When I was twelve my family got a Capehart console, which was an early attempt at a home entertainment center. In addition to having a radio it played 78s utilizing a complex mechanism that flipped as well as changed them. It looked somewhat like a cement mixer, which is not a totally inaccurate description considering every now and then it would homogenize one of the discs entrusted to it. But, no matter, because it afforded me an outstanding introduction to classical music along with all those old radio shows (remember The Lone Ranger) and Looney Tunes cartoons that used innumerable classical snippets to dramatize their stories.
Prior to college I was fortunate enough to attend schools that offered music appreciation courses. Also, like many other children at that time, I was given piano lessons. In high school I became fascinated with the organ and had some instruction on that as well. It became pretty obvious early on that I was neither a Horowitz nor an E. Power Biggs, but studying these instruments certainly deepened my appreciation for serious music. Educational opportunities like these are on the wane today and consequently an increasing number of the American younger set have absolutely no interest in classical music. In fact, it's very rare to see anyone under the age of 40 in the classical department of record stores, and when you do, they're usually either lost or visiting from abroad.
It was also during this period of my life that I became an avid, classical radio fan. This addicted me to record collecting and started me on a search for the ultimate sound system.
The liberal arts college I attended had an outstanding music department, and it was there that my interest in matters classical really blossomed. Although I majored in physics, I took as many music courses as I could fit in. These included basic harmony and counterpoint in addition to music history. Also, I joined the college radio station (WHRB-FM
in Cambridge, Massachusetts) where I was classical music director my junior and senior years.
After college and a four-year stint in the Navy, I became a career civil servant with the Department of Defense. Despite a heavy workload involving international nuclear proliferation matters and graduate work in applied mathematics, I managed to keep active in musical circles. I developed a very strong interest in high-end audio equipment and became a part-time sound consultant. I also started an advertising company, which specialized in radio commercials that promoted audio components through the medium of classical music.
After I retired from government in 1992 I decided to follow my musical interests, so I went to work for Tower Records in Washinton, DC (TWDC). Within two years I became the classical department director and head buyer. I was still there part-time right up until its demise.
Because I started listening to classical music at such a young age, I got to know the standard repertoire very early on, and have since wanted to seek out less familiar fare. As the classical buyer at TWDC I had the perfect opportunity to do that, and made a multitude of wonderful discoveries. I think of these as classical releases of current key significance (CROCKS), where "key significance" denotes extensive musical value and extremely limited availability.
The Classical Lost & Found Web Site (CLOFO.com) and its associated CROCKS Newsletters tell adventurous listeners about these releases, as well as identifying those discs among them that should appeal to audiophiles because of their superior sound quality. The intent here is to put in writing what you’d be told if you went into a record store and asked a knowledgeable salesperson about the most outstanding new releases. CLOFO being a nonprofit organization, everything said represents candid opinions based on personal listening experiences.
If you or any of your friends would like to be notified whenever there's a new CROCKS Newsletter on CLOFO.com, just click the e-mail address below and let us know.
Here's hoping we'll introduce you to many undiscovered musical treasures that you'll find much to your liking. In the meantime, good listening!
-- Bob McQuiston