Meet Marvin Rosen, Teacher, Performer, Radio Host, Friend

Marvin Rosen

Marvin is on the faculty of Westminster Choir College of Rider University


But for me, he is my friend who has two long weekly programs on WPRB, 103.3FM or, at Princeton University.

I was fortunate to meet Marvin at the station with another of my heroes, Phil Blackburn of Innova Recordings

Marvin on the left, Phil on the right.

With Phil and Marvin and a superb violinist, Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR).



When Marvin Rosen was a child, he had a dream of both programming and hosting a radio show. Although the young Rosen loved television, he was far more attracted to radio. The future radio host was given his first transistor radio in December, 1962, and was immediately hooked – perhaps because the little radio was “his”. He could insert the earplug and be transported to his own world. That world was WABC in New York. Yes, it was a “Top 40” station but a most important one featuring the voices of Dan Ingram, Cousin Brucie, and other legendary announcers.

Rosen became very interested in classical music in 1966. There was always great music playing in his home when he was growing up. In addition, he was taken to the “Young People’s Concerts” in New York City that featured Leonard Bernstein, who was probably the greatest inspiration to him and his love of serious music. In Rosen’s opinion, there will never be anyone like him again. He considers himself lucky to have grown up during this time. By the end of 1966, he started listening to classical radio and buying classical records. His favorite station was WQXR, which he listened to all the time. Rosen will never forget the great voices of Bill Strauss, Melvin Elliott, and others on that station. He later got hooked on WNCN and also to the “DeKoven Concert” featuring the wonderful baroque music aired by Seymour DeKoven, who to Rosen is still the most unique and interesting classical DJ ever to hit the airwaves. DeKoven was very enthusiastic and quite outspoken. Rosen owes his interest in baroque music to him.


The dream of both programming and hosting a radio show began for Rosen in May of 1997, when there was an opening at WPRB in Princeton. Even though the position was that of a volunteer he enjoyed and still does every moment in both preparing and presenting the selections on the air. His first programs included a mix of more of the familiar than the unfamiliar and stayed that way for the show’s first months. The response to the program was very positive. Listeners especially liked the rarely heard early music and the selections of recent works. At the beginning of 1998, Rosen decided to play far less Nineteenth Century music since that was the strong point of other stations.

Classical Discoveries then became a program featuring rarely heard selections from all periods with an emphasis on the very old and the very new. It is truly amazing how much worthwhile early and new music is available on compact disc that is rarely, if ever, played on other radio stations. If you are tired of the Bach Brandenburg Concertos, don’t worry; you will never hear them on this program.

The presentation of much new music is an important feature ofClassical Discoveries” Rosen is most concerned about the general feeling towards contemporary music. It appears that many concertgoers seem to feel that if a program contains the name especially of an unknown composer of the Twentieth or Twenty-First Centuries the music will most likely be unmelodic, dissonant, and simply not enjoyable for listening. Unless it is a standard piece of the repertoire, a Twentieth Century work often puts fear into an audience. Often the music won’t be given a chance. Rosen tries to prove on every show that there is much beautiful music of our time that deserves to be heard. Composers are working hard today. Their works deserve to be presented to the public. Listeners often tell him that they didn’t know that new music could be so melodious and beautiful. Although he plays recent works by well-known composers, Rosen emphasizes the little-known ones that are recorded on the small record labels. He will periodically invite various composers to be guests on his program often for up to two and half hours as long as they have a substantial discography. Rosen tries to keep these meetings very informal with the main focus on a composers music, without being too technical, so the average listener gets to know both the composer and the music without intimidation.

Sometimes a program will have a particular theme as, for example: CLASSICAL DISCOVERIES GOES TO A MUSEUM” or CLASSICAL DISCOVERIES GOES TO WASHINGTON – GHOSTS OF THE PAST. Other times the focus is on one country or region like: FROM JAKARTA TO JAYAPURA, FROM THE BALTIC SEA TO THE TATRA MOUNTAINS, THE ORIENT UNVEILED, or the first ever in the western world program devoted to Azerbaijani music titled THE LAND OF FIRE and much more.

Each March Classical Discoveries presents the program IN PRAISE OF WOMAN totally devoted to music by women composers. There are as well many other annual programs especially during winter holidays. To check all of them, you can go to the Special Programs page.

