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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 I (FREE)American Masters, Part II (FREE)American Masters, Part IIIAmerican Masters, Part IVAmerican Masters, Part V (FREE)An Intelligent Conversation: String Quartets Arias & 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 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 (FREE)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 InstrumentsFamily MattersFauré, GabrielFit for a KingFour SeasonsFrom This Mighty River: Music of the Children of J.S BachGGame of Pairs, Part I (FREE)Game of Pairs, Part IIGershwin, GeorgeGet the PictureGitana: Gypsy Music and Its Influences Green and Pleasant LandHHandel, George FridericHaydn and Mozart QuartetsHaydn SymphoniesHHidden Gold, Part IHidden 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 (FREE)Invitation to the Dance, Part II Invitation to the Dance, Part IIIIt Takes Two to TangoIt Was a Lover and His LassItalian SouvenirsJJanacek, LeosLLatin CarnivalLes SixLife Among the Dead: Requiem MassesListener's Choice, Part IIListener's Choice, Part IIILiszt, Franz (FREE)Little Traveling Music, Please (FREE)MMaestro, Part IMaestro, Part IIMagnificent MagyarsMahler, Gustav, Part IMahler, Gustav, Part IIMaiden VoyagesMendelssohn, FelixMendelssohn, Schumann and Brahms String QuartetsMerrie EnglandMozart at his Zenith (FREE)Mozart Piano ConcertosMozart's Birthday BashMozart: Bright Lights, Big CityMusic for the MassesMusic in the Time of WarMusical Cryptograms NNationalismNew Releases, Part IINew Releases, Part III, week 1 of 2New Releases, Part III, week 2 of 2 (FREE)New Wine in Old Bottles (FREE)Nielsen, CarlNinth 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 IIPoulenc, FrancisProkofiev, SergeiProud Tower, Part IProud Tower, Part IIRRachmaninoff, SergeiRavel, Maurice (FREE)RRespighi, OttorinoRoaring 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 GriegSounds of the City of Lights SoundtracksSpanish SchoolSpring is Here St-Saëns, Camille St. Matthew PassionStrauss, RichardStravinsky, Igor (FREE)String Quartets from Fibich to SibeliusStrings Plus OneSweet Home Chicago (FREE)Symphony, Part 01Symphony, Part 02 Symphony, Part 03 (FREE)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 Orchestra (FREE)The Big Five, Part I: New York PhilharmonicThe Big Five, Part II: New York PhilharmonicThrough the Mail SlotTone Poems (FREE)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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Ninth Symphonies Purchase Now
This week's theme is the curse of the ninth symphony which began with Beethoven in the mid-1820s. Over time, the myth grew that when writing your ninth symphony, it would be your last and perhaps also your last year on earth.
Beethoven's ninth symphony is a massive work and takes over an hour to perform. The famous choral melody in the final movement actually comes from a folk tune that Beethoven had written in the 1790s.
The numbering of Schubert's symphonies is somewhat problematic. Numbers one through six, written when he was young, are in straightforward numerical order, but after that, he wrote a few sketches in D Major, and then two number seven symphonies. The second, in b minor, is known as Schubert's "unfinished symphony" because there are only two movements.
After that, he wrote another sketch, and then "the great D major symphony" that musicologist Otto Erich Deutsch officially titled as the Schubert's ninth symphony.
Incidentally, Schubert was present at the first performance of Beethhoven's 9th, and its likely to have made a big impact on him. Several musical excerpts bear striking similarity to Beethoven's ninth.
Antonin Dvorak composed his ninth symphony, From the New World, in 1839 while living in New York City. Contrary to Beethoven and Schubert, Dvorak lived for another ten years after writing it.
Though he is known as "the great Bohemian composer," Dvorak had moved to New York City after being offered a position there. Jeanette Meyers Thurber, founder of the National Conservatory of Music, offered him the job as artistic director and professor of composition. The lucrative salary eventually enticed him.
Anton Bruckner, a profoundly religious man, did seem to have fears about writing his ninth symphony. Though Brucker wrote more than nine in total, he died while writing the symphony he titled as the ninth. Only three movements were ever written, though Bruckner had planned to add a fourth. It is not commonly performed.
Bruckner worked on the piece for seven years, and though he owes a lot to Beethoven's ninth as a model, harmonically, it is closer to Tristan and Isolde.
Towards the end of the program, Bill plays a movement of Mahler's ninth symphony, the subject of the following program.
Gustav Mahler also took the curse of the ninth symphony very seriously. In 1907, his eldest daughter died and he was diagnosed with a heart condition. His doctor told him that he could die at any moment.
Mahler wrote "At one blow, I have simply lost all of the clarity and quietude I ever achieved. Now I'm at the end of my life, again a beginner."
It was after this that he began work on his ninth symphony. The piece was first performed in 1912, a year after Mahler died.