The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Well-Tempered Ear surpasses one million hits. What’s next? And what piece of music should be played to celebrate? | June 12, 2014

By Jacob Stockinger

Sometime on Tuesday night, around 10:45 p.m. CDT, The Well-Tempered Ear blog surpassed one million hits. It happened just three months short of its five-year anniversary.

Writing the daily blog has been a long and sometimes difficult haul for The Ear, and I want to thank all the readers and subscribers who supported it, as well as the many individual and group musicians who have provided me with so much material.

the ear

So I offer a heart-felt THANK YOU, to all of you, and especially to Ralph Russo (below), the cultural arts director at the Wisconsin Union Theater who originally encouraged me to undertake the blog. Its success has surprised us all.

ralph russo seated

One million hits mark a milestone.

Here are some related statistics:

Since Aug. 21, 2009, there have been 1,791 posts –- usually one a day, occasionally more than one if a big news flash happened.

There have been 5,543 comments, most of them from readers.

The filters at the hosting site have protected the blog from 239,834 spam emails and spam-like links.

But the biggest things to note are that Madison’s musical scene has grown and that I have other things waiting for me to do, things that I want to do.

I’m not sure what comes next. But I do feel a need to change some things.

To be honest, it seems that non-local stories often draw more traffic than local events, event though the local events take more work.

Yet as a former Madison journalist, I still feel a loyalty to local musical events and to the community. But as the local scene gets busier and busier, I find it taxing to keep up. Everyone thinks they merit coverage—and the local media often do not oblige, even in a city that is so rich with culture and especially classical music. (Below is the University of Wisconsin-Madison Pro Arte Quartet playing in Mills Hall.)

Pro Arte with Brian Hsu

But perhaps the biggest difference is that I also feel a need to move on to other different activities, including different kinds of writing.

What form the blog will take in the future I am still not sure of.

I expect I will do more aggregating as Google, Yahoo and Bing and other big search engines do –- that is, referring or linking readers to stories on other websites and blogs. (Below is the Madison Symphony Orchestra conducted by John DeMain.)

John DeMain and MSO from the stage Greg Anderson

I also expect that I will try to write shorter pieces -– to head in the direction of Tweeting, if you will, in which I take away from a concert just one or two important thoughts or impressions.

There may be more guest bloggers who write stories, both previews and reviews.

I expect photos may also play a bigger role.

And finally, the frequency of postings may be cut back — no longer daily but several times a week.

Who knows? I may even venture into other areas –- maybe poems or short stories about music as well as profiles, Q&As and brief reviews of live and recorded music and CDs. (Below is the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and conductor Andrew Sewell.)

WCO lobby


Most of all, I would like to know what you, my readers and sources, would like to see in the way of changes for the blog. What do you find most valuable? How would you like to see The Well-Tempered Ear evolve?

And what piece of music do you think should be played or listened to in order to mark one million hits? Leave a reply or comment with a YouTube link.

The Ear wants to hear.




  1. Most useful to me is your listing of upcoming concerts, and reviews – least useful is the links to other sites.

    How do we subscribe? (I read the Ear most days and have never seen mention of subscribing)

    Comment by grayw — June 27, 2014 @ 5:54 pm

    • Top right corner of the page (right under the skyline) – there is a box to enter your e-mail address and a button to click that says “Sign me up!”

      Comment by Steve Rankin — June 29, 2014 @ 5:01 pm

  2. While this is sad news for Madison music lovers, Jake, it’s most understandable. Thank you, you have served us so well. I have no doubt whatever is next will be an equal gift from you, and I look forward to learning what it will be.

    Comment by slfiore — June 12, 2014 @ 7:30 pm

  3. Jake,

    You are one of the few classic beat reporters left, and you do it like the old pros did. You keep your antennae out and your sources fresh. You know everything that is going on or is about to happen. You keep your public informed and alerted. You interpret events and introduce players. You promote talent. You report controversies and occasionally weigh in. You raise provocative and entertaining questions. You share the stage. You care enough to maintain your column and its quality through whatever life throws at you. That ‘s a pro in my book. Hats off.

    As for the music, play the triumphal march from Aida. Bring on the elephants.


    Comment by Ron McCrea — June 12, 2014 @ 6:00 pm

  4. Thanks so much for your service. Regarding the future, I really like the concert reminders because I tend to be at-the-last-minute concert goer. If I’m free and something sounds interesting, I’m there. A short “XYZ is performing tomorrow night…” announcement works great for me. I’ll miss those if they stop happening.

