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Jul 31
Bruce Adolphe
Ah, the eternal question: to clap, or not to clap between movements? The debate has been rekindled at the BBC Proms in London this summer. Some audience members are applauding between movements without being shushed by their neighbors, and according to some observers, they're eliciting pleasure from musicians on stage. We'll hear two examples from concerts last week. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic played the first two movements from Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony, and got applause after both. Pianist Paul Lewis and the BBC Symphony got applause after the first and last movements of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4. And feel free to clap for composer Bruce Adolphe, who has a brand new Piano Puzzler this week.
Jul 30
Scriabin
Alexander Scriabin would have balked at the word composer. He was so much more than that. A mystic, a metaphysician, one who would bring about the enlightenment and salvation of humankind through art. While his musical contributions were significant, they didn't quite measure up to all that. Pianist Nelson Goerner taps into his inner mystic to bring Scriabin's wild and quirky piano concerto to life, from a concert last week at the BBC Proms in London.
Jul 29
Gustav Mahler
No one ever accused Gustav Mahler of being overly modest. When he finished his Eighth Symphony, he wrote, "Try to imagine the whole universe beginning to ring and resound. There are no longer human voices, but planets and suns revolving." It's art on the grandest of scales, Mahler's Symphony of a Thousand. We'll hear Part One, from the opening concert at this year's BBC Proms in London.
Jul 28
Bruce Adolphe
Ah, the eternal question: to clap, or not to clap between movements? The debate has been rekindled at the BBC Proms in London this summer. Some audience members are applauding between movements without being shushed by their neighbors, and according to some observers, they're eliciting pleasure from musicians on stage. We'll hear two examples from concerts last week. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic played the first two movements from Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony, and got applause after both. Pianist Paul Lewis and the BBC Symphony got applause after the first and last movements of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4. And feel free to clap for composer Bruce Adolphe, who has a brand new Piano Puzzler this week.
Jul 27
Paul Lewis
"You get a sense of Beethoven the virtuoso enjoying the fact that he can play piano -- it's a wonderfully exhilarating and free kind of piece." So says English pianist Paul Lewis about Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1. Lewis is playing all five Beethoven Piano Concertos at the BBC Proms in London this summer. On Wednesday last week, he played No. 1 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Lewis gave a wonderfully exhilarating performance himself, prompting hearty ovations after the first and last movements, as you can hear on Tuesday's PT.
Jul 26
John Adams
In 1985, composer John Adams had a daughter named Emily, but he and his wife nicknamed her "Quackie." One night, Adams dreamed that Quackie was riding on the shoulder of mediaeval mystic Meister Eckhardt, and as they floated through the night sky, she whispered in the master's ear, sharing the secret of grace. That dream inspired an ethereal movement called "Meister Eckhardt and Quackie" in Adams' 1985 piece, Harmonielehre. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra plays it, in concert at the Concertgebouw, in Amsterdam. In a similar vein, Samuel Barber was inspired by a made-up phrase in James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake." Barber's "Fadograph of a Yestern Scene" is a nostalgic look back, a wonderfully reflective and rarely played gem of American music. Our concert performance is by the Polish National Radio Symphony.
Jul 24
Royal Albert Hall
The BBC Proms is a massive summer music festival in London, with concerts every night for eight weeks at the Royal Albert Hall. We'll hear highlights from a concert this past week: 34 year-old Vasily Petrenko conducting the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic in a performance of Schumann's Manfred Overture, and the final movement from Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony. (Both works inspired by the tragic hero of Lord Byron's romantic poem, Manfred.)
Jul 23
Violinist Viviane Hagner
"Don't laugh at me! I am ashamed, and cannot get beyond my fumbling." The words of a struggling young musician, just leaning to play an instrument? Not exactly. Those fretful sentiments were written by composer Felix Mendelssohn. In a way, he was learning to master something new: writing for the violin. He wrote that while working on his violin concerto. He managed to progress way beyond fumbling. The work is a masterpiece for violin. We'll hear a performance by Viviane Hagner, from a concert three nights ago at London's BBC Proms.
