The indefatigable Marvin Rosen is marking 20 years of broadcasting his indispensable radio program “Classical Discoveries” on WPRP in Princeton, New Jersey (and on the web) and to celebrate the occasion he is doing two special programs this week; one, tomorrow, May 29 from 5:00 till 11:00am and another broadcast on Wednesday, May 31, from 5:00 till 11:00am. Marvin’s two main interests in music are old music–Baroque and before–and new music–composers who are still breathing or still modestly still warm in their graves. He was probably the first person with a radio show to begin championing the music of living composers and certainly the only one to have survived for two decades. He even beat us (Sequenza21) by a couple of years.
Marvin became seriously interested in classical music in 1966. There was always great music playing in his home, he says, and after relatives took him to Leonard Bernstein’s “Young People’s Concerts” in New York City, he was hooked.
“That was probably the greatest inspiration for me and my love of serious music. There has ever been a better or more inspirational classical music teacher. I don’t think we’ll ever see anyone quite like him I again. I feel very blessed to have grown during that time.” (Ed: I must confess I trace my love of classical music to the same source although my exposure to those concerts was entirely through television.)
Marvin went on to acquire a doctorate in music education from Columbia University and become a full-time music educator with the Westminster Conservatory in Princeton. He was managing the record department at Princeton University’s store in 1997 when he got a chance to fulfill his childhood dream of being a disk jockey after a volunteer position opened up at WPRB.
“I still have my first playlist,” Marvin says. “It is handwritten, since we didn’t go online until 2001. There were works by Bach, Mozart, and Scarlatti on that program, there were also works by Philip Glass, Richard Yardumian, and even Lennon-McCartney’s “Eleanor Rigby.”
Hundreds of playlists later, Marvin is still as enthusiastic as he was on day one. Even the prospect of getting out of bed at 3am on a snowy day in Princeton cannot discourage him from making his appointed rounds. He is ably abetted in this passion by his wife Beata Rzeszodko-Rosen who acts as kind of volunteer co-producer, archivist, webmaster, marketing consultant and cheerleader. (She gets up, too.)
Among the folks whose music you’ll hear this week are Antonio Caldara, George Crumb, Daniel Dorff, Ross Edwards, Eriks Esenvalds, Joep Franssens, Vladimir Godar, Galina Grigorjeva, Amanda Harberg, Jennifer Higdon, Gao Hong, Alan Hovhaness, Haji Khanmammadov, Wojciech Kilar, Vladimir Martynov, Claudio Monteverdi, Robert Moran, Victoria Poleva, Jaan Raats, Arnold Rosner, Andrew Rudin, Terje Rypdal, Gaetano Maria Schiassi, Alex Shapiro, and others.
On behalf of the Sequenza21 gang, past and present, we send many congratulations and much love. Thank you for being such an important part of the now thriving new music community and for showcasing the work of so many talented people. On a personal note, thank you for turning me on to the music of Alan Hovhaness. The world needs more people who do what they love and love what they do. You’re a mensch.