A Frigid Classical Music Story

Man, the weather in my region of Planet Earth (i.e., southeastern Pennsylvania, USA) not only sucks right now, it has sucked for the last several weeks. You like cold? We’ve got it up the frozen wazoo, and it’s going to get worse.

I’m typing the opening salvos of this pert essay on the 4th of January at 4:30 PM. Several inches of white stuff fell from the heavens earlier today, a minor amount to be sure. Much more to the point, complaint-wise for me, is that it’s a bone-unsettling 20°F (-7°C) outside, which is on the high side of what the numbers have been since Arctic air began its southward trek into wide portions of North America last month. In the wee small hours of Saturday the 6th, the vapors around here are predicted to tip the scales at 4°F (-16°C). And 24 hours after that we can look forward to a tantalizing reading of -2°F, which computes to -19 degrees in the Celsius realm.

Where’s my bathing suit? I’m heading to the nearest beach!

Well, I’m fairly sure that this is the first time I’ve groused about the weather on the pages of this humble blog. But hell, that’s what old guys do sometimes, right? And it’s not as though I have anything better to do, unless you count as a worthy activity the many hours I’ve recently spent compulsively tying the remaining strands of hair on the crown of my head into square knots. I’m a wiz when it comes to tying square knots. Thank the stars above that the training I got eons ago as a Boy Scout went not for naught.

Still, it’s not as though the present draping of cold air should come as a surprise to those who reside far from the equator. Such was the message, in fact, from the announcer who handles the mid-morning shift on WRTI, the Temple University radio station that plays classical music for half of each weekday (6:00 AM to 6:00 PM) and jazz for the other half.

“Buck up, buckeroos. It’s winter. You’ve heard of winter, haven’t you?” is what, in effect, the announcer said a few minutes before 9:00 AM on the aforementioned 4th of January. “We’ve dealt with below-average temperatures before, yes? So, don’t panic, don’t fret. The Earth is still orbiting the Sun, and everything will be all right.”

This wise man, Gregg Whiteside, then softened his message by adding that he realizes that the current undesirable situation is highly upsetting to more than a few members of the populace. And that’s why he then cued up a piece that he assured his audience would settle their nerves and ease their worried minds. And he was right. Sitting on my living room sofa, square knots in progress, I was taken by the great beauty of Frederic Chopin’s Ballade No. 3 in A-flat major, as performed by pianist Antonin Kubalek. I think you’ll like it, too. Here it is:

Ah, it’s a gem. But Gregg must have felt that one heavy dose of soul satisfaction wasn’t enough. When the Chopin opus reached its conclusion he wasted no time in hitting the button to send Antonin Dvorak’s Nocturne in B major over the airwaves. The composition was played by the British orchestra that goes by the name of The Academy Of St Martin In The Fields. It’s a magnificent work, as you will discover by clicking on this YouTube video:

See? Mr. Whiteside provided a temporary panacea for emotions jangled by wintry onslaughts. But let’s fast-forward a bit. It is now 10:15 AM on January 5. More than 24 hours have elapsed since Gregg advised me to make the best of it. During that time I’ve shoveled my driveway and walkways clear of the four inches of snow that I mentioned earlier. I kind of enjoy shoveling snow. Been doing it all my life.

But I don’t like the deep freeze we’ve been in day after day after day. It’s intimidating and it’s a pain in the ass, not to mention unsafe. Gregg’s musical offerings of help and warmth notwithstanding, there’s no getting around the fact that cold is cold. After I’d been at it with the shovel for an hour, completing the job at hand, my poor ol’ nose, fingers and toes were waving the white flag. Thankfully, I have a lot to be thankful for this winter, and a nicely-heated home is at the top of the list. Into said abode I went.

Just as every essay must end, so must every weather pattern. Which is to say that relief from the meteorological conditions that I’ve been bemoaning is in sight. Soon after I publish this chilling story, my neck of the woods will be emerging from the woods, so to speak, as the weather forecasters are assuring us that the thermometer needle will creep ever so slightly above the freezing mark at some point on Monday the 8th.

I’m now going to remove my fingers from the keyboard upon which I’ve been tapping away. I will relocate to the living room sofa, tune in to WRTI and attempt to undo the square knots that decorate the crown of my head. I’m tired of that look.Wish me luck. The Boy Scouts taught me how to tie square knots. But not how to untie them.

