 24, I was acting more like a 13 year old - I simply stuck it in the station wagon, went over to her house and knocked on the door. And she opened it and invited me to come in. And she chatted pretty much uninterrupted for 20 minutes, 30 minutes. I remember her initial remark with reference to the subject; she said you have my "Preludes and Fugues." I said they were wonderful. They are epochal, which was her judgment of her own achievement and that was pretty widely shared in those days when they came out. Kaplan: Well I see you have some Bach on your list today also and one of them is the Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, but after extolling the harpsichord and then saying you're flexible on the piano, I see you want us to play a recording which features a pianist. Buckley: You can do it obviously on both instruments. I think, I think it's more exciting on the piano. May I ventilate a complaint which is that in my experience, the 50 times I've heard the harpsichord played with an orchestra, it's never loud enough. I think that as a piece of piano music it is extraordinarily exciting as I think you'd agree if you listen. Kaplan: Yes, but before we listen, talk a little bit about the cadenza in this work which I think probably is unique. It's a written out cadenza. It's a long -- and it's considered one of Bach's greatest achievements. Buckley: It is in my judgment. All of a sudden instead of sort of the ritual coda you start in with this bar of music. In any case it gets absolutely carried away at a great speed. Well this goes on for 65 bars and it absolutely takes your breath away. Very difficult to perform. I wouldn't undertake it myself, but it is simply an exciting musical experience. [Music] Kaplan: The first movement of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, The Sofia Soloists led by Plamen Djuro and featuring pianist Joo Carlos Martins, a selection of my guest on "Mad About Music", William Buckley. You can learn more about William Buckley and his many careers, or listen to
J. S. Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major. [First Movement] The Sofia Soloists. Plamen Djuro, conductor. Joo Carlos Martins, piano. Lydia Oshakova, flute and Liudmil Nenchev, violin. Concord Concerto CCD-42042. Domenico Scarlatti Sonata in E Major, L470, Fernando Valenti, harpsichord. Westminster W-9324.Schroder-Weisman Don't Leave Me Now, Elvis Presley. BMG BVCM-37186.Ludwig van Beethoven 33 Variations on a Waltz by Anton Diabelli, Op. 120 [Excerpt] Maurizio Pollini, Piano. Deutsche Grammophon 289 459 645-2.Richard Wagner Tristan und Isolde. "Liebestod" Berlin Philharmonic; Herbert von Karajan; Helga Dernesch, soprano. Musical Heritage Society 544623T.
Genres
Interview
Rights
Owner/Custodial History: Produced by WNYC Radio and funded in part by a grant from The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation and by the listeners of WNYC.; Acquisition Source: WNYC; Terms of Use & Repro: 2002 WNYC Radio
Media type
Sound
Credits
: Buckley, William F. (William Frank), 1925-
Host: Kaplan, Gilbert E.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
WNYC-FM
Identifier: 38904.1 (WNYC Media Archive MDB)
Format: Data CD
Duration: 01:00:00
WNYC-FM
Identifier: 38904.2 (WNYC Media Archive MDB)
Format: Data CD
Generation: Copy: Access
Duration: 01:00:00
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Citations
Chicago: “WNYC; Mad About Music; William F. Buckley, Jr.,” WNYC, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 13, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-80-52w3rpfz.
MLA: “WNYC; Mad About Music; William F. Buckley, Jr..” WNYC, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 13, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-80-52w3rpfz>.
APA: WNYC; Mad About Music; William F. Buckley, Jr.. Boston, MA: WNYC, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-80-52w3rpfz