Classical Discoveries devoted 13 24-hour Live Marathons VIVA 21-ST CENTURY totally devoted to music that was just composed. The fourth Marathon was totally devoted to music recently written by women composers. From its beginning, Classical Discoveries presented many American and World premiere broadcasts as well many private recordings. All works were always presented in complete form regardless of length from two-hour long oratorios to six-hour long string quartets. You might hear beautiful Fourteenth Century sacred works, which might be deemed improper for other stations to broadcast, to works that have just been written.

Classical Discoveries would not be possible anywhere else but here on WPRB. The station does not have a “black list” of forbidden works, and no one is afraid that some music director at the top of the corporate ladder with one strike of a pen will remove 99% of a proposed playlist and replace it with old warhorses and pretty music. According to Rosen, “this type of programming may be the answer if classical radio is to survive. Classical music is a great thing. It should not be allowed to perish.”
In 2005 Classical Discoveries was awarded with the “ASCAP Deems Taylor Radio Broadcast Award


Every March from 2004, in observance of Women’s History Month, Classical Discoveries pays tribute to music by women composers from all over the world and through the centuries. Every regular scheduled program (that includes the new Avant-Garde Edition starting in 2009) is exclusively devoted to their music.

This programming does not mean that these opportunities are the only time you can hear women composers on Classical Discoveries.

From its beginning, this program has been committed to making its listeners aware about music that is rare or never presented on other radio stations. Almost every program for many years includes compositions by women. Classical Discoveries has included complete Symphonies, Oratorios, Operas and other major works, and has presented many World and American premieres broadcasts as well as private recordings.

History was not very kind to women in the past. They were destined to be wives and mothers, were kept away from education and culture by controlling fathers, brothers and husbands. Women were forbidden to write, compose, or paint and the only way for some to escape that path was to join a convent, however these often had many restrictions imposed by male superiors. The lucky ones born to wealthy or artistic families were allowed to be creative, often only till they got married. Some of them could not escape the sad destiny of having their works claimed by men. Many women did not sign their works or they used a male name. It has been suggested by many researchers that women are behind many anonymous works. .
Only recently, recording technology and general awareness have brought to light women composers going back many centuries, proving that despite difficult circumstances, women’s contribution to the humanities is equal to that of their male counterparts.

At the time when everyone was celebrating birthday of Mozart, how many remembered the 200th anniversary of Fanny Mendelssohn? Do you think the current situation is getting better?

This page is not reflecting any endorsement of individual composers by the host and producer of this program.
Most presentations are designed with the thought of introducing listeners to a wide scope of works created by women from different historical periods, geographical regions and is based on availability in the host’s library as well as time constrictions and the individual taste of the host.

Treasures of Early Music, airs Mondays, but is currently in hiatus.

Marvin has a strong bond with the life, music and memory of the great ALAN HOVHANESS (1911 – 2000)

by Marvin Rosen, June 22, 2000

“Last Evening, on June 21st, I received the phone call that I hoped would never come. It was from the gifted American composer and very dear friend Arnold Rosner.

He called to tell me that my musical idol, Alan Hovhaness, had passed away earlier in the day. I guess it was very apropos that the call would come from Dr. Rosner because both of us wrote our doctoral dissertations on the music of Hovhaness.
I can remember the first time I heard Dr. Hovhaness’s music.
I was about 16 years old and I was listening to the Masterwork Hour on WNYC. All of a sudden a work for violin and string orchestra came out of the little speaker on my bedside radio. I don’t remember what I was doing when the music started, but what I do remember is that I totally stopped what I was doing, paying special attention to the music, not knowing who wrote it. I can actually recall crying during part of this very spiritually moving music which turned out to be the Concerto No. 2 for Violin and String Orchestra.
Shortly after the above experience I was off to Trenton State College and played double bass in the orchestra. During my freshman year we did Hovhaness’s Psalm and Fugue and I experienced the spiritual feeling as I had earlier in the Concerto. At this point I had to find out more about this American composer. I purchased the great Reiner recording of Mysterious Mountain as well as a number of recordings on the composer’s own Poseidon label. Every piece I heard attached me more and more to the music by this truly great American composer.

