The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: Charles Lunde, ‘maestro of State Street,’ dies at 86 | December 17, 2009

By Jacob Stockinger

This holiday season brings some sadness for local classical music fans.

Charles S. Lunde, the longtime and beloved record seller at Victor Music and then the Exclusive Company, has died.

Charles passed away quietly on Dec. 13 at age 86.

Charles had deep knowledge a of classical music and a ready sense of humor. He brought both to State Street, where he worked for more than 50 years selling classical music.

Charles or “CS”  (as he was known)  made buying records — and I mean back in the vinyl days as well as the digital CD days — fun and adventurous. He had wonderful stories to tell about meeting Rubinstein and others. Seeing him became a social outing, an occasion.

And he was nothing short of an institution to generations of University of Wisconsin School of Music students and to Madison area residents and classical music fans.

Those of us who knew him and valued him owe a great debt to his good friend David Martineau, who cared for Charles so deeply and lovingly for many years and especially in the 10 years since Charles suffered a stroke on-the-job.

Here is a link to his obituary as listed in the Wisconsin State Journal, complete with a biography and suggestions for a memorial donation:

http://www.madison.com/obits/listings.php?type=trans&date=12%2F15%2F2009

I think I’ll go play Brahms’ “German” Requiem and think about Charles.

Do you have a remembrance of Charles you’d like to share?

Please leave a tribute or comment.

The Ear wants to hear.

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Posted in Classical music

3 Comments »

  1. Aside from the social fact that Charles spent most of his free hours sitting in restrooms hoping to have anonymous sex, Charles was an informant for the Madison Police Departments ‘Vice’ unit in the 1950s-1970s to spare himself prosecution. Many people became victims because of the information Chuck passed on to Tom McCarthy – a home-grown type of Joe McCarthy witch hunt.

    Enough misinformation about him has been spread: his nastiness preceded his CVA; he was banned from the Edgewater over and again for his drunken nasty behavior. Most of his ‘parties’ were held at his homes in The Normandy, 21 West Gilman Street and perhaps later at the Fordem Avenue unit – though not likely – Chuck spent most of the income he made being drunk – the cost of Edgewater entertainment for groups was beyond the income available from a job as a sales associate. He spent his businesses into bankruptcy.

    “De mortuis nil nisi bonum” (“Speak no ill of the dead”) but please don’t assist in elevating him to the status of a William T. Evjue.

    David Martineau did what a loyal social friend should do. Please allow it all to die. Don’t escalate this facade further to hagiography.

    Comment by Guy Madison — December 19, 2009 @ 3:20 am

    • Yes, good ol’ Chuck was very knowledgeable with regard to classical music, but, as the paragraph’s above describe, Chuck was a ‘dirty old man!’ A fact that cannot be denied.

      Comment by Alan Olson — December 18, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

  2. Charles Lunde was one of THE most important citizens of Madison. Period. Considering everyone, Mayors, business, writers, media, Charles was one of the most important people of Madison. The first time I visited State Street, in 1966, the first person who talked to me was Charles, at Victor Music, at the SW corner of Gorham-State (there were listening booths, where you could try records before buying). Over the years, later at The Exclusive Company, I had the impression he didn’t suffer fools gladly but he generously shared his knowledge. When I became interested in Mahler, Charles described the qualities of this or that particular recording of various Mahler Symphonies. He was so careful, so knowledgeable, so beloved, such a gentleman.

    Comment by Dan Melton — December 19, 2009 @ 2:00 am


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