Robert S. Winter Jr.


In the late 1980s, following the introduction of the Macintosh computer and cd rom technology, Robert Winter used the Hypercard program developed by Apple to create a highly successful collection of programs. They received acclaim and awards and were enthusiastically reviewed by major publications. He later started his own company, Calliope and launche the CD "Crazy for Ragtime." Sadly as the Mac operating system evolved, Apple ceased to support Hypercard and Script X and sventually all of these outstanding programs ceased to run on current machines. Robert moved on to other projects. More recently he has founded ArtInteractive, Inc. and launched his online music book, Music in the Air, MITA. This book sets a new standard in music education. The English version is available and the Chinese version will be available soon.

In the interest of providing some record of Robert Winter's ground breaking contributions, I have created this page dedicated to his cd rom work.

The first in this series of programs was The CD-Companion to Beethhoven’s Ninth Symphony. Regarded as the first commerically viable cd-rom, The CD-Companion to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony by Robert Winter was published by The Voyager Company in November 1989. Others in the series were The CD-Companion to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and CD-Companion to Dvorak's New World Symphony.The links below from Bob Stein, founder of Voyager, publisher of the first consumer CDROM title, provide previews of these programs.


—The CD-Companion to Beethhoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Click the black and white image below to view a short preview of the program.

Click the colored image below to view a very detailed demonstration of the program which includes most of the information in the program.

Important to let the program run past the musical introduction inorder to see the program at work. While you will not have any control over the program, the demonstration will provide you access to much of the information in the program. You will have to sometimes use the pause button to read a page before it advances.

—The CD-Companion to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.


Another in the CD Companion Series done by Robert Winter was The Rite of Spring. Click the picture below for a preview.



Below is box art for the CD, "The Rite of Spring".

Installation Guide can be seen here.

—The CD-Companion to Dvorak’s New World Symphony.


Another in the CD Companion Series done by Robert Winter was The New World Symphony. Click the picture below for a preview.


—CD-Companion to Mozart’s Dissonant Quartet


Another in the CD Companion Series done by Robert Winter was Mozart's Dissonant Quartet. Click the picture below for a preview.


Robert Winter formed a company Calliope and released in 1996 the CD, Crazy for Ragtime. The artwork for the box was very creative. Views of the box are shown below.

Two Versions of the front of the CD box are shown above

Only one version of the back, above, from my box, has been found.

The four ends of the box are above.

A review of this CD appeared in the CyberTimes section of the New York Times. Here is the article

June 4, 1996

The Ragtime Life, on CD-ROM


Robert Winter, a professor of music at the University of California at Los Angeles, has been a pioneer in the field of music-oriented multimedia software on CD-ROM. His programs about Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring," among others, were among the first to hint at the ways multimedia presentations might work in music education. But they seemed limited by the hardware and software of the era.

Now Dr. Winter has returned with an even more ambitious program, Crazy for Ragtime (Calliope Media, for Windows and Macintosh, about $40). The CD-ROM is crammed to the gills with information on just about every aspect of the musical craze that swept the nation early in the 20th century. But like most CD-ROM's aiming at comprehensiveness, this one seems to offer both too much and not enough. There is a stunning amount of information on this disk, but much of it is shallow, pedantic, awkward or only marginally relevant. And maddeningly inconsistent user interfaces are likely to keep you from singing along.

Like most CD-ROM's, this one lets you wander about at will, but a logical place to start is the section called "The Ragtime Craze." This is basically an illustrated lecture on the history of ragtime by Dr. Winter, whose blithe overenthusiasm kept reminding me of the magician Doug Henning. The entire sequence takes about an hour if you let the professor keep talking, but you can zip along much faster by clicking a button and reading his lines on the screen.

Dr. Winter's view of ragtime cuts a wider swath than many purists would allow. It includes not only the classic rags by such masters as Scott Joplin and Joseph Lamb but also contemporary commercial tunes like "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and "Oh You Beautiful Doll." His far-ranging history takes in everything from the origins of ragtime in the peculiar combination of minstrelsy and marches to its commercialization by Tin Pan Alley and its eventual demise at the hands of jazz, the blues, the phonograph and, he believes, World War I.

