- Program List
Below are many of the more than 170 five-hour 'weeks' of Exploring Music that have been created since 2003. The first seven minutes of every program are free to sample. Several entire 5-hour programs are also free to listen (marked 'free' below). For complete access to all of the shows, click here to become a subscriber. To sort through the shows by composers click here. To see the playlist for a given show, click on the show and then on the 'playlist' button beneath any of the five one-hour programs.
AAmerican Masters, Part IAmerican Masters, Part II American Masters, Part IIIAmerican Masters, Part IVAmerican Masters, Part V An Intelligent Conversation: String Quartets Arias & BarcarollesArtists in Exile, Part IArtists in Exile, Part IIAutumn Leaves Autumnal Masterpieces BBach Sleeps in on Sundays Bach to Beethoven Bach's Christmas OratorioBach's Not-So-Minor B-Minor MassBallad of East and West Barber, SamuelBartok, BelaBeethoven & that Danged Metronome (FREE)Beethoven and the PianoBeethoven at Parnassus, Part IBeethoven at Parnassus, Part IIBeethoven QuartetsBerlioz, HectorBernstein, LeonardBill's Keepers Boulanger, NadiaBrahms, Johannes, Part IBrahms, Johannes, Part II Britten, Benjamin CCall for ScoresCello Concertos Child's PlayChopin, FredericClash of the Titans Clowning Around (FREE)Copland, AaronCorigliano, JohnCzech out those Bohemians DDebussy, ClaudeDemons, Spooks and Other Things That Go Bump in the NightDirector's ChoiceDistant NeighborsDon't Shoot the Piano PlayerDvorak, AntoninDvorak, Tchaikovsky & Borodin String Quartets EElgar, EdwardEmotion and Meaning in MusicEspanaFFamilies of Instruments Family MattersFauré, GabrielFit for a KingFour SeasonsFrom This Mighty River: Music of the Children of J.S BachGGame of Pairs, Part I Game of Pairs, Part IIGershwin, GeorgeGet the PictureGitana: Gypsy Music and Its Influences Green and Pleasant LandHHandel, George FridericHaydn and Mozart QuartetsHaydn SymphoniesHidden Gold, Part IHHidden Gold, Part IIHindemith, PaulHit or Myth Holiday CelebrationHomageII Didn't Know About YouI Hear America SingingI Lost it at the Movies (FREE)In a Family WayIncidentally SpeakingIntimate VoicesInvitation to the Dance, Part I Invitation to the Dance, Part II Invitation to the Dance, Part IIIIt Takes Two to TangoIt Was a Lover and His Lass Italian SouvenirsJJanacek, LeosLLatin CarnivalLes SixLife Among the Dead: Requiem MassesListener's Choice, Part IIListener's Choice, Part IIILiszt, Franz Little Traveling Music, Please MMaestro, Part IMaestro, Part IIMagnificent MagyarsMahler, Gustav, Part IMahler, Gustav, Part IIMaiden VoyagesMendelssohn, FelixMendelssohn, Schumann and Brahms String QuartetsMerrie EnglandMozart at his Zenith Mozart Piano ConcertosMozart's Birthday BashMozart: Bright Lights, Big CityMusic for the MassesMusic in the Time of WarMusic of Scandinavia (FREE)Musical Cryptograms NNationalismNew Releases, Part IINew Releases, Part III, week 1 of 2New Releases, Part III, week 2 of 2 New Wine in Old Bottles Nielsen, CarlNinth SymphoniesNobody Ever Builds a Statue to a CriticOOrpheus in the New WorldOutward BoundPPastoral SymphoniesPiano ConcertosPolandPortraits in Black, Brown, & Beige, Part I Portraits in Black, Brown, & Beige, Part II Poulenc, FrancisProkofiev, SergeiProud Tower, Part IProud Tower, Part IIRRachmaninoff, SergeiRavel, Maurice Respighi, OttorinoRimsky-Korsakov and His PupilsRRoaring 20'sRussian Five: The Mighty HandfulSSchool DaysSchubert String QuartetsSchubertiade, Part ISchubertiade, Part IISchuman, WilliamSchumann, Robert Shakespeare (FREE)Shostakovich, Dmitri, Part I (FREE)Shostakovich, Dmitri, Part IISibelius and GriegSlipped Through the Cracks Sounds of the City of Lights SoundtracksSpanish SchoolSpring is Here St-Saëns, Camille St. Matthew PassionStrauss, RichardStravinsky, Igor String Quartets from Fibich to SibeliusStrings Plus OneSweet Home Chicago Symphony, Part 01Symphony, Part 02 Symphony, Part 03 Symphony, Part 04Symphony, Part 05 Symphony, Part 06 (French)Symphony, Part 07 (Russian)Symphony, Part 08Symphony, Part 09Symphony, Part 10TTchaikovsky, Peter, Part ITchaikovsky, Peter, Part IIThe Big Five, Part I: Chicago Symphony OrchestraThe Big Five, Part I: New York PhilharmonicThe Big Five, Part II: New York PhilharmonicThrough the Mail SlotTone Poems Too Darn BigTriple PlayTudor MusicTwo Very Different Worlds Delius and HolstUUnder the Hood, Part IUnder the Hood, Part IIUnfinished SymphoniesVVariationsVaughan Williams, RalphVeniceVerdi, Giuseppe, Part IVerdi, Giuseppe, Part IIVienna, Part IVienna, Part II (FREE)ViolaViolin Concerto Voices from the East WWagner's Ring CycleWagner, RichardWalton, WilliamWater MusicWhat Else Ya Got?Wind QuintetsWunderkinder, Part IWunderkinder, Part IIYYou and the Night and the Music
- Listen to the Show
- About Exploring Music
Please click here to find out more.
Wagner's Ring Cycle Purchase Now
For most operas, a 5-hour survey would more than cover every measure, every note – but not this one. The Ring - Das Rheingold, in the original German - is Wagner’s crowning achievement of four epic operas. Bill helps us understand and enjoy this epic journey with richly textured music that continues to grow in complexity as the cycle proceeds. Wagner spent over a twenty-six years writing the libretto and composing the music that follows the struggles and drama of gods, heroes, and mythical creatures.
Das Rheingold is up first, and its grandiose majesty is felt almost immediately whilst immersed in the Rhine river. There simply isn't enough time for the entire opera, as it is almost as long as a weeklong show, so we focus on a few choice excerpts. But hopefully, that's enough to whet your appetite for Wagner, and if it isn't, there's plenty more opera to work through all throughout this week.
Die Walküre does not pick up exactly where Das Rheingold, the Ring cycle's prologue, left off, but it's just as well, since there's a lot of ground to cover in the timeskip between the two operas. (Yes, even for Wagner, there was too much material to cover.) The sheer size of these operas is quite daunting even in condensed form, so Bill is here to explain it all step by step--what all the leitmotifs mean, how the music tells the story, and what's going on in the story without the help of stage sets or actors singing it to us. The music can tell the story all on its own, which was the great genius of Wagner.
Wagner: Die Walküre (excerpts)
NY Met Opera Chorus & Orchestra/Levine
1:56, :15, :48, 1:13, 14:50, 2:57, 2:03, 1:10, :33, 5:48, 3:07, :36, 1:38, 1:15, 15:31
We're not yet done with Die Walküre, so we spend even more time on it in this segment. We meet the famous Valkyrie Brünhilde, and despite how popular culture has portrayed her, the power and majesty in her voice is fantastic. It's amazingly easy to get caught up in the sheer amount of force behind Wagner's music; its scope justifies its length.
The least often opera performed by itself, Siegfried presents us with a great opportunity to explore some music that isn't heard nearly as often as the rest of the Ring cycle. This, however, does not diminish its importance to the story or its marvelous musical qualities. And for those unaware of what's going on, Bill is on hand to explain what the music is saying in addition to what the singers are saying. It's a real treat for anybody with any amount of interest in Wagner, no matter how great or little.
Wagner: Siegfried (excerpts)
5:04, :39, 2:46, :40, 1:08
Wagner: Siegfried (excerpt)
NY Met Opera Chorus & Orchestra/Levine; Landsman, hn.
Wagner: Seigfried, Act III (excerpts)
Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orch/Pappano; Domingo, t.; Voigt, s.
EMI 57004 2
Wagner: Dawn & Siegfried’s Rhine Journey fr. Götterdämmerung
It's all been building up to this. Götterdämmerung, the "Twilight of the Gods", is the imposing and impressive conclusion to Wagner's Ring Cycle, which we have been exploring all this week. The finale is worth all of what has been heard, multiple times over, and to this day it still sets the hair of millions on end.