I met Ron Haglind — retired engineer at Great River Energy — at our annual Classical Minnesota Public Radio Galleria event last November. He hung around our table to chit-chat with me and this was a guy on a mission!
Ron is learning French and has been tuning in to Swiss and French radio and finding "new" old music that he says we are just not playing enough on C-MPR. Mozart, Beethoven, as sublime as their music can be, what about all the others from the time like one in particular: Mozart Noire, the Black Mozart, Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-George, the first black to forge a life in the European classical world.
As we celebrate and recognize black history month, what an ideal and remarkable man to remember. He was a child of slaves who none-the-less rose to prominence in the musical scene in Paris playing violin, conducting (including the premiere of Haydn's Paris Symphonies) and composing. He was also famous as a swordsman and fencer, so his portrait includes both violin and sword!
And his music is glorious and worth listening to, which is always the great gift from my guests on Music with Minnesotans, bringing us music we might have forgotten or laid aside.
Ron has been listening to classical music since he searched on his radio late at night as a kid for the various Messiah broadcasts throughout the country. And like many of us, Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd introduced him to lots of classical music!
He never took up an instrument other than singing in chorus, but as a student at the University of Minnesota, Ron took every music appreciation class offered.
In those days, the Minnesota Orchestra played at Northrup Auditorium, so with the assistance of the student discount, Ron was a regular attendee. He remembers precisely where he sat, the feeling in the room, the day of the week and the moment he was completely riveted by a performance etched on his memory of Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis."
These days, Ron keeps up with music by raiding the Chanhassen Library for new CDs. He'd been taking in the Met Opera in the theaters lately so looked about the library for opera and there was the beautiful Sumi Jo and her Bel Canto album. There aren't enough words in the English language Ron tells me to describe her voice - effortless, floating, gravity-defying, delicate, airy, absolutely perfect.
Ron really is on a mission. He hopes that folks from the SPCO and Minn Orch might be listening today and consider a series of concerts of Mozart and Beethoven contemporaries including Saint-Georges.
Though Ron's final choice is a well-worn piece by Beethoven, he heard for the first time in a Ken Burns documentary about Frank Lloyd Wright and the music came alive for him in a new and special way.
Ron Haglind's playlist:
Next week, financial professional Jack Falker joins me. He has created a themed session - the spirituality of music - and brings a playlist filled with life and energy - as well as surprise!