Howard's Day Off

Saturdays 5-7 AM, Repeats Sunday 5-7pm on HPR-2


Howard Dicus can't play a musical instrument, and can't read music with any facility. But he spent much of his childhood playing his dad's 78 rpm jazz records, and singing with his brother and sisters, who could hear any song once or twice and sing it back in multi-part harmony. Though the family home was filled with music, exposure to classical music was limited to the usual (for babyboomers) soundtracks of movies and cartoons, and the very few classics his father acquired on record, including "The Nutcracker," "Gaite Parisienne," and "Peter and the Wolf."

As a teenager, checking out jazz records from the library, Howard discovered the Swingle Singers and the Jacques Loussier Trio swinging Bach, and it was a short step from there to the real thing. Around 1979, the development of the CD led to LPs on sale for $1.99, and a headlong self-guided tour of classical music ensued, completely out of order compared to what would be taught in a conservatory. Imagine someone who was familiar with Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony but not Haydn's "Miracle" Symphony! To fill in the gaps, Howard began reading scores of books on classical music. While still living in Washington D.C. he was a season subscriber to the National Symphony, and a violinist friend got him into rehearsals for the Richmond Symphony. Roped into serving on the board of the Washington Savoyard, he got a crash course on Gilbert & Sullivan, which continued into years as president of the little opera company. In the 1990s Howard also wrote articles about classical CDs for United Press International, and began filling in the gaps in his musical education.

At the end of 2000 Howard relocated permanently to Hawaiʻi and worked for Pacific Business News, where his assignments included writing and performing business reports that were given to Hawaiʻi Public Radio. A week of filling in for Gene Schiller on the latter's vacation whetted Howard's appetite for doing a classical music show on the radio, and when two hours came open on Saturday morning in 2006, Howard's offered to do a program. Howard's Day Off was born.

From the start the program was a sampler, featuring individual movements from longer works, exposing people with an interest in exploring classical music to as much of it as possible. Howard stretched the boundaries of such programming by sometimes dropping in non-classical music when it fit a show's theme. There was an entire show consisting of different versions of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" (that one drew a complaint) and a whole show on action sequences in movie music, and a whole show on "backtime instrumentals," records that radio stations used to use to fill time and join a network radio newscast.

Howard's Day Off has aired weekly since October 2006, with Howard coming in to do the show live unless he's going to be off-island, and recording a show when that happens. In 2007 Howard left Pacific Business News to work for "Sunrise," the morning news show on HawaiiNewsNow, and he writes a blog for the TV operation. Every Friday, the blog is an essay based on the content of that week's Day Off show. The 500th Howard's Day Off will air in 2016. You are invited to join the Howard's Day Off Listener Appreciation Society on Facebook.

Ways to Connect

Howard's Day Off - September 3 2016

Sep 3, 2016


:04—Lili Boulanger (1893-1918): “In an Old Garden,” 1914, Margot Dilmagliani, piano [Celebration 9900]. Younger sister of composer and teacher Nadia Boulanger. Died of Crohn’s Disease at 24.

:07—Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979): Three Pieces for Cello and Piano, “lively and nervous,” 1911, Nina Flyer, cello w/Chi Fim Lee, piano [Koch 7603]. Originally composed for organ.

Howard's Day Off - August 27 2016 (Embracing Changes)

Aug 27, 2016


:04—Gabriel Faure (1845-1924): Sicilienne from “Pelleas et Melissande,” 1898, Pierre-Alain Volondat, piano [Naxos 55341].

:07—Amy Beach (1867-1944): Improvisations, Op. 148, No. 1, lento, JoAnne Polk, piano [Arabesque 6721].

:10—Serge Prokofiev (1891-1953): Sinfonietta, Op. 5, opening move., Neeme Jarvi, Scottish National Orchestra [Chandos 10312].

:16—Dana Suesse, arr. Ferde Grofe (1909-1987): Concerto in Three Rhythms, middle move., “Blues: Adagio,” 1932, Richard Rosenberg, Hot Springs Music Festival Symphony [Naxos 559647].


