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Apr 30
Franz Joseph Haydn
Anyone who's just starting a new job wants to make a big splash, hit the ground running, impress the boss and the new colleagues. Joseph Haydn was no different. He was 29 and just starting his job working for Prince Esterhazy. Haydn was pretty savvy. To start things off right with the Prince's musicians, Haydn wrote a symphony where everybody got big solos. On today's show, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra makes a big splash with that symphony, Haydn's sixth.
Apr 29
Jean Philippe Rameau
In an era when the average life span was thirty-something, composer Jean-Philippe Rameau lived to the ripe old age of 80. He composed one of his last works, the opera "Les Paladins," at age 76. But don't call it stodgy or doddering. If anything, it was ahead of its time. On today's show, Nicholas McGegan leads the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in the orchestral suite from Rameau's "Les Paladins."
Apr 28
Many composers have disavowed their early works. Some have gone so far as to destroy everything they had written up to a certain time. Antonin Dvorak was one of them. He called his early years his "mad period," and even went so far as to take a knife to the manuscript of one work and scratch out the date on the title page. We'll hear that work, his third symphony, on today's show.
Apr 27
piano
If you're a fan of the piano, you'll want to tune in to today's show, where the ivories will get a workout. We'll feature Stephen Hough playing Rachmaninoff with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Marc-Andre Hamelin going solo, playing music by Bulgarian composer Pancho Vladigerov. And Jon Kimura Parker joins cellist Lynn Harrell for a Beethoven sonata.
Apr 25
Shostakovich
For an actor, making it big in Hollywood is the epitome of success. But for a classical composer? Most consider the concert hall more of a barometer of success. Many composers have dabbled with composing music for films, however. On today's show, we'll hear music for the big screen, by Dmitri Shostakovich (pictured), Sergei Prokofiev, and Toru Takemitsu.
Apr 24
Birthday Cake
British conductor Sir Roger Norrington has been making waves in the music world for decades. He's passionate about getting orchestras to play his way. Norrington's current boss at the Stuttgart Radio Symphony said (with a wink and a grin) that if they had known what they were getting themselves into, they probably wouldn't have hired him. Luckily for them, they did. Today's show features music from Norrington's 75th birthday concert, last month in London.
Apr 23
Pianist Charles Wadsworth is the long-time Director for Chamber Music at the Spoleto Festival USA. He'll be retiring after this year's Festival. National broadcasts of chamber music from Spoleto are co-produced by South Carolina ETV and Radio, and WDAV Classical Public Radio. On today's show, Wadsworth and pianist Wendy Chen team up to play Dvorak's "Silent Woods."
Apr 22
Shostakovich
For an actor, making it big in Hollywood is the epitome of success. But for a classical composer? Most consider the concert hall more of a barometer of success. Many composers have dabbled with composing music for films, however. On today's show, we'll hear music for the big screen, by Dmitri Shostakovich (pictured), Sergei Prokofiev, and Toru Takemitsu.
Apr 21
Pavel Haas
There are at least six million stories of suffering and death from the Holocaust. Many composers were among the victims. Their names might be unfamiliar to you: Marcel Tyberg, Leo Smit, Pavel Haas (pictured), Erwin Schulhoff, Viktor Ullmann. We'll always wonder what might have been, had they survived. Today, on Yom Hashoah, we'll feature music by victims of the Holocaust.
Apr 20
Whatever the enigma is behind Sir Edward Elgar's "Enigma Variations" - and we've had theories posited on "Performance Today" - it's still magnificent music, a grand showcase for an outstanding orchestra. Peter Oundjian will lead one, the Toronto Symphony, at a concert in Toronto.
Apr 18
Esa-Pekka Salonen
All this week on Performance Today, we've been featuring the Los Angeles Philharmonic and outgoing music director Esa-Pekka Salonen. Salonen gives up the podium at the end of this week. He's made a big impact on the orchestra and the city of Los Angeles in his 17-year tenure there. On today's show, Salonen leads the Los Angeles Philharmonic in music by Sibelius and Mussorgsky.
Apr 17
Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen steps down from his post as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic this week. And today, we'll wrap up our week-long look at Salonen and his tenure at Los Angeles. On today's show, he leads the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition," in concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles (pictured).
Apr 16
Ludwig van Beethoven
According to conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, there are "no simple solutions" to playing Beethoven. No corners to cut, no easy way out of the dilemmas posed by his music. On today's show, Salonen, violinist Viktoria Mullova, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic do it the hard way, and the right way, in their performance of the Beethoven violin concerto.
