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Feb 27
Sergey Prokofiev
The young Sergei Prokofiev was fed up with critics who thought he could only write avant-garde music. So he threw them a musical curve ball, his "Classical" symphony, written in a Haydnesque style. He called it "a challenge to make the geese angry." John Axelrod leads the Swiss Italian Orchestra, in concert in Lugano, Switzerland.
Feb 26
Carter Pann
In Vancouver, the women's slalom is Friday and the men's slalom is Saturday, but the musical Slalom is on Performance Today. Carter Pann is an American composer, and an avid skier. He wrote a ten-minute orchestral piece that he hopes captures the exhilaration of downhill skiing. It's fun, fast, kinetic music, and we'll hear it from a concert by the Dallas Wind Symphony: "Slalom," by Carter Pann.
Feb 25
Enrico Pace
American figure skater Rachael Flatt says "it's one of my all-time favorite pieces of music. It's very heartfelt, very emotional, which is great for the Olympics." She's talking about the 18th variation in Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini." Tonight at the Olympics, Rachael Flatt will skate to that excerpt in her long program. Today on PT, we'll hear the entire piece. The Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic and pianist Enrico Pace in concert at the Concertgebouw, in Amsterdam.
Feb 24
Daniel Barenboim
Daniel Barenboim is the pianist when baritone Thomas Quasthoff sings Schubert songs in Berlin. Then Barenboim will conduct the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, a group he formed with young musicians from several Middle Eastern countries. They'll play music of Mozart and Elgar at an historic concert in the Palestinian city of Ramallah.
Feb 23
Sergey Prokofiev
The young Sergei Prokofiev was fed up with critics who thought he could only write avant-garde music. So he threw them a musical curve ball, his "Classical" symphony, written in a Haydnesque style. He called it "a challenge to make the geese angry." John Axelrod leads the Swiss Italian Orchestra, in concert in Lugano, Switzerland.
Feb 22
In the fall of 1892, Antonin Dvorak arrived in America to teach. He wrote home, "The Americans expect great things of me. I am to show them to the Promised Land, the realm of a new, independent art...a national style of music!" Americans got great things from Dvorak, including his New World symphony. The Cleveland orchestra and conductor Franz Welser-Most perform it today, from their winter residency in Miami.
Feb 20
HILARY HAHN
Violinist Hilary Hahn joins host Fred Child to talk about her surprising new Bach project, which combines violin and voices. And Hilary Hahn teams up with pianist Orion Weiss in the studio to play a set of Romanian Dances by Bela Bartok, and Hungarian Dances by Johannes Brahms.
Feb 19
Daniel Barenboim
Do they love him? They *love* him. Ten years ago, the orchestra of the State Opera of Berlin (the Staatskapelle Berlin) named Daniel Barenboim "Chief Conductor for Life." Earlier this month, Barenboim and the Staatskapelle played at the Royal Festival Hall in London, and we have a highlight: Barenboim conducting and soloing in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1.
Feb 18
HILARY HAHN
Violinist Hilary Hahn joins host Fred Child to talk about her surprising new Bach project, which combines violin and voices. And Hilary Hahn teams up with pianist Orion Weiss in the studio to play a set of Romanian Dances by Bela Bartok, and Hungarian Dances by Johannes Brahms. Also: you may have heard 4 minutes of Stravinsky's Firebird during Olympic figure skating this week -- we'll hear a scintillating performance of the entire Firebird suite. Franz Welser-Most conducts the Cleveland Orchestra, during one of their winter residencies in Miami.
Feb 17
Sergei Rachmaninoff
"The lessons of humility are endless." Those are the words of pianist Abdel Rahman El-Bacha. He says that when he realized the audience was there to hear the music, and not to hear him perform musical acrobatics, it helped him to conquer his stage fright. Now, he believes concerts are moments of "pure beauty to be shared." El-Bacha shares his performance of Rachmaninoff's first piano concerto with us today, along with JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic.
Feb 16
Leonard Bernstein
Legendary Swan Songs: the final concert performances by three 20th century masters. Leonard Bernstein was almost 72 years old in the fall of 1990, conducting a concert by the Boston Symphony. He'd been suffering from emphysema for several years. In the third movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, Bernstein began coughing and couldn't stop. The concert almost came to a halt, but somehow Bernstein controlled his coughing fit, and kept going. We'll hear the final movement from that performance...which turned out to be the last notes of Bernstein's final concert. Also, the final delicate encore from Vladimir Horowitz at age 83 in Hamburg. And highlights from the last concert by violinist Nathan Milstein, in Stockholm in 1986.
Feb 15
Flag
Today we're observing President's Day with two hours of special programming. Music inspired by Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, and music by several presidential favorite composers, Louis Moreau Gottschalk and Johann Strauss, Jr. Plus performances by the United States Marine Band, also known as the President's Own. And a quirky string quartet written by the only American president who was never actually president, Benjamin Franklin.
Feb 13
Nicola Benedetti
Violinist Nicola Benedetti defies conventional wisdom. When she was a finalist at the BBC Young Artist Competition, she didn't play an impressive, well-known warhorse. She chose the obscure and wildly atmospheric Violin Concerto No. 1 by Karol Szymanowski. She won. That led to a 1.7 million dollar major-label recording contract, and now at age 22, she's still playing that Szymanowski concerto. Nicola Benedetti with the Brabant Orchestra, in concert at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Also: Bruce Adolphe has a new Piano Puzzler, and this week's caller (from Lawton, Oklahoma) plays his piano right back at Bruce, over the phone.
