Compact Discoveries
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, and edited by Fred Flaxman
©2004 by Compact Discoveries, Inc.

Program 57
"The Buster Walk Jamboree"

MUSIC: Chaminade: Scarf Dance, Robert Silverman, pianist [Marquis 77471 82501 2 4] [under the following]

Welcome to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide Fred Flaxman, and during the next hour I'm going to accompany you on a very personal voyage into my childhood and my discovery of the beauty of classical music. I call this program "The Buster Walk Jamboree." You'll soon see why.

MUSIC: Chaminade: Scarf Dance fades out

Conventional wisdom teaches that getting a young child a dog is a good way to teach him responsibility. But my boyhood dog, Buster, taught me much more about irresponsibility.

When I was eight, I convinced my mother, who hates animals, to buy me a beagle. We got 50 percent off on Buster because he had stiff hind legs and undescended testicles. It taught my mom to be wary of bargains.

Buster lasted for 14 years and died of old age with a little assistance from the veterinarian and the approval of my mother. During his last few, flatulent years, my mother took care of him completely since, by that time, I was away in college.

But for 10 years I walked Buster twice a day - in rain, snow or shine, like an old-fashioned mailman. I fed him, brushed him, petted him and took care of him. I also confided in him, and he became my best friend.

I learned to be a responsible adult, just as conventional wisdom predicted. I married and had two children. For several decades I've been going to work each day, putting up gracefully with rush hours, boring meetings, budgets and personnel problems caused, presumedly, by employees who were deprived of dogs when they were children.

I've footed the bills for my family's food, clothing, shelter and college education. I even paid for their mistakes. I washed and dried the dishes and occasionally made the bed. I've contributed to the United Way, supported the American Cancer Society, and worked as an executive for five nonprofit, educational, public television stations. I don't think I could have been much more responsible.

But, all along, I've harbored a secret desire to lead the good life Buster introduced me to. He never put in a full day's work. He never even worked part time. He never earned a dime, never did anything useful, never married or had children or knew or cared if he did, never put up with traffic, never sat through a meeting, never prepared a budget, never read a book or newspaper, never washed a car, never wasted time watching television - even public television - and never worried about nuclear war or anything else for that matter except, perhaps, which tree he should choose for his next stop. And even that he did without first obtaining an environmental impact report.

Buster was beautifully, innocently and completely irresponsible. And I loved him as he was, for what he was.

My colleagues at work would be surprised to learn that all I ever really wanted out of life was to have my back scratched while sitting in front of the TV, like Buster to run free in the woods on a sunny summer day... and to curl up in front of a fire on a cold winter's evening, listening to classical music that someone else would put on the stereo.

Having a dog, it is said, teaches children how to be responsible. Perhaps. But one thing's for sure. Buster taught me how to live.

And it was Buster who got me into radio. Every time I walked him around the block, I pretended I was announcing a radio program. It was called "The Buster Walk Jamboree." And it was a music program, somewhat like this one, with me providing the music as well as the talk. I think the first song I ever learned by heart for this program was "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'" from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! In fact I think it was also the last song I learned by heart, with the possible exception of the first stanza of the "National Anthem."

Fortunately for you, there is no compact disc recording of my singing "Oh, What a beautiful Mornin'" - or any other song. So we'll do the next best thing and listen to Laurence Guittard from the 1980 Broadway cast album on an RCA Red Seal recording.

MUSIC: Rodgers and Hammerstein: "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'" from Oklahoma! sung by Laurence Guittard as Curly from the 1980 Broadway cast album [RCA Red Seal RCD1-3572, track 2] [2:52]

Laurence Guittard as Curly from the 1980 Broadway cast album of Oklahoma! But this song was also used in my live, pretend radio program when I eight and nine years old: "The Buster Walk Jamboree."

Surely the neighbors must have thought I was off my rocker when they heard me walking my dog around the block while serving as the host and talent of my own radio program. Especially that I not only sang songs, I imitated the sounds of an entire orchestra. And I conducted as well! But it made those incessant walks past the same houses, the same yards, the same fire hydrants and the same telephone poles pass much more quickly.

Of course, not knowing the lyrics to a song didn't at all stop me from using it in my program. I would just hum and whistle away.

MUSIC: Rodgers and Hammerstein, arranged by Robert Russell Bennett: orchestral suite from Oklahoma! with Paul Freeman conducting the Orchestra of the Americas [Intersound Pro-Arte CDB 8307] [10:58]

Paul Freeman conducted the Orchestra of the Americas in the Robert Russell Bennett orchestral arrangement of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!

You are listening to Compact Discoveries, and I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman. In case you just tuned in, this hour is devoted to "The Buster Walk Jamboree," a personal look at the music featured in my very first "radio programs." I made them while I walked my dog Buster around the block starting at the age of 8, much to the astonishment of any of the neighbors who caught me in the act. I had no microphone, no audio board, and no transmitter. But that didn't phase the Flaxman Broadcasting Company one bit!

Weekday mornings, after taking Buster for his walk, I was driven to elementary school by the next-door neighbor, Marvin Kleinzahler. Mr. Kleinzahler always had WQXR, New York City's most famous classical music statiion, tuned in on his car radio. And, as I recall, the station played light orchestral music at that time to help people wake up and start their days in a cheerful mood. That still seems like a good idea to me.

I now realize that much of that music must have been by British composers, because the Marco Polo label has come out with a whole series of CDs called "British Light Music," and that series includes several pieces I knew well as a kid - and hadn't heard since. I can just picture myself now as a little boy whistling these tunes as I walked Buster around the block. It's such happy music!

