Sunday, June 11, 2006

Robert J Lurtsema: how fleeting is fame

When my wife was an undergrad at Wellesley College, she awoke to bird song that moved to increasingly rousing strings. That's how Robert J Lurtsema started his morning show, Morning Pro Musica.

I thought there'd be an mp3 somewhere of that show, and that I'd use it for our iPod alarm. Alas, Lursema died in another era. Even his memorial site was no help. It's still up, but the links are almost all bad. WGBH has removed the mp3 sample that page mentions.

He was pre-digital and is now all but forgotten.

Update 1/30/07: Thanks to a gracious comment (see below), we now know where to find a recording of "Dawn Chorus".

Update 8/5/09: There's a new location for the Dawn Chorus.

Update 6/19/2012: Lurtsema, I've learned from comments, was known for silent pauses. That's a bit unusual on radio. A commenter (The Grouse) wrote to correct one explanation for those: "... Lurtsema's famous pauses and these being to smoke ... but people I spoke with who worked with him say that this is utter poppycock. It was just the way his intriguing mind worked."

22 comments:

Jacob said...

.. alas .. perhaps he died .. because of the ... dramatic pauses ... in his diction. Which were (I learned years later) not so dramatic, but functional pauses to smoke his next cigarette.

Harry Voorhees said...

Was just looking for the same thing, and found a recording posted at: http://www.grandtraverseaudubon.org/music.html.

J said...

Address now is:
http://www.grandtraverseaudubon.org/files/musicbd.html

Anonymous said...

Robert J is not forgotten in the minds of those who knew him and enjoyed awakening to the gentle sounds he played every morning to welcome his listeners to another day. For a wonderful recording, look for his album, "Christmas Stories".

Anonymous said...

Hi -- I have tried to open this URL but get a msg "Internet Explorer cannot open this page." Do you know another way to access it? I've been longing to hear RJL's Dawn Chorus for at least 20 yrs! What a beautiful way to wake up. . . .

Anonymous said...

Robert J. may be gone, but he's left behind many lovers of classical music who's appreciation of the greatest of musical art forms will live on; and in our hearts and memories, the great man still lives.

Marissa Doyle said...

I wrote about Robert J and Morning Pro Musica on my LJ a couple of years ago--so glad I'm not the only one who still has fond memories of mornings:
http://marissa-doyle.livejournal.com/3739.html

Betsy said...

Robert J's pauses were certainly NOT due to his smoking. He gave up smoking more than 20 years before he died. They most certainly were dramatic.

Anonymous said...

Here is a link to his Christmas Stories CD.

http://www.cduniverse.com/search/xx/music/pid/1003686/a/Christmas+Stories.htm

Anna said...

I grew up listening to the Dawn Chorus and Robert J - can anyone tell me the name or composer of the fanfare that used to follow the birds?? I've been longing to hear it again and just can't seem to remember what it was.

Anonymous said...

The Dawn Chorus was followed by Entrance (Arrival) of the Queen of Sheba by J.S. Bach from Solomon.

Anonymous said...

Sorry...the follow-up to the Dawn Chorus was the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba by Handel --

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TGKJ9MgCOQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player

my mistake on the previous post

Hugh Sansom said...

I came across these comments trying to find exactly what others have sought -- the dawn sounds with music fading in. Astonishing that this is so nearly unavailable altogether. The comments of composer John Harbison suggest part lf the reason: Lurtsema did what is now nearly forbidden in radio -- linger on something, pause, take time, and challenge listeners.

Anonymous said...

The dawn chorus was a great way to awake to the new day...Lately I have been listening to the opening movement of Einojuhani Rautavaara's Cantus Arcticus as my dawn chorus. Check it out on Youtube.

Richard

The Grouse said...

I don't know where Jacob got his information about Lurtsema's famous pauses and these being to smoke but people I spoke with who worked with him say that this is utter poppycock. It was just the way his intriguing mind worked.

John Gordon said...

Thanks for the correction. I'll add that as an addendum to the post.

John "Pathfinder" Lester said...

I recreated the birds/music intro here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_sJ-L_KvF8

John "Pathfinder" Lester said...

Here's my own blog post about the beautiful intro to Morning Pro Musica. You can download it as an mp3 if you wish. http://becunningandfulloftricks.com/2012/11/07/the-beautiful-intro-to-wgbhs-morning-pro-musica-classical-music-radio-show/

Patton said...

Thanks for the Robert J memorials; and especially to John Lester for posting the Dawn Chorus with Handel. I'm looking for one missing piece: What was the flute piece that played after the birdsong, one day out of the week? I have the following so far:

Handel, Arrival of the Queen of Sheba
Respighi, Ancient Airs and Dances Suite II mvt. 4, "Bergamasca" (on Wednesdays)
Gabrieli, (one of the triple brass quintets, don't know which one)
Stravinskij, Pulcinella Suite, part I
(Bach? Telemann?), flute (cantata? concerto?)

Thanks if anyone can help me track this down!

Phil Schwarz said...

See http://wgbhalumni.org/profiles/l/lurtsema-robert-j/#comment-398062 -- These are all of the pieces he used, *except* Tuesday morning sign-on, which is the (Bach? Telemann?) flute (cantata? concerto?) that left you guessing too. I would love to know exactly what that piece was.
FWIW, I remember Stravinsky's Pulcinella as having been the intro to a different WGBH program, later in the day, not Morning Pro Musica.

Phil Schwarz said...

See http://wgbhalumni.org/profiles/l/lurtsema-robert-j/#comment-398062 -- These are all of the pieces he used, *except* Tuesday morning sign-on, which is the (Bach? Telemann?) flute (cantata? concerto?) that left you guessing too. I would love to know exactly what that piece was.
FWIW, I remember Stravinsky's Pulcinella as having been the intro to a different WGBH program, later in the day, not Morning Pro Musica.

Robert Atwood said...

Morning Pro Musica - WGBH Radio, Boston - Robert J. Lurtsema, host


Opening Themes:

Monday

Gabrieli, Canzon Septimi Toni #2; the brass of the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras; Columbia MS 7209


Tuesday

Telemann, Air a l’Italienne from the Suite in a for flute and strings; Ensemble of Cologne; Nonesuch H 71078


Wednesday

Respighi, Bergamasque form Ancient Airs and Dances for the Lute; Hungarian Philharmonic, Antal Dorati conducting; Mercury SRI 75009

Thursday

Jean Baptiste Besard, Allegro Marcato; Vienna Mandolin and Guitar Ensemble; Turnabout TV 34239

Friday

Bach, Concerto #1 in C for 2 pianos; BWV 1060; Robert and Gaby Casadessus; Odyssey 32 16 0382


Opening and Closing Themes - Saturday and Sunday

Handel, Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” from Solomon

1
Royal Philharmonic, Sir Thomas Beecham; Seraphim S 60134

2
English Chamber Orchestra, Richard Bonynge; London CS 6586

3
Royal Philharmonic, Charles Groves and E. Power Biggs; Columbia M 30058


Closing Theme - Monday through Friday

Mozart, Andantino con Variazioni from Sinfonia Concertante for flute, oboe, horn, bassoon and orchestra in E-flat, K297b; Chamber Orchestra of the Saar; Nonesuch H 71068