- Program List
Below are many of the more than 170 five-hour 'weeks' of Exploring Music 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.
AA Call for ScoresA Green and Pleasant LandA Little Traveling Music, Please American Masters, Part I (FREE)American Masters, Part IIAmerican Masters, Part IIIAn Intelligent ConversationArias & BarcarollesArtists in Exile, Part IArtists in Exile, Part IIAutumn Leaves BBach Sleeps in on Sundays Bach to Beethoven Bach's Christmas OratorioBach's Not-So-Minor B-Minor MassBarberBartokBeethoven & that Danged Metronome Beethoven and the PianoBeethoven at Parnassus, Part IBeethoven at Parnassus, Part IIBeethoven QuartetsBerliozBernsteinBill's KeepersBrahms, Part IBrahms, Part II Britten CCamille St-SaënsCello Concertos (FREE)Chicago Symphony Orchestra: The Big FiveChild's PlayChopinClowning AroundCoplandCoriglianoCzech out those BohemiansDDebussyDemons, Spooks and Other Things That Go Bump in the NightDirector's ChoiceDistant NeighborsDon't Shoot the Piano PlayerDvorakDvorák, Tchaikovsky & Borodin String QuartetsEElgarEspanaFFamilies of InstrumentsFamily MattersFauréFit for a KingGGame of Pairs, Part IGame of Pairs, Part IIGershwinGet the PictureGitana: Gypsy Music And Its InfluencesHHandelHHaydn and Mozart QuartetsHaydn SymphoniesHidden Gold, Part IHidden Gold, Part IIHindemithHoliday 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 IInvitation to the Dance, Part IIInvitation to the Dance, Part IIIIt Takes Two to TangoIt Was a Lover and His LassItalian SouvenirsJJanáčekLLatin CarnivalLes SixLife Among the Dead: Requiem MassesListener's Choice, Part IIListener's Choice, Part IIILisztMMagnificent MagyarsMahler, Part IMahler, Part IIMaiden VoyagesMendelssohnMendelssohn, Schumann and Brahms String QuartetsMerrie EnglandMozart at his Zenith (FREE)Mozart Piano ConcertosMozart's Birthday BashMusic for the MassesMusic in the Time of WarNNadia BoulangerNationalismNew Releases, Part IINew Wine in Old Bottles (Free)New York Philharmonic: The Big Five, Part INew York Philharmonic: The Big Five, Part IINielsenNinth SymphoniesNobody Ever Builds a Statue to a CriticOOrpheus in the New WorldOutward BoundPPastoral SymphoniesPiano ConcertosPolandPortraits in Black, Brown, & Beige, Part IPortraits in Black, Brown, & Beige, Part IIProkofievRRachmaninoffRRavelRespighiRussian Five: The Mighty HandfulSSchool DaysSchubert String QuartetsSchubertiade, Part ISchubertiade, Part IISchuman (William) SchumannShakespeare (FREE)Shostakovich, Part IShostakovich, Part IISibelius and GriegSounds of the City of Lights (FREE)SoundtracksSpring is HereSt. Matthew PassionStrauss (Richard)Stravinsky (FREE)Strings Plus OneSweet Home Chicago (FREE)TTchaikovsky, Part ITchaikovsky, Part IIThe Four SeasonsThe Proud Tower, Part IThe Proud Tower, Part IIThe Roaring 20'sThe Symphony, Part IThe Symphony, Part IIThe Symphony, Part IIIThe Symphony, Part IVThe Symphony, Part IXThe Symphony, Part VThe Symphony, Part VI (French)The Symphony, Part VII (Russian)The Symphony, Part VIIIThrough the Mail SlotTone PoemsToo Darn BigTriple PlayTudor MusicTwo Very Different Worlds Delius and HolstUUnder the Hood, Part IUnder the Hood, Part IIUnfinished SymphoniesVVariationsVaughan WilliamsVeniceVerdi, Part IVerdi, Part IIVienna, Part IVienna, Part IIViolaWWagnerWagner's Ring CycleWater MusicWhat Else Ya Got?William WaltonWind QuintetsYYou and the Night and the Music
- Listen to the Show
- About Exploring Music
In beginning of 19th century, many translations of Shakespeare's works were released, including French and German translations. Touring companies also came to the continent to present Shakespeare's plays, and these performances made a big impact on many composers.
