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Luciano Pavarotti: A Beautiful Voice Is Silenced

A listener in Russia asks what are America's most respected and least respected professions. And the 50th anniversary of Jack Kerouac's book ''On The Road.'' Transcript of radio broadcast:


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

We listen to opera music by Luciano Pavarotti …

Answer a question about the most respected professions …

And report about the anniversary of a famous American book.

"On The Road"


Last week was the fiftieth anniversary of an extremely popular book by American writer Jack Kerouac. "On The Road" was first published on September fifth, nineteen fifty-seven. Reports say almost one hundred thousand copies of the book are sold in the United States every year. Shirley Griffith has more.


Some critics considered Jack Kerouac a great writer. Others did not. But one thing is sure--young people loved "On The Road." The book is about two young men who travel back and forth across the United States, exploring new places and meeting new people. Their names are Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarity. The characters in the book are like Jack Kerouac and his friends.

Jack Kerouac did, in fact, travel across America several times in the late nineteen forties and early nineteen fifties. He traveled to almost every state in the United States and in Mexico. Often he hitch-hiked: he just asked people for a ride in their car. Sometimes he traveled with his friend Neal Cassady.

Jack Kerouac wrote "On The Road" in just three weeks in nineteen fifty-one. He typed it on several long pieces of paper that he connected to form a continuous document about thirty-six meters long. It took six years for the book to be published. But it immediately became a best-seller. One critic said "One the Road" was about all things American: individualism, the pioneer spirit, jazz, even apple pie.

Here, Jack Kerouac reads from his famous work:

JACK KEROUAC: "There he goes, Dean Moriarity, ragged in a moth eaten overcoat that he brought specially for the freezing temperatures of the East. Walking off alone, the last I saw of him, he rounded a corner of Seventh Avenue. Eyes on the street ahead, intent to it again. Gone!"

But Kerouac could not deal with the success and fame resulting from his book. He also could not deal with the way he believed his writing was misunderstood. He drank too much alcohol and died in nineteen sixty-nine at the age of forty-seven.

Six years ago, American businessman Jim Irsay bought Kerouac's original typed "On The Road" for more than two million dollars. It was shown all across the United States. Now, for the anniversary, it is being shown in Jack Kerouac's hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts.

Experts say Jack Kerouac's writing helped start the rebellious movement of American young people in the nineteen sixties. They also say young people today still read and enjoy "On The Road," but are not influenced to leave college and travel as Kerouac did.

Respectable Professions


Our VOA listener question this week comes from Moscow, Russia. Andy Martynyuk wants to know which professions in America are thought to be the most and least respected. You might be surprised by some of the results.

For thirty years, the research company Harris Interactive has carried out public opinion studies about which professions Americans respect. This year, they spoke to more than one thousand American adults by telephone. The results show that the most respected careers are not the ones that earn the most money. They are the professions that involve providing an important service to help society.

The researchers asked people which jobs they thought held very great respect. Sixty-one percent of the people listed firefighters as the most respected career. Scientists and teachers were next with fifty-four percent. The number of people who think teachers have jobs that people respect increased twenty-five points since the study started in nineteen seventy-seven.

Fifty-two percent of the people questioned said military officers and doctors had jobs worthy of great respect. Real estate agents who sell houses were at the very bottom of the list. Actors and bankers were the other two least respected professions. The Special English staff could not help but notice that reporters were very low on the list with only a thirteen percent rating.

U.S News and World Report magazine made a list of careers it thinks may seem exciting and rewarding but are less so in reality. These include advertising professionals, lawyers, and cooks. For example, the report says it might seem like fun to cook good foods for people in a restaurant. But many professional chefs have very repetitive duties and work very late hours.

Luciano Pavarotti


Luciano Pavarotti was considered by many critics and music fans to be the greatest opera singer of the twentieth century. He died last week in his hometown of Modena, Italy, at the age of seventy-one. He had battled pancreatic cancer for more than a year. Steve Ember plays some of his music.


Luciano Pavarotti was born near Modena in nineteen thirty-five. His father was a baker who loved to sing. As a child, Luciano listened to many great Italian opera singers in his father’s record collection. He began performing when he was nine years old.

Pavarotti started voice lessons ten years later. Another student at the school was his childhood friend Mirella Freni. Years later they performed together. Upon news of his death, Freni said: “The world has lost a great tenor, but I’ve lost a great friend, a brother.”

Here Luciano Pavarotti and Mirella Freni sing "Viene la Sera" from the opera "Madama Butterfly" by Giacomo Puccini.


Pavarotti sang many other kinds of songs besides opera. He sang with famous pop, rock and jazz singers. He recorded Christmas songs, Italian folk songs and other kinds of music.

Pavarotti also made popular recordings with two other famous opera singers, Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo. The group became known as the Three Tenors. This song is from their first show in Rome, Italy. Listen as Pavarotti sings “Rondine al Nido.”


Some people criticized Luciano Pavarotti for extending his music beyond the limits of opera. But many opera lovers and experts were thankful for his common touch. James Levine of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City said Pavarotti's singing “spoke right to the hearts of listeners, whether they knew anything about opera or not.”

We leave you with Luciano Pavarotti singing what is probably his most famous opera song, “Nessun Dorma,” from Giacomo Puccini’s opera "Turandot."



I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. It was written by Dana Demange, Nancy Steinbach and Caty Weaver, who also was our producer.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.