There is even a section on the dance fads of the era like the Turkey Trot, the Grizzly Bear and the Bunny Hug, and their usurpation by the more genteel ballroom styles championed by Vernon and Irene Castle, the performing sensations who were also masters of the first dance studio empire. Unfortunately the links between ragtime and these dances are never made entirely persuasive.

A section on listening to ragtime offers many insights but underuses the medium. Technical terms are defined for novices, but rarely with musical examples that actually illuminate the topic. Musicians, too, may feel shortchanged here, because musical notation is absent. Still, the material is instructive, particularly when it offers a scratchy but stunning 1938 recording of Jelly Roll Morton playing Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" in the wildly different St. Louis and New Orleans styles.

The program's ragtime sampler is more flexible, presenting more than 60 ragtime songs in MIDI format and about 40 of those songs as played unflamboyantly by Dr. Winter on piano, in monaural digital audio not quite up to CD music quality. Each score appears on the screen so you can follow along, but you cannot send it to your printer. Although the program can highlight the measure that is currently playing, on my machine the highlight tended to be off by a note or two.

The MIDI audio quality will depend largely on your sound card, and on a typical Windows machine without a wavetable card the synthesized piano is not likely to fool anyone. But the program does let you fiddle with the key, volume and instrumentation of each hand as well as the overall tempo. You can even combine and adjust snippets of the songs on the disk to create your own ragtime masterpiece.

Covers of the sheet music for more than 200 songs are reproduced, and there are biographies of 34 composers. A reference section provides 15 silent film clips, 138 photographs, 248 articles and a good bibliograpy. As usual with CD-ROM, the film clips are small and unclear, but the pictures are decently reproduced, and the text, from contemporary publications as diverse as The New Republic and Opera News, is a gold mine of material. In an article called "War on Rag-Time" from a 1901 issue of American Musician, a bandleader compares ragtime to Limburger cheese: "When they ask for it, you sell it to them, although you can't see how they can eat it."

Crazy for Ragtime's user interface is simply a mess; nothing ever seems to work the way you would expect it to and nothing seems to work the same way in two different places. Dr. Winter's material on the technology and business of popular music is fascinating, but his attempts to put the music in a larger historical context never quite becomes convincing. And the limitations of reading from computer displays mean that the text is divided into pithy screen bites that read like (and often are) picture captions.

Dr. Winter is often led to academic fatuity. "We cannot prove that the early drying up of May Aufderheide's musical creativity was directly related to her unhappy marriage," he writes. "But the overwhelming social imperative of upper middle class white society would have dictated that she abandon every wish of her own to 'rescue' the family patriarch." Maybe, but it was her wealthy papa who published the half-dozen rags she wrote in her youth. And she did live to the age of 82. Scott Joplin never made it past 48.

An article appeared in the February 19, 1995, Los Angeles Times that provides some history of Robert Winter and Bob Stein, founder of Voyager.


Byte-ing Into Beethoven : UCLA’s Robert Winter used to be one of those celebrity professors whose class everyone wanted to take. No problem getting in now. Just boot up your CD-ROM player.

by David Colker

The drab classroom in UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall was in a loud, joyful state of pandemonium.

Just after the halftime break in the graduate seminar “Performance Practices of the Romantic Era,” students were surprised to be teamed into groups of twos and threes to pore over various printed editions of a Schubert song. They were to search for clues as to which edition might be the closest to what the composer had intended before the piece was altered by assorted copyists and publishers.

And they had just 10 minutes to come up with the answer.

There was a lot of laughter in the room, amid harried discussions over musical markings, translations and publishers’ imprints. And to make the scene all the more chaotic, the ringmaster of these proceedings--a tall, curly-haired professor who seemed to be in almost constant motion--picked out two pianists and a soprano from the student group to perform the song cold at a baby grand piano, filling the room with music.

