Norman Pellegrini - Remember with a Gift

Norman Pellegrini - In Memoriam

Norman Pellegrini: In Memoriam

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Unregistered guest

Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 11:19 am:

as an ex chicagoan, norm and ray made living away from chicago (socal) bearable throught streaming wfmt. mike schlutz

Jim Gordon

Posted on Friday, August 28, 2009 - 08:21 am:

Back in the 1960's I did an audition to become a WFMT presentor. I knew Norm from the many concerts I played as an extra percussionist with the CSO. After my tape had been dissected and examined, Norm called to say that " it didn't swing " I never quite knew what that meant but he told me later that he thought my talents were in the performing sphere. 40 years later, I'm still playing percussion professionally. When I returned to Chicago to play with the CSO, Norm was always around and knew who I was, although I had not lived in the city since the early 70's.
His knowledge and love of classical music greatly influenced my decision to become a professional musician.

Jim Gordon, Amsterdam Netherlands

David Hoffman
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, July 30, 2009 - 08:21 pm:

I'd never heard GOOD radio until I moved to Chicago in 1963, and never afterward heard anything as good as WFMT, although I've lived the past 35 years in an area where we can get Wasington, Baltimore, and Philadelpia stations, and can pick up WQXR in about an hour's drive. Norma Pellegrini was THE VOICE of music as far as I was concerned, long before the Lyric broadcasts. At one time I was amazed that he was still on the air, but then I settled into the comfort that he would always be there. No other radio personality came close to him.

Merle Becker

Posted on Thursday, July 30, 2009 - 06:22 pm:

As a former Chicagoan who moved to San Francisco in 1978, Norm's voice was like magic and represented everything that WFMT was. I would see him at Lyric and CSO and wonder what he was like as I never knew him. His passion, his taste and his knowledge greatly influenced me. One of my fondest memories was when Vladimir Horowitz came out of retirement around 1968 and of course, there was Norm at the concert.
My last memory of him was in 1978 early on a Saturday morning on North Dearborn. He was walking and I was driving, made a u-turn and jumped out of the car in front of him. Fortunately, I don't think he thought I was a stalker. I told him that one of the things I'd miss most about leaving Chicago was him and WFMT. He was very gracious - of course, now we have streaming and for me, Norm will always be WFMT - the legacy.

Tom Kubitz
Unregistered guest

Posted on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 - 05:50 pm:

I live in the sticks, but with a Yagi antenna, I could pull in WFMT. Norm Pellagrini helped shape my already-musical life. His reassuring perfect-for-radio voice heped me learn who Arlo was so I could hear him in Orchestra Hall, learn about Piaf and Callas. Soon I had a folk music collection of my own. This encouraged me to listen to Studs and Ray too. Who can forget the great music they brought to us all. And all listened to on a Heathkit Preap, Amps and tuner.
Norm opened so many horizons. He will be greatly missed by all who heard him.
Tom Kubitz; Freeport, IL

Bill Griffeth

Posted on Monday, July 27, 2009 - 09:23 pm:

When I began graduate school at the U. of C. in 1965, my interest in classical music was just beginning. I had only five LPs, but Chicago had WFMT and Norm Pellegrini. Under Norm's direction, WFMT offered a musical feast that I enjoyed greatly for my fourteen years in Chicago. Thanks to Norm and his station, I came to love Beethoven, Stravinsky, and Mahler; to admire Reiner, Solti, Giulini, and von Karajan; and to develop special favorites such as Horowitz, Herseth, and Fischer-Dieskau. In 1972 I got to meet Norm in person, and we developed a lasting friendship that soon grew to encompass my wife Nancy and Norm's partner Donald. Norm was full of stories about the great and not-so-great musicians, the paragons and the poseurs. His intensity, his enthusiasm, his knowledge, his love of music made him a fascinating person to be with, but his greatest gift to us was simply his friendship. His passing leaves a void in our lives that no one will fill. Rest in peace, my friend.

Valerie Smith

Posted on Friday, July 24, 2009 - 07:17 am:

I just learned about Norm Pelligrini's passing from a friend of mine out in New Mexico, and must add my own remembrance. Norm had such a radio voice, and was so varied with his knowledge of music. I was impressed that he could go so readily from opera and classical to the "folk music and farce" of the Midnight Special. I don't remember exactly when my family discovered WFMT, but once I did, it became a mainstay in my life, along with WBEZ. It's a wonderful station, and Norm Pelligrini was an excellent announcer. I remember volunteering one day at WFMT, and happening to see him in the hallway, and being so fascinated to have that moment. My condolences to WFMT (and Chicago) for your loss, and kudos to for hiring such a person of excellence.

Macci Teodoro-Quirino

Posted on Monday, July 20, 2009 - 12:39 pm:

I worked at WFMT at the Illinois Center. I remember Ray Nordstrand, Studs Terkel, Lois Baum, and Norman Pellegrini. I have learned to appreciate classical music, intelligent programs and program hosts at WFMT through the exquisite leadership of Norman Pellegrini. He was a good man. What a loss!

Len Sullivan

Posted on Sunday, July 19, 2009 - 07:38 pm:

Norman Pelligrini -The Sound of his voice and WFMT being synonymou are for me, the musical link to Chicago. Coming from out of town, I know exactly where the station would surface on my car radio. Remembering him and the Jacobs and their source of LP's (one could order by phone through mail) dates me to the early days of the station. Add up these years of experience and my memories are the best to hold. Always.

Unregistered guest

Posted on Sunday, July 19, 2009 - 12:33 pm:

I grew up in Amarillo, Texas. As a adolescent and teenager, I spent most of any money I had on classical records. In 1964, when I went to Northwestern, I remember how wonderful it was to be able to hear classical music on the radio all the time...and it was graced with the warm and personal voice of Norm Pellegrini. The broadcasts were live, as always, so I listened to him as a friend guiding me through this wonderful world of music. I remember rushing back from my Wednesday classes to hear the Midnight Special and its eclectic mix. Imagine hearing Marlene Dietrich singing, "Die Antwort Mein Freund Nur Weiss Allein das Wind" seemingly every week. Mr. Pelegrini once came to Northwestern to meet with us at dinner and discuss classical music, only further reinforcing my sense that he was a crony...or at least a caring acquaintance.

I have lived in Los Angeles most of the time since the 60's and thanks to cable radio and later the internet, I luckily have been able to continue my relationship with WFMT and the WFMT Network. Norm Pellegrini's voice has been a constant and his influence on WFMT have continued throughout the years. His voice is now silent, but his influence remains. I am in his debt. He has touched my life and many others...and we have lost a wonderful friend.


Posted on Saturday, July 18, 2009 - 10:19 am:

Here is most of a belated email that I sent to Andy Karzas this morning:

Norman is a great loss. I have vivid memories of him, and was pleased to hear him one last time in the broadcast of the opening night of the season at the Lyric. And, of course, it was Norman, who, instantaneously, came up with the name "From the Recording Horn" which contributed to the success of
the programme. I recall your telling me that at some point under the next management the name was changed to "The First 50 Years" and then rightly changed back!