:04—Franz von Suppe (1819-1895): “Light Cavalry Overture,” excerpt, 1866, Erich Kunzel, Cincinnati Pops [Telarc 80116].

:06—Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901): “La Donna e Mobile,” from “Rigoletto,” 1851, Andre Kostelanetz, Columbia Symphony [MDK 44999].

:08—Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868): “Figaro,” from “The Barber of Seville,” 1816,  Janos Starker, cello w/Shigeo Neriki, piano [Denon 17686].

:14—Claude Debussy (1862-1918): Arabesque No. 1, 1888, Nancy Allen, harp [Angel 33588].

Howard's Day Off - August 13 2016 (Longhair Swinging)

Aug 13, 2016


:04—Clare Fischer (1928-2012): “Quiet Dawn,” Clare Fischer Orchestra [Pacific Jazz 77].

:09—Charles Mingus (1922-1979): “The Soul,” from “Epitaph,” Gunther Schuller and Columbia Jazz Orchestra, 1990 [Columbia 45428].
:13—Kenny Werner (1951- ): “Nocturne,” 1991, Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra [MusicMasters 5054].

:22—Thad Jones (1923-1986): “Tiptoe,” 1970, Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, from the album “Consummation” [Blue Note 38226].



:04—Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788): Sinfonia in D, finale, Hartmut Haenschen, C.P.E. Bach Chamber Orchestra Brilliant 94821].
:08—Bela Bartok (1881-1945): Concerto for Orchestra, finale, 1943, Marin Alsop, Baltimore Symphony [Naxos 572486].

:19—Albert Roussel (1869-1937): Suite in F, finale, 1926, Stephane Deneve, Scottish National Orchestra [Naxos 570529].

:24—Serge Prokofiev (1891-1953): Symphony No. 4, third move., Neeme Jarvi, Scottish National Symphony [Chandos 8401].

Howard's Day Off - July 30 2016

Jul 30, 2016


:04—Julius Roentgen (1855-1932): “Sinfonietta humoristica,” finale, David Porcelijn, Rhineland Philharmonic [CPO 777 308]. A German-born composer who settled in Amsterdam.

:11—Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978): Sym. No. 1, 1934, first move., Loris Tjeknavorian, Armenian Philarmonic [ASV 858].


:30—Francis Chagrin (1905-1972): Sym. No. 1, 1959, finale, Martyn Brabbins, BBC Symphony [Naxos 571371]. A Romanian who wound up in London with the BBC French service.


:04—Gerry Mulligan, arr. Brad Dechter: “Line for Lyons,” Protosynthesis [RCA Victor 60460].

:10—Ravel arr. Balakrishnan: “Tortured Mother Goose,” Turtle Island String Quartet [Koch 7529].

:17—Pacquito D’Rivera (1948- ): “Tropical Aires,” second move., Imani Winds [Koch 7599].

:23—Pacquito D’Rivera (1948- ): “Wapango,” Turtle Island String Quartet, with D’Rivera on clarinet [Koch 7529]


:30—Dave Brubeck (1920-2012): “Two-Part Contention,” Dave Brubeck, piano, [Columbia/Lecgacy 65722].


:04—Frederick Delius (1862-1934): Double Concerto, last move., 1915, Tasmin Little, violin; Paul Watkins, cello; Andrew Davis, BBC Symphony [Chandos 5094].

:08—Alan Hovhaness (1911-2000): Guitar Concerto No. 2, 1985, fourth move., Javier Calderon w/Stewart Robertson, Scottish National Orchestra [Naxos 559336].

:13—Paul Creston (1906-1985): Trombone Concerto, middle move., 1947, Christian Lindberg, trombone w/James DePreist, Malmo Symphony[BIS 628].


:04—Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943): Prelude in E major, Op. 32, Alexander Budyonny, piano [TB 527398].

:07—Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943): Sym. No. 1, Op. 13, second move., Vladimir Ashkenazy, Concertgebouw Amsterdam [London 411 657].

