Part of the WFMT Radio Network

2009 Archive



December 28, 2009 - January 1, 2010

American Masters, Part I – The first week in our series exploring great but lesser-known American composers from 1920s, 30s, and 40s. We’ll focus on the compositions and musical influences of Howard Hanson, Walter Piston, and William Grant Still, plus many more.


December 21 - 25, 2009

Holiday Celebration – All around the world, winter holidays are celebrated, and their music is wonderful to hear, regardless of which tradition you observe. Bill gets us started with Nova Stella, medieval Italian Christmas music with a very early staging of the nativity.  We will enjoy Christmas in Paris with music from Debussy, Charpentier and Poulenc and a Polynesian traditional hymn, Anau Oia Ea, plus an excerpt from Amahl and the Night Visitors from the original television production. Bill plays us one of his favorites from Ernest Bloch, Sacred Service. On our final day we will listen to Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on Christmas Carols, and this week’s celebration will end with more holiday cheer from David Bowie and Bing Crosby.


December 14 - 18, 2009

Beethoven Quartets – This week on Exploring Music, we’ll be tracing the life of Ludwig van Beethoven through his string quartets and analyzing key movements in this magnificent body of chamber music. We’ll take a tour through all 16 quartets; his early, middle, and late quartets plus the story behind his stand alone Grosse Fuga.


December 14 - 18, 2009

Johannes Brahms, Part II – This is the second of two weeks exploring the music and life of the great German master. Brahms’s love of Hungarian Gypsy music and folksongs allowed him to create music that speaks to our inner souls. Scholars think Brahms threw away more works than he published, so let us treasure the music we have from him.


December 7 - 11, 2009

Johannes Brahms, Part I – The first of a two-week biography exploring the music and life of a defining voice of the German Romantic Era. In his formative year as a pianist, Brahms befriends Robert and Clara Schumann, and with their support and later with the violinist Joseph Joachim, develops his musical voice. Bill speaks of Brahms’ struggles to publish symphonies on the heels of Beethoven‑ his two orchestra serenades were played publicly twenty years before his four symphonies. We end this first part of Brahms’ story with the German Requiem.



November 30 - December 4, 2009

Variations – Exploring themes and variations. In one of his pensees, Pascal says, “That man lives between the abyss of the infinitely large and the abyss of the infinitely small. The voyage of variations leads to the other infinitude, into the infinite diversity of the interior world lying hidden in all things.” Bill leads us on this voyage through a theme and it’s variations.


November 23 - 27, 2009

Family Matters: All in the Family – Musicians, are like that proverbial apple, they too do not fall far from the tree. With musicians marry musicians their children are bound to be musical. This week features composers and their kin, including the Bachs, Scarlattis, Schumanns and others.


November 16 - 20, 2009

Rachmaninoff – Serge Rachmaninoff- The finest example of late Russian Romanticism, we'll take five hours to explore the life and music of this lyrically gifted pianist and composer.


November 9 - 13, 2009

Tone Poems – In a literal case of art imitating life, symphonic music is freed from its traditional structures and takes a programmatic turn. Generally one movement, Tone Poem’s illustrate or describe with music a poem, a painting or other non musical source. Bill invites us to sit with him as he describes and listens to this image evoking dramatic music.


November 2 - 6, 2009

The Viola – This week we’ll celebrate some of the exquisite music written for this “inner voice”. The viola is the middle sister of the stringed instruments, sitting between the violins and the cellos, and playing in a clef written devised just for her.  The viola is often misunderstood and mistaken for a “larger violin” or sometimes either forgotten about or made the butt of jokes. But, the viola sings with a dark richness that composers loved!  Mozart, Brahms, and Dvorak, to name just a few composers, played the viola, and oh, Hindemith did too.  And these composers, plus many more figured out how to let this instrument have her day in the sun with concertos, tone poems, and orchestral solos. Listen and you too will fall in love with this instrument.



