KEENE, N.H. >> Saturday's Behrens Review was Frank Behrens' last. It was perhaps my favorite. "Heidi" reconnected me with a childhood book I once loved while it inspired me to seek out the movie version with Jeannie Carson as "Heidi," one that I had not seen. If Behrens writes that it is worth spending your precious time viewing, you know – as do his loyal followers – that it is worth popping that DVD in and settling down in a comfortable chair. His reviews are honest,thorough without giving away the plot, and with a dash of humor.
But it is with an unconsolable heart that I write this on Behrens' behalf since his deteriorating health prevents him from saying farewell himself. He has always taken great joy in watching operas, classical and Broadway music as well as recordings of books, films and stage plays and TV series based on books released on DVDs, then sharing his thoughts with you the reader. That enthusiasm would also came through in our phone conversations over the last ten years that I had worked with him. When I asked him if any one kind of entertainment that was his favorite he said, "I loved them all." I guess it's much like your children. You love them all the same but for different reasons.
A retired Junior High School English teacher out of New York City, when Behrens moved to Keene, N.H., he was hooked up with a music publisher who provided him with a steady stream of CDs and DVDs to view and review. The deal was, publish a review, favorable or not, and they'd send more. His first reviews were found in Entertainment Times of Keene, Because he loved the stuff so much and he wanted to share it, the reviews kept coming flawless, punctual and informative.
His relationship with the Reformer dates back to around 1999 when Linda DuCharme was editing the arts page, then on to Chris Nixon as the arts and entertainment editor, to Willow Dannible then Jon Potter, and finally to me. The review on "Heidi" was Behrens' 893rd review. His baritone voice was already familiar to me when I took over Ovation, having printed his reviews in various other publications I had worked on in the past ten years. In all that time he was always infinitely patient with me when I pushed his column to the weekend instead of Thursday, or when I forgot to post his article online. He voluntarily accommodated my shrinking edit space with shortened reviews and would send me CDs that he thought might be of interest to me.
Of his time working with Behrens, Potter said, "Frank is one of the most omnivorous devourers of art I know. His knowledge is wide and deep, and we are all better for it. His criticism is fair-minded, insightful and always respectful of both the artist and the reader. His impulses to teach and to guide strike the right tone. More than that, I always,always enjoyed talking with him, and was never disappointed when I followed his advice on something he recommended. A gentleman and a scholar."
Our conversation ended when Behrens wistfully said, "I hope I've succeeded in introducing my readers to knowing things that made their lives better."
Rest assured Frank, you have and you will be missed.
To check out archived reviews by Behrens from 2015 and 2016 visit www.franklinbehrens.com
Contact Cicely M. Eastman at 802-254-2311 ext. 261.