:16—Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943): Sym. No. 1, Op. 13, fourth move., Leonard Slatkin, Detroit Symphony [Naxos 573234].


:31—Richard Wagner (1813-1883): Overture to “The Flying Dutchman,” 1843, Neville Marriner, Minnesota Orchestra [Telarc 80083].


:04—Ingolf Dahl (1912-1970): Intermezzo from Music for Brass Instruments, New World Brass [Argo 444 459]. Longtime professor at UCLA, Dahl wrote a lot of music for winds.

:08—Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904): Serenade in D minor for Winds, first move., members of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields [Philips 400 020].

:13—Leos Janacek (1854-1928): Sinfonietta, first move., Simon Rattle, Philharmonia Orchestra [EMI 47048]. One of the brassiest pieces in the whole of the classical literature.

Howard's Day Off - June 25 2016 (Neglect)

Jun 25, 2016


:04—John Field (1782-1837): Nocturne No. 13 in D minor, c. 1830, John O’Conor, piano [Telarc 80199].

:08—Amy Beach (1867-1944): Piano Quintet in F sharp minor, finale, Diana Ambache, Ambache Quintet [Chandos 9752].

:18—William Lloyd Webber (1914-1982): “Aurora,” Lorin Maazel, London Philharmonic [Philips 420 342].


:30—Roy Harris (1898-1979): Violin Concerto, 1949, Gregory Fulkerson, violin w/Lawrence Leighton Smith, Louisville Orchestra [Albany 012].



:04—Philip Glass (1937- ): Symphony No. 3, finale, 1995, Marin Alsop, Bournemouth Symphony [Naxos 559202].

:08—Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975): Symphony No. 8, second move., 1941, Bernard Haitink, Concertgebouw Amsterdam [London 411 616].

:10—Claude Debussy (1862-1918): Quartet in G, second move., 1893, Emerson String Quartet [DG 445 509].

:14—Maurice Ravel (1875-1937): Quartet in F, second move., 1903, [Delos 3004].


:04—Modest Moussorgsky (1839-1881) arr. Ravel: “The Hut on Fowls’ Legs,” and “The Great Gate of Kiev,” from “Pictures at an Exhibition,” Neeme Jarvi, Chicago Symphony [Chandos 8849].
:13—Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827): Sym. No. 5, Op. 67, third and fourth moves.,  Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic [SXK 47645].


:30—Mily Balakirev (1836-1910): Sym. No. 1, third and fourth moves., Igor Golovschin, Russian State Symphony [Naxos 550792].


:04—Johannes Brahms (1833-1897): Sym. No. 1, Op. 68, third move., 1876, Gunter Wand, North German Radio Symphony [ProArte 006].

:09—Johannes Brahms (1833-1897): Sym. No. 1, Op. 68, first move., 1876, Evgeny Svetlanov, USSR Academic Symphony [Melodiya 245].

:26—Johannes Brahms (1833-1897): Sym. No. 1, Op. 68, first move., 1876, Roger Norrington, London Classical Players [EMI 54286].


Howard's Day Off - May 28 2016 (Show #500)

Jun 7, 2016


:04—Paul Hindemith (1895-1963): “Mathis der Maler,” middle movement, 1934,  Leonard Bernstein, Israel Philharmonic [DG 429 404].

:09—Paul Hindemith (1895-1963): “Noble Vision,” 1st move., 1937, Werner Andreas Albert, Queensland Sym. [CPO 999 004].

:17—Paul Hindemith: Symphony in E flat, middle move., 1940, Yan Pascal Tortelier, BBC Philharmonic [Chandos 9060].

:26—Paul Hindemith: Concert Music for Strings & Brass, finale, 1930, Jiri Belohlavek, Czech Phil. [Chandos 9457].



:04—Paul McCartney (1942- ): “Lament,” from “Behold My Heart,” 2006, Gavin Greenaway, Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields with The London Voices [Angel 70424].

