- 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 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 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 QuartetsBerliozBernsteinBill's KeepersBrahms, Part IBrahms, Part IIBritten 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 InfluencesHHandelHaydn and Mozart QuartetsHHaydn SymphoniesHidden Gold, Part IHidden Gold, Part IIHindemithHoliday CelebrationHomageII Didn't Know About YouI Hear America SingingI Lost it at the Movies (FREE)Incidentally 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 OneTTchaikovsky, 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 MusicUUnder 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
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Bela Bartok was born in 1881 and grew up in Budapest, a city experiencing tremendous growth both in population and artistic creativity. Bartok was born in the small town of Nagyszentmiklos, which is now part of Romania.
He had a fairly conservative musical education, but was very inspired by the work of composer/conductor Richard Strauss, as well as a peasant girl from the Carpathian Mountains who sang traditional Hungarian folk songs. Bartok became a staunch Hungarian patriot and wrote a tone poem, Kossuth, in the style of Richard Strauss in 1904. Bartok got in trouble in its first rehearsal because of an excerpt in the bassoon parts that mock the Austrian National Anthem by Haydn.
Upon being inspired by the Hungarian folk music, Bartok began to make trips into the country to collect these songs. His friend and composer, Zoltan Kodaly, made many of these trips with him. The folk music began to make its way into Bartok's classical compositions, and in his String Quartet #1 in A Minor written in 1909, he incorporated the traditional song The Peacock.
Bartók: Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta (excerpt)
Bartók: ‘Unpublished’ Sonata for Violin and Piano (excerpt)
Szabadi, v.; Gulyás, p.
Bartók: Transylvanian Dance for Violin duo (excerpt)
Muzsikás and Márta Sebestyén, vlns.
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody #2 (excerpt)
WQXR broadcast excerpts not commercially available
Bartók: Andante for Violin and Piano (excerpt)
Pauk, v,; Jandó, p.
Bartók: Piano Quintet – II. Vivace (Scherzando)
Kodály Quartet & Jeno Jando, p.
Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra, op. 30: Einleitung (excerpt)
Strauss: Ein Heldenleben (excerpt)
Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Barenboim
Bartók: Kossuth, Sz. 21
Budapest Festival Orchestra/Fischer
Bartók: Fekete Föd (Snow-White Kerchief)
Basilides, s.; Bartók, p.
Bartók: String Quartet #1 In A Minor, III
DG 477 6322
After becoming increasingly fascinated by folk music, Bartok started traveling to Transylvania to collect their music. It's around 1911 that this folk music begins to regularly crop up in his classical pieces.
Bill thinks it is difficult to get a sense of Bartok the man. Though he seemed happy and healthy, he had bouts of sickness and considered himself utterly alone despite having a group of friends.
Bartok was appointed a position at the Academy of Music in Budapest. It was here that he met his future wife, Marta Ziegler, student and daughter of the city police inspector. A year after meeting her, he dedicated a piece to her, and then his only opera, Bluebeard's Castle. This dedication is somewhat of an odd choice considering the story and tone.
Bartok's favorite place to visit for folk music later became Romania. In his opinion, Romania's greater isolation helped to keep their folk music pure.
Bartók: Violin Duo No. 4- Midsummer Night Song
Drucker & Setzer, vlns.
Bartók: Four Orchestral Pieces, Op. 12, III
Bartók: Allegro Barbaro, Sz. 49
Bartók: Evening In Transylvania
Bartók: Hungarian Sketches (excerpts)
Bartók: String Quartet No. 2 (excerpts)
Bartók: Bluebeard’s Castle (excerpts)
Hungarian State Orchestra/Fischer; Ramey, bass; Martón, s.
Bartók: The Wooden Prince, I-III
DG 435 863
Bartók: Istenem (Coldly Runs The River), rec. 1928
Basilides, ms.; Bartók, p.
Bartók: 6 Romanian Folk Dances
Szigeti, v.; Bartók, p.
Bartók: Hungarian Sketches, IV- Slightly Tipsy
Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Boulez
Bartók: Burlesques No. 2, Slightly Tipsy
The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)
Bartók: Violin Duo No. 5 – Slovakian Song
Drucker, v.; Setzer, v.
Bartok's fascination in folk music of all sorts continues, and in 1913 he travels to Africa and becomes obsessed with music of the Berber people. This influece shows up almost immediately in Bartok's work, and he writes the violin duet Arabian Song. The same minor third motif is also used in Bartok's second string quartet which he composed in 1915.
