Classical 91.5

Fascinatin' Rhythm

Lerner Without Loewe, Fascinatin' Rhythm 3/28

Feb 19, 2020

3/28      Lerner without Loewe  Lyricist Alan Jay Lerner goes with composer Frederick Loewe almost as easily as Fred connects to Ginger and Rodgers fits with Hammerstein. They wrote Paint Your Wagon, Gigi, My Fair Lady, and more. But they also had a sometimes contentious relationship and would sometimes part temporarily. Loewe, not as driven as Lerner, would find tropical beaches with beautiful women. Lerner would work with different composers. These are some of the songs Lerner wrote when Loewe was enjoying life but  he was hard at work.

Doubling Down, Fascinatin' Rhythm 3/21

Feb 19, 2020

3/21      Doubling Down The “double song” was Irving Berlin’s term for a contrapuntal duet—two separate melodies with different lyrics that somehow fit together to become one thing. Berlin wrote more of them than anybody else, including the most famous of them, but he wasn’t the only one to write them. Here are some of the others.

Keep the Music Playing, Fascinatin' Rhythm 3/14

Feb 19, 2020

3/14      Keep the Music Playing The two consistent threads in popular music: it varies and it changes. Different styles abound at any given moment as you weave your way from Broadway to Harlem to Tin Pan Alley to Nashville. At the same time, public taste tires of something it loved only a few weeks or, at most, a few years ago. It ‘s not evolution; it has no sense of purpose except to be entertaining and successful. And so something new comes along. Here’s an hour’s worth of musical examples.

Bing Crosby's Movie Songs, Fascinatin' Rhythm 3/7

Feb 19, 2020

Bing Crosby was an American singer, songwriter and actor. He was known for his work on the radio and in movies. His most famous films include Holiday Inn  and White Christmas. On the radio he was famous for performing duets with other celebrities of the day. This week on Fascinatin' Rhythm, dive into more of the music of Bing Crosby's movies. 

For 30 years (2019) listeners to public radio stations across the United States have enjoyed the blend of education and entertainment that host Michael Lasser has illustrated through songs from the Great American Songbook (1920-1950) as they anticipate popular music of today.  From Stephen Foster to Stephen Sondheim, each program features a theme - a particular kind of stage or movie musical, a single composer or lyricist, a distinctive performer or a defining image or idea.

How does music capture a culture, or a political moment, or a time of change? One of the great musical historians is a WXXI host and contributor, and his new book looks at what he calls “City Songs.”

We sit down with Michael Lasser to discuss how music shaped public perspectives as America developed, and we talk about how to recognize when a song goes from just a song to something more culturally powerful.

Episode # 1843

In a time where hope seemed unthinkable, Pollyanna brought it to life. Listen to Michael Lasser's 10/27 show to see what songs got the American people through the overwhelming sadness of the Depression. 

10/27    Depression Pollyanna Songs In the 1920s, we wanted pollyanna songs; in the 1930s, we needed them. Unlike the pollyanna songs of the carefree Jazz Age, these are songs about hope and anticipation when they were more precious than ever.


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and Alan Jones took the one less traveled by.

As a Masters student at the Eastman School of Music, the singer and pianist was on the path to becoming a composer when his innovative work as a church musician caught the attention of professors.

Alan is a natural teacher, and he was persuaded to pursue a life as an educator.   

Lucky music students at Spencerport High School blossomed under his direction for thirty-two years.

Episode # 1841

Explore the heartbreaking history of the Great Depression by listening to the first album of iconic American folk-singer, Woody Guthrie. 

10/13    Dust Bowl Ballads Woody Guthrie’s Dust Bowl Ballads are among the defining songs of The Great Depression. They offered an alternative to the urban fare of Tin Pan Alley and Broadway as they stretched across the country, their music and lyrics helping to create the sound and feel of their time.

Episode # 1840:

Join host Michael Lasser as he uncovers an often overlooked aspect of children's author Shel Silverstein: his music. 

The Songs of Shel Silverstein Shel Silverstein was an author, an artist, and a songwriter. His songs were provocative and satiric, sometimes tender and loving. He moved effortlessly between sentiment and wit, and often combined them in a single song.