I was, as you know, a regular listener to WFMT when I was at the University of Chicago from 1954 to 1960. The opportunity to participate in the activities of the station through the Recording Horn was a great experience.

I can't think of Norman without also thinking of the effective contrast he made with Ray Nordstrand, who was with us until recently. I also remember a
very pleasant evening in the summer of 1970 when I was visiting Chicago and you took me up to the station. As I recall, the four of us went for a pizza afterward at Due's.

Norman Pellegrini turned WFMT into the greatest radio station in the world. I say this with confidence despite listening for the past 50 years and
contributing to the BBC Third Programme and BBC Radio Three. I often listen to the excellent WFMT internet stream, and I will listen today to "From the
Recordings Horn" and "The Midnight Special".

Steve Abrams (London)


Posted on Friday, July 17, 2009 - 09:24 am:

I have been a WFMT listener for most of my 58 years and for a long time never missed the Midnight Special. If it weren't for Norm and Ray, I would have never known the liver song ("I hate liver, liver makes me quiver...")

Susan Cameron

Posted on Thursday, July 16, 2009 - 07:54 pm:

I lived in Chicago from 1965 - 1972. Most of that time I was attending the University of Chicago. I was a constant listener to WFMT. I associated Norm Pellegrini's comforting voice and insightful commentary with WFMT. Saturday nights were reserved for "The Midnight Special." In more recent years, when my husband and I visit Chicago, we always tune into WFMT when we approach the city by car, anticipating the voice of Norm Pellegrini. We still listen to WFMT via web stream. But it won't be the same without Norm. He will be sorely missed.

Gail Bass (Israelievitch)
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, July 16, 2009 - 06:25 pm:

I remember moving back to Chicago after college - My first Thursday evening at the CSO concert I sat next to a fascinating man with whom I immediately became friendly. His name was Norm Pellegrini. Over the years our friendship grew, and when he gave up his seat to host the CSO broadcasts, I was lucky to meet and get know his partner, Don Knight. Those were wonderful days that I will never forget.

Norm was a "Maverick" in the GOOD sense of the word. His programming is legendary. He introduced thousands of listeners to music they would not otherwise have heard. He helped foster young musicians and sponsored live broadcasts. His taste was impeccable. I will sorely miss him, but will always harbor great memories of our friendship.

Maurice Crouse
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, July 16, 2009 - 05:24 pm:

Norman Pellegrini and his Midnight Special were largely responsible for my retaining my sanity when I was a graduate student in history at Northwestern during the 1960s. They "turned me on" to folk music and comedy and I wish I had made more off-the-air tape recordings of them. I still treasure the ones I made and must remember to transfer them off the tapes before they tapes disintegrate.

Many years later I was delighted to find WFMT available on Internet radio and from time to time I would hear Norman Pellegrini's voice on classical broadcasts. He must have had a tremendous range of musical knowledge and appreciation.

Norm Siegel
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, July 16, 2009 - 05:05 pm:

As a folk performer, the Midnight Special was a particularly good repository for material to learn and perform. My first recollections of Norm Pellegrini was on those broadcasts. Along with Ray Nordstrand, Norm's voice is a warm memory of those late 50's and 60's days. The neatest thing, though, was to actually meet him and shake his hand at New Year's Eve broadcasts that I was privileged to attend and perform on. I still hear his voice in my mind. He will be missed. God Bless, Norm Pelligrini.

Jay Gilbert
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, July 16, 2009 - 04:58 pm:

From my first hearing his voice on the Midnight Special to learning everything I know about music from his programming - he was a fantastic teacher and leader into the world of music. His memory is indeed for blessing.

hillary weisman
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, July 16, 2009 - 04:37 pm:

When I was growing up, our radio at home, tuned to 98.7, was on every waking hour. Thus Norm's voice was the narration and background of my childhood and youth. Later I left for New York, a city one could deem comparable to Chicago in many respects, but never in the quality of its radio stations. I, like so many others, will miss him deeply.

John Fitzgerald

Posted on Thursday, July 16, 2009 - 04:34 pm:

Father Charlie Sheedy, the longtime Dean of the College of Arts & Letters at Notre Dame, used to say that "Norman Pellegrini's voice is the way an FM Radio announcer's voice is supposed to sound."

For my part, at age 66 and about to retire, I look back on a life profoundly enriched (and shaped and formed!) by WFMT. The two principal suspects at 98.7 who "ruined me for life" were Norm Pellegrini and Stude Terkel. I am eternally grateful!

John FITZgerald / San Francisco

Gordon Dillon

Posted on Wednesday, July 15, 2009 - 02:55 pm:

I just learned this sorrowful news. I remember one afternoon in the mid 70's driving home from work and he played consecutively 6 or 7 different renditions of the Queen of the Night aria from Magic Flute. I had never heard any of them before. I was converted to being an opera nerd.

Hugh Spencer

Posted on Monday, July 13, 2009 - 11:55 am:

Norm had a wonderful sense of humor. I still remember his New Recordings and the day he played the new Stokowski recording of the Pastorale Symphony, with sound effects. Norm wondered what one of the quiet movements would sound like with cannon shots (no doubt from the Dorati 1812 Overture) and then added other sounds to those on the recording. He was a treasure!

Christopher Sweet

Posted on Friday, July 10, 2009 - 10:15 pm:

I first heard Norm Pellegrini cohosting The Midnight Special in the summer of 1964 when I was a high school sophomore, here visiting my best friend. I had nothing like WFMT in Kansas City. The program and the station were a revelation. My friend and I lay awake as long as we could, reading and listening to the music and to the quiet intelligence of the hosts. We fell asleep before it ended.

One could say I followed Norm's voice to Chicago when I selected a university, because the presence of WFMT at 98.7 factored largely in my choice of schools. Years later, when Norm moved on to the Lyric broadcasts, quite unconsciously on my part I vowed to buy season tickets when I could afford them.

I can't find words to express my sadness at the loss of Norm Pellegrini.

Jean Kellogg

Posted on Friday, July 10, 2009 - 11:39 am:

To my good friends at WFMT -- I was deeply saddened to read of Norm's passing. He was a true gem and a gentleman, and enormously well respected by all of us who had the privilege of working with him at Lyric Opera. He will be greatly missed, and personally, I truly miss WFMT, the finest classical radio station in the country. My best wishes to all of you.

Roger Rocco

Posted on Thursday, July 09, 2009 - 11:32 pm:

First as a music student and later as a professional musician and educator, I started listening to WFMT in 1966. Norm's distinctive vocal style has long been associated with the station and classical music in Chicago. He will be missed by our select but devoted community.