Apr 15
Esa-Pekka Salonen
All this week on Performance Today, we've been featuring the Los Angeles Philharmonic and outgoing music director Esa-Pekka Salonen. Salonen gives up the podium at the end of this week. He's made a big impact on the orchestra and the city of Los Angeles in his 17-year tenure there. On today's show, Salonen leads the Los Angeles Philharmonic in music by Jean Sibelius.
Apr 14
Handel
It was 250 years ago today that the great Baroque composer, George Frideric Handel, died. He was born a German, but lived and worked in England for most of his professional life. Much of the world is observing the day today, and celebrating the life and works of Handel. Today's show features some of his greatest music, from concerts all across the country.
Apr 13
When the Cleveland Orchestra performed Gustav Mahler's second symphony ("The Resurrection") in Vienna, it was by all accounts an incredible performance. When it was over, the audience erupted in a 13-minute ovation. One critic called it "a Resurrection for the ages." Tune in today to hear the spectacular finale of Mahler's second, from that magical night in Vienna.
Apr 11
On today's show, we'll feature special programming, in observance of Passover and celebration of Easter. Join us, and let us make your weekend special.
Apr 10
Johann Sebastian Bach
This time of year, the word "passion" takes on a special meaning. It's not about love or desire. It's about suffering and death. Today, in observance of Good Friday, we'll feature passion narratives by two very different composers: Bach's St. Matthew Passion, and Osvaldo Golijov's St. Mark Passion. They offer two very different takes on the same story, written three centuries apart.
Apr 9
Handel
Handel's great oratorio, "Messiah," is mostly thought of as a Christmas piece. But it was written for, and had its premiere in, the season of Easter. On today's show, we'll feature music from a performance of "Messiah" given just last week in Austin, Texas. Craig Hella Johnson leads the voices of Conspirare and the instrumentalists of the Victoria Bach Festival Baroque Band.
Apr 8
Grieg
In 1867, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen wrote a play about a young man who spends his life avoiding responsibility. The play features amorous milkmaids, a runaway bride, a cave full of trolls, and a sojourn in the deserts of Egypt. The drama never became one of Ibsen's biggest hits, but the music that Edvard Grieg wrote for it did. On today's PT, Grieg's "Peer Gynt" suites 1 and 2, performed by the North German Radio Philharmonic.
Apr 7
Violinist Nikolaj Znaider says there's nothing harder than playing Mozart. Embodying that perfection that sprang from Mozart's mind and heart and fingers is "an extraordinary task." Today, Znaider proves that he's up to the job. We'll hear him perform Mozart's fifth violin concerto with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, on tour in Omaha, Nebraska.
Apr 6
Gabriel Faure
Gabriel Faure was a good ol' boy from the south. The south of France, that is. But the description fits. Charming, easy-going, pleasure-loving. Liked to smoke and drink. Not the sort you might think to be a church musician, and to compose one of our loveliest sacred works. But he did both. On today's show, to mark the Easter season, we'll feature a performance of Faure's beautiful Requiem.
Apr 4
Strauss
One of the great questions of life is what, if anything, comes after it. Humans from the beginning of history have wrestled with the question of what happens to us when we die. Artists are no exception. On today's show, we'll hear composer Richard Strauss' view. In his tone poem, "Death and Transfiguration," Strauss paints the picture of a man's life, death, and ultimate transcendence into a life beyond.
Apr 3
Out of death, comes life. That's both a philosophical statement, and a practical one too. When the earth is scorched by fire, some of the first things to regenerate are the wild flowers. On today's show, Michael Torke's piece from 2005 called, "After the Forest Fire." And after that, the wild flowers spring up. The Cincinnati Symphony plays "What the Wild Flowers Tell Me," by Gustav Mahler.
Apr 2
Strauss
One of the great questions of life is what, if anything, comes after it. Humans from the beginning of history have wrestled with the question of what happens to us when we die. Artists are no exception. On today's show, we'll hear composer Richard Strauss' view. In his tone poem, "Death and Transfiguration," Strauss paints the picture of a man's life, death, and ultimate transcendence into a life beyond.
Apr 1
Instruments like this Stradivarius are among the most expensive in the world. Some of them are worth millions. But some musicians are choosing to alter their instruments with tattoos and piercings. Sound crazy? Some think so. But others insist they're just personalizing what they consider an extension of their own bodies - their instruments. Tune in to today's show for the full story. Plus, we'll hear our very own PT poem, written for us by poet C.K. Williams.