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Get the Picture

Music inspired by the visual arts, including Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler, and Rachmaninoff’s Isle of the Dead.

 
Program 1

Begin hearing your way through plenty of famous paintings and poems. Listen to self-portraits of visual artists like Francisco Goya, through his own fingerings on the guitar. Enrique Granados illustrates the developing passion between two lovers in Goyescas, that causes the musical canvas to rise in flames. 

Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition (excerpt)
Ashkenazy, p.
Lon 414386
:42
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Granados: Goyescas (excerpts)
de Larrocha, p.
RCA 60408
17:19, 9:42
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Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Francisco Goya y Lucientes, Pintor from 24 Caprichos De Goya
Afshar, g.
Summit 167
3:06
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Debussy: La Mer
Boston Symphony Orchestra/Monteux
RCA 61890
22:33
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Program 2

In the 30s, Matthias Grünewald, a German painter was debating joining the war or staying put and painting instead. This painter was an inspiration for a piece you'll hear during this hour. Listen to the sounds of nature - Venus emerges from the shell as a newborn, and the blowing winds keep her company along with the energy of youthful creatures surrounding her.

 

Respighi: Trittico botticelliano
Orpheus Chamber Ensemble
DG 437533
5:30, 8:32, 5:23
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Hindemith: Mathis der Maler
San Francisco Symphony/Blomstedt
Lon 421523
8:16, 18:30
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Satie: Gymnopédie
Thibaudet, p.
Decca 470290
3:03
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Program 3

Composers score their acquaintances for orchestra, as Virgil Thomson has done here with Bugles and Birds - A Portrait of Pablo Picasso. This piece is the musical transcript of Thomson's silent meeting with Picasso. Gunther Schuller musters a modern jazz quartet to emit the  sounds of paintings by Paul Klee, which include a vulture's view of a dry Arab village, and Bill explains how this is done with aluminum foil. Bill also describes how one famous painting was converted into a poem, and later into Stephen Paulus's musical piece. 

Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition (excerpt)
Ashkenazy, p.
Lon 414386
:34
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Thomson: Bugles and Birds - A Portrait of Pablo Picasso
Jacobs, p.
None 79024
2:03
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Hovhaness: Mysterious Mountain- I, III & IV
CSO/Reiner
RCA 61957
16:15
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Schuller: Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee
Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra/Dorati
Merc 434329
7:29, 13:34
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Paulus: Air on Seurat
D. Lewis, vc.; C. Lewis, p.
Gasparo 301
6:39
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Livingston/Evans: Mona Lisa
Orchestra/Baxter; Nat King Cole
Capitol 72435-28295-2-1
3:09
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Program 4

With a fascination in death, Bill brings you Four Tone Poems After Arnold Böcklin, a piece based on the Böcklin's "The Isle of the Dead." Rachmaninov follows in this trend of fascination, and writes his own orchestral rendition to sound out the same painting. But concluding the hour is Debussy's light and flittery piece, emitting the sounds of Watteau's painting, L'Embarquement de Cythère.

Reger: Four Tone Poems after Arnold Böcklin
Concertgebouw/Järvi
Chan 8794
25:16
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Rachmaninov: Isle of the Dead
Philadelphia Orchestra/Ormandy
RCA 9026680222
20:00
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Debussy: L’isle Joyeaux
Thibaudet, p.
Lon 452022
5:50
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Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition (excerpt)
Ashkenazy, p.
Lon 414386
1:17
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Program 5

Two composers, Ravel and Mussorgsky, have their own renditions of Pictures at an Exhibition, and Bill explains the differences between their styles, both subtle and conspicuous. If one were to paint a picture based on Ravel's Pictures, a slow-moving oxcart would only be visible at a distance. Whereas Mussorgsky provides his listeners with a view that is close and so personal that one may find him or herself in the front seat of the cart, thrashing up and down to the rhythm of the hard cobblestone street. 

 Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition (excerpts)
Ashkenazy, p.
Lon 414386
17:13, :41
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Mussorgsky, arr. Ravel: Pictures at an Exhibition
CSO/Solti
Lon 400051
:29, 33:31
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The Exploring Music streaming website is made possible by Mr. & Mrs. William Gardner Brown and Susan & Richard Kiphart.
You have opened up the world of Classical Music to me, where previously, it seemed too complicated.
Steffen Demeter
This is simply one of the very best radio programmes in the medium!...The study of the people, the times, and the events that inform the music we otherwise enjoy and even, heaven forbid, take for granted, brings the entire world of the music and the composer to life.
Walther Davies
There isn't a program you broadcast on Exploring Music" that isn't of interest. I find them all engaging. It is a combination of variety of subject, intellectual curiosity and your obvious enthusiasm which characterize your satisfying programs.
Michael Sanders
It’s a great way to re-engage myself with consciousness before heading off to work.
Kourtney
I Love this program! I am in 7th grade and I am the complete opposite of the other kids. I am 4th chair in the orchestra and I love to read. But most of all, I LOVE classical music!
Claudia Wertz
Your show has helped open my mind and heart to this world of music, and every show I hear confirms my place in music and gives me new ideas for where I'd like to go with it in the future….I grew up with classical music as a child and always held it in my heart, but I didn't have the confidence to be a good student (or a good violinist.)
Christine Anderson
Listening to you is almost interactive.You invite us in with so many well modulated dramatic and informative comments, enticing, enthusiastic interpretations, and coherent, beautiful presentations. It's a privilege to follow you into the musical space you create.
Sally Rosenbaum
I just love this program. It is soothing and comfortable at the end of the day. I find his comments interesting, but they aren't so dragged out that there is very little music. The balance of both is just right.
Jean Quay
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