June 26 - 30, 2017
Musical Landscapes – This week Exploring Music paints landscapes with music. We start in an outdoor café, listening to Placido Domingo sing Augustin Lara’s song about the Andalusian city Granada. Then our tour walks through the gardens with Manuel De Falla and rides the sea's waves with Debussy. We'll climb the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains to listen to Pepe Ramero play Francisco Tárrega's Recuerdos De La Alhambra. And this is all just in the first hour! Landscapes are a wonderfully rich subject in music which we will return to many times, so just slow down and take in the sights and sounds of our musical travels.
June 19 - June 23, 2017
The Four Seasons – From the boundless majesty of the summer sun in Haydn’s Die Jahreszeiten to the frosty snow and shivering winds of Vivaldi’s Winter, this week is dedicated to music inspired by the changing seasons. Come and find out how something as natural and routine as the seasons and the changes between them can inspire a wide variety of music.
June 12 - June 16, 2017
Igor Stravinsky – By his early thirties, Igor Stravinsky had captured the world stage with The Firebird, dazzled audiences with Petrushka and incited riots with The Rite of Spring. Before the First World War, he had earned his place as a seminal figure of the 20th century. We’ll explore this fascinating life and sample his works.
June 5 - June 9, 2017
Edward Elgar – There’s much more to Edward Elgar than graduation marches and the Enigma Variations. A composer of equally masterful symphonies, oratorios, chamber music, and concertos, he led a renaissance in 20th century England that firmly reestablished its musical identity. Don’t miss the last installment of the week when Bill features the “English Rose”, Jacqueline Du Pre in her legendary performance of Elgar’s Cello Concerto.
May 29 - June 2, 2017
American Masters, Part IV – This is the fourth week Exploring Music has spent exploring American composers well known and otherwise. Come join Bill for a trip to the music library and sample everything from Carpenter's wonky ballet, Krazy Cat, to Randall Thompson's choral takes on Frost.
May 22 - 26, 2017
Piano Concertos – The piano concerto is one of the most beloved genres of the concert hall. After all, it was the thundering virtuosity of some of the great composer/pianists that gave rise to music's first superstars! To name just a few of our stars we'll explore their world and the great music of Mozart and Rachmaninoff.
May 15 - 19, 2017
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.
May 8 - 12, 2017
To the Finland Station, Part II – “The theme of my fifth symphony is the making of man.” —D. Shostakovich. In 1949, Dmitry Shostakovich traveled for the first time to New York to play his 5th Symphony on the piano, to 30,000 listeners at Madison Square Garden. The shy Shostakovich traveled and performed this concert at the request of Joseph Stalin. Making of mankind was a theme of many artists in the 30’s. These artists used creativity to reply to tumultuous political times, sometimes writing complete symphonies in a matter of weeks, and because of the current political environment, the public didn’t hear these works for decades. This week is the second part in our a two-week journey into the hidden phrases and chords that these Russian musicians used to express their inner thoughts and creativity on this historical path. Bill will feature composers from both sides of the Iron Curtain.
May 1 - 5, 2017
To the Finland Station, Part I – “I have spoken Russian all my life. I think in Russian, my way of expressing myself is Russian. Perhaps this is not immediately apparent in my music, but it is latent there, a part of its hidden nature.” — Igor Stravinsky, Russian born, naturalized French, and then American, spoke these words in a emotionalvisit to his homeland after an almost fifty-year absence. 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of Vladimir Lenin's return to Russia, arriving at the Finland Station in St. Petersburg, and changing the course of history. For the next two weeks, we will follow the lives of some of our favorite Russian musicians, and how the revolution changed them and their music. Starting a decade before the Revolution, we will then spend a little time on the period 1918 to 1924, Lenin’s reign, featuring all sorts of avant-garde composers and poets and playwrights, and then plunge on into the era of Stalin, with the music of Shostakovich and many others. We will pay attention to Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, which featured Rimsky-Korakov, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Rachmaninov among others. The latter three remained in the West after the revolution, and Prokofiev returned to the USSR in the Thirties. Hop on this train!
April 24 - 28, 2017
Musical Cryptograms – Musicians have long been told that their minds are similar to those of mathematicians. This week we'll discover and decipher codes, messages and meanings that have been hidden within pieces of classical music over the centuries. Some of these messages were encoded for the fun of the puzzle, while others held deep painful meanings.
April 17 - 21, 2017
Symphony, Part IX – In this next chapter in our survey of the symphony, we will turn to Germany, Austria, and France during the turbulent years after the Great War. Bill will introduce us to symphonies by Hans Pfitzner, Albert Roussel, Franz Schmidt, and we will also hear a wonderful performance of Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin’s My Ship, sung by Dawn Upshaw.
