Part of the WFMT Radio Network

2019 Archive

August


 

August 12 - 16, 2019

Frédéric Chopin – A five-part biography to celebrate the life of Chopin, whose invention and innovation had an indelible effect on the world of Romantic music and the piano. Chopin (1810-49) embraces the most serene of nocturnes to a breakneck waltz lasting but a minute. “As a seven-year-old,” Bill says, “Chopin could not only play the piano beautifully, he composed very well,” and offers a polonaise to confirm. Bill drops in a recording of Rachmaninoff playing a waltz Chopin wrote at just 19. Bill takes to the piano to illustrate not only the beauty but also the ingenious techniques that, he says, “make the entire piano sing.”

 

August 5 - 9, 2019

Ottorino Respighi – There’s much more to Ottorino Respighi than The Pines of Rome and The Fountains of Rome. This week we'll hear his connections with the music of Brazil, touch on his experiences in war-torn Europe, and see how this violinist, musicologist, and composer artfully moved Italian music into the 20th century. We will hear The Birds (Gli Uccelli) where a number of birds are characterized by Respighi. Bill samples the "cuckoo" sound heard within this suite. In Friday’s episode we meet an American woman, Elizabeth Coolidge, who in 1927 lands Respighi a commission to write Botticelli Triptych (Trittico Botticelliano).


July


 

July 29 - August 2, 2019 

Bach Sleeps In on Sundays – JS Bach spent most of his life in service to the Lutheran church. And as Bill notes, “Bach family members worked as church musicians from the time of Martin Luther to Otto von Bismarck… nearly 400 years.” Yet JS Bach also wrote wonderful, enduring secular music — especially during a five-year period (1717-22) working for Prince Leopold — when he wrote the cello suites, violin sonatas and partitas, and Brandenburg Concertos. Bill chronicles this intensely creative period in the story of JS Bach.

 

July 22 - 26, 2019

Clash of the Titans, Part II – This week Exploring Music profiles three more “divine" beings— Maestros Pierre Monteux (1874-1964), Fritz Reiner (1888-1963), and Serge Koussevitzky (1874-1951): three world-renowned conductors who seemed to have descended from the Greek gods. After World War I, these conductors settled in America and took on the responsibility of nurturing the artistry of American composers and American orchestras: the native Frenchman Monteux in Boston and then San Francisco; the Hungarian Reiner in Pittsburgh and Chicago; and the Russian Koussevitzky in Boston. The stories of their boundless energy and colorful natures are as legendary as their support of musicians and orchestras. We will listen to music by Stravinsky, Bartok, and Debussy in works that these conductors commissioned and premiered, plus many other compositions all played by "their bands.”

 

July 15 - 19, 2019

Hidden Gold, Part 1  On this series of Exploring Music, we examine some works that are absolutely fantastic - every bit as fantastic as the pieces we hear all the time - but relatively unknown by comparison. These works are usually not in the standard repertoire though perhaps should be. Guides to finding some of this hidden treasure are the on-air hosts at WFMT, who have a wealth and depth of knowledge when it comes to unearthing musical gold. This week Bill takes up their claims for greater awareness and appreciation of this music.

 

July 8 - 12, 2019

Hector Berlioz – Louis-Hector Berlioz (1803-69) wrote that “Beethoven opened before me a new world of music, as Shakespeare had revealed a new universe of poetry.” Bill covers the arc of Berlioz’s life and music, from leaving medical school in Paris to attend the opera and studying at the Paris Conservatory, then being a model of the Romantic movement. This week’s fifth episode features the last two movements of Symphonie Fantastique, displaying Berlioz's gift for spectacular drama and concludes with an excerpt from his setting of “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem.

 

July 1 - 5, 2019

Arias and Barcarolles  Taking a cue from President Eisenhower's famous remark to Leonard Bernstein, this week is a sampling of arias, overtures, barcarolles, and other melodic delights that deserve more time on the airwaves. Bill will spin tunes like Lawrence Welk’s “Bubbles in the Wine” and Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians performing Jerome Kern’s “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” This is a week to just sit back and enjoy.


June


 

June 24 - 28, 2019

Ports of Call, Part II  This week Exploring Music continues traveling with composers around the world. Listen to them express the sounds of their native land and paint musical pictures of their travels. We will hear music of homesick George Gershwin in Paris, Charles Ives floating down the Housatonic River in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, and Ella Fitzgerald and her friends on the “A” train in New York City.