Lee Grunow

Posted on Tuesday, July 07, 2009 - 11:10 am:

I first met Norman in Johnny's record store on Oak street in Chicago around Christmas time in 1952 or 1953. He had played a new recording of Mahlers' Song of the Earth with Bruno Walter and Kathleen Ferrier and I had to have it. At that time record stores with classical records were as rare as classical radio stations. When I went to get it, Norman was in the store borrowing records to play on air. Later when WFMT started a record store of it's own, I became a Hotel Guyon visitor to pick up what I'd bought and ran into Norman there quite often. Being eighteen at the time I was in awe of him. I hinted at perhaps being a gofer for the station which did not happen. He always was a sincere and helpful man and even offered me a lift on occasion. I do remember that laugh of his on air when he found a record listing an instrument called a bazimba. I also recall when a host,I think it was Mike Nichols,described a Bach Sonata as being for violin and figured BASS as in fish. What a great loss we have suffered but remember always to keep the music in our lives. Farewell, Norman.

Chris Favero
Unregistered guest

Posted on Tuesday, July 07, 2009 - 06:27 am:

I have only had the pleasure of knowing Norman the past year and a half.I had no idea he was such a legend.Like an iceberg,I only knew the tip above the water.Norman,we will miss you in the dining room, but will always have the fondest place in our hearts and minds.

Jeanette Neagu

Posted on Monday, July 06, 2009 - 04:22 pm:

I received an FM radio as a 8th grade graduation gift from my parents. WFMT became my haven from the rock and roll world around me and Norm Pellegrini was the Captain of that ship for most of my life. I remember the beginning when I would wait so eagerly for 3 p.m. to roll around and how sad I would be when the final guitar music would be played or "On a Note of Triumph" or "You've Got to Cross that Lonesome Valley"
How excited I was to meet him one afternoon when I came to the station to help with phones during a fund raising event. His dignity, superb taste and passion for classical music helped me through many a difficult time. Peace to his family and friends. What a special person!!!!!

Daniel Gauss

Posted on Monday, July 06, 2009 - 01:46 am:

I discovered the Midnight Special (c. 1979) as an awkward, nerdy teenager in a working class (now gentrified :P) neighborhood in Chicago.

Norm and Ray were the Rat-Pack of folk music and farce, show tunes and satire, madness and escape. The folk music scene really took off because of them. Who can ever forget the Raccoon Song!!!? Their wit and good taste meant so much to me then (outsider that I was) and shaped my own personality.

I thank them for helping me become aware of Stan Rogers, the Court of King Karacttakis (sic) and for the most memorable metaphysics lecture I have ever heard. Norm and Ray enriched my life so greatly that I have been crying tonight and I don't remember the last time I cried (if ever) for someone in the news. I thank my lucky stars (to quote from U. Utah Phillips) that Norm came along.

Steve McMinn, Stockbridge, GA
Unregistered guest

Posted on Sunday, July 05, 2009 - 04:59 pm:

To me, "classical music" could also be called "Pelligrini."

I knew virtually nothing about classical music in 1970 when I was 18. That's when I attended my first classical concert, Handel's "Messiah." Shortly after that, I somehow was led to listen to WFMT. Mr. Pellgrini's programming of this music, which I'd assumed was for rich people, lit a fire in my soul. I especially loved his programming of Christmas music. It really made my Christmases. And, "The Midnight Special" was where I encountered Stan Rogers, which changed my life. Mr. Pellegrini's mix of folk music and humor (as well as Ray Nordstrand's) was unique.

When I was in the Army in 1972-75, in the Chicago area, listening to WFMT was one of my few links to sanity.

I saw him in the 1980s on an elevator at O'Hare. For me, it was like seeing a rock star. Star-struck, I blurted out, "You're Norm Pellegrini!" He looked at me, smiled and promptly exited the elevator. He didn't know me, but his music changed my life.


Posted on Sunday, July 05, 2009 - 03:40 pm:

Forgive me for my second post, but one memory of Norm has come to mind. At one broadcasters' conference, Norm had us all in stitches when he told us a "shaggy dog" story about a talented canine who became a concert pianist. The delight was not only in the punch line, but the brio with which the story was related. He had fun telling it and we enjoyed hearing it.

Martha J. Kayatepe

Posted on Sunday, July 05, 2009 - 02:53 pm:

My memories of Norm Pellegrini are not as vast, nor as intimate as many I've heard read on the station these past days, BUT: From '93 to '96 I lived in Chicago, and WFMT was my constant companion. I don't know if anyone else remembers a Pledge Drive sometime in '95 or'95, but the hilarious dialogue between Jim Unrath and Norm Pellegrini will ALWAYS be with me. They had a challenge to see whether WFMT listeners had more cats, or more dogs as pets, and the "Thank You Gift" at my tiny level of support was one's choice of a silver-plated letter opener with either a cat, or a dog, on the top end. To this day I still have my little kitty opener, and it has traveled with me during the ten years I spent in Florida until I arrived back in Chicago in 2006. Each and every time I've opened my mail during these many years I have thought fondly of Norm, and the high-jinks of that pledge. For all his incredibly "wicked" sense of humor, one never missed how big this person was with his devotion to the station and knowledge of music. Thurseday morning it came as a shock to me to hear of Norm's passing, and every one of the tributes I have heard presented has been in complete good taste, sometimes rendering a needed belly laugh, and other times reducing me to tears {and that's unusual!) I drove to a destination during the first presentation of the Verdi Requiem, and could not make myself get out the car for the 45 minutes left to the work. The spoken tribute at the end was my complete undoing! Thank you for what you did with "The Midnight Special" last night, which was also a complete rendering of another side to Norm Pellegrini, and I hope you can occasionally repeat some of that over the air, or perhaps create a CD of the material as a thank-you-gift for the next pledge drive. Good-bye, Norm: Hope to see/hear you next time around.

Bernard Jacobson

Posted on Sunday, July 05, 2009 - 02:08 pm:

Norm Pellegrini was a wonderful human being and a great broadcaster. In my days as music critic of the Chicago Daily News, he was unfailingly receptive to any ideas I put forward for a program. He would ask, "How much time do you need?" Whether I said ten minutes or an hour and ten minutes, he would find that time. Then we would either record, or do the program live - I think he particularly appreciated that, not having any problem over making a fool of myself, I was almost the only person around willing to do live radio, so we had some great times in the studio together.

Laura and I will miss him sorely.

Mary Ann Zeszutko
Unregistered guest

Posted on Sunday, July 05, 2009 - 01:10 am:

I was very sorry to hear of the death of Norm Pellegrini.

My husband wonders sometimes where I got my classical musical background. Certainly not in the schools I attended, and not in my far-south-side neighborhood. I had an old tube radio that carried FM. Ever since I found WFMT, I learned -- a lot -- about classical music, about everything that showed up on "The Midnight Special", and just the whole milieu of WFMT. It was a guilty pleasure tuning in by the glow of the old tubes. Especially on Saturday nights! I learned so much.