October 26 - 31, 2009

Sounds of the City of Light – Music in Paris from Berlioz to Debussy, from 1830 to the early 1900s.


October 19 - 23, 2009

Aaron Copland – For some, Aaron Copland conjures images of covered wagons and endless frontiers.  For others, he evokes Olympic athletes, astronauts and fallen heroes.  From waves of grain to stars and stripes, Aaron Copland defined the soundtrack to everything American.  This week, we’ll trace his trek from the heart of Brooklyn to the heart of a nation.  Featured works include Appalachian Spring, Rodeo, Fanfare for the Common Man and Billy the Kid.


October 12 - 16, 2009

Autumn Leaves – 

As greens, twinkling lights and Santa Clauses appear on every corner, let us not forget that this is the season of Autumn:  the “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.”  This week on Exploring Music, we’ll enjoy works inspired by sights, sounds and smells of nature at season’s end, including selections by Vivaldi, Delius and Schubert. Works inspired by sights, sounds and smells of the world at summer’s end, including selections by Vivaldi, Piazzola, Delius and Schubert.


October 5 - 9, 2008

The Symphony, Part IV – Continuing our massive series in examining the symphony, widely considered one of the most important forms of classical music. Our exploration this week continues with music from composers born around 1880. Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Vaughan Williams will be featured



September 28 - October 2, 2009

Sergei Prokofiev – A look at the life and music of l’enfant terrible, Sergei Prokofiev. A look at the life and music of one of Russia's most talented and controversial composers, Sergei Prokofiev.


September 21 - 25, 2009

The Big Five, Part II: The New York Philharmonic  – We continue to look at the unique history of the New York Philharmonic. Just think about the audiences who were there before you: from Walt Whitman's  “silent sea of faces and the unbared heads” listening to the funeral march from Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony as Abraham Lincoln lay in state at City Hall, to the orchestra’s televised tribute to JKF led by Leonard Bernstein, and later still, the premiere of the John Adams On the Transmigration of Souls, commissioned by the Philharmonic to remember the victims of September 11, 2001. In celebration and in mourning, the New York Philharmonic has been there.


September 14 - 18, 2009

The Big Five, Part I: The New York Philharmonic –  Bill begins a two-week series on our oldest orchestra, the New York Philharmonic. Their doors opened December 7, 1842 and Bill plays several pieces the Philharmonic included in its opening season— the overture to Weber’s Oberon and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. This orchestra was conducted and cultivated by Franz Liszt, Richard Strauss, and Gustav Mahler, and their influence along with many other musicians is still heard in every note the orchestra plays. Many of the works they premiered have become standard orchestral literature.  Bill interviews musicians, explores the orchestra’s archives, and features some of its most memorable performances.


September 7 - 11, 2009

Latin Carnival – From Padilla and Ponce to Ginastera, Villa-Lobos and Piazzolla, we’re celebrating music by Latin-American composers.



August 31 - September 4, 2009

Bach's Not-so-minor B Minor Mass – Examination of the growth of Bach’s masterpiece, starting with the smaller Lutheran Masses which led up to the B Minor Mass, also includes influences from Palestrina to Bach’s own instrumental and organ works.


August 24 - 28, 2009

School Days – A celebration of young composers and performers.


August 17 - 21, 2009

Claude Debussy – Claude Debussy, who once said he learned more from poets and painters than from the music conservatory, is considered the figurehead of Impressionist music (though he would vehemently argue against it).  Influenced by Bach's arabesques and the romantic Chopin, the Frenchman made his mark in music with his otherworldly compositions, beginning with "Danse Bohemienne". While we listen to his compositions Bill reflects on Debussy's peculiar upbringing, studies in the Paris conservatory, and his Prix de Rome win.


August 10 - 14, 2009

Sweet Home Chicago – Exploring Music teams up with the Grant Park Music Festival.  Orchestral and Choral performances and recordings.