 

June 17 - 21, 2019

Ports of Call, Part I – Many years ago, Gustav Mahler and another composer were traveling by train across the Alps when Gustav turned to his friend and said, “ Don’t bother looking at the view; I have already composed it.” Music from around the globe varies as much as languages do, and many of us can identify the country where a composition was written before we can name the composer who wrote it. You can’t separate the composer from his background. For the next two weeks Exploring Music will present sounds from composers' backyards and hear their journaling voyages to distant lands: from the bird calls in the Amazon jungle expressed by Brazilian composers, to the distant bells ringing as a composer approaches a safe harbor.  Listen, for example, to Italian composer Ottorino Respighi's famous Pines ofRome, and then travel with him to Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he wrote Brazilian Impressions, an orchestral suite with strange and beautiful sounds.

 

June 10 - 14, 2019

The Spanish School – Borrowing our title from the storied Spanish Riding School in Vienna, home of the Lipizzaner horses, this program explores the wealth of musical output from Iberian composers. Following a lineage from the 18th century on to those creating new music today, we consider the Spanish School as a living tradition, blending the values of the past with the passion of the present. From the guitar to the piano and every instrument in between, this week features selections from Pablo de Sarasate, Andres Segovia, and many other Spanish composers and performers.

 

June 3 - 7, 2019

Let me tell you a Story, part 2 – More music from composers telling us stories. From Otto Nicolai’s overture to the Merry Wives of Windsor based on Shakespeare’s play to Cole Porter singing Anything Goes from his 1934 hit musical. Stories told and feelings expressed through music go far back in history and to the core of our human spirit.

 

May


 

May 27 - 31, 2019

Let me tell you a Story, part 1 – Composers telling us stories. Franz Schubert died asking for more of James Fenimore Cooper’s novels like The Last of the Mohicans. We can only imagine that Schubert was looking for more musical inspiration from stories of forbidden love caught in the crosshairs of the French and Indian War. The next weeks will not feature just tone poems, operas, or Shakespeare, but music inspired by all sorts of poems and books.

 

May 20 - 24, 2019

Dvorák, Tchaikovsky & Borodin String Quartets – Our multiple-part series tracing the evolution of the string quartet continues with magnificent works from Antonin Dvořák, Peter Tchaikovsky, and Alexander Borodin. During the 1870s and 1880s, well into the Romantic period, string quartets were falling by the wayside for a lot of composers, but a few managed to slip through the fabric of time and tell stories just as wondrous as the great Romantic tone poems that were popular at the time. Many of these unique quartets have become calling cards for these three composers.

 

May 13 - 17, 2019

Wunderkinder - Musical Prodigies, Part II – More performers and composers whose exceptional musical gifts emerged at an early age are our subject this week. It’s amazing to think that many of these musicians, like Mendelssohn, are still best known today for works that they composed in their early teens. Conductor Eugene Ormandy said that all his violinists were prodigies, so we end the week with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee played by the entire first and second violin sections of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Please enjoy this week of wunderkinder playing the works of wunderkinder.

 

May 6 - 10, 2019

Wunderkinder - Musical Prodigies, Part I – Blazing talents whose remarkable and sometimes-perilous lives overflowed with natural gifts at a young age, and audiences couldn’t get enough of them. Starting with compositions by Mozart and Mendelssohn, all played by today’s whiz kids. We continue with Niccolò Paganini performed by violinist Julia Fischer, and by violinist Julian Sitkovetsky with his mother, Bella Davidovich, accompanying him on the piano. Bill ends the week with a full hour devoted to Frédéric Chopin performed by some of the great prodigy-pianists of today— Maurizio Pollini, Garrick Ohlsson, and Frederic Chiu. Bill says when these musicians were children they were like gifts from above.


April


 

April 29 - May 3, 2019

Marlboro Music – Each summer in Vermont, the sign that greets everyone coming to Marlboro Music is "Caution: Musicians at Play." A BBC journalist said, if there were a banner across the entrance, it should say "Espressivo." These two signs— the actual and the imagined— describe the musical experiences at Marlboro. Artistic director Mitsuko Uchida explained to Bill that Marlboro, founded in 1951, has a historic link that goes back directly to composers of the Second Viennese School, to Brahms, and all the way to Mozart and Haydn. Exploring Music’s visit this summer reminded us of Mozart’s spirit when he dedicated six quartets to Papa Haydn: “Please… receive them kindly and be to them a father, guide, and friend!” Listen for this spirit of entrusting and sharing chamber music with this multi-generational family of Marlboro Music.

