Corrections or additions?
This article by Elaine Strauss
was prepared for the March 6, 2002 edition of
U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Music That’s Worth Hearing
Pianist and radio show host Marvin Rosen could solve
this problem: For the benefit of a piano pupil who needs a new piece
I have just played what I consider a particularly suitable short
piece. My student says, "I’m not playing that! My friends will
think that I’m just making a bunch of mistakes." Rosen would have
no difficulty finding an alternative piece. He is a compendium of
contemporary music that is tuneful and accessible.
Rosen turns this knowledge into a recital for the Steinway Society
at Jacobs Music in Lawrenceville, Sunday, March 10, at 4 p.m.
by telephone from his home in nearby Pennsylvania, Rosen says
a rather contemplative program. A good part of it has a spiritual
atmosphere. It takes place the day before the six-month anniversary
Entitled "An American Mosaic," the program leans heavily on
the works of Alan Hovhaness, whose somewhat exotic compositions draw
on folk tunes from a swathe of countries to the east of the
and on ancient church hymns. Other composers whose works will be
are Richard Yardumian, Henry Cowell, Leonard Bernstein, Lou Harrison,
Philip Glass, John Cage, Morton Feldman, and Arnold Rosner.
Rosen is a devoted advocate of Hovhaness, characterizing
it as "accessible music that has been composed with the
and calling it "the most important music of my life." As host
of "Classical Discoveries," a radio show that airs on WPRB
(103.3 FM), Tuesday mornings from 8:30 to 11 a.m., Rosen mirrors
musical view of the world by pairing new music with pre-baroque
A recent program included the work of Kassia, a ninth century
"When I listen to brand new music I realize that it’s not that
different from old music," Rosen says. "Back to back, you’d
be surprised at the similarity." Rosen harvests the music for
his radio show from every corner of the world. Often, contemporary
music from far off places incorporates into its newness ancient folk
Rosen’s outlook is cosmopolitan. "I travel the Internet,"
he says. "South Africa, New Zealand, Azerbaijan — composers
from these places may have studied in Paris. Some of the most exciting
music now is coming out of the Baltics. There’s wonderful choral music
being written in Latvia, Estonia, Poland, and the United States.
wonderful music in Australia."
The quest for material is arduous. In addition to the Internet, Rosen
haunts used record stores. "There’s so much music that you can’t
get in the United States," he says. "It’s very difficult to
find and to buy. A lot of what I play is on small imported labels.
I travel the Internet, and I like to put links to music on my
he says. His website is ourworld.cs.com/clasdis.
He sees the purpose of his radio program as broader than music.
is such an important gateway to peace in the world," he says.
"You don’t have to know the language. Music has so much
Rosen’s chief criterion for what to play on the show is simple. "I
listen and see if it gets me excited. The music has to say something
to me personally before I put it on the air. Everything I play is
accessible. I don’t include much avant-garde music. With music of
our time many fear that it will be unmelodious or unpleasant. I want
to show that this not true."
As an instructor at the Conservatory of Westminster Choir College
of Rider University, Rosen has a sunny approach. "I expose my
love of music for the benefit of the younger generation," he says.
"I want them to look forward to coming back the next week. I like
to teach them something new through something they’re already
Rosen was born in Englewood in 1953, moved to Princeton when he was
in sixth grade, and attended Princeton High School. "One of my
fondest memories of high school was studying double bass with Sylvan
Friedman," he says. He has been playing piano since he was eight.
An only child, Rosen’s father is an enthusiastic radio listener who
works as an office manager in the textile business. His mother plays
piano; as a young person she sang musical theater and also gave piano
lessons while Rosen was growing up.
Rosen’s parents took him to Leonard Bernstein’s young peoples’
and at first he was reluctant. "When I was nine, they were
me there," he says. But the parents persisted and now Rosen is
grateful. "Those concerts opened the door," he says. "When
it comes to education, Bernstein is the biggest inspiration I had.
He had the ability to talk to young people without talking down."
Rosen’s formal education beyond high school, which culminated in a
doctorate, took place at the New School for Music Study in Kingston,
Trenton State College, the Manhattan School of Music, and Teachers
College of Columbia University. For many years he was a buyer of CDs
and recorded music at the Princeton University Store.
As performer, radio host, and teacher, Rosen strives to transmit a
sense of the boundlessness of music. His musical appetite is
"There’s so much music that we don’t have the opportunity to
he says. "There’s so much music worth hearing."
— Elaine Strauss
Brunswick Pike, Lawrenceville, 609-434-0222. $10; $5 students under
25. Sunday, March 10, 4 p.m.
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.