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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2016 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Mighty Have Fallen

J & R Music World Shuts its Doors. 
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Requesciat in pace: J & R Music World

Last year on Superconductor I ran a story about the dwindling list of brick-and-mortar stores left in New York to buy classical music on CD. Yesterday, we lost another one.

J & R Music (and Computer) World, which started as a basement record story and evolved into a  block-long multi-story music and electronics emporium selling everything from blenders to MacBook Pros has shuttered its doors as of Wednesday. They join a long list of closed music retailers: Virgin MegaStore, Tower Records, HMV and Sam Goody to name just a few.


The owners, Joe and Rachelle Friedman have promised to redevelop the space into an "unprecedented retail concept and social mecca," whatever that may mean. But the enormous mom-and-pop operation--that for decades included the best-stocked and best-run classical music department in this city is effectively over and done with.


As a consumer, I hadn't had much use for J & R since last year, when the company abruptly shuttered its store selling recorded media. No, it's been a long time since I made the climb up that torturous staircase and gorged on boxed sets of Bach or Beethoven, or maybe a new Ring Cycle. In fact the last thing I bought there was the zippered case for my IPad, called a book-book. I bought it before buying the Pad later that day uptown.

I remember blowing back into New York City once on a trip to Canada and picking up the DG Originals version of the Karajan Ring as a self-birthday present. I was thrilled though less so when I got the credit card bill. And there were many happy visits to the store which always resulted in a neatly wrapped, taped paper bag with the precious discs inside tucked under my arm as I jumped down the subway to get home and listen to my new purchase.

I remember being able to use J & R's wildly low prices and excellent selection to build a reference library of music in my home--and to buy the stereo that played them. OK. That was two stereos ago but who's counting? I even bought my first iPod there.

They had everything there. Hard copies of obscure albums of music by composers you'd never heard of. The latest new releases and remasters, important things for those of us whose collections were entirely based on the compact disc. Most importantly, the employees actually knew, loved and cared about music. In the classical and opera department where you could spend hours engaging in debate and occasionally hearing dirty jokes about RenĂ© Kollo.

This year, I'm still getting some music for my birthday. But like most of us, it will come from the warehouses of Amazon.com.
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.