 

April 22 -26, 2019

Cello Concertos – “What a sound the cello makes!” Bill opines. The cello started to gain popularity in the 17th and early 18th centuries when it was found to be very good at accompanying singers at the opera, such as Bach cantatas. And it became the vehicle for numerous great and famous compositions in many different settings: by Haydn, Prokofiev, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Villa-Lobos and others. Bill of course includes Elgar’s Cello Concerto in the mix to make the week a triumph for what used to be considered an unwieldy instrument

 

April 15 - 19, 2019

Bach's Not-So-Minor B-Minor Mass – “There’s so much that’s mysterious about Bach’s Mass,” Bill says, and this week he attempts to demystify Bach’s grand work by setting its context in history, tracing relevant antecedents: Bach was writing a Latin mass despite his orientation as a Lutheran. Bill surmises that Bach went back to his musical heroes from the Renaissance. “They composed masses in Latin, and so would he.” Bill illustrates pertinent influences in Beethoven, Strauss, and Haydn as well as how Bach reformed some of his own work to inform his mass.

 

April 8 - 12, 2019

The Symphony, Part 13 – Spend a profound week with some haunting, powerful, and peaceful symphonies from the years around World War II. Beginning in 1939 with the first symphony of Darius Milhaud and concluding with Aaron Copland’s third symphony from 1946, which includes the iconic “Fanfare for the Common Man.” Along the way we’ll hear the ninth symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich, written in 1945 and the last of his “war trilogy” symphonies, and two pieces with text from the Latin mass — Benjamin Britten’s “Sinfonia da Requiem” and Howard Hanson’s Symphony #4. And we’ll contrast the power of the sixth symphony of Roy Harris, which he dedicated to the memory of the American armed forces, with the pastoral serenity of Vaughan Williams fifth symphony.

 

April 1 - 5, 2019

Ballad of East and West – Borrowing this week's title from the Rudyard Kipling poem, "The Ballad of East and West" will explore the music of Asia. Traveling to China, Japan, and Indonesia, we will listen to instruments, sounds, folk tunes and poetry. Some that are the unique musical voices that define a country's identity, some that are shared in common and many that are borrowed by western composers.


March


 

March 25 - 29, 2019

Strings Plus One – “Mozart wrote for ‘strings plus’ -- just one more instrument to genius -- “probably better than anyone,” Bill says to begin a week of chamber music with great string playing and plus something else. Mozart courses through the week, but Episode Two blends Mozart into works by Barber, Hindemith, and Mahler, while Episode Three features Bartók (played by ”king of swing” clarinetist Benny Goodman) and Schumann. Bill ends the week with Brahms’s chamber music with strings and clarinet but also featuring American composer Joan Towers’s Petroushskates played by the eighth blackbird ensemble.

 

March 18 - 22, 2019

The Symphony, Part III – Part three in our continuing series on that most revered of classical music forms: the symphony. Starting in Denmark with Niels Gade’s first symphony, Bill will introduce us to the mid-nineteenth century orchestral music of Rubenstein, Raff, and Dvořák. We’ll also hear the Brahms Serenade No. 1 for orchestra, composed in six movements and published many decades before his four symphonies.

 

March 11 - 15, 2019

Clash of Titans – Titans in Greek Mythology were great divine beings that descended from the Gods, hence someone who dominates his field. This week Exploring Music examines the lives and music-making of two such divine beings, Leopold Stokowski and Arturo Toscanini, who both captured the minds and hearts of us at a crucial part in our countries development.

 

March 4 - 8, 2019

Sweet Spot – As Bill explains: “I’ve spent my life as a classical musician devoted to the great body of standard repertoire, which began about 1685 with the birth of Bach and Handel and continued though Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven on to the present. I loved that music as a youngster and I still do, but there are occasions, especially when I’m least expecting it, when music composed roughly between 1550 and 1650 will take my breath away. ‘You know,’ I murmur to myself, ‘music really never got any better than this.’" Madrigalists and other Italian composers, giants like Palestrina, the Gabrielis, and Orlando di Lasso. We will be listening to Renaissance composers from France, Spain, Germany, and England.


February


 

February 25 - March 1, 2019

Latin Carnival – Latin America has a five-century musical history forged by many different indigenous peoples clashing with Spain and Portugal, both ambitious colonial powers. Bill has conducted music from Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina and has a deep appreciation for Latin America’s vast and varied musical landscape. He insists “we can hear the echoes of those collisions” into our era. Highlighting Padilla and Ponce as well as Ginastera, Villa-Lobos and Piazzolla, among others, Bill begins with harmonies from Mexico and extends throughout the region’s diverse orchestral and operatic works.