August 3 - 7, 2009

The Violin Concerto – There is a saying in much of eastern Europe, “Every boy is born with a violin under his pillow”. Parents dream of him as a great violinist, not  a doctor or a lawyer as we do in America. And every composer wrote at least one violin concerto here is just a sampling of their output.



July 27 - 31, 2009

A Green and Pleasant Land – With William Blake’s famous words as a stepping-off point, we’re traversing the pastoral musical landscapes of the British Isles.


July 20 - 24, 2009

Venice: The Glories of – Exploring Music focuses on sounds of the city, water, and love in Venice. Bill explores the magical city that inspired music of the late Renaissance, Baroque, and the beginning of Italian opera. From Monteverdi and Orlando di Lasso, Bill includes religious and secular music and continues with two major Venetian influences: Adrian Willaert of Dutch descent and the Roman composer Palestrina. Other composers featured in the week are Gabrieli, Vivaldi, Verdi, and more.


July 13 - 17, 2009

Les Six – It’s the anti-Wagner and anti-Impressionist tour de force.  Join us for the delightfully irreverent bad boys, and girl, of 1920’s Montparnasse, with Auric, Durey, Honegger, Milhaud, Poulenc and Tailleferre.


July 6 - 10, 2009

Through the Mail Slot – All media outlets have a special place for unsolicited materials.  This week we’ll explore unexpected musical treats that were delivered to Bill’s doorstep. This week’s music is a collection of eclectic and colorful works which deserve their very own week.



June 29 - July 3, 2009

Outward Bound – Afoot and lighthearted Bill takes to the open road with the world before him. In the steps of Walt Whitman he explores the relationship of man to nature as expressed in music. Works include Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, Strauss' Alpine Symphony, and Villa-Lobos' Bachianas Brasileiras. Join us on this musical path.


June 22 - 26, 2009

Pastoral Symphonies – The show will feature music inspired by bucolic nature scenes, including Pastoral symphonies by Beethoven and Vaughan Williams, and R. Strauss’ Alpine Symphony.  We’ll also feature readings of the American naturalist John Muir.


June 15 - 19, 2009

Wind Quintets – We’ll explore some of the glorious music written for the popular chamber music combination of flute, clarinet, oboe, horn and bassoon. Bill will also focus on each instrument alone so we can identify the sound and character that makes it unique.


June 8 - 12, 2009

Invitation to the Dance, Part III: Balanchine – This third installment of our series on dance music will center on the charmed life of George Balanchine, the chief choreographer of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Born in St. Petersburg, Balanchine became a dancer and accomplished pianist, and we will listen to the music that inspired him to choreograph his iconic dance movements. We will listen to music by Bach, Ravel, Tchaikovsky and Balanchine’s longtime friend, Igor Stravinsky.


June 1 - 5, 2009

Mozart Piano Concertos – This week we will explore Mozart’s piano concerti and all of the relationships that influenced him, especially his one with Johann Christian Bach. While exploring various sounds, the teenage Mozart was so heavily inspired by J.C. Bach's writing that he made it his own. Bach and Mozart bonded over music, as well as over tricky keyboard games.



May 25 - 29, 2009

Haydn Symphonies – Dear old Papa Haydn, as he was known in 18th century Vienna, was a fatherly figure to the finest musicians of his day.  He is also the father of the symphonic form.  This week we’ll sample some of his 104 symphonies, following their development from modest orchestral pieces to expressions of wit, humor, and drama.


May 18 - 22, 2009

Soundtracks – Since the beginning of cinematography classical music has been there to enhance the narrative and drama of the silver screen. For the next five days we will listen to the music composed for the films ET, Zorba the Greek, and Robin Hood plus many more great musical scores.


May 11 - 15, 2009

Fit for a King – This relationship between the King and his musical subjects was intimate deep and lasted for hundreds if not thousands of years. From Bach to Bridge this week we will listen to the rich and intriguing world of the European court composer.