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58 thoughts on “A Frigid Classical Music Story

  1. bone&silver January 8, 2018 / 2:40 am

    42 degrees C here in Oz yesterday… don’t know which of us is suffering more…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Artist's Child January 8, 2018 / 6:35 am

    Beautiful music. In the Chopin you can feel the calm and in the Dvorak, the quiet softness of falling snow. Living in a land with mild winters, I can only imagine what it must be like to have such an arctic blast descend on your city. The weather all over the world is hitting extremes, as it was over 47 Celsius (over 112 F) in Sydney yesterday. Hope the cold eases and you have a break from all that shovelling. Stay warm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 8, 2018 / 1:10 pm

      I hadn’t realized that the temps were so high in Australia.
      That’s wicked hot.
      Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be seeing you —

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Artist's Child January 9, 2018 / 1:44 am

        It’s not usually that hot here. Like your Arctic bomb, this is an aberration, especially in Sydney. Melbourne usually gets one or two days of 40 degrees Celsius or over each summer because we get air streams blowing down from the deserts of Central Australia, but around 46 or 7 C on the east coast is unusual and unbearable.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. sniderjerry January 8, 2018 / 7:10 am

    Hey there Neil, Its so cold where i live I have goose bumps on my arms and all the little geese are wearing sweaters. Have a good day. Jerry

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 8, 2018 / 1:12 pm

      Hi Jerry. Supposedly it will get up to 40 or so degrees tomorrow where I live. I hope so!


  4. Alyson January 8, 2018 / 7:54 am

    Heck – That is cold Neil. Look after yourselves and don’t get frostbite on your nose whilst shovelling snow!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 8, 2018 / 1:14 pm

      Hello there, Alyson. I’m hoping we get little to no more snow this winter. That’s probably a dream.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Apple Hill Cottage January 8, 2018 / 9:14 am

    -12 here yesterday. But today, Jan. 8th it is a balmy 35 degrees. Except the white stuff is coming down. Like the goose bumps shedding its feathers. Love the Chopin. Love the announcer’s truth: yep we’ve heard of winter….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 8, 2018 / 1:17 pm

      Hi, and thanks for dropping by.
      Only another nine or so weeks to the official start of spring.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. nissenson January 8, 2018 / 9:33 am

    I, too, could withstand the cold if only I had WRTI. WFMT would also do, though it comes with the even more miserable Chicago weather. Nothing resembling a jazz station in DC and the classical station alternates between Bolero, Scheherazade, and single movements of odd-numbered Beethoven symphonies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 8, 2018 / 1:20 pm

      Hi there. WRTI is quite good overall. I’m anything but a classical music expert, but I like to listen to classical music a bit.


      • nissenson January 11, 2018 / 4:46 pm

        They have a sophisticated playlist and the announcers know how to pronounce Dvorak.


  7. Still the Lucky Few January 8, 2018 / 11:13 am

    Having a warm home helps—as does the music! When I lived on the prairies (Northern Canada), several years ago, I said, “I just can’t take it anymore!” and moved away. But the feeling’s still there, and I actually feel the frostbite when I watch the weather news, always from a safe distance! (I’ve just read my comment, and I know it’s not very helpful, sorry!) But I can wish you all the best for 2018!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 8, 2018 / 1:22 pm

      Hi Diane. The key to dealing with cold temps is to stay indoors a whole lot!


  8. alhenry January 8, 2018 / 11:24 am

    North of you, here in Massachusetts, I share your (sub-zero) pain. Perhaps if the Arctic’s getting too warm for polar bears, they might consider moving to my town.

    Chopin’s Ballade No. 3 in A-flat major is indeed a tonic, and to be followed by a Dvorak nocturne, especially one played by The Academy Of St Martin In The Fields, is no bad thing either. I can see it all going down smoothly, especially with a pour of Irish whiskey to hand. Throw another log on the fire. The days ARE getting longer (or maybe it jut seems that way).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 8, 2018 / 1:28 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Amy.
      I’m not a whiskey drinker, but I’ll gladly have a nice malty ale.
      See ya’ —

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Musicophile January 8, 2018 / 11:24 am

    Good luck with the cold. I heard on NPR today that warmer days are coming soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. tylerus January 8, 2018 / 1:56 pm

    What a wonderful, engaging post . . . and I can totally relate to the weather, living above the 49th Parallel. Can you spell brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Dave Astor January 8, 2018 / 2:21 pm

    -2 F? Yikes! Great post — VERY nice combination of frustration and humor.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Fictionophile January 8, 2018 / 2:54 pm

    It has been VERY cold here in Nova Scotia as well. We don’t have any amount of snow (looked a bit like icing sugar this morning), but what we do have, in abundance, is WIND. For days now. We are missing shingles on our roof and we are some of the lucky ones. Enough said.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Anabel Marsh January 8, 2018 / 3:00 pm

    We went down to -7C last night which is positively balmy compared to where you are, so I’ll stop complaining*

    *If you believe that, you’ll believe anything…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. andrewcferguson January 8, 2018 / 3:14 pm

    And I thought it was just us Brits liked talking about the weather! Key thing is, you’re expecting it – but it certainly puts our – 6 or so temps here in perspective! Music’s lovely stuff, btw.