“Think of this as our version of ‘The Gong Show,’ ” the professor called out to the students as the clock kept ticking.

It was only the fourth meeting of this seminar, but these students--some of whom had already studied in European conservatories--had become used to the fact that Robert Winter’s classes would be like none they had taken. And they had grasped that as unorthodox as his methods seem, they’re all geared toward one basic goal--to break students of thinking of a piece of music as an isolated entity simply to be studied and performed.

During this particular exercise, Winter, 49, darted back and forth between groups, offering encouragement and hints, all meant to show that a detail as seemingly insignificant as a change in publisher can be of interest when interpreting a piece of music.

And during the balance of the three-hour class, most of which was taught in a somewhat more traditional manner, Winter cited references as diverse as 19th-Century arts criticism, Jerry Lee Lewis, the penmanship of composer Hector Berlioz and the O.J. Simpson trial to show that music only gets richer when it is viewed in the context of myriad connections past and present.

“If the brain is a system of neural networks,” he explained later that day, “then learning ought to be a system of putting things together, relating them one to another.”


Winter’s style and message have made him one of the best-known music educators in the country today. His home base is UCLA, where he has taught since 1974, and he has appeared in lecture series across the country. He has done program series on Mozart and Beethoven for public radio and is the host of a series of videos of orchestra performances recently released by BMG.

After his talk two years ago at a Schubert symposium in New York, Mark Swed wrote in the Wall Street Journal that Winter “is probably the best public explicator of music since Leonard Bernstein.”

Nevertheless, for the most part, Winter’s fame has not spread far beyond music appreciation circles. Unlike the fatherly Bernstein of the groundbreaking “Young People’s Concerts” on television in the 1950s and 1960s, Winter has more the demeanor of a frenetic stand-up comic. Still, on radio or in a live presentation, he can give only a small sampling of the connections rambling around his head, lest he lose his audience.

“Sometimes I think I spend my whole life trying to put the world together, looking for the connections between things,” Winter said in an interview, spreading his supple pianist fingers wide, as if to show that the connections are never ending.

“There is such a mosaic of thousands of connections, that if someone says, ‘I like hip-hop, and I like Haydn String Quartets, but I think of them as separated, segmented repertoires,’ I can show them that it’s all connected.”

But the connections are so numerous and complex that from the teacher’s podium, or on videos or radio, he has never been able to present them in a complete form without overwhelming an audience. And though he could write a book on the cross-references, the work still would be so ungainly that it would probably be no fun for anyone but the most committed scholar. Until recently, there was no way to duplicate Winter’s “neural network” of intertwined thoughts and themes in a palatable way.

But now, the man has met his medium: the CD-ROM.

Using digital discs that can provide a mix of text, graphics, animation, live-action video and quality stereo sound on a home computer, Winter has already created four highly praised programs, each of which explores a single major piece of music.

Using his CD-ROM programs, one can hear Antonin Dvorak’s “From the New World” symphony, as played by the Vienna Philharmonic, and at the same time watch the score go by on the computer screen or read a running commentary as the music progresses. The CD-ROM also includes thousands of pages of text and hundreds of music cues, all of which can be accessed to learn more about the piece.

These programs are aimed at the lay audience of home computer users, but they are so loaded with details that they are also being used in college-level courses at Northwestern and numerous other universities.

Although these programs have garnered a great deal of respect, they are not among the blockbusters in the CD-ROM field, where games and reference works predominate. His CD-ROM on Mozart’s “Dissonant” Quartet, featuring a performance by the Angeles Quartet, sold more than 300,000 copies, Winter says, but only because it was one of the programs bundled with a popular Apple computer model.

Winter estimates, from sales reports he has been issued, that his first CD-ROM, containing a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, also by the Vienna Philharmonic, has sold about 125,000 copies since it was released in 1991 at a list price of $79.95 (it now sells for between $40 and $60, depending on the source).