    Comment by Dean Olsen — June 12, 2014 @ 4:57 pm

  5. Dear Jake,
    A million congratulations. It is obvious how much care you take each and every day.
    What would be my dream Ear so you can keep enriching us on a daily basis?
    – Shorter posts, even very short from time to time
    – Fewer links, if they take too much time to create
    – Mostly or exclusively local
    – More guest bloggers to give you some free time
    … but we need to hear a little something from you everyday.
    Needing my morning WTE fix,
    Janet Murphy

    Comment by Janet Murphy — June 12, 2014 @ 4:51 pm

  6. Dear Jake:
    You have done a wonderful job. Like previous posts, your discriminating ear and judgment of future musical events not to miss has been indispensable to me. There is NO substitute for live music and your informed guide to the local scene has been excellent.
    I would be happy with fewer posts, perhaps an ear in training or just have you retire and listen to music for yourself.
    Thank you very,very much.
    Lynn Gilchrist

    Comment by Lynn Gilchrist — June 12, 2014 @ 2:32 pm

  7. Hi Jake,

    Since we are now so far from Madison, we have found your blog just what we need to really stay in touch with music in Madison. When we do plan trips there, your blog has “sent us” to the right places. Now that the UW School of Music has its own blog, I think that would be something you could drop except for really special events — aka the recent Pro Arte trip. And congratulations on your milestone! Well done.

    The Bowens

    Comment by Bowen — June 12, 2014 @ 10:57 am

  8. “I don’t know how I navigated the classical music scene in Madison before I subscribed to Jake Stockinger’s blog.” Many times I’ve used that line, and many times I have forwarded your messages to friends.

    Particularly valuable to me are the links to reviews of MSO and the Opera as well as teasers about upcoming concerts in Madison and interviews with people related to a concert. Surely I will experience withdrawal symptoms if the blog goes away.

    Your grateful fan, Ann Wallace

    Comment by Ann Wallace — June 12, 2014 @ 10:11 am

  9. …by the way, is that YOUR ear there in that foto? LOL!

    Comment by Michael BB — June 12, 2014 @ 9:56 am

    • If you do a Google image search for ear, you too can have an image of that same ear. I found it labeled EarWeek2.jpg. (Enquiring minds want to know.)

      Comment by Steve Rankin — June 13, 2014 @ 2:18 pm

  10. The best music for this occasion would be Pomp and Circumstance No.3, the standard graduation music. In addition, I would let the UW School of Music scene fend for itself, and leave them to their own devices. They have their own PR machine, thank you very much. Stick to non-academically-based performances, and you’ll lighten your load considerably.
    I read every WTE headline, and comment ONLY when I have something to say or add. kinda like Mr. Ed! MBB

    Comment by Michael BB — June 12, 2014 @ 9:55 am

  11. Congratulations, Jake! As a reader in Milwaukee, I trust your curatorial judgment, so when I drive to Madison I am always assured of seeing the best and most interesting music that Madison and the area has to offer.
    Look forward to reading many more blogs and seeing you in Madison this summer!
    Daniel Petry

    Comment by Daniel Petry — June 12, 2014 @ 9:20 am

  12. Congrats on your acheivement – it’s been a great service and a major conribution to the cultural life of our ccommunity, something of which you can be truly proud.

    A less frequent (weekly or bi-weekly?) digest of highlights or key events might be a more manageable new incarnation of The Ear, recognizing that you can’t be all things to all (classical) matters musical. And I for one woud welcome your ideas and expresions on a broader range of subject matter.

    What to be come will be an evolving process that will reveal itself in time. Meanwhile I and many others owe you a big “Thank You”!

    Comment by Marius — June 12, 2014 @ 9:07 am

  13. Congratulations on reaching 1,000,000 hits! I am not in the least bit surprised. You give so many of us real joy in reading what is going on in the music world, especially for the Madison area. Your interviews with artists ask insightful questions that make the blog really meaningful. The Well-Tempered Ear is a major public service to music fans. (I also love the name you chose for the blog.) Whatever frequency your blog will appear will be appreciated. Thank you for passing on your passion for music through the blog.

    Comment by Renee Farley — June 12, 2014 @ 8:57 am

  14. Dear Ear — I like Steve’s post. How about approaching guest bloggers from around the country? Then the local would be global as well. As for celebratory music, how about Milhaud’s Le Boeuf sur Le Toit? Definitely up tempo. Or perhaps, Jake’s Progress by Igor what’s his name.