My husband had the opportunity of seeing Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts in person, and going to the New York Metropolitan Opera. I didn't have to worry about being "Second City"; I had _my_ education thanks to WFMT.
Now, I have a name to put to my cultural mentor. Belated, but sincere, thanks.


Posted on Saturday, July 04, 2009 - 09:22 pm:

Norman Pellegrini who served as program director at fine arts station WFMT 98.7 for more than 43 years has died at age 79.

When I read this, I was saddened beyond what I can express in words. Listening to the Midnight Special and all the excellence on WFMT for nearly 40 years, I have come to realize that WFMT is the lively cultural icon that it is because of dedication from highly talented people. That in itself is a feat in today’s world – to find dedication. Without ever knowing Norman, one could still realize the man’s stature by listening to and appreciating what he directed and the quality that carries on today; a persistent standard because one man lived for excellence. Every year, I offer testimonials for WFMT, but the reason behind them is always a tribute to quality and commitment; characteristics that are enviable in any endeavor. We in Chicago just happen to be so fortunate to have these values because of Norman Pellegrini.

I am saddened because I am touched by memories of the intellectuals who walked the streets of Old Town before it was a commercial strip…back when the thinkers and doers carried fervor and enthusiasm for producing a commitment to fine arts music that remains in WFMT and is unparalleled in the world. Those seminal days are gone, and I can be sad as I see history pass by, but Norman Pellegrini’s legacy lives on in the quality and standards we are blessed to have with us today. I am blessed to have a 6 year old godson in my life and he listens to WFMT. I know an important legacy is being passed on to him and thousands of others because one man lived. I really can’t see Norm as gone when I witness that spirit moving forward.

Every time we can turn on 98.7 fm or 98.7 on the net, we hear enthusiasm, quality, accurate history, musical legacy heard nowhere else, entertainment, correctness in musical form and ideas and standards of excellence and commitment that live on in the hearts and minds of the WFMT staff for all listeners.

WFMT provides thoughtful dialogue, critical thinking and a state of mind allowing the spirit of the originators to inspire future generations. Thanks Norm!

Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there, I did not die

Rich Mazzuca,
Chicago, Illinois

Robert Lightfoot
Unregistered guest

Posted on Saturday, July 04, 2009 - 08:24 pm:

My introduction to Norm came when I was a young, shy photographer working with the CSO. I had seen first hand how precious access was to some of the people and businesses around the orchestra, so I wondered what kind of unusual ego I had to work around with this new annoyance.

Norm reminded me of a great doctor, the kind that always has time for his patients and always knows what to say. Instead of a lecture or any other form of pomposity, Norm understood what I needed and gave me trust and confidence from the beginning. As he knew, I worked twice as hard to prove myself to him.

As I got to know him, he would mention photos of mine that he had seen and liked, which of course pleased me. More than that, as a visual person in an auditory landscape, he left me feeling he understood the visual just as well as he seemed to understand everything.

Meeting him, lunching with him, working with him was always an occasion for great wit and good humor; for wonderful observation from a true man for all seasons.

I can't think of any I would want more to be like.

Robert Radycki

Posted on Saturday, July 04, 2009 - 05:34 pm:

I had the pleasure of first meeting Norman Pellegrini over 30 years ago at the offices of the Illinois Arts Council when we both served on an advisory panel for the performing arts. Although at that time I was not a regular listener to WFMT, my wife Lucyna was. She worked with a colleague who knew Norman. My wife had borrowed an album she had of Karol Szymanowski to her friend who forwarded it on to Norman. Norman loved the recording and gave an on air thank you to my wife. She was so grateful for this recognition.

At this meeting of the Illinois Arts Council (IAC) we had to review numerous grant applications from various arts organizations. As a young struggling filmmaker I was honored to have been invited to participate in a panel with such accomplished talented Chicagoans in various disciplines of the arts. Proposals were submitted from theater, dance, music and film groups. They included established institutions as well as struggling upstarts. Peoples dreams and ideas were on the table for our consideration.

When a certain proposal came up for discussion, Norman just beamed and sparked. His energy was electrifying. He talked about what a wonderful contribution this would be to Chicago and the merits of such an endeavor. What was this proposal? It was the initial proposal for an annual Gospel Festival to be held at the bandshell in Grant Park. I as well as others were astounded at Norman's eloquence, class and commitment in support of this application. After listening to Norman those of us on the panel regreted that we were limited to the maximum amount requested and wished we could allocate more funds to make this premier event proceed.

Afterwards I became a regular listener to WFMT and enjoyed listening to Norman share the characteristic enthusiasm and passion he had for the subject matter at hand. He was always so eager to share his abundant knowledge with the audience. His passing is not just a lost for classical music but for Chicago the city he loved so dearly.

Ron Ginani

Posted on Saturday, July 04, 2009 - 11:48 am:

We, my wife and I, have been long time listeners of WFMT. Since 1983 I have been a super at the Lyric Opera. On many occasions I would meet Mr. Pellegrini during one of the dress rehearsals, in the house, on the elevator, in the lobby, etc. I never introduced myself because I didn't want to waste his time with meaningless conversation with a stranger. I wouldjust say "Hi!". He always responded with the warmest smile and greeting as if he recognized me as an old friend.

I'll never forget that. He will be missed.

Judith Rae Swanson D.V.M.
Unregistered guest

Posted on Saturday, July 04, 2009 - 11:06 am:

Thank you for this opportunity to share feelings and ideas about dear Norm. I am the holistic veterinarian that Norm and Donald brought little Satchmo (we called him Satch) to for acupuncture. Both of them cared deeply for and about me and my foster child Nicole. My heart sank when I heard Friday on WFMT of Norm's death. I called Donald and we had a deep, enlightening conversation. Satch was well loved and cared for.
Judith Rae Swanson Swanson Holistic Veterinarian

Roger Kulp

Posted on Saturday, July 04, 2009 - 10:23 am:

I never lived near Chicago,so for the most part I never heard Norm,or Don,other than on the CSO's national broadcasts.Norm and Don's retrospective and historic CSO programs,which I first heard in the late 1980s,helped foster a lifelong love of historical classical recordings,and classical record collecting. Don Tait and Norm Pelligrini really are something special.Only Robert Conrad comes to mind as an equal. Norm is really something special,and is too good to be forgotten.I have been listening to the tribute program,and it is clear that WFMT has quite an archive of Norm and Don's programs.I would suggest you set up a special web site where their programs could be listened to or downloaded,much as WFMU did with their programs of "The Hound" from the late 1980s.

Lauren Jacobson- Zimmerman
Unregistered guest

Posted on Saturday, July 04, 2009 - 09:36 am:

Norm was a part of my Saturday Nights as host of the Midnight Special for many years. His wit and knowledge of all forms of music, farce, show-tunes, satire, madness and escape were guiding lights for my family. My deepest sympathy to Donald and all the WFMT Family.

Dave M.