But Winter believes that with better production values and emerging technologies, arts CD-ROMs could one day have mass appeal. Late last year, Winter and investment consultant Jay Heifetz (son of the famed, late violinist Jascha Heifetz) announced that they had created a new company with a group of investors to make greater use of the medium.

“With this technology,” Winter said, “I can tie together history with contemporary culture. I can bring together all the worlds we live in, in a way that has not been possible before. I can offer students or anyone so many different approaches to a work of art.

“And that in turn can be used as a window onto the world we live in.”


Winter was eating dinner in a Japanese restaurant in Santa Monica in 1982 when a bottle of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon was brought to his table.

“I don’t know much about wine,” Winter said, “but I knew enough to know this was much too good for me.” Thinking it was a mistake, he called over the waitress, who explained that the bottle had been sent by a man sitting across the room, someone Winter didn’t know.

The man approached and explained he’d been part of the live audience for a recent lecture Winter had done for public radio.

“He said, ‘My name is Bob Stein, I’m going to be an electronic publisher, and you are a multimedia kind of guy,’ ” Winter remembered.

At the time, Stein was involved in creating projects for the Atari computer, but he envisioned a medium that could emulate the way Winter communicated.

“During those lectures, I would jump around, dance, put up slides, bring in live performers,” Winter said. “It was a multimedia approach.”

Stein kept in touch with Winter, and every few months they would get together to take a walk on the beach.

“He would tell me about this vision he had of this technology that was coming and would change everything,” Winter said. “He kept saying to me, ‘I don’t have the right hardware for you, but it’s going to happen.’

“I still think to this day he was one of the visionary people on the face of the Earth.” Winter says he still has a friendly relationship with Stein, despite the fact that they will soon be competitors. (Stein did not respond to requests for an interview for this article.)

On New Year’s Day of 1989, during an open house at the Santa Monica home of Winter and his wife, Julia, Stein arrived with a small metal box under his arm. It was one of the first CD-ROM players put out by Apple.

Stein hooked it up to Winter’s Macintosh and demonstrated how the computer could be used to access the information on the disc. The player was achingly slow compared to those now available, but the potential for this technology did not pass Winter by.

“My mind began to explode,” Winter said with a laugh. “Here was that whole neural network I had been talking about. Bob said, ‘Could you do anything with this?’ and I told him, ‘I could do a lot with this.’ ”

The first thing Stein wanted was a 90-second demo, to be created in just two weeks, which he could use for a presentation to the Markle Foundation, a grant-giving organization for technological and educational projects. Winter worked around the clock with programmer Steve Riggins to devise a program to show how a person can learn to hear a modulation--a change of key--in music.

“I came up with the idea because my father is tone-deaf, and I had this fantasy about teaching him how to listen to music,” Winter said.

Markle officials were sufficiently impressed to issue a grant for $250,000, enough to fund Winter’s first three CD-ROM projects.

But there was still another important hurdle to overcome before Winter could go to work. He wanted the computer screen to provide a clear representation of music as it is being performed. “I said that in order to do this, I would have to have what I call the ‘bouncing brick.’ ”

Winter’s “brick” is a computerized version of the “bouncing ball” popularized by old sing-along films. It allows Winter to have a score highlighted on the screen, chord by chord, as a piece progresses. Riggins worked out the complications of producing the “brick,” and they were ready to start.

Ironically, it’s the visual representation of music on Winter’s CD-ROMs that has stirred the most criticism of his discs within the music community.

“I think there is a possibility that people can get overdependent on the visual aspect of them,” said Peter Webster, a professor of music at Northwestern University and the director of that school’s Center for Music Technology. Webster said that although he mostly admires Winter’s CD-ROMs and encourages teachers and students to use them for the depth of information they offer, he does have reservations.

“The only thing I worry about is that it can become a kind of text MTV thing,” he continued. “Music is an aural art, and I think it’s important that people trust their ears, that they don’t feel they have to rely on a point-by-point analysis of the work on the screen in order to appreciate it.”