Although I was a double bass player in my college orchestra I was a piano major and was beginning to purchase Hovhaness’s piano works. I began actually studying his works for the keyboard in the mid 1970s and it was without a doubt some of the most unique and at the same time most beautiful music I had ever worked on. During this period I had also read about a recording of some of Hovhaness’s piano music by the late William Masselos on the MGM label. Although I had the opportunity to hear this recording it took me literally years to find a copy for my own ever growing Hovhaness collection. If tapes were still available it would be great to see this recording reissued on CD along with the other magnificent early recordings of Hovhaness’s music on MGM. Although these ancient records were hard to find, they were surely worth the hunt. Some of the highlights to me, in addition to the Masselos performances of the piano music, were of Alleluia and Fugue, the Viola Concerto Talin, the St. Vartan Symphony, the Celestial Fantasy, and the Concerto #2 for violin and strings mentioned earlier.

In January 1980 I met Hovhaness for the first time in New York after the world premiere performance of the Symphony #34. I was so excited to just shake his hand and thank him for his wonderful music. He was very cordial to me and signed my copy of his Madras Sonata for piano, a work that was commissioned by the Madras Academy of Music for their first concert of western music. After this very brief but friendly chat with Hovhaness I decided that I had to try to really get to meet him for an extended period of time. I had his address and wrote to him wondering if I would ever get an answer.
As a pianist who had by now played a number of his compositions I proposed that we get together so I could play some of his works for him. Literally 10 days after I mailed the letter to him I got a hand written reply. I could not believe that this composer whose music was so important to me answered my letter so quickly. He said that he would be very happy to hear me play his music. I was so excited and began to make plans to fly to visit him in Seattle where he lived. After a couple of correspondences I received a letter from him saying that he would be visiting New York and that we could have a meeting during his visit. I was ecstatic and had the crazy idea to invite him to my home in Princeton, New Jersey for dinner. I called the Hotel Wellington and asked to speak to Alan Hovhaness. I was very excited and also very nervous to say the least. When Dr. Hovhaness answered the phone I remember something happened to me inside. I invited him, his wife, and mother-in-law to dinner. They accepted!!

The date of our meeting was June 22, 1980 and will always be remembered as a high point in my life. The thing that was unbelievable was that after speaking to Hovhaness for just ten minutes I felt that I had known him for a good part of my life. He was such a friendly, down to earth human being. Before dinner, I played a number of works and he was very happy with my performances. In fact, we hit it off so well at the piano, my mother was literally forcing us to come up to eat dinner. She could not split us apart. We had so much to talk about and share with each other. After dinner, Hovhaness played a recently composed Sonata from his manuscript.
Anyway, about 11:00 PM it was time for my father and me to bring him and his family back to the Hotel in New York. Without a doubt this was a day that I was never going to forget!!!

My friendship with Hovhaness over the years became closer and closer. I made many trips up and down the east coast to hear premieres of new works and had dinner with him and his wife on a number of occasions. The most noteworthy meetings with the composer were the ones in his home in Seattle in May of 1992. At this time we went over all of the music that I was getting ready to record on my first CD of Hovhaness piano music.
I also had the opportunity to be present for the recording sessions with the Seattle Symphony of the Mount St. Helens Symphony that was being taped during my stay.

My wife whom I met in 1985 because of our common interest in Hovhaness’s music was also very excited whenever we would all get together. I know that all of the meetings have meant much to her as well. It is truly amazing how much one person can affect one’s life, even down to meeting one’s spouse. Alan Hovhaness never, in all the years, had an unkind word to say to me. He was always warm and cordial. He was a sensitive man who loved cats. Even many, many years after his death, Hovhaness talked about his furry friend Rajah Hoyden whom he dedicated some of his music to.

There have been many new recordings of Hovhaness’s works during the last eight years or so. For this, I am very grateful and hope that the music will continue to be exposed to the world not just in recordings, however, but also through many live performances. These are compositions that are very original but also very accessible and composed with the heart. Good old-fashioned melody can often be found in these pieces.
As a person who will probably be presenting Alan Hovhaness’s works for the rest of my life, I can only hope that many others will share my love and sincere enthusiasm. Through exposure and dedication, this musical genius should be looked upon as one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. He may not be alive in the traditional way now but his music of spiritual feeling will live on forever and ever making the world a more beautiful place for all of us who allow his musical message to enter into our lives.
God bless you Dr. Hovhaness. There will always be a special place for you in my heart and in the hearts of all of your admirers throughout the world.”

Marvin Rosen