:08—Paul McCartney (1942- ): “A Leaf,” 1999, Lawrence Foster, London Symphony [EMI 56897].

:19—Karl Jenkins (1944- ): “La Folia” (“The Leaf”), Concerto for Marimbas and Strings, entire, 2004, Neil Percy, marimba, w/Karl Jenkins, London Symphony [EMI 00235]. Based on a work by Arcangelo Corelli.


Howard's Day Off - May 14 2016 (Great Stories)

Jun 5, 2016


:04—Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951): String Quartet No. 2, third move., 1908, New Vienna String Quartet [Philips 289 464 046]. 

:10—Vincent D’Indy (1851-1931): “Symphony on a French Mountain Air,” middle move., 1886, Charles Dutoit, Montreal Symphony [London 430 278).

:13—Cesar Franck (1822-1890): Violin Sonata in A, fourth move., 1886, Midori w/Robert McDonald, piano [SK 63331].

:20—Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750): “The Art of the Fugue,” unfinished fugue,  Zoltan Kocsis, piano [Philips 412 729].


Howard's Day Off - May 7 2016

Jun 5, 2016


:04—Chopin: Nocturne in C sharp minor, Op. post., No. 20, Daniel Pollack, piano [QK 64373].

:09--Chopin: Nocturne in C sharp minor, Op. post., No. 20, Jacques Loussier, piano [Telarc 83602].

:11—Chopin: Nocturne in D flat, Op. 27, No. 2, Daniel Barenboim, piano [DG 289 453 022].

:18—Chopin: Nocturne in D flat, Op. 27, No. 2, Jacques Loussier, piano [Telarc 83602].

:23—Chopin: Nocturne in F sharp minor, Op. 15, No. 2, Jeffrey Schwann, piano [Italian scholastic recording].

Howard's Day Off - April 30 2016

Apr 30, 2016


:04—Carl Nielsen (1865-1931): Symphony No. 3, “Sinfonia espansiva,” second move., excerpt, 1912, track 4, 10:09 Myung-Whun Chung, Gothenburg Symphony [BIS 321]. Nielsen allows the soprano to be replaced by a fourth clarinet and the baritone by a fourth trombone.

:06—Maurice Ravel (1875-1937): “Daphnis et Chloe,” track 23, 3:57, Charles Munch, Boston Symphony Orchestra, w/Robert Shaw, New England Conservatory Chorus and Alumni Chorus [RCA Red Seal 61388].

Despite studying journalism in high school – I was editor of my high school newspaper – my first inspiration to break into broadcasting was that I thought it would be fun to be a deejay. I got sidetracked into radio news instead, liked it, and am happily doing broadcast news 46 years later. My career started in 1970 and when I moved full-time to Hawaiʻi at the end of 2000, I had never actually worked as a deejay and I had never worked in television. HPR made both things possible.

Howard's Day Off - April 23 2016

Apr 23, 2016


:04—Jennifer Higdon (1962- ): “Concerto for Orchestra,” second move., 2002, track 2, 4:38, Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony [Telarc 80602].

:09—Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967): “Concerto for Orchestra,” first move., 1940, track 7, 3:39, Janos Ferencsik, Hungarian State Orchestra [Hungaroton 12190]. Written four years before Bartok’s work.

:13—Michael Torke (1961- ): “Concerto for Orchestra,” 3rd/4th/5th moves., 2014, tracks 3+4+5, 4:01+2:49+1:51=8:41, Vasily Petrenko, Liverpool Philharmonic [Ecstatic Records 92261].

Howard's Day Off - April 16 2016

Apr 16, 2016


:04—Gabriel Faure (1845-1924): Fileuse from “Pelleas et Melissande,” Op. 80, track 2, 2:33, Seiji Ozawa, Boston Symphony [DG 423 089].

:08—Max Reger (1873-1916): “Easter,” from Seven Organ Pieces, Op. 145, track 7, 3:46, Edgar Krapp, organ [Naxos 557891].


