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.

Ways to Connect

Katie Hawley / Storyful

OK, we've all heard about Nora, the piano-playing cat, or numerous other cats at the keyboard. There have been other musical animals caught on camera as well, but this is a new one.

PBS

"They've been going in and out of style, but they're guaranteed to raise a smile."  

But have the Beatles really ever gone out of style? Much of the iconic rock band's music seems to endure in a timeless realm and shows no sign of being forgotten.

June 1967 marked the U.S. release of one of the most influential albums of popular music ever produced, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Cincinnati World Piano Competition Facebook page

The Cincinnati World Piano Competition is closing its doors after 60 years. It was recently announced that they were unable to raise the $300,000 needed to keep it going.

Founded in 1956 by Gloria G. Ackerman, the annual event became the longest-running piano competition in the country and an important opportunity to further the development of outstanding young pianists.

Moritz Nähr / Wikimedia Commons

Symphony No. 3 by Gustav Mahler is one of the longest symphonies in the standard repertoire. There may be a few longer ones out there, but this "hymn to life, love and nature" is special. It's a musical journey that can last up to one hour and 45 minutes uninterrupted, but it is a trek well worth taking — especially if you enjoy big, late-Romantic orchestral music.

Sim Canetty-Clarke / ravishankaroperaproject.org

Last September, I wrote about the opera by Indian musician Ravi Shankar that was left unfinished when he died at the age of 92 in 2012 and about its recent completion. Sukanya premieres in England in a series of performances beginning tonight and leading up to a London performance at the Southbank Centre on May 19.

Carnegie Hall Archives / Wikimedia Commons

This Sunday is the birthday of the most popular of all Russian composers, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (May 7, 1840). And on today's date in 1891, he made his Carnegie Hall debut during his only visit to America, appearing at the grand opening of what would become one of the most famous concert halls in the world.

I'm not sure how much he had to practice to get there (to paraphrase the old joke), since he was already one of the world's most famous composers when he was invited to participate in this event.

Paul Sherwood / Wikimedia Commons

Here's a doozy: Bill Murray is going classical.

The actor and comedian who never ceases to surprise has, according to the New York Times, teamed up with cellist  Jan Vogler, who has performed as a guest artist with the New York Philharmonic, and a group of chamber musicians for a projected album and touring show. Murray will sing Gershwin and Bernstein and recite Mark Twain, Walt Whitman and Ernest Hemingway.

Allan Warren / Wikimedia Commons

April 22 is Earth Day and a time when I'm more inclined to reflect on how interconnected the natural world and all life really is. I'm not referring necessarily to the economic or political world. Sometimes it seems hopelessly divided as 7 billion people try to figure out how to live together on this planet with its ever-shrinking natural resources.

In the world of nature, however, there are no such boundaries and divisions. It's one vast system, and we are all a part of it. Earth Day reminds me of that.

Poets, writers, artists and musicians have always been inspired by the natural world. In classical music, you can go from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons and Johann Strauss' The Beautiful Blue Danube to An Alpine Symphony by Richard Strauss or Mysterious Mountain by Alan Hovhaness and many, many, more works.

Wikimedia Commons

Sergei Prokofiev, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Paul Hindemith: two Russians and a German, one a repatriated son of Mother Russia and two permanent exiles from their homelands. These three important 20th century composers journeyed far from their countries and also lived for a time in the United States.

This weekend, the Columbus Symphony presents a program featuring music by these well-traveled composers.

David Debalko / kenshowatanabe.com

Classical music has a new rising star. According to a story published Tuesday in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the young assistant conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra stepped in to lead a concert at the last moment for an ailing Yannick Nezet-Seguin, and it was a great success.

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