May 4 - 8, 2009

Distant Neighbors – This week we’ll explore the music of Mexico and Central America. Though we share a very long border with Latin America, we live in two very different worlds. Their history is thousands of years old, and ours is younger. Come on this journey with us to the deep and rich musical history of our neighbors to the south.



April 27 - May 1, 2009

The Big Five, Part I: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra – We’ll reach back into the history, growth and development of one of America’s great musical institutions, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. We will touch on the composers, conductors, patrons, and musicians who all had a hand in making this orchestra a vital and thriving world treasure.


April 20 - 24, 2009

Béla Bartók – We’ll follow the life and musical development of one of Hungary’s greatest composers.


April 13 - 17, 2009

Beethoven and that Danged Metronome – This week we’ll celebrate some of the exquisite music written for this “inner voice”. The viola is the middle sister of the stringed instruments, sitting between the violins and the cellos, and playing in a clef written devised just for her.  The viola is often misunderstood and mistaken for a “larger violin” or sometimes either forgotten about or made the butt of jokes. But, the viola sings with a dark richness that composers loved!  Mozart, Brahms, and Dvorak, to name just a few composers, played the viola, and oh, Hindemith did too.  And these composers, plus many more figured out how to let this instrument have her day in the sun with concertos, tone poems, and orchestral solos. Listen and you too will fall in love with this instrument.


April 6 - 10. 2009

St. Matthew Passion – Composed in 1727, it’s one of two surviving J.S. Bach accounts of the last days of Jesus. Bill begins by examining the history of the Lutheran church in Germany and the early musical representations of Christ’s last days, including Bach’s earlier St. John Passion. Before the week is over we will also sample Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ and Osvaldo Golijov’s La Pasión Según San Marcos.



March 30 - April 3, 2009

George Gershwin – A true American original.  Join us for a week-long look at the life and soulful music of George Gershwin, including his Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris and Porgy and Bess.


March 23 - 27, 2009

Wagner's Ring Cycle – For most operas, a five-hour survey would more than cover every measure, every note – but not this one, Wagner’s crowning achievement. Bill helps us understand and enjoy this long and fanciful journey, with richly textured music that continues to grow in complexity as the operas proceed. Wagner spent a quarter of a century writing the libretto and composing the music that follows the struggles and dramas of gods, heroes, and mythical creatures. We will listen to orchestral preludes, arias, and more from The RhinegoldThe Valkylie, Siegfried, and Twilight of the Gods.


March 16 - 20, 2009

Orpheus in the New World – With communications and travel offering cultural exchange like never before, today’s composer draws from an enormous palette, giving voice to the amazing era in which we live. You’ll find tonality and melody are most decidedly in style, while originality and diversity reign. From Schwantner and Adams to Neikrug and Beach, we'll listen to and celebrate their music.


March 9 - 13. 2009

Under the Hood, Part II – Back by popular request, Bill takes us through the inner-workings of five great symphonies by Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Sibelius. Thus allowing us to understand some of the deeper meanings hidden in these symphonies.


March 2 - 6, 2009

Robert Schumann – A biography of the torrid and life of one of Germany’s early romantics. Married to composer/pianist Clara Wieck, and a friend to Johannes Brahms, Felix Mendelssohn, and Joseph Joachim, Schumann was at the very heart of the German Romantic intellectual movement in the mid 19th century. He was a composer, pianist, and music critic.



February 23 - 27, 2009

The Proud Tower, Part II – More music from the Gilded Age to the Great War. Bill picks up his exploration of music from the “banquet years” in the early 1900's in Russia with music from Rimsky-Korsakov and Rachmaninov. We then travel to Paris to hear Cécile Chaminade and conclude in Austria with Mahler and Lehár. Our journey ends with The Rite of Spring, and as we approach the precipice of war, we hear a piece from George Butterworth, who died in the Battle of the Somme.