A fter he made the Beethoven CD-ROM, Winter followed with the Mozart program and then one on Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” featuring the Montreal Symphony. All were released in the Macintosh format by Stein’s company, Voyager, as part of a series called “CD Companions.” (Windows CD-ROM versions were later released by Microsoft.)

Winter’s last and most technologically sophisticated CD-ROM for Voyager--on the Dvorak symphony--came out last year.

At the heart of the Dvorak disc is the performance of the “New World” symphony, which one can listen to straight through while following the “bouncing brick” on the screen. Also available for the entire work is a running text commentary by Winter that describes, for example, in the first movement, when “sudden, ferocious and repeated dotted rhythms pit strings and timpani against unyielding winds and horns, hinting at storms to come.”

At any point a more detailed analysis of each musical section is available, including historical references or fragments of music that influenced the composer. In text sections, a click of the mouse on any of the thousands of musical and historical terms can bring up a detailed explanation (in the passage quoted above, for example, the words dotted rhythms , strings , timpani , winds and horns are all clickable).

Winter also provides information on Dvorak’s life and influences, as well as on the orchestras of his time. Hundreds of sound clips include individual instruments, recorded interviews with people who knew Dvorak and a rare recording, circa 1919, by singer Henry Thacker Burleigh, whose performances greatly influenced the composer. There is also a reference section that includes hundreds of pages of essays and reviews.

The huge amount of information Winter includes on the CD-ROM is not universally viewed as a blessing.

“I thought his first program, the Beethoven, was quite thrilling,” said L.A. Weekly music critic Alan Rich, who also has produced three CD-ROMs on the history of music for Voyager. “But the Stravinsky is frighteningly dense, and the Dvorak is even more so.

“They might be a bit scholarly for someone who is just interested in music.”

As inclusive and complex as the Dvorak CD-ROM is, Winter was frustrated by some of the limitations under which he was working. On the technological side, the amount of digital information he wanted in the disc left no room for enhancements such as color, and at the time of its development, the use of video on this type of CD-ROM was not yet practical.

In addition, Voyager’s budgets were relatively low--Winter received a frugal $40,000 to cover all programming and design costs, plus license fees for graphics and his own advance.

He had almost no competition in the field except a handful of classical music CD-ROMs by Rich and others that were also released by Voyager. Warner New Media (now Time Warner Interactive) put out four classical music CD-ROMs, starting just after that company was formed in 1989. But it has not issued any since 1991, and a company spokeswoman said that none are planned.

But Winter was frustrated with Voyager, which is well-known in the CD-ROM world both for its pioneering arts programs and also its financial instability. The company sometimes greatly delayed release of his works, making them technologically a bit old hat considering the rapid developments in the field.

About a year and a half ago, Jay Heifetz--who first contacted Winter to propose they use in a CD-ROM project a rare video clip he had of his father--suggested that the two of them set up their own company to produce arts and humanities CD-ROMs. Heifetz was sure he could attract serious investors to the company, which they eventually called Calliope Media after the muse of epic poetry.

“We were convinced that if he crafted titles that had a lot of integrity and depth, and at the same time had a very strong element of consumer appeal, there would certainly be a demand,” said Heifetz, sitting in the suite undergoing renovation for Calliope’s studio and offices in Santa Monica.

The company aims to put out three titles this year; the first will be Winter’s dream project, a broad-based reference work that highlights the connections that weave throughout serious, popular and ethnic music.

“It’s a music reference work for the Digital Age,” Winter said, “where you explore music not so much by the name of a work or a group but by concepts.

“It will be organized by musical places, musical people and musical things, and from there, you can organize your search in thousands of different ways. Maybe you want to see a list of composers chronologically, by geographical region, from the richest to the poorest. You’ll be able to do that or whatever you think might be interesting. You’ll be able to explore in so many more ways than just at the atomic level of alphabetical, which is how print reference works are organized.”

