Y-H-B was recently interviewed by the Director of Programming at Vermont Public Radio for the position of part-time morning host on VPR Classical. Needless to say, he didn’t get the job. The successful candidate was a woman with an utterly colorless voice and standard diction. As is so often the case with such announcers on classical radio stations, however, this host is clearly not a speaker of any of the foreign languages such a person constantly encounters in announcing composers and titles of works, a knowledge of which is useful in pronouncing the composers names and the titles of their compositions correctly.
One such example of the latter deficit occurred this morning when the woman pronounced the second word in the title of Felix Mendelssohn’s Rondo brillant for Piano & Orchestra in E flat major, Op. 29 as [ˈbril-yənt], exactly synonymous with the English word (but note the different spellings), despite the fact that this title is meant to be pronounced à la française, i. e. with a nasal vowel in the second syllable. Not knowing how to say this foreign item correctly is a sign of rank incompetence, equivalent to making a grammatical mistake in one’s own native language. But such is the usual pattern among almost all classical music hosts: they have no command of any language other than English, and there is no practical recourse to a remedy. Tant pis!