Jul 22
Royal Albert Hall
"Who cares if you miss a note or two? If you're true to the music, THAT's what matters!" So says pianist Simon Trpceski about the pressure of playing a frighteningly difficult piece in front of a concert audience of 6,000, and a broadcast audience of millions. On Monday night, Trpceski joined the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic at the BBC Proms in London, playing Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2. We'll hear how it went (he didn't miss many notes), along with a Schumann Overture and the finale of a Tchaikovsky Symphony, both inspired by Lord Byron's tragic hero, Manfred.
Jul 21
Felix Mendelssohn
Felix Mendelssohn got the inspiration for his Scottish Symphony when he was 20 years old, travelling in Scotland. But, since he waited more than a dozen years to actually write the piece...is there any real connection between his inspiration and the symphony? Conductor Riccardo Chailly has been looking into it, and joins us today. Chailly talks about the fragmentary sketch Mendelssohn jotted down in Scotland. And we'll hear Chailly conduct the very orchestra Mendelssohn was leading when he wrote his symphony, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. We'll hear them play the sketch, and the full symphony, in concert in Leipzig.
Jul 20
Valery Gergiev
Russian conductor Valery Gergiev is the only classical musician to make the 2010 "Time 100" list, Time magazine's annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Gergiev exerts his influence on orchestras and audiences alike, and there's no doubting his passion, and the depth of feeling he inspires when he conducts. We'll hear Gergiev inspiring the London Symphony Orchestra in a concert performance of "Jeux," by Claude Debussy; music for a flirtatious ballet set on a tennis court.
Jul 19
Simon Rattle
Conductor Simon Rattle joins us to introduce the Symphony No. 2, by Johannes Brahms. Rattle says "this is a work where real unalloyed joy comes out, and that, in all of Brahms' output, is fairly rare." Rattle also weighs in on Brahms' gruff, very German sense of humor. And we'll go to a concert in Berlin, with Rattle conducting the Berlin Philharmonic, in the complete symphony.
Jul 17
Midori
The great American violinist Midori joins host Fred Child for nearly a full hour of music and conversation. She and pianist Robert McDonald play the opening movement from the Violin Sonata No. 1 by Brahms, the complete Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano by Paul Hindemith, and a bon-bon by Fritz Kreisler, Syncopation. Midori opens the hour with a solo performance of the opening Adagio from the Violin Sonata in g-minor by Bach (BWV 1001). Midori will talk about the singular power of music by Bach, and about the many ways in which she is reaching out to young musicians, and young listeners.
Jul 16
Maurizio Pollini
Pianist Maurizio Pollini has been accused of being stiff and unemotional on stage. One writer said, "There are morticians who go about their duties more chirpily than Pollini on the concert platform." That may be, but he manages to coax a lot of emotion out of that wooden box of hammers and strings. He's been a beloved grand master of the piano for half a century. Pollini joins Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic for a lively - and emotional - performance of Beethoven's Second Piano Concerto.
Jul 15
Christoph Eschenbach
The lush sound of the Philadelphia Orchestra is an ideal fit for Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony. We'll go to the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia to hear Christoph Eschenbach conduct the final three movements of this emotionally turbulent masterpiece.
Jul 14
Bruce Adolphe
The biggest summer music festival of them all gets underway this week. The BBC Proms kicks off in London on Friday. We'll be bringing you great Proms performances for the rest of the summer. In today's show, a remembrance of Proms past, a couple of highlights from past summers at the Proms. Violinist Leila Josefowicz plays the Meditation from Jules Massenet's opera "Thais." And the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus perform a Proms favorite: Hubert Parry's "Jerusalem." Plus, music for Bastille Day, and the Piano Puzzler.
Jul 13
Midori
The great American violinist Midori joins host Fred Child for nearly a full hour of music and conversation. She and pianist Robert McDonald play the opening movement from the Violin Sonata No. 1 by Brahms, the complete Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano by Paul Hindemith, and a bon-bon by Fritz Kreisler, Syncopation. Midori opens the hour with a solo performance of the opening Adagio from the Violin Sonata in g-minor by Bach (BWV 1001). Midori will talk about the singular power of music by Bach, and about the many ways in which she is reaching out to young musicians, and young listeners.
