On Sunday 10 September, Podium Klassiek opened the season in a very stripped-down version. Floris Kortie was all alone. In the world of public broadcasting and classical music, where things are usually fixed three years in advance, something was up. I felt an end approaching.
Podium Witteman had become a fixture here at home. None of us here are huge connoisseurs of classical music, let alone that world, but for that very reason it was nice to sit down with Grandpa Witteman, the somewhat morose Uncle Boddé and the creative adhd nephew Floris Kortie. They had become family.
All in the family
Then Grandpa Witteman stopped and we held our hearts. After all, the strength of the programme with Grandpa was his love of music, combined with a total discomfort in dealing with weird guests and the tomfoolery that Cousin Kortie in particular provided. A kind of Seinfeld/All in the Family, but with cello and piano, without Edith.
There was enough disruption to allow for poignancy when yet another artist performed with such presence that it filled the living room even through the TV.
After Grandpa left, Aunt Dieuwertje would occasionally visit, but never really wholeheartedly. Cousin and Uncle had built up an interesting kind of society with each other, but without Grandpa's stern influence, their mutual irritations sometimes began to become noticeable. Dieuwertje remained uneasy, and was regularly elsewhere. She didn't really get into it.
Uncle Boddé was increasingly out of control of himself, his poignancy became less and less palpable, and the discomfort became more noticeable in the final broadcasts before summer this year.
An empty house
And now the season opened yesterday with only Floris Kortie. Mike Boddé has taken the wise decision to work on himself for a while. 'At least until December,' Kortie said in his announcement. Dieuwertje Blok will not return, but will come up with her own programme in the spring. In it, she will visit classical ensembles, we understood.
There stood Floris, after an amusing intro in which board cardboard instruments had set a nice Picasso-esque mood: wood-piece, I would say now, because it seems we have begun the last six months of Podium Klassiek, formerly Witteman. Because that's how hares run in Hilversum.
It is, of course, only a completely wet-fingered assumption, but if there has apparently been no real serious search for a replacement for Dieuwertje, as a bridge to the older generations, and if the departure of musician and bourgondian-with-heavy-mindedness Mike Boddé could not be accommodated, we seem to have entered a death house.
So I say 'seem' emphatically, because in Hilversum, you never know. That they continue until December also speaks for itself. Anyway, agreements have been made with artists and ensembles, airtime and recording space have been reserved. Stopping right away would only cost money.
What next? Will Podium Klassiek be replaced by Blokje Klassiek in January? What will happen to house orchestra Fuse then? And what will Floris be allowed to do? Floris is just that VPRO-like disruptor a classical programme needs to keep people outside the bubble interested too. Just doing silly and embarrassing things.
And especially don't replace him with an instagrammable muscleman with a snazzy baton. Although that will probably be better for the ratings.
We will see. Probably I will be wrong. Hopefully Kortie will prove he has a longer right to that time slot on early Sunday night. It is his due.