    The real worry must be when you’re not expecting the weather: just a week after we came back from balmy sunny skies in Valencia, this happened to norther and western Spain: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/07/snow-spain-traps-thousands-people-cars-overnight

    Hasta la proxima!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 8, 2018 / 3:43 pm

      Wow, that’s a wild situation in Spain. Hadn’t heard about it. Being trapped in a car for hours and hours is real bad news.

      Liked by 1 person

      • andrewcferguson January 8, 2018 / 5:20 pm

        When we were there in July there were guys literally dying of the heat working on the roads just a bit south of Madrid. Talk about extremes!

        Liked by 1 person

  15. C C Cedras January 8, 2018 / 3:31 pm

    Inasmuch as I live an easy drive south of your location, I’ve been in the deep freeze for more days than I can count also. Wind chills one day — the real feel, as they like to call it — reached -19. Too cold for snow. Today we are having a heat wave (it’s up to 32), and we are getting sleet right now that is so large, it’s almost hail. Wee Fergus has gotten used to me tucking him into his little parkas before sending him outside to do his *ahem*. With slush piling up out there, he may have to learn to love his itty bitty boots. 🌨❄️🐶🙄

    Liked by 1 person

  16. barrydjd January 8, 2018 / 5:55 pm

    Use the cold weather to your advantage. Wash your remaining hair in cold water, quickly run outside and style it all into icicles. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Cindy January 8, 2018 / 7:51 pm

    Staying inside the last few frigid days, we’ve been doing some winter cleanup while listening to the wonderful WRTI, too! Gene was rewiring a lamp and had to look up on YouTube how to tie a special knot in the wires. Maybe you know it from Boy Scouts–the underwriter’s knot? If you’re bored with your hair’s square knot look, it would make a cute and curly new ‘do!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. tanjabrittonwriter January 8, 2018 / 11:10 pm

    Glad to hear relief is in the air, Neil. Maybe as soon as your hunched shoulders relax, those knots will untie themselves! Maybe listening to those beautiful compositions once again will help, too.
    Warm wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 9, 2018 / 7:04 am

      You’re right about those two pieces of music. Very, very beautiful. Unusually so, I think.

      Have a real good day, Tanja. Thanks for adding your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Ann Coleman January 9, 2018 / 9:07 am

    We’re finally getting a couple of warm days here, too. Thank God!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. theburningheart January 10, 2018 / 1:06 pm

    I guess I am in Paradise after reading what some of you are going through weather wise, but for each of us it’s all relative to what you are used to, we just had our first winter rain, we need the rain, however I would rather have it drier, and warmer.. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 10, 2018 / 2:07 pm

      Hello there. Thanks for visiting.
      Weather is amazing in many regards, including how it affects peoples’ emotions and outlooks.

      Take care —

      Neil S.


  21. authormbeyer January 12, 2018 / 8:50 pm

    Having been born and raised in Iowa, I love the snow. But living in Texas now, I find I love it even more from a distance. I love Dvorak too. But his music doesn’t have to be from a distance. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 12, 2018 / 9:18 pm

      Hello. Thanks very much for adding your thoughts.
      That Dvorak piece is really good. I’m glad I was tuned in to WRTI when they played it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 12, 2018 / 11:03 pm

      Glad you liked it, AOC.
      And I’m always glad to hear from you.
      Take care —


  22. cincinnatibabyhead January 14, 2018 / 11:39 am

    Blame Canada.

    (Enjoyed the sounds. Only ever dipped my toes into the classical department. Overwhelming amount of good music)

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Imelda January 18, 2018 / 8:42 am

    The Dvorak piece is fantastic. Both, however, are perfect for watching the snowflakes fall while one’s sipping hot cocoam inside a heated room.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 18, 2018 / 10:07 am

      Hi. I’m looking forward to spring. I’ve had enough of winter.
      Thanks a lot for stopping by, Imelda. Enjoy the day.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Mellow Curmudgeon January 25, 2018 / 3:21 pm

    I had heard and liked the Chopin ballade, but the Dvořák nocturne was new to me.  Finally had some quiet time to listen.  Thanks for the link to yet another fine work by Dvořák.

    The humor in this post’s gripes about winter weather that is wimpy (by Yankee standards) prevailed against this old Yankee’s urge to harrumph.  «Four inches? U call that a load of snow?  In my day, we cleared 4 inches with old spoons!» 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 25, 2018 / 3:56 pm

      Hello there. Thanks for the visit.
      I wasn’t complaining about the snow. It was the frigid temps that got to me. Fortunately the temps have moderated since then.
      Take care —

      Liked by 1 person

  25. grimspound February 4, 2018 / 3:50 pm

    Don’t envy you the cold, Neil! I lived far too long with Canadian winters. Don’t do snow anymore unless it’s on the mountains. Stay warm!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 4, 2018 / 4:34 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Dianne.
      Luckily, it’s warmed up a bit since I wrote this story. Still, I’ll be happy when spring gets here.
      Take care —


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