John Rittmeyer

Classical Afternoon Host

John Rittmeyer grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, but didn’t discover how much classical music meant to him until moving to Columbus to attend OSU. It began by listening to WOSU-FM while studying at home. As an English major, classical music provided a great background while reading literature, but after awhile the music became as interesting as what he was reading. Thus began a serious avocation, with a growing collection of classical music and reference books, that eventually led to a job in Public Radio to share his love of music with other people.

He’s been doing this now for 22 years at WOSU as a classical music host. John is Classical 101′s afternoon host. He also is the host of Symphony @ 7, weeknights at 7 p.m. and Fretworks, a show dedicated to the classical guitar, which can be heard Saturdays at 7 p.m.

Little-known facts about John: A seed for the future classical music lover may have been planted in the fifth grade in Cleveland by a public-school bus trip to Severence Hall to hear the Cleveland Orchestra in a matinee concert for young people. But the seed didn’t begin to sprout until John saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show and later saw them perform at Cleveland Stadium in 1966.

He started to play the guitar, and an interest in being involved with music began. However, it would take some years longer to fully blossom into a love of Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart and the music tradition they represented.

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What I'm calling An English Pastorale is an hour of music I've selected that I hope will suit the mood of the holiday season without sticking exclusively to Christmas music. Think of it as a brief break from some of the familiar carols and tunes we hear so much this time of year.

An English Pastorale airs at 7 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 24 and 2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 25 on Classical 101.

Joseph Karl Stieler / Wikimedia Commons

The series of all nine symphonies by Ludwig van Beethoven concludes Thursday evening on Symphony @ 7 with the Choral Symphony. This great work wraps up what is regarded as the most influential cycle of symphonies by any composer.

Beethoven monument in Bonn, Germany
Axel Kirch / Wikimedia Commons

It was quite a profound transition for a young Ludwig van Beethoven to go from being a celebrated virtuoso pianist not long after he arrived in Vienna from Bonn, Germany, in 1792, to feeling increasingly socially isolated by the hearing loss that would ultimately end his career as a pianist — but thankfully for us all, not as a composer.

Dashon Burton / carolineshaw.com

This Friday or Saturday evening, you can hear Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony at the Southern Theatre, performed by the Columbus Symphony and conducted by Rossen Milanov, and then take a guided nature walk on Sunday afternoon.

Violinist and composer Caroline Shaw, whose composition Lo will also be performed at the concerts, will lead the Beethoven-inspired nature walk beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Scioto Audubon Metro Park, just south of downtown Columbus.

Julius Schmid / Wikimedia Commons

This fall on Symphony @ 7, Thursday evenings on Classical 101, I'm presenting all nine Beethoven symphonies (one each week), culminating with the Choral Symphony at the end of November.

To round out the hour, I'm also featuring some of Beethoven's contemporaries — composers who were relevant to Beethoven and his music: Ignaz Pleyel, Muzio Clementi, Johann Hummel, Luigi Cherubini and, of course, Haydn and Mozart.

Lucasfilm / The Walt Disney Studios

Star Wars: A New Hope, the 1977 George Lucas film that began a whole new era of outer space swashbucklers, will be shown Friday, Oct. 6 and Saturday, Oct. 7 at the Ohio Theatre. There's nothing necessarily unusual about the screening in itself, since Star Wars is a bona fide classic. What is perhaps not so common is that the Columbus Symphony will perform the film score live along with the movie.

Robert Markowitz / NASA

Julie Payette, a former member of the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir who became an astronaut, is now the next Governor General of Canada. The Governor General of Canada is a largely ceremonial position, but an important one as the representative of the Queen in Canada.

Universal Pictures

With The Vietnam War documentary series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick set to begin at 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17 on WOSU-TV, I thought I'd conclude my three-part music-related reflections of that era by briefly presenting some of the most striking examples of the use of classical music in Hollywood films about the Vietnam War.

USASOC News Service / Wikimedia Commons

Classical music didn't see the same surge in new compositions responding to the Vietnam War that was reflected in popular music of the time. But in honor of this weekend's premiere of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's The Vietnam War (8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17 on WOSU-TV), I decided to explore some of the era's lesser-known classical works informed by the turbulence of wartime.

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's new PBS documentary series The Vietnam War premieres at 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17 on WOSU-TV.

I got to thinking about some of the music from that era relating to the conflict. I didn't find as much classical music as I had hoped, but I was immediately struck by how much popular music was related to the Vietnam War.

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