Posted on Friday, July 03, 2009 - 10:37 pm:

I first started listening to WFMT upon entering college in the Chicago area in the fall of 1965 and became a regular listener from then on, with a few year’s interruption during a stretch in the military in the ‘70s when I was unfortunately out of range.

In those days, the efforts of Norm Pellegrini, Ray Nordstrand and the crew they directed to present art music with dignity and integrity were in full flower. For me, it established the all-time standard for presentation of music that respected both the music and the audience.

Of the many talents Norm brought to that business, the one that always impressed me the most was his ability to select a theme and then illustrate it with an incredible range of music. Things you’d never even heard of before. Or if you had, you hadn’t known how they tied into the theme. When he would occasionally sit in as a sub for one of the regular announcers, it was always a little class in musical literature which, taken together over the years, constituted an amazing musical education for the listeners. My favorites were the virtuoso threads he would spin on the Midnight Special, and the prodigious worldwide surveys of organ voicing he would jump into every once in a while (I believe had some background as an organist in his student days).

I think he must have carried around in his head every recording he had ever heard, along with its background, allowing him to draw on all of it when putting a piece of programming together. Someone should probably study his brain, as they did with Einstein’s.

Eric Jacobson

Posted on Friday, July 03, 2009 - 10:04 pm:

When I came here in 1965 I learned of WFMT from a roomate. We both agreed that listening to the programing was like taking a graduate course in so many areas of the arts. I learned so much and, you know, there was something about the Pellegrini sound was respectful and welcoming. He made you feel like you were part of family. WFMT was one of the reasons I decided to make my home in Chicago. His example of dedication and excellence are so rare.

Edith Anderson

Posted on Friday, July 03, 2009 - 07:29 pm:

I never met Norm Pellegrini. But his voice was so important to me; it was an entire radio personality. Reassuring, it let me know that something reliable and beautiful was about to happen on FMT.

My younger brother, Ernie Anderson, married a Pennsylvanian in 1983 and permanently moved east. He had been a WFMT and Lyric Opera afficianado and had worked at Laury's Records where FMT personalities stopped and bought records.
He told me that when he got to Philadelphia he was very busy with school and working but initially was very lonely. But when I turned on the radio to CSO performances on Sunday afternoon and heard Norm's voice, he said, I felt better right away. No better testimony.

Stephen Holvay

Posted on Friday, July 03, 2009 - 07:13 pm:

I have heard Norman Pellegrini since I was growing up in the 1960's. I have in my possession his copy of the L.P. ( Victor Red Seal) Daphis & Chloe performed by Charles Munch & the Boston Symphony Orch. There is a descriptive booklet as part of the L.P. slipcase & the flyleaf says " Norman Pellegrini" on it. I got it at a charity thrift store on Halstead street 3 years ago. I wish other WFMT listeners could be blessed with items from his old collection as I have been.

Dorothy & Charles Stevens
Unregistered guest

Posted on Friday, July 03, 2009 - 07:11 pm:

As 45 year listeners to WFMT, we shall miss Norm's mellow voice and musical wisdom.
He was synonymous with the station.

Warren Silver
Unregistered guest

Posted on Friday, July 03, 2009 - 05:36 pm:

The Midnight Special drew me in as a high school freshman. Over time, though, the dial more and more remained fixed on the station that everywhere exuded Norm's taste and sensibilities, making the classics as engaging as the folk music and comedy on Norm's Midnight Special turns. A few years later, as a college student and into my 20s, I got to know Norm as a regular volunteer for New Year's Eve and Old Town Art Fair request programs. I'll remember him most as the warm and engaging gentleman who always had a friendly word as I made my way around the studio. My sincere condolences to Donald, to Rich Warren, who now wears the mantle without emeriti to help support it, and to the entire WFMT family.

Edward A. Cowan
Unregistered guest

Posted on Friday, July 03, 2009 - 05:22 pm:

A friend has forwarded to me your two obituary articles about the late Norman Pellegrini. I live in Arlington TX, but I have known Mr. Pellegrini's "voice" for a long time. When cable TV came to the part of Arlington in which I lived (ca. 1983), one of the offerings was WFMT-FM via cable FM. I signed up for this service at once, and for twenty years, first on cable, and then via satellite (G5), I listened regularly to that station's exemplary programming. Certainly this quality of programming was Pellegrini's principal contribution to the station, and I cherish the memories of WFMT from that time. Now I must listen via the web, but I have high-speed internet and can receive the station "loud and clear".

I still regard WFMT as the paradigm for a high-quality FM station. It is sad that a great many pretenders to that status seem blind to what classical FM can and should be. Sincerely, Edward A. Cowan

David M. Terman

Posted on Friday, July 03, 2009 - 04:53 pm:

As a longtime listener to WFMT - indeed, I had the good fortune to happen on to the station on its very first day of broadcast in December, 1951 - I want to add my voice in tribute and gratitude for Norman Pellegrini. For all these almost 58 years, WFMT has been an oasis of comfort, interest, civility - and sometimes a place of the most intense pleasure. I know how essential Norman was to the essence - one might say, the soul - of WFMT. I know that he was one of the most important people who created this station that allowed us to hear the music we craved in an ambience - created partly with his civilized voice that fit the music. I felt that Norman and the station were totally in tune with what we most enjoyed and valued.
When we, as a family, took automobile trips out of range of WFMT, I was always sad to lose the station and always felt relief to come back into range again. I used to call the station, "the Cradle" - as in the "cradle of civilization". Somewhat grandiose, perhaps, but not altogether inaccurate. Norman and the station have been two of the most powerful factors creating a very distinctive and robust high culure in Chicago. For those of us who find such experience essential to their lives, it has been a gift of immeasurable value. So it is with the deepest sadness and thanks that I contribute my thoughts to his memorial.

David Lafferty

Posted on Friday, July 03, 2009 - 04:25 pm:

As a gawky high school junior in 1958 I interviewed Norm Pellegrini for an article in the school's paper. It was on a Saturday in the old LaSalle-Wacker Building and the elevator operator was concerned about letting a kid go up there. Mr. Pellegrini was courteous and helpful as I dealt with my inexpertise and shyness. I left with the material for a good article and with a loyalty to WFMT that hasn't wavered.


Posted on Friday, July 03, 2009 - 02:57 pm:

I started listening to WFMT as a youngster in 1956
and so in a subtle way Norm informed and shaped
my interests and cultural intelligence. Not only
in the obvious way by programming diverse music of
consistently high quality, but by selecting hosts
and programs that filled out the spectrum of
fine arts interests. From Harry Bouras I learned
about art; from Gilbert Highet and Herman
Kogan about literature; and from Studs, of course,
I learned about everything, including Ayn Rand
and John Cage. And I have Norm to thank for
giving me these many opportunities.

