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May 30
The field of competitors in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition is down to 12. We'll hear outstanding performances by two of them, Di Wu of China (pictured), and Nobuyuki Tsujii of Japan. We'll be covering the results of the competition as they unfold. The semi-final round of the competition is underway, and the finals begin on June 3. PT host Fred Child will be emceeing the awards ceremony on June 7.
May 29
Philip Glass
American composer Philip Glass has rarely if ever been accused of being a romantic. But in his evolution as a composer, it's only natural that he should explore the more emotional and passionate side of his music. On today's show we'll hear the world premiere performance of Glass' beautiful new violin sonata, featuring violinist Maria Bachmann and pianist Jon Klibonoff. With this work, Bachmann appropriately labels Glass a romantic, perhaps for the first time.
May 28
Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann was psychotic and suicidal in the fall of 1853. His final work, his concerto for violin, dates from that time. Schumann's family and friends suppressed the work, and it wasn't performed until 1936. On today's show, violinist Christian Tetzlaff breathes life into this seldom-played work. Plus, we'll have another terrific performance from the Van Cliburn Piano Competition, Lukas Vondracek playing a Liszt Transcendental Etude.
May 27
The field of competitors in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition is down to 29. We'll hear outstanding performances by two of them, Di Wu of China (pictured), and Nobuyuki Tsujii of Japan. We'll be covering the results of the competition as they unfold. The semi-final round of the competition begins tomorrow, and the finals on June 3. PT host Fred Child will be emceeing the awards ceremony on June 7.
May 26
Emanuel Ax
In the end, a piano is nothing more than wood and strings and keys - not all that complex. But to truly bring it alive takes a collaboration of composer, soloist, orchestra, and conductor. In today's show, a musical dream team consisting of composer Frederic Chopin, pianist Emanuel Ax (pictured), the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, and conductor Gustavo Dudamel. They'll perform Chopin's second piano concerto in Gothenburg, Sweden.
May 25
Johannes Brahms
There are two faces to the Memorial Day holiday - honoring those who have died, and welcoming in the summer. In today's show, we have music for both, including excerpts from Brahms' (pictured) German Requiem from Boston, and Samuel Barber's lovely woodwind quintet, "Summer Music," performed by musicians from New York's Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
May 23
Rita Dove
But for an off-hand remark, it would have been called the "Bridgetower Sonata." Beethoven's "Kreutzer Sonata" is our featured work in the second hour. Poet Rita Dove (pictured) is our guest, and shares the story of Beethoven's friendship with violinist George Bridgetower, and how it went awry. We'll hear a complete performance of the work by violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Martha Argerich.
May 22
Mark O'Connor
It's an ambitious goal: summing up all of American folk music into the space of 15 minutes. Most wouldn't even attempt it. But violinist and composer Mark O'Connor didn't shy away from the task. The result, "Strings and Threads," is our 21st century music feature for this week. Guitarist Sharon Isbin joins the composer for the performance, from New York City.
May 21
Richard Wagner
With a cursed, magic ring, a broken sword, and battles between good and evil, Wagner's operatic Ring cycle has plenty in common with J.R.R. Tolkien's epic, "The Lord of the Rings." There's a new Tolkien book just out which retells the Norse legends surrounding Wagner's Ring. Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic recently performed a set of highlights from Wagner's "Gotterdammerung," featured in hour one of today's show.
May 20
Rita Dove
But for an off-hand remark, it would have been called the "Bridgetower Sonata." Beethoven's "Kreutzer Sonata" is our featured work in the second hour. Poet Rita Dove (pictured) is our guest, and shares the story of Beethoven's friendship with violinist George Bridgetower, and how it went awry. We'll hear a complete performance of the work by violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Martha Argerich.
May 19
Leos Janacek
Leos Janacek was 74 and madly in love with a much younger woman. She didn't love him back. And besides, both were married to other people. None of that stopped him from writing her over 700 love letters. He also wrote a string quartet and dedicated it to her, calling it "Intimate Letters." On today's show, the Emerson String Quartet performs this monument to unrequited love.