MUSIC: Arthur Benjamin: The Jamaican Rumba, Ernest Tomlinson, RTE Concert Orchestra [Marco Polo 8.223522, track 7] [2:21]

MUSIC: Robert Farnon: Jumping Bean, Adrian Leaper, Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava) [Marco Polo 8.223401, track 8] [2:25]

MUSIC: Ronald Binge: The Red Sombrero, Ernest Tomlinson, Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava) [Marco Polo 8.223515, track 6] [2:45]

Three pieces I recall from my childhood. First you heard The Jamaican Rumba by Arthur Benjamin performed by the RTE Concert Orchestra conducted by Ernest Tomlinson.

Next, Robert Farnon's Jumping Bean with the Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra of Bratislava conducted by Adrian Leaper.

And finally The Red Somrero by Ronald Binge with the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra of Bratislava, again conducted by Ernest Tomlinson. All three selections were from three different CDs in Marco Polo's British Light Music series.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman.

[optional one-minute break not included in total timing of program]

Walking my dog past my best friend's house, I would dream of having a white stalion just like the Lone Ranger's and riding up the middle of the street between my house and his - just a half a block long - to the music of the Light Cavalry Overture by Franz Von Suppé.

MUSIC: Von Suppé: Light Cavalry Overture, Charles Dutoit conducting the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. [London 414 408-2, track 1] [7:04]

Franz Von Suppé's Light Cavalry Overture. Charles Dutoit conducted the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal on a London compact disc.

This Compact Discoveries hour is called "The Buster Walk Jamboree" because it is devoted to my personal discovery of classical music as a little boy growing up in Palisade, New Jersey. Buster the beagle was my constant companion. "The Buster Walk Jamboree" was my pretend radio program which I made two times each day - three on weekends - whenever I took Buster for a walk. It made the time pass faster for me, if not for Buster.

We had a baby grand piano in our house and learning to play it was part of my education. My two older brothers also learned to play, as had my mother when she was a girl. So most of the pieces I whistled and hummed as I went around the block with Buster were probably pieces one or the other of us played on the piano. Pieces like the Prelude in C Major from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, by Johann Sebastian Bach, and the Allegro from the Sonata in C Major, K545 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

MUSIC: Prelude in C Major from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, by Johann Sebastian Bach, and the Allegro from the Sonata in C Major, K545 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart performed by John O'Conor [Telarc CD-60391] [5:12]

The Prelude in C Major from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, by Johann Sebastian Bach, followed by the Allegro from the Sonata in C Major, K545 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The pianist was John O'Conor on a Telarc CD called "Autumn Songs: Popular Works for Solo Piano," which is one of my favorite piano music collections.

As a child learning to play the piano, I was introduced to two composers maybe "introduced" isn't exactly the right word perhaps "indoctrinated" would be closer to the truth. As a child I was indoctrinated in the music of two composers I have hardly heard about since I was 8 years old: Friedrich Kuhlau and Muzio Clementi. It was years before I could find pieces by these composers recorded by professional pianists on compact discs. I guess they considered the pieces too easy.

But an Israeli-American pianist named Mordecai Shehori has come out with a CD which contains sonatinas by both of these composers which I learned as a young child. He included both pieces in a Cembal d'amour release called "Learning by Example: masterful performances of Beethoven's Für Elise and 46 other favorite works that learning pianists - whether young or not-so-young-love to play."

Here, from that CD, is, first, Kuhlau's Sonatina in C Major, Op. 29, No. 1, then Clementi's Sonatina in C Major, Op. 36, No. 1. My piano teacher kept me in C Major so long, I developed a phobia of flats and sharps that lasted for years. I overcame my fear only by switching from playing the piano to playing compact discs of piano music. Now I don't care at how many flats and sharps a piece has.

MUSIC: Kuhlau: Sonatina in C, Op. 20, No. 1, Mordecai Shehori, pianist [Cembal d'amour, CD 108, tracks 24, 25, 26] [7:17]

MUSIC: Clementi: Sonatina in C, Op. 36, No. 1, Mordecai Shehori, pianist [Cembal d'amour, CD 108, tracks 27, 28, 29] [3:35]

Mordecai Shehori played two sonatinas that I remember learning when I was a young child. First we heard Kuhlau's Sonatina in C Major, Op. 20, No. 1; then Clementi's Sonatina in C Major, Op. 36, No. 1.

These are two of the pieces I probably hummed and whistled as I walked my dog around the block pretending to host and provide the musical talent for a make-believe radio program I called "The Buster Walk Jamboree."

MUSIC: Chaminade: Scarf Dance, Robert Silverman, pianist [Marquis 77471 82501 2 4]

With the playing of another piano piece from my youth, the Scarf Dance by Chaminade, performed by Robert Silverman on a Marquis CD, comes the end of this Compact Discoveries hour, a real radio program I call "The Buster Walk Jamboree." I hope you have enjoyed this personal look at my musical memories, which I must dedicate to my mother, who forced me to take piano lessons, and to Buster the beagle, who gave me my first experience making radio programs. This is Fred Flaxman.

The words and music for each Compact Discoveries radio program are available online at www.fredflaxman.com.

Compact Discoveries is a production of Compact Discoveries, Inc., and a presentation of WXEL-FM, West Palm Beach, Florida.

MUSIC: fades out at 57:30 [total timing without optional break]

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