December 21, 2018 - January 4, 2019
New Wine in Old Bottles – This is a week of transcriptions, orchestrations, fantasies, rhapsodies, and reminiscences: the creative efforts of composers who give new vitality to existing music by transforming it. This is much more than composers finding inspiration from others; these are works that use the structure and tunes of another composer to create a new piece in their own voice. Bill includes folk music and works by Bach, Liszt, and Ravel as set by Stokowski, Schoenberg, and Copland.
December 24 - 28, 2018
Bach's Christmas Oratorio – An exploration of the six cantatas performed in Leipzig’s St. Thomas and St. Nicholas churches in December 1734. These six Bach cantatas were written to correspond with the days of the Lutheran church year, and are collectively referred to as the "Christmas Oratorio". We start the week with Cantata No. 1 (For the First Day of Christmas) and we will end with Cantata No. 6 for Epiphany.
December 17 - 21, 2018
Tudor Music – The House of Tudor reigned from Henry VII through Elizabeth I, and during this time, the arts were loved and supported by church and state alike. This support gave rise to a new type of English secular music, music that was not folk music and didn’t belong to the church. Though the Tudor poets are better known than the composers, the composers have left quite a legacy. On this edition of Exploring Music, we'll listen to William Byrd, Thomas Tallis, and to Henry VIII, who himself wrote a number of pieces!
December 10 - 14, 2018
Fit for a King – “We’re going to have a ball this week,” Bill says, “listening to some glorious music and, in most cases, giving credit where credit is well due, to the people that commissioned these pieces.” Bill ushers in George I in England, whose favorite composer was Handel— both men were German born, and it’s George I who started the tradition that continues today of standing during the “Hallelujah” Chorus of Messiah. Bill also connects Haydn, Scarlatti, and Walton to their savvy patrons, confirming that if you want to command the finest musicians, it’s good to be the king.
December 3 - 7, 2018
Incidentally Speaking – Bill articulates how music propels dramatic action and sustains poignant moments in performing arts. “Incidental music” may be a misnomer. It started with Greek dramas but, as Bill explains, music often plays a pivotal if not starring role. Example: in the opening scene of the play Moderen (The Mother) by Helge Rode, Nielsen’s two-minute “The Fog is Lifting” drives the tableau of a mother leaving her son. Works by Fauré, Mendelssohn, Debussy, and others are equally compelling.
November 26 - 30, 2018
Fauré, Gabriel – Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) was the vanguard composer of his generation in France. Devoting a series to him comes from a listener suggestion. Bill feels Fauré’s early prowess places him in the prodigy category with Mendelssohn and Mozart. As proof, Bill begins the week with “Le papillon et la fleur” (The butterfly and the flower) and “Mai”, both written when Fauré was 16. Bill then offers some examples that display Fauré’s mastery of short pieces, and explains Fauré’s many harmonic and melodic innovations, as in his famous Requiem.
November 19 - 23, 2018
Martha Graham and Her Music – Martha Graham changed the way we think about dance, as much as Igor Stravinsky did with music, and Pablo Picasso with his paintings and sculpture. Her choreography was born out of a close relationship to fresh-off-the-page music: she commissioned ballets from American composers Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, and Louis Horst— whose music would be all but forgotten if it were not for archival films of Graham’s early dances like her 1931 Primitive Mysteries. She lived a long, passionate life and her ashes are scattered across the Sangre de Cristo mountain range above Santa Fe, New Mexico. There they mingle with the memories of so many artists from her generation.
November 12 - 16, 2018
Music in a Time of War – This week we explore works inspired by, reacting to, or written in protest of war. Bill opens with Mass in Time of War by Joseph Haydn, an oddly cheery mass that Haydn wrote in the hopes that it would convince God to stop Napoleon’s advance into Austria. Beethoven, fascinated by military maneuvers, used music to create a scene of battle in which the British and French are represented by a leitmotif from their respective countries. We continue with patriotism and the pain of war expressed by Russian composers Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, and end in England and America with Britten’s War Requiem, and Roy Harris’s “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.”
