That’s the title of a Bernstein song: “I Hate Music” (“but I like to sing”). In this episode, Jay has Barbara Bonney sing it. There’s also music by Mozart and other familiar composers. And music off the beaten path: Catoire? And a brand-new work by the American Scott Wheeler. And more. The episode ends as the previous one did: with a piece by Leroy Anderson. After Phil Smith and some of his friends played this piece at Lincoln Center, Smith said, “Well, that was a gasser.” For sure.

Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel, “La complaisante”

As in 2008, the Chinese government will soon host Olympic Games. Talking about the issues with Jay is Perry Link, the estimable China scholar. Should the U.S. be boycotting? Is a diplomatic boycott enough? How about Peng Shuai, the tennis player? Should Elon Musk be doing business in Xinjiang Province, or East Turkestan, where the Uyghurs are being persecuted? And so on and so forth. At the end, Jay talks with Professor Link about Chinese culture, to which the professor has devoted a great deal of his life. A highly interesting, very stimulating conversation. 

Vladimir Kara-Murza is a Russian democracy leader, writer, documentary-maker, etc. He has long been admired by Jay and many others. Kara-Murza worked with Boris Nemtsov, the Russian opposition leader murdered in 2015. He himself has been subject to two murder attempts (by poison). In this “Q&A,” Kara-Murza and Jay discuss Russian civil society; the relationship between the current government and the Soviet past; the Russian people and the media; Russians abroad; the issue of Ukraine; and more. Kara-Murza is an incisive analyst and a compelling speaker. 

This episode begins with a Vivaldi concerto and ends with a seasonal favorite: “Sleigh Ride,” by Leroy Anderson. In between, there is music by Bruch, Grieg, Stephen Foster, and others. In the mix is a spiritual, “Hold Out Your Light.” An eclectic, refreshing, and interesting program of music.

Vivaldi, Flute Concerto in D, Op. 10, No. 3

Togo is a West African country, of about 8 million. Since 1967, it has been ruled by two dictators, father and son. An outstanding—and outstandingly brave—opposition leader is Farida Nabourema. Jay wrote about this young woman in 2018: Daughter of Togo.” He also did a “Q&A” with her. She is back, now, with the latest: the latest about her country. Although her remarks are specifically about Togo, they apply to other countries under dictatorship, and to political life generally. A marvelous thinker and talker, this young woman, and, again, amazingly brave. 

The college-football playoffs are coming up. On hand to discuss them are David French, Vivek Dave, and Rahul Danak. Also, should coaches just up and leave, before bowl games? Should athletic departments fire them mid-season? At the end of this podcast, Vivek and Rahul discuss the Concession Call. When their schools play each other, in football or basketball, the alum of the losing school has to call the alum of the winner – which can be very, very tough. Anyway, a wonderful discussion, on the glory and agony of sports. 

In this episode, Jay does his annual Christmas show—this year featuring E. Power Biggs, Heidi Grant Murphy, Oscar Peterson, Marilyn Horne, and other worthy performers. A glad season, with glad music.

“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”

Josh Kraushaar, of National Journal, is one of the best political reporters and analysts in America. His handle, on Twitter, is “Hotline Josh,” for reasons he explains in this conversation with Jay. He and Jay jaw over some of today’s politics: Biden—is he all there? Harris—does she have what it takes? Trump—are he and the GOP at one? Josh also provides assessments of the four big leaders on the Hill: Pelosi and McCarthy; Schumer and McConnell. So too, he talks about the changing role of the media, and why it matters. You can learn a lot from Josh Kraushaar, as serious students of American politics have long known. 

Vladimir Putin’s Russia is threatening Ukraine as never before. Why does it matter? What is the interest of the United States? John Bolton has long experience with Russia and Ukraine. He answers the vital questions, with candor and clarity. 

 

This episode begins with the “Chinese Dance” from “The Nutcracker”—a ballet that has been banned in Berlin. Wokeness has hopped the pond. Jay also plays an excerpt from an old, old opera based on the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice; and an excerpt from a new opera based on the same. In addition, there is music by Franz Schubert, Daniel Asia, and Stephen Sondheim—who passed away on November 26, at ninety-one. A striking menu of music, this episode has.

