Recent Publications, Posts & Updates


Interviews – Cesar Chavez
Dennis Bartel interviews the leader of the United Farm Workers Union and asks, “You know of course that despite all that you’ve done over the years, there are a lot of people who hate you. Does that wear on you, or perhaps does it strengthen you?”
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Interviews – Kurt Vonnegut
Read DJB’s 1992 interview with Kurt Vonnegut which ranges from when and how he started actively reading to why he didn’t like re-reading his own books; from John Dillinger to “the most dangerous flaw in the American character.”
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Broadcasting – A Bartels’ Classical Christmas Children’s Special
Looking for music to accompany your holiday prep or an hour of Christmas sounds to accompany your present exchanges? Try this one-hour Children’s Special as DJB and his children celebrate with Christmas music and Christmas lore from around the world. Coming to you from the home studio.
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Journalism – The Nutcracker: Dark Spirits in the Christmas Lights
DJ Bartel’s annual seasonal downer which illustrates how the truth can puncture the glittering myth. Exhaustively researched, elegantly told, widely read.
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Interviews – Matt Haimovitz, The People’s Cellist
James Bartel interviews the Israeli-American cellist who after making it in the big time on the world’s classical concert stages has taken classical music into bars, coffee houses and clubs, where he co-joins it with music of Akoka, Led Zeppelin, and Isang Yun.
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Interviews – Vladimir Ashkenazy
James Bartel interviews the great Russian-Icelandic pianist-conductor. They talk about Sibelius, including Ashkenazy’s personal identification with the composer, and a symphony Sibelius wrote but was never heard. Click here.


Journalism – Knabe Piano . . . for Genteel People of Means
Written for Maryland Magazine in its heyday, 1992, this splendid article by Dennis Bartel was among the first extensive studies of the pioneering American piano manufacturer. Over the years, this work has become DJB’s most cited publication in music histories.
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Journalism – Le Duel! A Free Transcription
The story of Franz Liszt’s fateful musical duel with the virtuoso Sigismond Thalberg, as told by DJB using similar techniques employed by Liszt to music of other composers, making it his own. The year was 1836. In San Antonio, the Battle of the Alamo was fought; in Paris, Liszt stood his ground to fight his own enemies.
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Journalism – Who’s Who in Gurus
Check out the publication which set Dennis Bartel’s writing career in motion. He had published several works in his late twenties, but nothing compared to his cover story with Harper’s Magazine for wide exposure and acute attention. Suddenly at thirty the eyes of America were upon him.
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Broadcasting – Kenneth Rexroth
Hear DJB’s never-before-heard recording of Kenneth Rexroth, “Godfather of the Beats,” reading his poetry and translations of Japanese & Chinese verse. You are reading this correctly. A half-hour of Rexroth before a small audience in L.A., with his death on the near horizon. This recording has never had an audience, until now.
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On Music
Dennis Bartel worked as a classical music DJ for many years, and was asked to write program notes by countless musical entities, from the San Francisco Symphony to the Grammy Awards, from the Coleman Chamber Music Concerts (the longest running chamber music series in the U.S.) to the best-selling Dance Mix, a CD comprised of contemporary classical dance works for orchestra; from the first published scholarly treatment of the history of America’s first municipal orchestra, to concerts by municipal orchestras across America from Baltimore, MD to Long Beach, CA; from six-years of ground-breaking opera presentations on WGMS, Washington, D.C. where he was preceded by 40 years of Paul Hume, to a detailed account of Tchaikovsky’s one and only visit to America, all of which only scratches the surface of a massive body of work. DJ’s writings on music are becoming available here at djbartel.com. Check back often. We have only begun posting his articles, notes, and essays on the Masters and their Music: Bach, Beethoven, Handel, Ravel and more.
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Books By DJ Bartel – New Novel Excerpt
And how can I presume that I, whose hair has grown thin, could possibly play in the Bigs? I can only answer by saying once, a lifetime ago, I was scouted by the Orioles, as a teenage shortstop in California.
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Journalism – A Cautionary Backtale
Chuck Kinder, outlaw-novelist, and Dennis Bartel, novice-novelist, stood shoulder-to-shoulder at the dawn of the Pittsburgh literary renaissance. Kinder’s recent death after a long illness provoked an outpouring of sympathy from his former Pitt pupils. DJB’s response is more downpour than outpouring, more scrutiny than sympathy.
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Interviews – Christopher Isherwood
DJB’s 1979 interview with Christopher Isherwood will appear in the book Isherwood in Transit, to be issued in early 2020 by the University of Minnesota Press. In deference to the editors and publisher, we have chosen to remove the interview from djbartel.com until after its publication.


Journalism – Composer Canines
“Classical Dogs,” Dennis Bartel’s study of the Great Composers’ canines, has spotted the pages of BARk – the dog culture magazine. The best and most intelligent dog mag out there.
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Journalism – On Drinking
DJB’s whiskey sampler story which is less about whiskey than it is about fermentation and malting, “On Drinking,” can be found in the plush lit-art Aji Magazine.
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Interviews – Dennis James Bartel
Read DJB’s High’d Up Interview, as the tables are turned on the great interviewer.
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Broadcasting – The Art of the Aircheck
Radio Fans, check out Airchecks by James Bartel from the beloved and departed WGMS, Washington, D.C., in the 1990s, and by Dennis Bartel from L.A.’s top-ranked classical station KUSC, 2007-17.
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Journalism – James Dean – Too Fast to Live, to Young to Die
DJB’s turbo-charged race with a silver Porsche Spyder driven by the Giant Rebel from East of Eden.
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Interviews – Philip Levine
Philip Levine (1928-2015) was one of America’s most celebrated poets of the past half-century. He won the Pulitzer Prize and served as United States Poet Laureate. Three of his books won the National Book Award for Poetry. He received the Wallace Stevens Award and the Leonore Marshall Poetry Prize, both from The Academy of American Poets; the Levinson Prize from Poetry Magazine, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Frank O’Hara Prize, the Harriet Monroe Memorial Prize, and so many more. Levine also served for two years as chair of the Literature Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts. Terrance Rafferty wrote, “What gives Levine’s work its urgency is that impulse to commemorate, the need to restore to life people who were never, despite their deadening work, dead things themselves, and who deserve to be rescued from the longer death of being forgotten.” The interview was recorded at the poet’s home in Fresno, California.
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