November 5 - 9, 2018
I Hear America Singing – Walt Whitman taught Americans how to hear their country sing in his 1860 poem. Composer Aaron Copland took up Whitman’s call and fashioned his Lincoln Portrait as part of an expressive musical landscape of the country in the early 20th century. Bill reveals the extraordinary Americanness captured in this music — and in election speeches incorporated into operas such as Douglas Moore’s Ballad of Baby Doe — then through the music of Ives, Barber, Ellington, Gershwin, and Mark O’Connor.
October 29 - November 2, 2018
Demons, Spooks and Other Things That Go Bump in the Night – Darkness descends on Exploring Music as Malcolm Arnold leads a pair of drunken bassoonists through a dark foggy peat bog, Henry Cowell conjures a banshee from the piano, and Paganini’s violin flirts with the devil. Bill lines up the composers who delighted in the supernatural – but it’s not all about Hallowe’en in America: there’s Walpurgisnacht (throughout Europe), and St. John’s Eve (international). EM conjures the ghosts, the goblins, Mephistopheles, and other phantasmagoria depicted by Brahms, Berlioz, Verdi, Busoni, Offenbach, and more.
October 22 - 26, 2018
Magnificent Magyars – Surveying the history of music in Hungary. Hungary was settled by the Magyars in the late 9thcentury and in 1000 became a state. After adopting Latin Christianity in the 11th century, the country’s rich musical heritage of church music started: Gregorian plainchants, and later in the Middle Ages with fully realized polyphonic singing. Bill picks it up from there with the blending of religious music and ethnic folksongs from the countryside, reflected in the music of Liszt, Kodály, and Bartók. And let’s not forget the influences of Hungarian gypsy music and Transylvanian dances.
October 15 - 19, 2018
The Symphony, Part 12 – Join us as we span the globe in part twelve of our continuing exploration of the symphony. Dmitri Shostakovich will start us in the Soviet Union with Lou Harrison bringing us back to America, and along the way we’ll visit many countries including England, Italy, France, Denmark, Sweden, Brazil, Bali, and India. From India we’ll hear Ravi Shankar’s Symphony for Sitar and Orchestra, performed by the London Philharmonic with sitar soloist Anoushka Shankar. Ravi Shankar said at the symphony’s premiere, “This was conceived entirely for the Western symphony orchestra, so I had to eliminate the traditional Indian instruments but transfer some of their spirit onto the Western instruments.”
October 8 - 12, 2018
Bach to Beethoven – A century separates Bach’s B Minor Mass and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 – crowning achievements of two very distinct voices. Bill begins the week observing Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Italian Concerto, and Brandenburg Concertos, then connects them to Beethoven by exploring the harmonies, rhythms, orchestration, and musical forms of Italy, France, Germany, and England. Bill reaches the end of the week with the Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, and excerpts from Haydn and Mozart that provide context for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.
October 1 - 5, 2018
Autumn Leaves – The changing seasons are a beloved theme of Exploring Music. “Composers,” Bill says, “just as much as poets and painters, love to celebrate the joys, the very charms of Autumn.” Bill begins with opposite expressions: the energetic Autumn section of Alexander Glazunov’s ballet The Seasons and Mahler’s gloomy “The Lonely One in Autumn” from The Song of the Earth (Das Lied von der Erde). Bill then crosses countries, continents, and centuries in Autumn, from Europe to North America, to South America and to Japan. Please Note: for stations in the Southern Hemisphere, we have an alternate program celebrating the start of Spring. Please contact us for details.
September 24 - 28. 2018
Millennium of Women’s Music – Exploring Music embraces works written in honor of, and by, great women — Masses for the Virgin Mary, Joan Tower’s Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman, and songs by Clara Schumann. This week we feature women performers and composers going back as far as we can find them in the history books — the Benedictine abbess-composer Hildegard of Bingen; Mozart’s friend, the Spanish composer Maria Theresa von Paradis; a couple of remarkable Polish composers around the time of Chopin; and on to Shulamit Ran. Performers will include Teresa Carreño, Hilary Hahn, and we hope to squeeze in Lorraine Hunt Lieberson singing "Willst du dein Herz mir schenken,"by Bach perhaps. This aria has a puzzling authorship; it was found copied in a foreign hand in Anna Magdalena Bach’s notebook, and has a theme of secret love.
