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Fanfare Contributor Bio

Dave Saemann

I was introduced to music at an early age. My mother studied piano with Clarence Adler, father of theater composer Richard Adler, and my father manufactured record racks and other items for Columbia Records. Columbia used to send us Christmas presents, including records by Bernstein, Ormandy, Kostelanetz, Richard Tucker, Rudolf Serkin, Charles Rosen, and a generous survey of their pop catalog. As a little boy, I loved going with my father to Blackrock, Columbia’s headquarters, where the staff saved records for me. I went to my first concert at age eight, and from age 12 spent part of every summer at Tanglewood during the early Ozawa years.

I bought my own records shortly after reaching high school. I began with Bach and Handel, and then branched out. At Harvard, I joined the radio station as a classical music producer and broadcaster. I produced semester-long series about Elizabethan music, German music around 1600, Sibelius, music about the English countryside, Leopold Stokowski, and Webern. The Webern series apparently was the first U.S. radio presentation of his complete works. I also produced conductor retrospectives devoted to Karajan, van Beinum, Ristenpart, and Günter Wand, a rather obscure figure in 1980. My greatest joy at WHRB, though, was in listening to selections from our library of 15,000 classical LPs, an experience that has stayed with me more than what I learned in class.

My time since college has been spent on the audience’s side of the musical equation. For a number of years, I made a very small name for myself as a poet and literary essayist, publishing in journals with a minimal circulation. On reaching my forties, poetic efforts lost the urgency they once had, and I slowly gave up this pastime. Just for fun, I began writing CD reviews on My hope is that I now have something worth saying about music in print.


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