Over the years I would run into him and always
said hello because he and the station were such an
integral part of my life. Although he didn't know me
he was always gracious and friendly. I saw him last
several years ago and told him that I was in the
process of converting my tape collection to CDs
and had just completed Semiramide, the first broadcast
from Lyric. He asked, not entirely facetiously, if
I had the saved the intermission material. Because
of the cost of tape at the time I admitted that I had
not recorded it and he jokingly chided me. I'm sorry
now that I don't have that material.

Norm has been missed since 1996 and he will be missed
even more now, but he left a great legacy that
continues to enrich my life. Thanks Norm.

Mark Bednar

Sharon Jacobson-Stine

Posted on Friday, July 03, 2009 - 01:35 pm:

When my clock radio went off yesterday morning, I awoke to the sound of Norm Pellegrini’s voice. But it was the way he sounded 30 years ago and I immediately realized what must have happened. It was a sad start to the day to learn of his passing.

I have been listening to WFMT since I was born, as the station was being played over the P.A. system at the hospital! As my siblings and I were growing up, our kitchen radio was on all day set to WFMT. We new his voice well and when other announcers were on, we would try to guess who they were based on how they compared to Norman who was “The Standard.”

He and my father were friends going way back to their days in the National Guard. Many people may not know that Norm was an accomplished pianist and when he would come to our home for a visit, he and my father would play some duets. The last time that he came over before my father died, I was fresh out of grad school trying to get my musical career started and he gave me good advice on who to contact.

My condolences to Donald and everyone at WFMT. He will be sorely missed, especially for me as “The Voice” of the Lyric Opera Broadcasts.


Posted on Friday, July 03, 2009 - 11:32 am:

I did not know Norm personally,but I certainly knew his voice of WFMT after listening to him for 68 years on the radio. I was sitting outside at Starbuck's on Rush st. 2 or 3 weeks ago and Norm walked by , he seemed distant so I did not stop him,and thank him for all the great work he does on the Lyric Opera Broadcasts and WFMT. In retrospect I am very sorry I did not stop Norm and thank him. My condolences to all who knew and loved him! WFMT Lyric broadcast's will not be the same

Hudson Fair
Unregistered guest

Posted on Friday, July 03, 2009 - 11:29 am:

Norman the wit, the booster, the mentor, the humorist, the story teller, the taste maker. With his passing it is the end of an era. What accomplishments he made!
What influence he had--always aiming for the the better and always done with generosity! He helped and taught me when I started out at WFMT and was my booster long before I arrived for work at the radio station. I was fortunate to learn from a radio and arts legend. Norm was a giant in his chosen field.

My sincere condolences to Donald.

with remembrance and honor,

Hudson Fair

Besflores Nievera Jr
Unregistered guest

Posted on Friday, July 03, 2009 - 10:59 am:

WFMT has been a continuing part of my radio life in Chicago for more than three decades.

As a teen growing up on Chicago's North Shore I was continually mesmerized as I tuned in to Norman and his outstanding team of announcers. Norman's programs and vibrant conversations with Ardis, Sir George and Maestro Daniel were educational and entertaining.

Losing Norman is like losing a radio mentor who brought the world of Massenet, Chopin, Schoenberg, & Liszt (to name a few) into my listening landscape.

Today, as a broadcast professional, I continue to deliver a special and personalized style thanks in part to WFMT. I remain grateful for the station and its many voices as well as Norman's exquisite programming skill.

He will be missed.

Besflores Nievera Jr.
Weekend Host - WDCB-FM 90.9

Bob Berger

Posted on Friday, July 03, 2009 - 10:44 am:

All of us devotees of WFMT will miss Norm enormously, but frankly, we have missed him for all these, too many,years since he was forced into too-early retirement. His sonorous baritone voice, his (and Ray Nordstrand's) timing and phrasing that was the model for the unique "WFMT style", his love for his work and for the music and other materials he presented to us with such care, good taste and wonderful esthetic sensibility, will never be forgotten.What a glorious gift he, and his WFMT colleagues in those first four decades, was for the metropolitan Chicago listening community.

Carl H. Wesselmann

Posted on Friday, July 03, 2009 - 10:43 am:

I recall in 1951, just out of high school and a hi fi nut, my astonishment and joy in finding a radio station that actually aired great music. As accompanied by the calm and mellifluous voices of Rita Jacobs and Norm Pellegrini it was then as now an island of sanity. One night, in an attempt apparently to get some grasp of the size and tastes of the station's audience, Norm announced that he would take a vote by phone on which recording--Beethoven's 5th or the New World Symphony, then identified as Dvorak's 5th--he would play at 8 pm. Dvorak won 9 to 7.

Jacqueline Gerber
Unregistered guest

Posted on Friday, July 03, 2009 - 10:30 am:

His voice brought comfort to so many listeners, who trusted him to lead them through the truths and mysteries of music.

His style was pristine, his phrasing immaculate. After 27 years on the air in classical radio, I still occasionally contemplate pronouncing "hundred" the way Norman did.

R. Miller
Unregistered guest

Posted on Friday, July 03, 2009 - 07:07 am:

My favorite memories of Mr. Pellegrini were Saturday evenings listing to the Midnight Special. We were young marrieds and had little furniture, so we would all sit on the living room floor, play games and listen. I especially enjoyed the all night New Year's Eve Special. I will miss hearing his voice on the best station in the city.

Max Raimi

Posted on Friday, July 03, 2009 - 06:58 am:

I played a number of live broadcasts on WFMT under Norm in the 80s and early 90s, and participated in little performances for him when he hosted the CSO Radiothon. He radiated energy, joy, and a love of what he was doing. I always felt that performances had an extra intensity when he was around because he cared so deeply about the music. I'm profoundly grateful I was privileged to experience his unique spirit, and profoundly sorry that I will not encounter it again.

Robert L. Kendrick
Unregistered guest

Posted on Friday, July 03, 2009 - 05:38 am:

On behalf of his alma mater, the University of Chicago, I would like to extend my deep condolences to WFMT, to Donald Knight and the rest of his family, on Norm Pellegrini's passing. He was a remarkable person who made unique and wonderful contributions through the station, not only to classical music but also to folk traditions and to such programs as Studs Terkel's. We are very sorry to lose someone of whom our Department is proud. My apologies for the delay but the sad news took some time to reach me here in Italy. Sadly, Robert L. Kendrick, Professor and Chair, Dept. of Music, Univ. of Chicago


Posted on Friday, July 03, 2009 - 01:41 am:

For those of us who worked in classical radio, Norm was the ne plus ultra of the business. He was always a spirited member of panels at conferences, and even though I never lived in Chicago, I drew much inspiration from listening to him on cable and web streaming elsewhere.

Barbara A. Schoenecker
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 11:34 pm:

I met Norman a few years ago through my business dealings with Donald Knight. He was always full of life and a gentleman whenever our paths crossed.

My sincere sympathy to his family and Donald.