And, of course, it will include a large number of musical samples, as well as Winter explaining his concepts in video clips.

Of the two other Calliope projects for the year, Heifetz would say only that one would be about interactive multimedia itself and the other would be either a children’s or visual arts disc.

Winter will author at least one disc a year and oversee the other Calliope releases.

Heifetz declined to give figures for the initial capitalization of the company. The funding--which Winter says will allow him to spend about quadruple the Dvorak budget on his first Calliope release--is coming from the publisher Macmillan Limited of England and private investors.

“We raised enough to keep us going about 18 to 24 months,” said Heifetz, 46, sitting in front of a Dan Lutz painting of a trombonist that used to hang in his father’s bedroom. “To go beyond that, initially, wouldn’t have been appropriate. By then, we’ll have a good idea where we’re heading.”

Winter is well aware that as more and more CD-ROM players make their way into homes (almost 8 million home computers now have them, according to industry consultant Dataquest Inc.) the novelty of the medium will wear off. Consumers have already shown dissatisfaction with CD-ROMs that are boring or technically unsound.

“I made a speech, recently,” Winter said, “in which I started out by saying, ‘A movie will cost you between five and 10 bucks and give you 90 to 120 minutes of pleasure. A print book will generally cost you between 10 and 20 bucks and give you anywhere from a couple of days to a week of pleasure.

“ ‘And a CD-ROM will cost you 30 to 60 bucks and give you 15 minutes of frustration.’ ”

But he doesn’t completely blame this on sloppy workmanship or the rush to cash in on the new medium. The Digital Age is so new that it has barely been explored.

“We are sort of at the stage of the silent film when all they had was the long shot,” he said. “We have not even figured out yet what the jump cut is, the dissolve. We don’t know what any of those conventions are going to be.

“The D.W. Griffith of this medium may be alive, but certainly he or she is not producing, yet.”

If CD-ROMs are a brave new world for Winter, the college classroom is old hat. The three hours of the graduate seminar whisked by with the students showing no sign of flagging.

Just before he let them go, Winter sat down at the piano to play a bit more Schubert. When he got to one specific chord, he left it hanging there, unresolved.

“A flatted sixth, the essential chord in Romantic music,” he told the students, playing it again. “It’s unstable, it wants to lead on to something.”

Then, suddenly, he switched to a rollicking rendition of the Beatles tune “I Saw Her Standing There,” and several of the students, some of whom had not been born when the song was a hit, began singing along.

Right after the line “I’ll never dance with another,” soprano Holly Zell, 24, expertly hit the high B-flat that the moptops used to sing to screaming acclaim.

“Right there, do you hear that?” asked Winter, pointing at the class. “It’s a flat sixth! It’s absolutely what Schubert did in his B-flat Sonata.

“Now, I’m not saying that the Beatles ever studied Schubert. But there they were in Hamburg in the early days, where the musical world was saturated with music of the Romantic era.

“It shows that for any piece of music, you can learn how to hear echoes of the past.”

He played the Schubert chord a couple of more times.

“The critical element of Romanticism is this instability,” Winter said, finishing his lecture for the day.

“ ‘Cause you work yourself up to this point, and you’re dying now for something else to happen."*




Robert S. Winter Jr. CD Rom Gallery


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People Magazine, April 17, 1995, Table of Contents


Robert Winter, People Magazine, April 17, 1995, page 65

Robert Winter, People Magazine, April 17, 1995, page 66


Robert Winter, UCLA Faculty Research Lecture, April 13, 2010, cover


Robert Winter, UCLA Faculty Research Lecture, April 13, 2010 p 2


Robert Winter, UCLA Faculty Research Lecture, April 13, 2010, p 3


Robert Winter, UCLA Faculty Research Lecture, April 13, 2010, p 4


Other articles of interest, quality of copies are rather poor.

From LA Times, February 19, 1995

From the Brown University Alumni Magazine, October 24, 1995