September 17 - 21, 2018
The Big Five, Part I: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra – The Chicago Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1891 as part of the local burghers’ relentless pursuit of international recognition for a city growing faster than any in history. Bolstered by the World’s Fair Columbian Exposition in 1893, where America was introduced to Indonesia’s gamelan orchestra, the CSO is among the many cultural institutions founded during this time that continue today. Bill brings together the music of the composers, conductors, and musicians and tells stories of the hall and its patrons who participated in the making of the CSO.
September 10 - 14, 2018
String Quartet Composers from Fibich to Sibelius –Bill continues his in-depth look at the string quartet’s history and development this week, with a focus on late 20thcentury composers Zdeněk Fibich, Jean Sibelius, and their contemporaries, all born in the 1850s and 1860s. After quartets of Hugo Wolf and Claude Debussy, we will venture across the pond to another form of chamber music, a piano trio by American composer Amy Beach.
September 3 - 7, 2018
Song of Parting – Adiós, adieu, sayonara, vale, zàijiàn — no turning back this week as Bill takes a look at musical farewells: from Purcell’s Sonata for Trumpet, to Bach’s Capriccio to his eldest brother, to Romeo’s parting in Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet. Prokofiev’s use of the mandolin cleverly sets this ballet in Italy and note the saxophone expressing Romeo’s poignant exit. Kathleen Ferrier sings a Northumbrian folk song “Blow the Wind Southerly,” and Ray Charles doesn’t mince words in his shout to “Hit the Road Jack!” that includes a snarling vocal by Margie Hendricks of the Raelettes, and yes, more saxophone.
August 27 - 31, 2018
Italian Souvenirs – We all would like to have a holiday in Italy, and your desire will just grow and grow as you listen to this week of EM. The composers inspired by the great beauty of Italy include Berlioz, Liszt, Mendelssohn and Elgar. And let us not forget Mozart’s visit as a teenager that changed the course of opera forever.
August 20 - 24, 2018
Leonard Bernstein: The Composer – On this edition of Exploring Music, we focus on the works of Leonard Bernstein, the great American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer and pianist. We will enjoy his unique contributions to our American sounds; West Side Story, Candide, sonatas, symphonies, and more!
August 13 - 17, 2018
Brahms, Johannes, Part 2 – 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.
August 6 - 10, 2018
Brahms, Johannes, Part 1 – 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.
July 30 - August 3, 2018
España – Bill takes on the confluence of cultures, languages, and terrains in the country of Spain. Monday’s program starts with the religious music of early Spain during a time in which Islam, Judaism, and Christianity existed side by side, to 1492, when the Jews and Moors of Spain were banished from the country. We continue through the next 400 years, and this week concludes with music from present day Spain.
July 23 - 27, 2018
Fleisher, Leon – This week on Exploring Music, help us wish a very happy 90th birthday to the man Pierre Monteux called “the pianistic find of the century.” On the campus of Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, where he has been teaching for fifty years, we sat down with Leon Fleisher who reminisced on his childhood in San Francisco, his studies with Artur Schnabel, his legendary early recordings, his health struggle which for decades robbed him of the full use of his right hand, and his triumphant return to two-handed repertoire. Our journey is accompanied by music of Brahms, Beethoven, Ravel, Schubert, Mozart, Britten, Copland, Kirchner, and a lovely arrangement of Jerome Kern’s “All the Things You Are.”
July 16 - 20, 2018
The Symphony, Part 07 (Russian Composers) – Part VII of a massive series on examining the concept of a symphony, widely considered the most important form of classical music. Our exploration of the symphony continues with a look at Russia's contributions, from Anton Rubinstein and Rimsky-Korsakov through Glazunov and lastly, touching on the long and complex nature of Alexander Scriabin’s Symphony No. 2 and No. 3.
July 9 - 13, 2018
Get the Picture – Listen your way through the works of composers inspired by well-known paintings and poems. Pianist Alicia de Larrocha will perform Goyescas, by Enrique Granados, a musical transcription of Francisco Goya’s paintings. This week’s music includes Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler (Matthias the Painter), and Rachmaninoff’s Isle of the Dead. Many of these musical works have gone on to be the inspiration for new artistic creations. Art and music are one!
