Studs Terkel spoke to some of the greatest musicians of his time. Now you can listen to their conversations online.

By Stephen Raskauskas |

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Studs Terkel

Studs Terkel

Between 1952 and 1997, Studs Terkel invited some of the world’s best musicians to join him for his hour-long radio program on WFMT. Though Studs left us in 2008 at the young age of 96, WFMT has continued to share some of his fascinating programs on The Best of Studs Terkel every Friday night. Now, you don’t need to wait until Fridays to get your fix: the Studs Terkel Radio Archive has made over 1,200 programs available to the public at studsterkel.org, and the digital library is growing every day. Here are some highlights from the archive that classical music and operas lovers won’t want to miss.

Renée Fleming (Photo: Andrew Eccles)

American soprano Renee Fleming discusses how she prepares for a role, as well as her transformation from young singer to prima donna in this interview. Originally aired February 12, 1996.

Soprano Mirella Freni explores her favorite roles and her relationships with renowned conductors and stage directors such as Herbert von Karajan and Giorgio Strehler. Originally aired October 10, 1979.

Anna Moffo, soprano, reveals the path that led her to sing opera professionally, and discusses the breadth of her repertoire from the titles roles in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor to Bizet’s Carmen. Originally aired May 11, 1978.

Contralto Marian Anderson (Photo: Van Vechten Collection at Library of Congress)

Studs speaks with two ground-breaking African American musicians who both happen to be from Philadelphia: contralto Marian Anderson, and conductor James De Preist. Originally broadcast in 1966.

Renowned tenor Luciano Pavarotti talks about his upbringing in a musical family, his career on the concert stage as well as the opera stage, and he answers the question “Who is Pavarotti?” Originally aired November 20, 1975.

English dramatic soprano Jane Eaglen discusses her career singing diverse operatic repertoire, from Mozart to Wagner, saying, “there is no excuse – in my opinion – for singing anything not beautifully.” Originally recorded March 26, 1996.

Gian Carlo Menotti

Italian-American composer and librettist Gian Carlo Menotti recalls his start in music, recounts his first arrival to the USA, and discusses his works in this conversation with Studs which originally aired March 20, 1981.

Italian-born American soprano Licia Albanese discusses her approach to portraying the title role in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, her pre-performance preparations, and advice to young new opera singers, in a conversation originally broadcast February 27, 1960.

One of the premiere Heldentenors of his time, Jon Vickers speaks with Studs during his time at Lyric Opera of Chicago performing the title role in Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes. Originally broadcast October 11, 1974.


Editor’s note: WFMT has removed the link to Plácido Domingo’s 1979 conversation with Studs Terkel in light of the multiple accusations of sexual harassment leveled against him. Domingo’s conversation with Studs can still be accessed and streamed online at the Studs Terkel Radio Archive.