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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 AroundCopland, 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 a Rhapsody (FREE)I 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 World Outward 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, OttorinoRRimsky-Korsakov and His PupilsRoaring 20'sRussian Five: The Mighty HandfulSSchool DaysSchubert String QuartetsSchubertiade, Part ISchubertiade, Part IISchuman, WilliamSchumann, Robert Shakespeare 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 08 Symphony, 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
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Bach's Christmas Oratorio Purchase Now
An exploration of the six cantatas performed in Leipzig’s St. Thomas and St. Nicholas Churches in December 1734. These six Bach cantatas were written to correspond with the days of the Lutheran church year, and are collectively referred to as the "Christmas Oratorio". We start the week with Cantata No. 1--For the First Day of Christmas and we will end with Cantata No. 6 telling of the walk of the two disciples to Emmaus.
The six Bach cantatas we'll be looking at were written to correspond with the days of the Lutheran church year, and are collectively referred to as the "Christmas Oratorio". We start at the start, with Cantata No. 1--For the First Day of Christmas. We've got time to hear the whole cantata; none of the six cantatas lasts more than half an hour. This means that we have time at the end of each program to play some extra Bach tunes, such as this solo violin piece, Sonata No. 3 in C Major, part of a series of pieces written whilst Bach was working for a very austere church.
In this segment we begin with Cantata No. 2--for the 2nd Day of Christmas from Bach's Christmas Oratorio, which draws heavily from the Gospel of Luke and includes the oft-told story of the shepherds in the fields receiving an angelic surprise. The bonus Bach piece in this segment is Suite No. 3 in C Major, written for cello during a time that the cello was starting to replace the viol family of instruments.
We start with the third part of Bach's Christmas Oratorio, Cantata No. 3 for the 3rd Day of Christmas. This music was first heard in the German city of Leipzig in 1734, just shy of 300 years ago. Afterwards, we have time for two extra Bach pieces, so we hear Orchestral Suite No. 2 and "Erfreute Zeit", from Cantata No. 83, not to be confused with the cantatas that make up the Christmas Oratorio.
We begin with Cantata No. 4--for the 4th Day of Christmas from the Christmas Oratorio. This is the cantata intended for the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, and it sounds interestingly similar to some of the Brandenburg concertos, but it's not nearly as festive. Next is another pair of extra Bach pieces: Sonata No. 1 for Viola da Gamba & Keyboard, which has a very interesting story attached to its recording, and Passacaglia and Fugue in D minor, arranged by Stokowski for orchestra.
Well, we've only one segment left but two Cantatas from Bach's Christmas Oratorio remain to be covered. Thankfully, we can fit both Cantata No. 5 and Cantata No. 6 into this segment all at once, and STILL have time to close out with the Concerto for Two Violins, second movement. It's all a wonderful way to spend the holidays, especially since it's something different from the Nutcracker or Messiah, which are holiday standards for a reason, but unfortunately seem to eclipse this wonderful piece of work.