The Story of the Bells, In Honor of Karl Haas

Unknown-107Some Listeners’ Club readers may remember Adventures in Good Music, the nationally syndicated radio program hosted by German-American musicologist Karl Haas. The show, which always began with Haas’ trademark greeting, “Hello everyone,” aired between 1970 and 2007 and became radio’s most popular classical music program.

Each year on Christmas Eve, Haas dedicated his show to the distinctive sounds of church bells throughout Europe and the Middle East. He provided a fascinating documentation of the unique bell sound of each city, along with a brief history of bell ringing. Listening to these programs, I was always struck by the continuity of tradition at the heart of European bell ringing. In most cases, these are sounds which have been heard for centuries.

The Story of the Bells must have been one of Haas’ most popular programs, because it’s one of the few episodes which can be found on CD. Last year, The Listeners’ Club continued the tradition with two bell-related posts, Europe’s Age Old Bells and Change Ringing in EnglandNow, in honor of Karl Haas, here are a few more. Listen to the way the sound builds gradually, sometimes starting with a single bell and ending in a glorious cacophony. Notice the rich overtones and distinct timbre of each cathedral.

It’s an awesome sound…a sound which leaves no room for human voices.

-Karl Haas

Dordrecht Cathedral

The dark, soothing tones of the bells of Dordrecht Cathedral in the Netherlands. The cathedral has 67 bells, including the largest bell in the Netherlands, weighing 9830 kilograms:

Salzburg Cathedral

Here are sounds from Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart. Also listen to a 1967 recording of the Vienna Boys Choir singing the Austrian Christmas carol, Still, Still, Still.

St. Mark’s Basilica

Here are the bells of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. And let’s go inside to hear Christmas music of Giovanni Gabrieli.

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

8 thoughts on “The Story of the Bells, In Honor of Karl Haas”

  1. Every Christmas season I play for myself and friends Karl Haas‘s Story of the Bells and Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols as we look at the beauty of candles burning on my Christmas tree and eat Swiss cheese fondue. What could make this season more beautiful?!

      • The two bell examples that I heard in Switzerland, chosen by Karl Haas for what became his Christmas program include the Saturday evening bells in Zürich and the little church in Arosa. Such a contrast but both very gratifying! Any fan of „bells“ should go to the Terrace up on the Polytechnikum above Zürich on Saturday at sunset and just listen for about 20 minutes! …an incredible experience.

  2. Dear Timothy, thank you for providing these exquisite examples of cathedral bells. Every year I would listen to Karl Haas and his magnificent program “Adventures in Good Music,” especially his beguiling program on church bells. When I lived in New Jersey, we would listen via WQXR. Thank you for bringing back many memories. Sincerely, Glenn

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I started listening to Adventures in Good Music in 1987 on public radio in the city I was in at the time, and kept listening up until the time the show ended. I still miss him!


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