Feb 12
Viktoria Mullova
The 2010 Winter Olympics begin today in Vancouver, British Columbia. Over 2600 athletes from nearly 100 countries will be competing, all looking for a little Olympic magic. In honor of the games, we have Jerry Neil Smith's "The Magic of the Mountain," from Oklahoma's Quartz Mountain Music Festival. Plus, Viktoria Mullova wraps up our week of terrific women violinists, performing the Beethoven Concerto in Beethoven's home town.
Feb 11
Gareth Johnson
We'll meet the winner of the 2010 Sphinx Competition for young African-American and Latino string players: 24 year-old violinist Gareth Johnson. And we'll hear his winning performance from Sunday night in Detroit, the final movement from the Violin Concerto No. 3 by Camille Saint Saens. Plus: pianist Jon Nakamatsu and clarinetist Jon Manasse are back for day two of music and conversation in the studio. They'll play a pair of virtuosic movements from the Grand Duo for Clarinet and Piano by a contemporary of Beethoven, Carl Maria von Weber. And a pair of rags written for them by American composer John Novacek.
Feb 10
Nicola Benedetti
Violinist Nicola Benedetti defies conventional wisdom. When she was a finalist at the BBC Young Artist Competition, she didn't play an impressive, well-known warhorse. She chose the obscure and wildly atmospheric Violin Concerto No. 1 by Karol Szymanowski. She won. That led to a 1.7 million dollar major-label recording contract, and now at age 22, she's still playing that Szymanowski concerto. Nicola Benedetti with the Brabant Orchestra, in concert at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Also: Bruce Adolphe has a new Piano Puzzler, and this week's caller (from Lawton, Oklahoma) plays his piano right back at Bruce, over the phone.
Feb 9
Igor Stravinsky Coco Chanel
Composer Igor Stravinsky and fashion designer Coco Chanel. They knew each other in Paris in the 1920s, they even worked together. Did they also have a torrid affair? A new movie says they did...we may never know for sure. We'll hear from a project they shared, the ballet "Apollo." He wrote music, she designed costumes. Highlights from Stravinsky's music on the way from a concert at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Neeme Jarvi conducting the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Hague.
Feb 8
All this week, we're featuring terrific women violinists in concerto performances. Today's soloist is Dutch violinist Janine Jansen, playing the Dvorak concerto in Australia. And for those suffering from cabin fever, we've got a cure. Some musical vacations are on the way, from downhill skiing, to a vacation on the Italian Riviera, to a stop at a fashionable French cafe.
Feb 6
Joann Falletta Conducting
Conductor JoAnn Falletta is unusually good at bringing hidden treasure to light. Recently, she unearthed a beautiful symphony by Marcel Tyberg, a victim of the Nazi concentration camps. On today's show, we hear a rarely-heard work, Joseph Marx's "Symphonic Night Music," performed by JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic. Also, part three of our "Music That Matters" feature on the Reverie Harp.
Feb 5
Joann Falletta Conducting
Conductor JoAnn Falletta is unusually good at bringing hidden treasure to light. Recently, she unearthed a beautiful symphony by Marcel Tyberg, a victim of the Nazi concentration camps. On today's show, we hear a rarely-heard work, Joseph Marx's "Symphonic Night Music," performed by JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic. Also, part three of our "Music That Matters" feature on the Reverie Harp.
Feb 4
Bernard Haitink
Part two of our series "Music That Matters" takes us to a patient recovering from a stroke, playing the "Reverie Harp" helps her regain motion in her arm and shoulder. Plus: from a special 80th birthday party for conductor Bernard Haitink in Amsterdam, we'll hear Haitink conduct the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in a performance of "La Mer," by Claude Debussy. And PT's Artists-in-Residence, the Parker Quartet, return to play the opening movement of Bartok's String Quartet No. 1, and to talk about Bartok's inspiration: he was madly in love with a violinist who didn't love him back.
Feb 3
Reverie Harp
The debut of a new PT series: "Music That Matters." Every day, Performance Today showcases the world's great musicians in concert, and we learn how music matters to musicians. We got to wondering about people, places and communities where music is not just important...it's life-changing. "Music That Matters" will be a monthly series on PT from now through June. Our series opens with a look at an unusual instrument designed for people facing the end of life: the "Reverie Harp." In part one, we'll meet the man who created the harp, get to know how it feels and sounds, and hear the harp in action.
Feb 2
Giuseppe Verdi
Giuseppe Verdi's only string quartet was inspired...by boredom. His lead soprano got sick during rehearsals for an 1873 production of Aida. Verdi spent a month in his hotel room, and killed time by writing the only quartet he ever attempted. He later told a friend "I don't know if my quartet is beautiful or ugly, but I know it's a quartet." (C'mon, it's Verdi! Which means it's full of sweeping drama and lyrical singing lines.) Plus PT listeners' calls and comments on Fred Child's interview with Philip Glass, and on new music by David Lang.
Feb 1
Shostakovich
August, 1942. The German Army had been laying siege to the Russian city of Leningrad for a year. Nearly 800,000 civilians had died. But on a warm evening, sick and starving musicians gathered for a musical act of defiance: a performance of the new "Leningrad" Symphony, by Dmitri Shostakovich, broadcast via loudspeakers to the Germans outside the city. Music of bravery and resolve -- we'll hear the Cleveland Orchestra give a stirring performance of the final movement, from their residency in Miami. And we'll hear from Shostakovich's broadcast on Radio Leningrad, telling his fellow citizens to defend their city.