    Comment by Ronnie — June 12, 2014 @ 8:51 am

  15. Thank you, Jake, for your tireless service to Madison’s music scene. Congrats on reaching this impressive milestone. One word of caution: if you shift to Tweeting, you’ll risk losing a big chunk of your devoted readership, as many of us geezers can’t be bothered with Twitter, or Facebook for that matter. Thanks again, Bruce

    Comment by Bruce Croushore — June 12, 2014 @ 8:45 am

    • Thank you, Bruce.
      I appreciate your warning.
      I am not talking about actually Tweeting or using Twitter.
      Just using some very short posts for commentary.
      It would be more of an alternating back and forth between h long and short.
      I want both to ease the workload of a hobby and to engage some new or younger readers.
      But your words are duly noted.

      Comment by welltemperedear — June 12, 2014 @ 8:51 am

  16. Bravo!! Wondering if my daily reading in my email counts in the tally? Love waking up (or sometimes just going to bed) when the ear is delivered to my inbox. Much more reliable than a newspaper!!

    I will appreciate whatever you do, but especially the Youth scene… WYSO, MYC, UW and other students. Thank you!!!!!

    Comment by libby bestul — June 12, 2014 @ 8:06 am

  17. Your knowledgable insights and boundless encouragement of local artists are very much appreciated, Jake!
    Orange and Dean

    Comment by Carol Schroeder — June 12, 2014 @ 7:45 am

    • Hi Dean and Orange,
      And I and many others appreciate your tireless sponsoring and support of local classical music.
      Many thanks, and congratulations to the both of you.

      Comment by welltemperedear — June 12, 2014 @ 8:49 am

  18. Hearty congratulations, Ear, on your millionth hit! I have learned a lot from you and hope to keep on doing so. And I am sure whatever direction you take will be the right one. As for appropriate music, if there were a “Fanfare for the Uncommon Man,” I would nominate that one.

    Comment by Michael Muckian — June 12, 2014 @ 7:08 am

    • Hi Mike,
      Thanks for the vote of confidence.
      And also for your help and encouragement throughout the years.
      The piece you mention, composed by retiring UW-Madison professor John Stevens to celebrate Marvin Rabin, the founder of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras, is a good one.
      I am honored you think of it for me.

      Comment by welltemperedear — June 12, 2014 @ 7:30 am

  19. Congrats on one million. I count on the Ear to tell me about upcoming local concerts and to give me background about local musicians. Unfortunately, the direction I’d like to see seems to be the opposite of what you describe. National stories I can find elsewhere. Tweets don’t excite me a whole lot. Thoughtful, engaging discussions with local artists do. News about the organizations that don’t have big advertising budgets is important to me. I could live with fewer posts but the ones I like are the local ones that take work – and I like the local guest writers. I understand that your needs might not mesh with mine. This is not meant to complain as much as to mourn a potential loss – and to thank you for all you have done. You ARE the local source for classical music news, as the other media give it short shrift.

    Comment by Steve Rankin — June 12, 2014 @ 6:12 am

    • Hi Steve,
      You have been wonderful and reliable reader, sometimes even a helper and contributor.
      So I hope whatever direction I take from now on, I will not disappoint you too much and will continue to provide you with at least some of the local stories — especially the Q&As and reviews — that you value so much.
      Thank you and congratulations to my readers as well as me!

      Comment by welltemperedear — June 12, 2014 @ 7:33 am

  20. J.S. Bach: Kantata Nr. 82 (just kidding…)

    Comment by Jess Anderson — June 12, 2014 @ 4:06 am

    • Hi Jess,
      Thanks for being a good friend and loyal fan.
      Is it I or readers who should be singing “Ich habe genug” (I have enough)?
      Either way works, it IS a great cantata.
      Thank you.

      Comment by welltemperedear — June 12, 2014 @ 6:58 am

  21. Jacob,
    Congratulations on garnering your millionth hit. What an INcredible achievement. Appropriate music for this milestone event . . . perhaps a Kalinikov symphony? No matter what the future of The Well Tempered Ear becomes, I must say that your reliable reviews, announcements about coming programs, & interviews with musical performers has clearly made the Ear THE best source for info re: serious music in Wis.

    And aside from that, your valuable advice saved me $7,000 by not opting for commercial marketing for my blog. I’ve since told everyone I’ve met that has any interest in serious music about you & the Ear and you’ve never failed to justify my faith/admiration. Of course, the time we met at the UW-Madison post-concert reception was a true highlight. Thanks for all you do. And best wishes for continued success in whatever direction you go. Cordially, Larry Retzack

    Comment by buppanasu — June 12, 2014 @ 12:29 am

    • Hi Larry,
      I am glad I could be helpful in such a variety of ways.
      Thank you for the kind words and for sharing your enthusiasm with others.
      It has helped.

      Comment by welltemperedear — June 12, 2014 @ 7:34 am

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