:12—Max Reger (1873-1916): Fugue on a Theme of Mozart, Op. 132, track 10, 10:05, Franz-Paul Decker, New Zealand Symphony [Naxos 553079]. A big man who wrote big music, organlike regardless of whether it was written for organ or not.

Howard's Day Off - April 9 2016

Apr 9, 2016


:04—Nicolas Flagello (1928-1994): “Sea Cliffs,” 1957, track 5, 3:25, David Amos, Slovak Radio Symphony of Bratislava [Naxos 559148].

:08—Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006): Serenade for Small Orchestra, first move., 1950, track 1, 4:11, Donald Barra, San Diego Chamber Orchestra [Koch 7134].

:13—Conrad Pope: “Vermeer’s Theme,” from “Tim’s Vermeer,” track 1, 2:58, [Milan 6675].

:16—Maurice Ravel (1875-1937): “Jeux d’eau,” track 5, 5:27, Martha Argerich, piano [DG 447 430].

Howard's Day Off - April 2 2016

Apr 5, 2016


:04—Roy Harris (1898-1979): “Recreation,” from Piano Suite, 1944, track 3, 3:20, Richard Zimdars, piano [Albany 105]. Quotes “London Bridge is Falling Down” and alludes to other tunes.

:08—Roy Harris (1898-1979): “Streets of Laredo,” from “American Ballads, Set 1, 1946, track 9, 2:06, Geoffrey Burleson, piano [Naxos 559664].


:11—Roy Harris (1898-1979): Sym. No. 4, “Folk Song Symphony,” 1939, third move., “Interlude: Dance Tunes for String & Percussion,” track 4, 3:03, Marin Alsop, Colorado Symphony [Naxos 559227].

Howard's Day Off - March 26 2016

Mar 26, 2016


:04—Georg Druschetzky (1745-1919): Andante from Concerto for Seven Timpani, Alexander Peter, Dresden Philharmonic [Naxos 8.5576110].

:08—Beethoven (1770-1827): Eroica Symphony, excerpt from funeral march, Roger Norrington, London Classical Players [EMI 49101]. Beethoven used timpani for mainly emphasis.

:10—Brahms (1833-1897): Sym. No. 1, opening, track 1, Guinter Wand, North German Radio Symphony [ProArte 006]. Brahms used timpani sparingly except in the start of his first symphony when I think he wanted to depict the tread of a giant.

Howard's Day Off - March 19 2016

Mar 19, 2016


:04—Gabriel Pierne (1863-1937): Impromptu-Caprice, Op. 9, Judy Loman, harp [Naxos 554561].

:10—Gabriel Pierne (1863-1937): “The Convent,” from “Ramuntcho,” 1908, Juanjo Mena, BBC Philharmonic [Chanos 10633]. Incidental music to a play.

:14—Gabriel Pierne (1863-1937): Free Variations and Finale, Op. 51, Netherlands Harp Ensemble (harp, flute, violin, viola, cello.) [Etcetera 1021].

Howard's Day Off - Saturday March 12 2016

Mar 12, 2016


:04—Erik Satie (1866-1925): “En habit de chavel,” finale, 1911, Michel Plasson, Toulouse Capitol Orchestra [EMI 49471]. One of the few works Satie orchestrated himself. The work has themes that sound like fugue subjects but Satie didn’t develop them. He said the artist is not entitled to waste the public’s time.

:07—Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951): Suite for String Orchestra in G, 1934, finale, John Mauceri, Berlin Radio Symphony [London 448 619[.

Howard's Day Off - Saturday March 5 2016

Mar 5, 2016


:04—Zdenek Fibich (1850-1900): “Moonlit Night,” from “Impressions from the Countryside,” Op. 54, 1898, Marek Stilec, Czech National Symphony [Naxos 572985]. Fibich’s father was a Czech forester, but his mother was Viennese, and Fibich was regarded as less Czech than that of Smetana or Dvorak, to the detriment of his reputation at a time of Czech nationalism. His music criticism was more to blame for this than his music. He wrote Czech-sounding tone poems before Smetana did.