April 10 - 14, 2017
Schubertiade Part II – The title refers to a type of “home-made” music making that became popular during Schubert's time, chamber music. This week we continue to hear chamber music compositions by one of the foremost composers and namesake of this intimate genre, Franz Schubert himself!
April 3 - 7, 2017
Baltic Music – Who knows what it is that makes the music of the Baltic region so recognizable and compelling? Many of us know and love the work of Sibelius, Finland's greatest musical export, but the countries around the Gulf of Finland have given us a wealth composers, some better known than others. In this week of shows we will explore music from a land of lakes & islands, isolated, self-contained, and full of beauty. Composers like Erkki Melartin, Leevi Madetoja, Jonas Kokkonen, Heino Eller, and Arvo Pärt, working in the long shadow of Sibelius, created violin concertos, symphonies, tone poems, choral works, and chamber works. So what is it that fascinates us about this distant northern region? Perhaps we will sum it up best with a fantastic piece by Uuno Klami's called “Aurora Borealis.”
March 27 - 31, 2017
Rachmaninoff, Sergei – The finest example of late Russian Romanticism. This Russian composer held on to being a romantic composer well into the twentieth century, a time when his fellow composers like Stravinsky and Prokofiev were forever reinventing classical music. We will dedicate this week to explore the private life and music of this lyrically gifted pianist and composer. Rachmaninoff once said, “If you want to know me, you must know my music."
March 20 - 24, 2017
Virtuoso, The World of – What distinguishes a virtuoso from a merely great musician? This week we feature these musicians who had it all. We start in the 16th century with the development of violin and keyboard instruments that brought the rise of the virtuoso. Composers created music for artists who claimed these instruments as their own. Generations of musicians forever challenged and one-upped those who led the way, playing concertos to delight us. Join Bill as he follows his ear through the centuries from Sephardic composer Thomas Lupo, played by violinist Andrew Manze, through Niccolò Paganini performed by Michael Rabin, to the present day with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra playing The Octet for Wind Instruments by Igor Stravinsky.
March 13 - 17, 2017
Music for the Masses – No, we're not talking about the proletariat--this is music set to the great Latin Masses, which expand over 800 years from the earliest of composers to the most modern.
March 6 - 10, 2017
Russian Five: The Mighty Handful – Five prominent composers; Balakirev, Mussorgsky, Cui, Borodin, and Rimsky-Korsakov all worked to help form the Russian National School of Composers, which later was named The New Russian School. These five composers, led by Mily Balakirev, all lived in Saint Petersburg and collaborated from 1856 to 1870. Throughout these programs Bill will research each of these composers and demonstrate some of their most prominent works.
February 27 - March 3, 2017
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.
February 20 - 24, 2017
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 soundtracks composed for the films E.T., Zorba the Greek, and Robin Hood, plus many more great musical scores.
February 13 - 17, 2017
Yin and Yang, the Play of Opposites, Part 2 – This week we continue to hold on to the dragon’s tail listening to the pull of musical opposites. Starting with Samuel Barber and Francisco Tárrega, only Bill knows where this week's musical yin and yang will end! Heaven, Earth, or the abyss!
February 6 - 10, 2017
Yin and Yang, the Play of Opposites, Part 1 – The idea for this two-week exploration came from a listener who suggested we explore music of "great calm", music which seems to gently pick us up and float us away from this earth. Bill liked the idea very much and immediately started sketching a week of the Romantics, from Berlioz to Mahler. But as he went along, he started to feel a tug in the opposite direction — what about music that picks up and drives us like a mad coachmen, hurtling us toward conclusion or chaos, music of sound and fury and joy and lots of noise? And so, here we are: The Play of Opposites. Think of Frost's Fire or Ice, or Eliot's Bang or Whimper. Opposites, it seems, may contain the whole.
January 30 - February 3, 2017
Grieg and Sibelius – We’ll explore the lives and music of the two Scandinavian greats: Edvard Grieg and Jean Sibelius. Music spanning almost one hundred years includes a number of chamber works, Grieg’s Peer Gynt, the Norwegian Dances and several Sibelius symphonies.
January 23 - 27, 2017
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.
January 16 - 20, 2017
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.
January 9 - 13, 2017
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.
January 2 - 6, 2017
Listeners’ Choice III – Your emails arrive in our comment box with wonderful musical requests! This week Bill features your email comments with music that you asked to hear. This includes a festival overture from a little-known Australian composer, fun transcriptions and original works for trombone, plus more. Monday never sounded better!
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