Tchaikovsky, “Danse chinoise,” from “The Nutcracker”

Walter Wolf has written an unusual book on a very difficult and important topic—a book that meets a screaming need: “The Right Rehab: A Guide to Addiction and Mental Illness Recovery When Crisis Hits Your Family.” He knows from personal experience. He is now trying to help others. 

Daniel Asia is a composer and a professor at the University of Arizona. He heads the American Culture and Ideas Initiative. Some of his articles are available in in a collection: “Observations on Music, Culture, and Politics.” Jay wrote the foreword to it. He and Dan Asia are old friends and comrades. In this conversation, they talk about Dan’s life (very interesting); the state of music education (deplorable); the threat of wokeness (great); and the future of music (?). A very lively—even impassioned—discussion.

Nelson Freire, who passed away this month, said that pianists ought to play with joy. He did. There is a lot of joy in this episode, and sublimity, ethereality, and other qualities to savor. From Wagner to Errol Garner.

Trad., arr. Schindler, “Jasmine Flower”
Puccini, “Signore, ascolta,” from “Turandot”
Wagner, “Selig, wie die Sonne meines Glückes lacht,” from “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg”
Albéniz-Godowsky, Tango in D major
Kern-Garner, “The Way You Look Tonight”

With two of his gurus, David French and Vivek Dave, Jay talks college football, Major League Baseball, the NFL, and college basketball. The guys hash over the Big Ten, the Houston Astros, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Simmons, and more. Vivek is in a peevish mood; David is freewheeling. An excellent discussion. 

Garry Kasparov is the chess champion and democracy champion. He was Jay’s very first guest on “Q&A,” in 2015. For 255 months, Kasparov was the world’s No. 1 in chess. As Jay points out, Tiger Woods, in his career so far, has been No. 1 in golf for 158 months. Kasparov is chairman of the Human Rights Foundation and also chairman of the Renew Democracy Initiative. RDI has a new program called “Frontlines of Freedom.” In his latest conversation with Jay, Kasparov talks of many things, not excluding chess. But his main message is: The world needs America. The world needs America to be strong, sane, and democratic. “Just don’t get crazy.” Curb radicalism, coming from whatever direction. Remember who you are, and what you stand for. 

A piece he was writing about soccer, believe it or not, put Jay in mind of a song. So did the title of the latest Bond movie. There have been some passings in music recently: of Carlisle Floyd, Edita Gruberová, and Bernard Haitink. Jay pays tribute to these musicians, and, as usual, to music itself.

Trad., arr. Britten, “Come You Not from Newcastle?

Widely known as “BHL,” Bernard-Henri Lévy is a French philosopher and writer. He is one of the leading “public intellectuals” of our time. Not content with his armchair and library, he goes on adventures, including dangerous ones. His latest book is “The Will to See: Dispatches from a World of Misery and Hope.” Jay talks with him about his book, his life, and his thoughts. 

Mark Haidar is “a tech whiz and entrepreneur,” as Jay says. Mr. Haidar has founded or co-founded several companies and has several patents. He lives in Dallas, but started out in Lebanon. His family was very poor, and his country was beset by war. His rise has been spectacular. Mr. Haidar is featured in George W. Bush’s latest book, “Out of Many, One:  Portraits of America’s Immigrants.” He and Jay sat down together at the Bush Center in Dallas. Listen to the stories this man has to relate—amazing. 

You will want to meet Masih Alinejad, an extraordinary woman from Iran. She is a journalist, who defied the rulers of her home country. She is now in exile, in the United States. Recently, she was the target of a kidnap plot by the Iranian regime. She soldiers on, undaunted. She is full of courage, full of love. Jay sat down with her at the Oslo Freedom Forum in Miami.

That is the slogan of Leopoldo López: “El que se cansa, pierde.” “He who tires, loses.” López is a face and voice of the Venezuelan opposition. He was imprisoned in February 2014. He made a daring escape from the country in October 2020. This week, at the Oslo Freedom Forum, Jay talked with López about his life in and out of prison. And about his hopes and dreams for his country.