The Great War begins in 1914, making it impossible for Bartok to travel and continue collecting folk songs. He writes that it "put an end to my work."
In 1918-1919, Bartok composed The Miraculous Mandarin, a very lurid and creepy one-act pantomime ballet. It isn't performed until 1926, mostly due to political upheaval after the war. It is still more successful as a concert piece.
Jelly d'Aranyi, a violinst and former student, commissioned Bartok to write a violin concerto. Bartok was enamored with her, but they were never romantically involved. Maurice Ravel also met d'Aranyi and composed Tzigane for Violin and Piano for her. The title literally means "in the gypsy style."
After a 15-year marriage, Bartok divorced Marta and married another pianist, Ditta Pasztory. They remained together for the rest of his life and Bartok dedicated the Lullaby from Village Scenes to her.
Bartók: Violin Duo No. 42- Arabian Song
Drucker, v.; Setzer, v.
Bartók: String Quartet No. 2, II
Bartók: The Miraculous Mandarin Suite, Op. 19
EMI 47117 2
Bartók: Violin Sonata #2, I
Andsnes, p; Tezlaff, v.
Virgin Classics 45668
Ravel: Tzigane For Violin & Piano (excerpt)
Hope, v.; Knauer, lutheal
Bartók: Village Scenes: Lullaby
New York Philharmonic/Boulez; Fuerstman, alto
Bartók: Cantata Profana (excerpt)
Budapest Festival Orchestra & Choir of Hungarian Radio & TV/Solti
Orff: Carmina Burana (excerpt)
In 1938, Bartok wrote Contrasts after being commissioned by American clarinetist Benny Goodman to write a piece for Goodman, Bartok and Bartok's close friend/violinst Joseph Szigeti. It debuted in 1938 at Carnegie Hall.
Paul Sacher, conductor of the Basel Chamber Orchestra in Switzerland, commissioned Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta. Sacher commissioned several works from composers who could no longer work in Nazi Germany, and this included Bartok.
Additionally in 1938, Bartok and his wife Ditta premiered Bartok's piece Concerto for Two Pianos in Basel, Switzerland.
Bartok: Violin Duo No. 34: Counting Song (excerpt)
Setzer, v.; Drucker, v.
Bartók: Piano Concerto #2, SZ 95 – 1. Allegro
Berlin Philharmonic/Boulez; Andsnes, p.
Bartók: Contrasts – I. Verbunkos (Recruiting Dance)
Goodman, cl.; Bartok, p.; Szigeti, v.
Bartók: Music For Strings, Percussion And Celesta, III & IV
London 430 352-2
Bartók: Violin Concerto No. 2, I (excerpt), II
CSO/Boulez; Shaham, v.
DG 459 639
Bartók: Concerto for Two Pianos, Percussion and Orchestra, III
Concertgebouw/Zinman; Argerich, p.; Freiere, p.
Philips 416 378-2
Bartok's last piece before leaving Eurpoe was Divertimento for Strings, commissioned by Paul Sacher. After Bartok's mother died, there was little keeping him in Hungary, and his violinist friend Jospeph Szigeti convinced Bartok and his family to move to New York.
Bartok became very sick while in the U.S., and while in the hospital, Serge Koussevitzky, conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, commissioned the piece Concerto for Orchestra. This piece helped keep Bartok working despite his illness, which was eventually correctly diagnosed as leukemia. The piece premiered in Boston on December 1, 1944.
While not explored in this program, Bartok also wrote a multitude of children's pieces published under the title Microcosm.
Bartók: Divertimento for Strings, III
Camerata Academica Des Mozarteums/Végh
Bartók: Concerto For Orchestra, I
London/Decca 400 052-2
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 60 Leningrad, I
Live broadcast from July 19, 1942
NBC Symphony Orchestra/Toscanini
Lehár: “Da Geh’ Ich Zu Maxim” fr. Merry Widow (excerpt)
Thomas Hampson, bar.
DG 459 658-2
Bartók: Concerto For Orchestra, IV & V
London/Decca 400 052-2
Bartók: Piano Concerto No. 3, II & III
L. A. Philharmonic Orchestra/Salonen; Bronfman, p.
Bartók: Violin Duo No. 10 – Ruthenian Song
Drucker, v.; Setzer, v.