July 2 - 6, 2018
It Takes Two to Tango – Bill starts by sharing tunes with two musical lines, where one line goes up while the other goes down to create a counter melody, to complex sonatas like Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata for violin and piano. EM will feature remarkable performances of musicians working in tandem playing Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart. We’ll also savor the great love duets of Verdi, Puccini, and Wagner. Oh, and, don’t miss the cat duets of Rossini and Ravel!
June 25 - 29, 2018
Gitana: Gypsy Music its Influence – For thousands of years the Romany people journeyed through Europe and beyond. Native music and that of these travelers combined to create an energetic and exotic confluence unlike anything else. Brahms and many other composers took hold of these sounds creating music “alla zingarese,” or in the gypsy style. When Yehudi Menuhin was a student, his teacher George Enescu took him to live in Gitana camps to learn from these creative musicians. Menuhin credits this experience as a fundamental part of his violin technique and music making.
June 18 - 22, 2018
American Masters, Part VI – Join us this week as we continue our investigation of composers in America. Our first episodes began at the turn of the 20th century and over the years we have worked our way to composers who were active in the time of Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and beyond. You’ll hear all the usual suspects (Copland, Gershwin, Stravinsky, and Schoenberg), but we’ll also weave in beautiful and intriguing music from Peter Menin, Augustus Hailstork, Charles Wuorinen, Terry Riley, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Joan Tower, Charlie Parker, and, yes, Fats Domino. And we’ll end the week with rich, elegiac symphonic work from George Walker, the first African American composer to win the Pulitzer Prize.
June 11- 15. 2018
Mahler, Gustav, Part 2 – For a second week we continue with the life and works of Gustav Mahler. This week features Kindertotenlieder sung by Kathleen Ferrier; Symphony of a Thousand; and tenor Fritz Wunderlich singing the Drinking Song of the Earth’s Sorrow from Das Lied von der Erde. This is to name just a few highlights- you don’t want to miss this week!
June 4 - 8, 2018
Mahler, Gustav, Part 1 – An Austrian composer who thought, “A symphony should be like the world: it must embrace everything.” With his ten-plus symphonies, Mahler’s world extended horizons beyond anything known to concert audiences. His vision stretched the boundaries of the orchestra, of the symphonic form and even this radio show! Join us for two full weeks on the symphonies of Gustav Mahler.
May 28 - June 1, 2018
Water Music – In the 5th Century BC, water was classified as one of the four essential elements. Over the centuries artists, poets, philosophers and composers have returned again and again to the mysteries of water for inspiration. This week, we'll focus on Water Music with works by Vaughan Williams, Mahler, Debussy and (of course) Handel.
May 21 - 25, 2018
Dmitri Shostakovich, Part 2 – This week we conclude our two-part series on the life and times of Dmitri Shostakovich. From his later symphonies to the Jazz Suite No. 2, Bill explores all forms of Shostakovich’s writing. Starting with Shostakovich’s Four Romances after Pushkin, Op. 46, and his Symphony No. 5, The Market Place from The Gadfly, Op. 97, Bill ends the week with Kim Kashkashian playing a beautiful performance of the Viola Sonata with Robert Levin.
May 14 - 18, 2018
Dmitri Shostakovich, Part 1 – "He forged a musical language of colossal emotional power" says Grove’s Dictionary. This week will be the first of a two-part series exploring the life and times of Dmitri Shostakovich. From his four-note "D-Es-C-H" signature to the musical sounds of the KGB knocking on his door, Bill will help us understand these hidden meanings in his music. Born in Tsarist Russia and living through the establishment of the USSR, his music reflects all of these political changes with emotional depth for the world to hear. Also, having his ear to the ground for music from other places, we will hear his Tahiti Trot and waltzes.
May 7 - 11, 2018
From the Mountains to the Sea – Sweeping expansive music that expresses the breadth of land- and seascapes, with a sense of coming together to where these elements touch each other—land meeting water, mountain stretching to heavens above, and distant horizons where oceans and skies blend. We’ll journey to islands with fiery volcanoes and molten earth, and in the quiet of the night sit on soft grass in front of a bonfire with sparks flying, and listen to their music. This image brings together many genres: symphonies and folksongs from the hills of Appalachia, ballads of conquering heroes and lost souls. Music of Liszt, Strauss, and Moeran, to the forgotten composers we call Traditional and Anonymous.
April 30 - May 4, 2018
Voices from the East – With mechanical consistency, a lone bell creates a meditative sound. Very slowly, strings begin shimmering through the image by playing canonic scales. This Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, written by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, will be the first piece we hear in this week’s program Voices from the East. Throughout the week, our musical journey brings us to composers that were born in the most northern of the Baltic states; in Tschistapol, on the banks of the Kama river in western Russia; and in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia in the middle of the Caucasus Mountains: Arvo Pärt, Sofia Gubaïdulina and Giya Kancheli. Follow us on our journey!
April 23 - 27, 2018
Schubert String Quartets – Bill continues his in-depth look at the string quartet's history with the music of Franz Schubert. His quartets are unique and remarkable. From his early teens, Schubert loved composing quartets with surprising key relationships and complicated rhythms. These “tone puzzles” can be heard within quartet movements and throughout the complete piece. On Friday’s program Bill adds an extra cello to feature Schubert’s final chamber work, the String Quintet in C Major. This “Cello Quintet” was composed just a few months before Schubert’s death.
April 16 - 20, 2018
The Proud Tower, Part 2 – 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.
April 9 -13, 2018
The Proud Tower, Part 1 – 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.
April 2 - 6, 2018
Beethoven Piano Sonatas – Pathétique. Moonlight. Appassionata. Hammerklavier. Ludwig van Beethoven wrote his first piano sonata at the age of 25 and his last at the age of 52, and together these 32 sonatas have been called "The New Testament" of music. Artur Schnabel was the first pianist to record a complete set and since then this feat has been reached by Daniel Barenboim, Alfred Brendel, Claude Frank, Maurizio Pollini, and Claudio Arrau - twice! This week we’ll sample as many as we possibly can that captivate us in some special way, and we hope you will share in our wonder and amazement at Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas.
March 26 - 30, 2018
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 19 - 23, 2018
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.
March 12 - 16, 2018
Janáček, Leoš – One of the most influential (and underrated) Czech composers, Leoš Janáček created a deeply original style of composition that infused his operas, string quartets, and symphonic music with Moravian and Slavic folk influences. We start this week listening to his charming intimate Nursery Rhymes, White Goat Gathers Pears and Beetroot Was Getting Married, performed by The Netherlands Wind Ensemble. Each hour of the week continues with a wonderful sample of Janáček’s works handpicked by Bill McGlaughlin.
March 5 - 9, 2018
Intimate Conversations: Conversations with Samuel Rhodes and David Finckel – This week Bill has conversations with two chamber musicians with over 100 years of great music-making experiences between them: Samuel Rhodes, former violist of the Juilliard Quartet, and David Finckel, former cellist of the Emerson Quartet and co-Artistic Director of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Rhodes describes the musical dialogues exchanged by the Juilliard Quartet, and we will listen to them performing Ravel, Carter, and Brahms. Then Bill turns to Finckel, who tells us about his admiration for violinist Oscar Shumsky and German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. The Emerson and Juilliard quartets will both play music of Bartok for us. Lastly, Finckel will describe the devastation that lies deep within Shostakovich’s string quartets.
February 26 - March 2, 2018
Carnegie Hall, Part 2 – Bill and Carnegie Hall’s Archivist Gino Francesconi continue touring backstage for a view of the three concert venues, the hall’s history, and the legendary performers who have appeared there. Carnegie Hall has been the stage for thousands of premieres from all genres of music and spoken word. We will listen to artists’ stories and hear some of the great ones like Ella Fitzgerald and Leonard Bernstein who have graced its stage.
February 19 - 23, 2018
Carnegie Hall, Part 1 – Bill joins Gino Francesconi, director of Carnegie Hall’s Archives and Rose Museum, to take listeners backstage for an intimate view of the hall, its history, and the legendary performers who have appeared there. From the world premiere of Dvorak’s New World Symphony in 1893, to U.S. debuts by Jascha Heifetz, Igor Stravinsky, and Béla Bartók, to appearances by artists and activists who challenged racial restrictions and the political status quo, including Paul Robeson, Mahalia Jackson, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King, Jr., the Beatles, and Leontyne Price, Carnegie Hall has long been a platform for social and artistic change that have challenged conventions.
February 12 - 16, 2018
Corigliano, John – Bill McGlaughlin welcomes one of America’s foremost composers as Exploring Music’s co-host and programmer. Corigliano, son of the longtime concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, has written many works that are now considered to be part of the standard repertoire for American violinists, clarinetists and orchestras. During the '80s, with the onslaught of AIDS deaths surrounding Corigliano, he expressed his profound loss in his Symphony No. 1 with a tarantella that evokes feelings of complete madness. This program celebrates Corigliano’s 80th birthday (February 16).
February 5 - 9, 2018
Franck, César – Join us for a week of music from César Franck. Born in 1822 in Liège, Franck moved to Paris in 1835 and died there in 1890. He was initially known as a gifted improviser on the organ - and considered by some to be the greatest composer of organ music after J. S. Bach - but over time we have come to understand the breadth of his skills as a pianist and teacher and composer. From his faculty post at the Paris Conservatoire to his lifelong position as organist and maître de chapelle at the Basilica of Sainte-Clotilde, Franck had an outsized influence on the music of 19th century Paris. Come enjoy music from Lalo, Chausson, and Delibes, and from Franck we’ll get to savor his Symphonic Variations for piano and orchestra; the Psyché, symphonic poem for chorus and orchestra; his famous Violin Sonata in A; and of course the great D Minor Symphony.
January 29 - February 2, 2018
Czech out those Bohemians – Composers from the lands around the present-day Czech Republic have made an indelible mark on music, We’ll examine their history and influence, from medieval times to the present, enjoying the music of Dvořák, Smetana, Suk, and the Benda family.
January 22 - 26, 2018
Mozart at his Zenith – Beginning in 1786 at the first hearing of Mozart's opera The Marriage of Figaro, we’ll explore the stream of masterpieces, including operas, symphonies, piano concertos, and chamber works that Mozart wrote in the last five years of his life. He was in his early thirties and navigating the political life of a court composer in Vienna while partying with the passion of the young man that he was, and all the while producing one masterpiece after another. On November 20, 1791, Mozart took to his bed, and still he brought in one of his protégés to write notes and phrases down. On December 5 Mozart died, with his requiem mass unfinished. From these years alone, Mozart left a body of work that expresses a universe of imagination and emotions.
January 15 - 19, 2018
Benjamin Britten – Benjamin Britten’s works can be edgy, or they can be warm and accessible. On Monday we learn about Britten's childhood, and the deep bond between him and his teacher, Frank Bridge. As the week continues, Bill introduces us to the influential people in his life, including Britten’s lifelong partner, tenor Peter Pears. We will hear Pears sing with virtuoso horn player Dennis Brain in the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings. On Friday, two slain soldiers from opposite sides meet in the underworld to sing "Libera Me" from the War Requiem. Then we sample some folksongs, and end on a bright note: Britten's how-to guide for young classical music listeners, The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.
January 8 - 12, 2018
Emotion and Meaning in Music – Is music merely a collection of ordered pitches and vibrations in the air, or is there inherent and universal meaning contained within? Does music convey anger, longing, desire or humor? This week Bill delves into one of the most mysterious and fundamental qualities of music: its ability to convey emotion to the listener. Starting with Gil Shaham with the New York Philharmonic’s performance of Samuel
Barber’s violin concerto, we will listen to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and end the week with JS Bach’s E minor Toccata. Bill asks us to listen carefully and ask ourselves, “what do we feel when we listen to this music and why?”
January 1 - 5, 2018
London, The Music of, Part 2 – Week two of the music of London continues with visits from continental composers. Haydn’s last 12 symphonies were inspired by London. Geminiani and Mendelssohn wrote music using material from their visits, and the German-born composer Handel spent most of his life in England. After the death of Handel, music of London went into a decline, until about one hundred years later, when the wandering minstrels Gilbert and Sullivan started engaging us with songs and snatches, and awakened London’s creative spirit. We will listen to Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Holst, Britten, and Thomas Ades. Three cheers for the music of London and Nanki-Poo too!