 

February 18 - 22, 2019

Nobody Ever Builds a Statue to a Critic – As Hollywood mogul Samuel Goldwyn said, “Don't pay any attention to the critics - don't even ignore them.” Bill reminds us: “Sibelius said, ‘They never built a statue for a music critic.’” But instead of pillorying critics for being wrong, Bill goes positive with those who could hear and write clearly about music that not only was good on arrival but would also endure. For example, Robert Schumann, who was both composer and critic; he gave strong support to Chopin. In addition to the music, Bill interviews several esteemed music critics about their role in shaping culture. And for this week, Mahler gets the last sound.

 

February 11 - 15, 2019

Wunderkinder, Part 2 – More performers and composers whose exceptional musical gifts emerged at an early age are our subject this week. It’s amazing to think that many of these musicians, like Mendelssohn, are still best known today for works that they composed in their early teens. Conductor Eugene Ormandy said that all his violinists were prodigies, so we end the week with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee played by the entire first and second violin sections of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Please enjoy this week of wunderkinder playing the works of wunderkinder.

 

February 4 - 8, 2019

Wunderkinder, Part 1 – Blazing talents whose remarkable and sometimes-perilous lives overflowed with natural gifts at a young age, and audiences couldn’t get enough of them. Starting with compositions by Mozart and Mendelssohn, all played by today’s whiz kids. We continue with Niccolò Paganini performed by violinist Julia Fischer, and by violinist Julian Sitkovetsky with his mother, Bella Davidovich, accompanying him on the piano. Bill ends the week with a full hour devoted to Frédéric Chopin performed by some of the great prodigy-pianists of today— Maurizio Pollini, Garrick Ohlsson, and Frederic Chiu. Bill says when these musicians were children they were like gifts from above.


January


 

January 28 - February 1, 2019

Pacific Overture, Part 2 – Oo-ee baby - won't ya let me take you on a sea cruise… for a trip around the Pacific Rim! We’ve borrowed the title from Stephen Sondheim’s 1976 musical, and you’ll hear a selection from that when our tour reaches Asia. But first we start where we left off last week, in Chile and Columbia, then we head up into Mexico where we’ll hear Silvestre Revueltas and Carlos Chávez, before motoring to the Pacific Northwest and Canada, where we’ll hear music written by Glenn Gould’s piano teacher! Then everybody back on the boat for a long, long sail all the way down to the Philippines, to Java, to China, Korea, and Japan, and finally, because after a trip like this we could use a break, we land in the Hawai’ian Islands.

 

January 21 - 25, 2019

Pacific Overture, Part 1 – Oo-ee baby - won't ya let me take you on a sea cruise… for a trip around the Pacific Rim! This is a two-week long adventure, and we’re starting off in a Land Down Under. In Australia we’ll hear Aboriginal music along with pieces from Percy Grainger and Peter Sculthorpe, then Maori music plus Dame Gillian Whitehead and Kiri Te Kanawa in New Zealand, and then we’ll continue sailing west to South America and hear music from Argentina and Chile. It’s a two part show, so tune in next week to see where else we’re going!

 

January 14 - 18, 2019

The Symphony, Part X: Alexander Scriabin to Samuel Barber – The symphony remained the pinnacle of achievement for many 20th century composers.  This week, Bill McGlaughlin continues his multi-part exploration of this vibrant, exciting musical form with symphonies written between 1900 through 1920. Bill focuses on works rarely heard in concert, or on the radio for that matter: Alexander Scriabin’s Symphony No. 3 conducted by Riccardo Muti, an important interpreter of the Scriabin color wheel; George Enescu’s Symphony No. 2; and Samuel Barber’s Symphony No. 1, conducted by Marin Alsop.

 

January 7 - 11, 2019

Beethoven Quartet  Studying Ludwig van Beethoven through his magnificent 16 string quartets played by well-established ensembles from around the world: the Guarneri, Takács, Tokyo, and Alban Berg string quartets. The string quartets offer well-defined early, middle, and late stages both in his life as well as the string quartet as a form, including the Grosse Fuge, Op.133 (which Beethoven wrote while he was stone deaf), and the Cavatina from String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat Major.

 
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.
Kourtney
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
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