Marvin Rosen, host of "Classical Discoveries" on WPRB Princeton, announced a few days ago has announced January 23 that the avant-garde edition of his program has been canceled. The last broadcast is scheduled for this Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
I spoke with Marvin by phone Friday evening, and he said that a student DJ wanted the time slot, and since 'PRB is a student-run station, students take precedence over adults and other outsiders in programing decisions.
"Basically, that was the reason I was given. Students get first crack," he told me. "I don’t know if you know this, but I need to apply for my show three times a year."
Marvin will continue to host the regular edition of "Classical Discoveries" Wednesdays from 5:30 to 11 a.m., but he said he has no intention of combining formats or inserting and any token avant-garde or electronic pieces into his show. He tried it once before and received nothing but complaints, he said. For better or worse, "Classical Discoveries" and "Classical Discoveries Goes Avant-Garde" are two different programs with two different audiences.
The avant-garde program was canceled once before, he said, and eventually came back. It might come back a second time, but for the moment, I am disappointed and sad, and I am sure other fans of modernist music are, too. Marvin is the only radio personality I can name who regularly programed modernist music, and while he is a wonderful man and the most engaging personality at the station, I must confess I find much of the music he plays on "Classical Discoveries" somewhat dreary. I like my modern music to sound modern. I don't care for pastiche, and I'd rather listen to Debussy than to some kid who is trying a little too hard to sound like Debussy because he can't think of anything else to write.
Of course, I appeared on the avant-garde edition of the show last July when Marvin and I discussed and played the music of Elliott Carter. It doesn't look as I'll be on the air with him again anytime soon. Not that I thought I would be, and I certanly don't need WPRB to hear Carter or any of my other favorite composers, but Marvin introduced me and his other listeners to the music of many younger composers whose names we would never have known without him. How many more will we never hear of now?
One source of encouragement — Marvin has received many expressions of support on his Facebook page.
“It’s gone crazy,” he said. “People are reacting. They think it stinks.”
It does indeed, but Marvin remains loyal to the station that has given him so much airtime. .
“I can do what I want,” he said. “This is priceless. No one [else] would let me do a 24-hours music marathon.”.
Another source of encouragement: Marvin promises the show will go out with a bang.