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ROGER DETTMER has been writing about music since 1946. It began with a review of Carmen excerpts, on RCA 78s, for a "Cincinnati Friends of Opera" newsletter. In 1948, prose began to pay with a program annotation for the Cincinnati Symphony and hasn't altogether stopped since. His keyboard time was spent annotating season programs by the Long Beach (CA) Symphony after the New York Chamber Symphony's demise, along with CD liners and web-engine program essays and performer profiles.
What goes around has seemed to come around. During the decades between program-note assignments, a three-year stint as music stringer for the sadly bygone New York Herald-Tribune led to a quarter-century as music, theater and recordings critic for the Chicago American/Today (1953-74), then briefly as theater critic for the Chicago Tribune (1974-6), before an enough-is-enough exit from daily journalism. A six-year tour as staff reviewer for Fanfare magazine (1980-6) helped fill the interval until he began to annotate the Seattle Symphony's Masterpiece programs in 1988 until 2000, and for six years was a part-time annotator for the Chicago Symphony. As a freelance writer throughout his career, RD contributed to pre-web publication sites as far-flung as New York, London, Honolulu, Helsinki and San Francisco. He reviewed recordings for High Fidelity, Japan's Recordo Geijutsu, Stereo Review, and Chicago Life magazines.
Legendary Hearstman Lee Ettelson taught him professional journalism. Vittorio Giannini taught him theory and composition (suggesting, however, that he not become a composer). Fritz Reiner and Janos Starker taught him professional performance standards. Eugene Ormandy unofficially adopted him. Georg Solti and Seiji Ozawa were "protégés," in the sense that RD's hard-nosed lobbying helped them to become directors of, respectively, the Chicago Symphony and the Ravinia Festival. Hemi-demi-semi-retired, Dettmer lives, listens, and word-processes in Maryland on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay.