On All Classical’s “Noteworthy,” Lynnsay Maynard Reveals Hidden Links Between Books and Music

“My parents have always joked that I would bring hardback books into my crib with me instead of dolls.”

Some people, like All Classical Portland host Lynnsay Maynard, are simply born with a passion for reading and books.

“My parents have always joked that I would bring hardback books into my crib with me instead of dolls,” Maynard says, laughing. “But honestly, [reading] is one of the biggest loves of my life.” And she has carried that interest in the written word with her at All Classical, the internationally recognized radio station where she can be heard regularly in the wee hours of weekday mornings from 2 to 6.

When Maynard interviewed for the on-air position, she pitched the idea for a program that would explore the connections between classical music and literature—pieces of music inspired by prose or poetry, novels and plays influenced by symphonies or operas.

That concept became Noteworthy, a weekly program hosted and produced by Maynard that airs Sundays at noon. As promised, each episode tugs on a thread tying together music and literature through a selection of classical pieces and readings of poems or short passages.

For example, the debut episode, which aired in late October, explores Frédéric Chopin’s 24 Preludes, a series of short piano pieces that the composer partly wrote while living in Majorca with lover George Sand. Maynard played segments of the musical cycle as well as readings from Briefly, A Delicious Life, Nell Stevens’ novel told from the perspective of a ghost who falls in love with Sand.

A more recent installment wrapped together music that Johannes Brahms and Gustav Holst wrote for universities in the literary genre known as the campus novel, referencing Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim and Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow.

The depth and range of each episode of Noteworthy that has aired so far is fairly typical of All Classical’s programming, but feels even more impressive when you consider that Maynard is an autodidact when it comes to her interests in music and literature.

“A lot of people who work in this field have played an instrument or grew up in a house where Mom and Dad loved classical music,” she says. “I don’t have either of those in my pocket. I don’t play an instrument. I can’t read music. And my parents were the James Taylor, Carole King crowd. The way I really started to connect with the music was looking up stories about the composers and stories about their lives and how they got inspiration for the pieces.”

Though Maynard’s résumé includes work at other noncommercial radio stations like Seattle’s KUOW and Maine Public Radio, her day job until recently was working as a therapist. Her new full-time gig at All Classical and being able to work on Noteworthy are clearly a balm to her, especially after she became burned out on her previous profession during the pandemic.

Ever since getting the go-ahead for the show, Maynard has dived into the production with a particular zeal, speed reading new books for potential inclusion and doing research. As a result, she says she has already mapped out the next three months of programs.

On deck in the coming weeks are an examination of grief via the work of Beethoven and Joan Didion, and a show focused on the Harlem Renaissance. Also, Maynard is hoping to start featuring conversations with local authors and those visiting Portland on book tours.

It’s not difficult to get swept up in Maynard’s enthusiasm as she talks about the future of Noteworthy. I left our short phone call with a list of books and authors to search for at the library and pieces of music to track down—and I’m by no means on my own on this. Even after only a month, listeners to All Classical have been exuberant in their praise for Noteworthy and the show’s host.

“I’ve been pretty blown away by the feedback,” Maynard says. “People are overwhelmingly really, really liking the show. I just got an email from a listener today that said she’s been putting a spreadsheet together of all the books that are referenced on Noteworthy because she wants to add them to her ‘to be read’ list. As a fellow reader, that’s a pretty big compliment.”

LISTEN: Noteworthy airs at noon every Sunday on All Classical Portland 89.9 FM.