Barbara Schoenecker

william f Howard

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 10:57 pm:

when I returned from my military duty duringthe Korean war I was greeted by th newly found classical musicon WFMT and have beena listener ever since. Norman wil surly be missed lthough he was no longer on the air as a regular program host His Lyric Opera commentary an other special programs will be difficult to replace. Over 40 years of his work on WFMT will always be in my heart as the one person who helped me to love and enjoy the great classical composers and the music they gave us, Thank you Norman, you were a gift to chicago and the whole world of "Fine Arts broadcasting"

Charles Chi Halevi
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 10:49 pm:

If a radio station has a heart, Norm was its soul.

susan specter
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 10:00 pm:

I grew up in chicago with WFMT's midnight special. it has had a profound influence in my life and the life of my family. I trust that Norm has now joined my father Jerry Specter and his best friend Chuck Lippitz in midnight special heaven!


Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 09:54 pm:

I was saddened to hear that Norm Pellegrini died today. He was a voice I, and as I listened to the broadcast today, many others had grown up listening to. There was no mistaking his voice. It was always a pleasure to hear him over the airwaves. One of my immediate memories was his hosting the Midnight Special so many years ago. Of course in recent years it was a treat to hear him along with Lisa Flynn hosting the live Lyric broadcasts. He will be missed. Pass on my condolences to his family and, of course, to all of you at 'FMT who knew him so well.


Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 09:01 pm:

Oh, Norm! I didn't know you were leaving us or I would have been sure to press your hand warmly, as I did Ray Nordstrand's, to say that you cannot possibly imagine what an influence the Midnight Special had upon my family, and me in particular. Rockwell could have painted a picture of my parents and I clustered around the stereo, grinning at your wry wit, laughing at the comedy you played, savoring the voices you introduced us to, being stirred by the protest songs, falling in love with the Broadway tunes you chose. My father gave each of his childrens' intended spouses a copy of Nichols and May and Second City (Severin Darden) to listen to before any of us married, as a kind of code to understanding how we talk to one another. And--not least--you introduced me to klezmer music, which became my career and my fate. What can I say? My eyes tear up as I think of all the joy you brought to me and my family, and so many like us, and I hope many blessings buoy up your soul on its journey to the great beyond. Much, much love for all the good you did, and the way you did it.

John Urbikas

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 08:38 pm:

To me, he was truly "The Voice of WFMT"

Ed Manwell
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 06:57 pm:

I will genuinely miss Mr. Pellegrini. I loved his voice and it added a lot to my enjoyment of the Lyric Opera broadcasts. Condolences to his friends and family.

camille Stagg

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 06:30 pm:

I was very saddened this morning to hear the news about Norman Pellegrini. He has been a familiar voice in my family’s home, intelligently imparting his vast knowledge of classical music since I was a young girl (1950's), and my brother a young boy—-both of us taking piano lessons then. Our mother, Jeanette Stagg, was a fine pianist who played for ballet schools and the Chicago Park District, and she loved Norm's programs. WFMT was THE RADIO STATION in our house.

Fast forward to February 20, 2009: Norm read the Chicago Sun-Times obituary I wrote for my good friend Kaye Marsh (former wife of the late Dr. Robert C. Marsh, longtime music critic of the Chicago Sun-Times, and my former colleague), published that day. I sat behind Norm in the church during Kaye Marsh's funeral service, and we shook hands during part of the service.

An omen: Yesterday, I wrote Norm Pellegrini’s name on my July 2 appointment calendar--I had planned to write him a note today. I was hoping to meet him at an appropriate time so he could sign my copy of "150 Years of Opera Chicago", a book written and almost finished by Bob Marsh; Norm completed Bob's book after his death several years ago. Imagine my shock when I heard the tragic news on WFMT this morning!

Kaye told me that Norm called her and delivered one of the first copies of her late husband's book as soon as he received it; she admired and liked Norm very much and had mentioned his velvety voice and great wit. He was a kind, generous person and had an encyclopedic musical memory--quite a talent! She would be sad to hear today’s news.

My sincere condolences to WFMT and to Donald Knight. Norm’s legacy lives on, and we music lovers are grateful to him.

Camille Stagg, Food, Wine & Travel Journalist; Author; Teacher

Sally Peterson-Falzone
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 06:08 pm:

I saw the earlier comment about the switch from tapes to CDs, and remember Mr. Pellegrini attempting to play CDs in live programming one day, with less than stellar results. Within one program, there were two or three skips and misses, and he finally said, "Well, probably someday, but NOT today!"

I also remember his playing a particularly florid aria sung by Beverly Sills rather early in the morning on a day in 1973 or 1974. Because my old-fashioned clock radio was always set to wake me up to WFMT, this was the first thing I heard that morning. The trills and other vocal gymnastics were breathtaking but not a calm way to be awakened. When the aria was over, there were at least 15 seconds of total silence (I thought there had been an electrical glitch at the station), and then his deep voice said one word: "Sheeesh!" Which was exactly what I was thinking.

Keith Klodzen
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 05:45 pm:

I am sure there are many people who have mcuh more personal experiences and rememberances of Norm Pelligrini than I. My rememberance of Norm is of a voice. A voice that expressed a love of the music, the people who make the music and the radio station that allowed those who chose to listen to share his and their love of the world of classical music. That voice never preached, was never pedantic, never conveyed even the slightest hint of arrogance. That voice simply said, I love this music, I hope you do to, let's enjoy it together, I'll do my best to make it possible for you to hear the whole of the classical music spectrum for your listening pleasure. I've missed that voice as a regular part of WFMT for a long time. I saw Norm at a Winter Chamber Music Festival concert at Northwestern University a number of years back. Part of me wanted to thank him and tell him how much I enjoyed listening to him and WFMT. I didn't. I didn't feel it appropriate to intrude on his evening out. I often wondered, every time I've heard a Lyric Opera promo, how he felt afted the unfortunate spat that occured years ago with respect to the direction the station would take, particularly the announcer read advertisements. I felt so for him at the time, everything he worked tirelessly for was temporarily in turmoil and somehow he became a victim. I've missed that voice ever since then. For me something has been missing at WFMT since that to do and I think the unique and exceptionally special quality of his spirit, conveyed to me only by his voice, is what is missing. I'll miss that voice even more now.


Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 05:40 pm:

I was listening a long time ago, it was the moment of cd music. So Norm played a piece of music on tape and said listen to the same piece on cd. He commented after how you could sense the place the music was recorded. He played the Beethoven 5th Piano Contcerto back to back on Beethoven's birthday.

ken knops

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 05:24 pm:

Although Norman gave us many years of his knowledge, class and wit, we all will miss him on WFMT. I came to the Chicago area with my wife in 1960 and have constantly enjoyed Norman all these years. Especially his Lyric Opera broadcasts and were always thrilled to see him in the corridors at the opera house
Thank you for the repeat of his wonderful broadcasts over the years.

