Biber and Scarlatti (discoveries on classical music radio)


This morning, while driving, I was listening on my car radio to classical music on WBAI, a non-commercial New York radio station.

Host Chris Whent was playing music by the Bohemian-Austrian composer and violinist Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (1644-1704). Biber has languished in obscurity (by which I mean has languished in modern times), but he is being heard again. Needless to say, this should be attributed to the availability of recorded music.

Has anyone noticed that classical music RADIO programming is not what it used to be? I grew up listening to it at all hours — on my car radio and at home, early in the morning and late at night. The late Robert J. Lurtsema’s program of classical music, “Morning pro musica,” on WGBH in Boston comes to mind.

Chris Whent knows his baroque music. A long while ago, I was listening to WBAI once when he happened to be playing sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti on his program. I heard Scarlatti’s Keyboard Sonata in B minor, K.87/L.33, and I was “converted,” or one should say, lifted out of the slough of ignorance into a world or pure listening bliss.



I have appended here:


a movement from Biber’s Sonatae tam aris quam aulis servientes (1676)


a rendition of Scarlatti’s Sonata in B minor, K.87/ L.33


— Roger W. Smith

   June 3, 2018

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