Opinion: Classical programming at Canada’s CBC radio should offer adventurous rep, critical commentary

Posted on: February 16, 2022

“Institutions change, and the CBC [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation] is one of them. That realization was brought home recently by a new book about the history of CBC radio and ‘art music,’ ” writes William Littler in Saturday’s (2/12) Toronto Star (Canada). The book, John P.L. Roberts, the CBC/Radio Canada and Art Music, edited by Friedemann Sallis and Regina Landwehr, focuses on Roberts’ work as a producer, administrator, and adviser at the CBC. Writes Littler: “The CBC’s coverage of classical music simply ain’t what it used to be…. Growing up in Vancouver, I remember concerts by its national network of orchestras, offering often challenging music and often intelligent commentary.… The orchestras and concerts have disappeared [from CBC radio] and so has most of the critical commentary associated with them…. Hired by CBC Radio in 1955 [Roberts] wound up producing a broadcast of the Beethoven First Piano Concerto featuring a young pianist he had never heard of named Glenn Gould…. Gould not only appeared regularly on CBC radio and television (yes, CBC television used to produce classical music programs), he invented a new genre he dubbed contrapuntal radio…. Much of what I hear [today] could easily be heard on a commercial station.”