February 16 - 20, 2009

The Proud Tower, Part I – Bill gains his inspiration for these two weeks of Exploring Music from Barbara Tuchman’s book The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914.  This was a gilded age for music that brought us boldly into the 20th century.  We will listen to music from many composers and their countries—Elgar from Britain, Schoenberg from Austria, and Bill closes this first week with French composer Claude Debussy’s La Mer.


February 9 - 13, 2009

It was a Lover and his Lass – We start every hour of this week with a "hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino" from the incidental music in Shakespeares' As You Like It. Bill rounds out each day with many different composers' works influenced by all aspects of love.


February 2 - 6, 2009

Felix Mendelssohn – German composer Felix Mendelssohn finds himself at the center of this week's episode of Exploring Music. He has been hailed as one of the greatest musical minds of all time. We venture from his precocious youth to his early death. His great body of work is still in the repertories of chamber groups and orchestras. And it’s the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto that is loved by all.  The same love and devotion is true for his String Octet and Italian Symphony.



January 26 - 30, 2009

Mozart : Bright Lights, Big City – Mozart gets the boot from the Archbishop and moves from his hometown of Salzburg to the music capital of Vienna. This cosmopolitan world opened Mozart’s eyes and ears to a creative world that he expresses so beautifully in his music.


January 19 - 23, 2009

Listeners' Choice, Part II – Back again!  Last year we gave an entire week to listener requests, but the suggestions just kept on coming.  This all-new edition includes African-American composers, a Japanese Koto ensemble playing Handel, and traditional Hawaiian pieces.


January 12 - 16, 2009

Little Traveling Music, Please – Wanderers, farewells, and sightseeing; people are always on the go. This week, Bill calls up, “A Little Traveling Music, Please” from the pens of Handel, Smetana, Duke Ellington, and more. Reflections from such travels infuse themselves into their works, as we will discover throughout the week. We will hear selections from Beethoven’s Les Adieux, Schubert’s Die Schöne Mullerin,  and Haydn’s Farewell Symphony.


January 5 - 9. 2009

Pastoral Symphonies – The show will feature music inspired by bucolic nature scenes, including Pastoral symphonies by Beethoven and Vaughan Williams, and R. Strauss’ Alpine Symphony.  We’ll also feature readings of the American naturalist John Muir.


The Exploring Music streaming website is supported by Mr. & Mrs. William Gardner Brown and the Richard P. and Susan Kiphart Family.  
You have opened up the world of Classical Music to me, where previously, it seemed too complicated.
Steffen Demeter
This is simply one of the very best radio programmes in the medium!...The study of the people, the times, and the events that inform the music we otherwise enjoy and even, heaven forbid, take for granted, brings the entire world of the music and the composer to life.
Walther Davies
There isn't a program you broadcast on Exploring Music" that isn't of interest. I find them all engaging. It is a combination of variety of subject, intellectual curiosity and your obvious enthusiasm which characterize your satisfying programs.
Michael Sanders
It’s a great way to re-engage myself with consciousness before heading off to work.
I Love this program! I am in 7th grade and I am the complete opposite of the other kids. I am 4th chair in the orchestra and I love to read. But most of all, I LOVE classical music!
Claudia Wertz
Your show has helped open my mind and heart to this world of music, and every show I hear confirms my place in music and gives me new ideas for where I'd like to go with it in the future….I grew up with classical music as a child and always held it in my heart, but I didn't have the confidence to be a good student (or a good violinist.)
Christine Anderson
Listening to you is almost interactive.You invite us in with so many well modulated dramatic and informative comments, enticing, enthusiastic interpretations, and coherent, beautiful presentations. It's a privilege to follow you into the musical space you create.
Sally Rosenbaum
I just love this program. It is soothing and comfortable at the end of the day. I find his comments interesting, but they aren't so dragged out that there is very little music. The balance of both is just right.
Jean Quay
Newsletters Thank You!