Mendelssohn read A Midsummer Night's Dream at the age of 17. It inspired him to write his first masterpeice, an Overture for A Midsummer Night's Dream that same year, 1826.
17 years later in 1843, Mendelssohn composed more music for an full production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. This included incidental music and full scenes with vocals. There are four chords that are used every time magical spells are being cast. The last chord varies between major and minor (happy and sad) depending upon the kind of magic at work.
Mendelssohn: Overture & excerpts from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Berlin Phil/Abbado; Branagh, nar.
11:40, 14:43, 22:20
Both Dvork and Verdi were interested in Othello, and wrote pieces of the same name. Verdi was also interested in Macbeth and Falstaff, his opera based on the play The Merry Wives of Windsor.
In 1891, Dvork released his orchestral piece based on Othello and his notion of love, a dark concept considering the play's themes of jealousy and murder.
Verdi's Othello came after a time when he had quit composing. In 1879, Giulio Ricordi, a friend and the head of a venerable firm of publishers, showed up at Verdi's house for dinner. Ricordi knew Verdi loved Shakespeare, and suggested he work with a librettist by the name of Arrigo Boito.
It was several years before the work was complete. It finally premiered in Feb. 1887 in La Scala, just four years before the release of Dvorak's orchestral based on Othello.
Verdi loved the Falstaff character from The Merry Wives of Windsor, and it inspired him to write the work he titled Falstaff. Verdi calls the character "a rogue who commits every kind of rascally action, but in an amusing way."
In 1944, Walton and Sir Lawrence Olivier put together a score and film inspired by Henry V, and it was well received in England.
Henry Purcell, who lived at end of the century in which Shakespeare died, wrote incidental music for a production he called The Fairy Queen. This was based on Titania, a character from A Midsummer Night's Dream.
In the mid-1720s and 30s, Handel was the most popular composer of Italian opera in England. He wrote an aria called Giulio Cessare in Egitto, based on history as much as Shakespeare's play.
Vaughan Williams wrote pieces based on The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Gerald Finzi (1901-1956) orginally wrote his Let us Garlands Bring set, based on Shakespeare's texts, for piano and voice. These were later orchestrated. These songs were first heard in 1942, and the date coincided with Vaughan Williams 70th birthday. Finzi dedicated the set to Vaughan Williams.
Amy Beach (1867-1944), one of the most well trained and gifted pianists of her age, grew up near Boston and wrote O Mistress Mine and Take, O Take Those Lips Away.
Several composers have portrayed the Queen Mab scene from Romeo and Juliet in very different ways. The first you'll hear is from Charles Gounod.
Hector Berlioz chose to portray the same scene but started much earlier in1839. He revised the work in 1847, and then again in 1857. This first version of the piece you'll hear includes vocals.
However, in the 20 years of revisions on the piece, Berlioz kept playing with different ways to present the scenes. Here is an orchestral version of the work.
Now, jump ahead to the 1950's and across ocean where Romeo and Juliet became the inspirtation for West Side Story, done by Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Jerome Robbins. The action is set in New York, specifically in Hell's Kitchen on the West Side.
In keeping with the instrumental theme, here are Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.
Two Russian composers, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Sergei Prokofiev, are featured in this show. Neither composer uses any of Shakespeare's dialogue in telling the tale.
Tchaikovsky may have been responding to a failed romance of his own when he wrote An Overture Fantasy on Romeo and Juliet. He was engaged to a popular French soprano, Desiree Artot, who fell in love with a Spanish baritone and left Tchaikovsky in Russia with a broken heart. This also coincided with a suggestion from Balakirev, a noted composer/conductor/teacher, that Tchaikovsky consider Romeo and Juliet as a subject for a tone poem.
Another Russian composer, Prokofiev, had settled in Paris. However, around 1931, he began to miss his home in Russia. In a move of poor timing, he returned home in the middle of Stalin's purges in 1933. In 1935, he was approached to make a ballet on Romeo and Juliet, which he at first turned down.
There are many more examples of Shakespeare's themes used by composers. There are at least 270 operas and another 100 operettas.