May 18
Andras Schiff
Pianist Andras Schiff has spent the last two years performing all 32 of Beethoven's piano sonatas at Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles. He says that undertaking has put him in greater touch with Beethoven. While some think of Beethoven's music as full of heroism and drama, Schiff says he hears "a great gratitude" in it. Today, we'll feature Schiff in Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 31, from a concert in Los Angeles.
May 16
Andras Schiff
May 15
When the Washington National Cathedral approached him to write a new work, Dominick Argento said no. He was grieving the death of his wife, and was done composing. They persisted, suggesting he write a memorial for her. The result was "Evensong - Of Love and Angels." Today, as part of our weekly 21st century feature, we'll hear excerpts from Argento's loving tribute to his wife, soprano Carolyn Bailey.
May 14
Trojan Horse
The story of the wooden horse and the downfall of Troy is part of Virgil's epic poem, "The Aeneid," written more than 2000 years ago. On today's show, we'll hear from classical literature scholar Sarah Ruden, and hear her ideas on the musicality of Virgil's poetry. And we'll hear excerpts from Berlioz' opera, "The Trojans," performed by Colin Davis and the London Symphony.
May 13
Igor Stravinsky
It was a hot day in Paris when the audience gathered for the premiere of Igor Stravinsky's new ballet, "The Rite of Spring." The crowd didn't know what they were in for, a monumental new work, one that would provoke outrage and change the course of music forever. Even the composer called it "a sacred terror in the noonday sun." On today's show, the Danish National Radio Symphony performs this groundbreaking work.
May 12
Rome Colosseum
Rome is an ancient city, overflowing with the history and culture of the past 2500 years. Home of spectacular architectural and archeological sites, it's been the center of great music-making as well. Hour one of today's show focuses on the Eternal City, featuring the music of Ottorino Respighi and Josquin des Prez.
May 11
Aaron Copland
While he was composing it, the working title for one of Aaron Copland's most beloved works was simply, "Ballet for Martha." Martha was Martha Graham, and just before it premiered, the ballet got its name, "Appalachian Spring." We'll hear music from "Appalachian Spring" on today's show, courtesy of the Cleveland Orchestra and conductor James Gaffigan.
May 9
Aaron Copland
May 8
Simone Dinnerstein
Sunday is Mother's Day, and we're celebrating a few days early. Today's show features stories of motherhood and the classical music world. How violinist Leila Josefowicz manages life as both a globe-trotting soloist and a single parent, how pianist Simone Dinnerstein (pictured) found common ground in being pregnant and learning Bach's "Goldberg Variations." You'll hear great stories, and great performances, today on PT.
May 7
No pianist tackles the monumental third piano concerto of Sergei Rachmaninoff without a lot of thought, and perhaps a deep breath and even a prayer before walking out on stage. It's one of the most difficult works in the piano repertoire. Russian pianist Arcadi Volodos loves big challenges. On today's show, he'll climb the Mt. Everest of piano concertos, the infamous "Rach Three," accompanied by Jukka-Pekka Saraste and the Oslo Philharmonic.
May 6
Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms, confirmed bachelor, had a motto for his life: free but happy. Not necessarily ecstatic, but contented. He wrote his third symphony as a reflection on his happily unmarried and unencumbered state. On today's show, Daniele Gatti leads the French National Symphony in a recent performance of Brahms' third in Paris.
May 5
Today is Cinco de Mayo, the fifth of May, a celebration of Mexican heritage and culture. We'll celebrate the day by featuring music of Mexican composers and performers. There's a lot of great classical music happening south of the border. Join us for a sampling, on Performance Today.
May 4
Australia is the land of kangaroos and didgeridoos. And cute, cuddly koalas (pictured). If you go there, expect to find great music as well. In hour one of today's show, we'll focus on music and musicians from down under, including the Melbourne Symphony, the Australia Ensemble, and Saffire: the Australian Guitar Quartet.
May 2
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 Yundi Li going solo, playing a Chopin scherzo. And Jon Kimura Parker joins cellist Lynn Harrell for a Beethoven sonata.
May 1
sunrays
Critics don't always warm up to a new work right away. But Finnish Composer Magnus Lindberg set critics abuzz with the premiere of his new work for orchestra, "Behold the Sun." They used words like, "glittering,""extravagant," and "opulent." As part of our weekly 21st century feature, the Oslo Philharmonic and conductor Jukka-Pekka Saraste perform this masterful new work.