Warren Fremling

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 05:15 pm:

My memory of Mr. Pellegrini is hardly as profound as some others. I used to listen to him on The Midnight Special. A few years ago at a memorial for composer Hans Wurman I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Pellegrini. I approached him and introduced myself, he said, "Of course! I'm a fan. I've seen you many times with the Chicago Opera Theater." I was one of the founding members of COT, but I haven't sung in Chicago in years. That he would remember me, and even remember some of my roles and that he was a fan, well, he made me feel very, very good. That I remember about him - perhaps it is enough. He'll be missed indeed.

Elisabeth Matesky

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 05:12 pm:

For all WFMT Family & Listeners: Please accept my deepest sympathy on the loss of one of the mightiest musical forces in classical musical radio; for all musicians in our great musical organisations--the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Lyric Opera-- "Our" Norm Pellegrini. Norm was a classical person and one of the jewels in the musical crown for the City of Chicago and throughout America. He was a wonderful friend to me and a "cheerleader" of my work, granting me wonderful opportunities to perform and speak on WFMT from my arrival here in Chicago with the CSO under Solti. He cannot be replaced and his contribution to music and artists and true love for the above seems unmatched. I will deeply miss his presence. Condolences to his family and to Andy, Kerry Frumkin, Steve Robinson, Lisa Flynn, and all the great folks at his WFMT home...Elisabeth Matesky
Violinist/Artist Teacher of Violin/Musical Speaker


Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 04:51 pm:

This is very sad news indeed. I have loved the distinctive sound and programming of WFMT for many years, and I hope his legacy will endure many more.

Lorraine Brochu

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 04:13 pm:

The University of Chicago's Rockefeller Chapel owes Mr. Pellegrini a debt of thanks for unearthing a stash of 1960s recordings of its carillon, performed by his friend and University Carillonneur, Daniel Robins.

Penelope Johnson

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 03:50 pm:

It was with great sadness that we learned today of the death of our friend and colleague, Norm Pellegrini. He has been a good friend of The Women's Association of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for longer than we can remember. For years, his wonderful on-air personality and voice created the atmosphere of excitement that made our Symphonython(Radiothon, Marathon)fundraisers so successful. We all, staff and volunteers, felt priviledged to work with such a talented, intelligent, and generous man. We will miss him!

Magda Krance
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 03:09 pm:

A friend just posted this message on Facebook, which coincidentally seems just right as we remember Norman: "In spite of illness, in spite even of the arch enemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways." Edith Wharton US novelist (1862 - 1937) Words to live by.

Bill Buchman
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 03:07 pm:

I grew up hearing Norm's voice on the CSO broadcasts on WCLV in Cleveland. It was truly a great thrill for me to meet him at Ravinia in 1991 when I was subbing with the CSO. When I moved to town the following year I ended up literally across the street from Norm in the Gold Coast.
His voice somehow conveyed a love of the CSO and a deep enjoyment of the music he was introducing, and he spoke so fondly of the individuals in the orchestra while "narrating" the applause. I have missed that, and I will miss him. My condolences to Donald.

David Royko
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 02:59 pm:

Like virtually all Chicago area classical fans, Norm was simply a part of life, and his voice meant classical music to us. When I ended up working at WFMT (1979-1981), one of the many delights was finding Norman to be always--ALWAYS--excited and enthusiastic about music. He churned with enthusiasm--"You like that Martinu symphony? Have you heard any of Honegger's? You must hear his 5th!" I was happy to hear him keepin' on, doing the Lyric Opera commercials and CSO commercials in recent years. Norman, you were unique, and will be sorely missed.
Dave Royko

Peter Borich

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 02:51 pm:

This is really strange, but when I awoke this morning I had the Ingemisco from the Verdi Requiem running through my brain. This was odd as I had not recently listened to the Requiem.

When I arrived at work, and logged on to the WFMT stream, I soon learned of the sad passing of Maestro Pellegrini, who I grew up with on WFMT and had the pleasure of meeting on a couple of occasion. Minutes later, I then learned that the Ingemisco was one of his favorite pieces of music as it was played by Carl Grapentine. I could not help but cry through the playing of section as sung by Pavarotti in memory of one of my heroes.

Maestro Pelligrini had such a significant impact on my life, that I guess I received the message of his passing even before I knew it. A sad day indeed, but a time to celebrate a great man with a great vision of life as it ought to be.

David Vlcek

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 12:46 pm:

Growing up in the 60's and 70's, the weekly Wednesday afternoon re-broadcast of The Midnight Special was always on in my home. My dad would not let it be otherwise. Looking back, it now strikes me that The Midnight Special was not only way ahead of its time, but broader and edgier than anything to be found on commercial radio, anywhere. Even more, it was consistently entertaining, and always fascinating to hear how Norm and the other hosts managed to piece together such disparate selections into a single, entertaining whole that somehow really, really worked. It's regrettable that today there seems to be nobody out there on the radio taking such risks. Even if there were, I doubt they could create the sense of tangible joy that seemed to come through the radio speakers when Norm hosted.

Sarah Bryan Miller

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 12:41 pm:

I listened to Norm regularly from the time I moved to the Chicago area as a kid in the late 1960s until I moved away in 1998. Via WFMT's programming, he helped to shape my appreciation for music and the way in which I approach it. Norm's distinctive presence, voice, intelligence and wit will be sorely missed.

Sarah Bryan Miller
Classical Music Critic, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

John Gills
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 12:38 pm:

Pellegrini humor.

I especially enjoyed a New Year Special in the late 1960's when "The Midnight Special" was in Mr. Pellegrini's charge. As the evening, and festivities gained momentum, WFMT broadcast a public service announcement on the matter of food. I'm proud to say that the station came out four square in favor of food! A light moment that has stayed with me over forty years!

Sarah Bryan Miller
Unregistered guest

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 12:20 pm:

I listened to Norm regularly from the time I moved to the Chicago area as a kid in the late 1960s until I moved away in 1998. Via WFMT's programming, he helped to shape my appreciation for music and the way in which I approach it. Norm's distinctive presence, voice, intelligence and wit will be sorely missed.

Sarah Bryan Miller
Classical Music Critic, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Jamila Piracci

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 12:15 pm:

I am deeply saddened by our loss today. Norman and Donald have been dear to my husband and me since we moved to Chicago. Norman's hosting of the Lyric Opera productions were so wonderful. I learned so much from his commentary during the intermissions of operas I heard in my own living room. When I think of WFMT and its commitment to beautiful music, I think of Norman, his voice and his fine ear. Even more than this, I will miss Norman's person - the sound of his laughter, the dancing in his eyes, and the warmth of his spirit among us.

Hal Dvorin

Posted on Thursday, July 02, 2009 - 07:43 am:

I was saddened to hear of Norm Pellegrini's death this morning. I started listening to WFMT in 1953 as a high school freshman. This was the same year that Norm became Program Director. In the early days when broadcasting hour were very limited, he seemed to be on the air all the time. Norm had a wonderful "radio" voice...calm, reassuring, knowledgeable, erudite. I think he is the person most responsible for making WFMT the unique station it became and still is.

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