Jul 12
Princess Leia
The venerable Vienna Philharmonic: keepers of the highest classical standards, minders of the grand Viennese tradition of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, and Mahler. We'll catch up with the Vienna Philharmonic at an outdoor concert they gave last month in their hometown, playing -- for the first time in their history -- music from the soundtrack to Star Wars, by John Williams. Plus a survey of highlights from American music festival in the spring of this year, including the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra performing Mozart's Symphony No. 35.
Jul 10
Franz Schubert
Ferdinand Schubert was a packrat...and thank goodness for that. Ferdinand was the brother of composer Franz Schubert. When Robert Schumann came to visit in 1839, Schumann was surprised to find stacks of music lying all around the apartment. Franz Schubert had died a decade earlier, and among the mess, Schumann discovered an unknown masterpiece. It's come to be called the "Great Symphony," Schubert's Symphony No. 9. We'll hear a concert in London. Sir Charles Mackerras conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Jul 9
When Gustav Mahler was working on his Symphony No. 10, his heart was broken -- literally and figuratively. He had contracted an incurable heart disease, and his wife was having an affair. Pondering mortality, love, and loss, he finished his last work: the opening movement of his Symphony No. 10. Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas talks about Mahler's heartache, and leads the San Francisco Symphony in a concert performance. MTT also guides us, and the San Francisco Symphony, through the final section of Mahler's Symphony No. 8. And in part two of this month's edition of our occasional series, "Music That Matters," we'll hear from the inmates at a women's prison in Alaska whose lives are being changed by the chance to play in an orchestra.
Jul 8
Gustav Mahler
Our Mahler celebrations continue, one day after Gustav Mahler's 150th birthday. Barbara Haws, archivist of the New York Philharmonic, talks about Mahler's brief time as Music Director of the Philharmonic. (And tells a story about Mahler visiting an opium den in New York. He didn't inhale.) We'll hear a classic New York Philharmonic recording of the Adagietto from Mahler's Symphony No. 5. Plus, Mahler the outdoorsman -- two of his orchestral movements inspired, in part, by flowers. And our series "Music That Matters" returns with a visit to an orchestra of inmates at a women's prison in Alaska.
Jul 7
Gustav Mahler
What is the meaning of life? What is the meaning of death? Composer Gustav Mahler, born 150 years ago today, asked the big questions in his work. We'll hear highlights from two recent and extraordinary Mahler concerts. Gustavo Dudamel leads the LA Philharmonic in the final two movements of Mahler's Symphony No. 1, and Franz Welser-Most leads the Cleveland Orchestra in the final two movements of Mahler's Symphony No. 2, the Resurrection Symphony.
Jul 6
Franz Schubert
Ferdinand Schubert was a packrat...and thank goodness for that. Ferdinand was the brother of composer Franz Schubert. When Robert Schumann came to visit in 1839, Schumann was surprised to find stacks of music lying all around the apartment. Franz Schubert had died a decade earlier, and among the mess, Schumann discovered an unknown masterpiece. It's come to be called the "Great Symphony," Schubert's Symphony No. 9. We'll hear a concert in London. Sir Charles Mackerras conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Jul 5
Till Fellner
The young Austrian pianist Till Fellner suffered a debilitating case of tinnitus (a hearing disorder) in 2005. It almost ended his career. But with medical help, he came back, playing even more beautifully than before. Two hundred years earlier, another young German-speaking pianist was devastated when he began losing his hearing. There was no medical cure for him, and Ludwig van Beethoven lived out the rest of his life in silence. In today's show, Fellner plays a Beethoven sonata, from a concert last month in London.
Jul 3
The Master General of the Ordnance told the Comptroller of His Majesty's Fireworks in 1749, that "the King objected to there being any musick, but when I told him the quantity and number of (trumpets and drums) martial musick there was to be, he was better satisfied, and said he hoped there would be no fiddles." George Frideric Handel got wind of that, and left the fiddles out of his Royal Fireworks Music. The Los Angeles Philharmonic and conductor Herbert Blomstedt give a performance, in honor of the 4th of July holiday.
Jul 2
The Master General of the Ordnance told the Comptroller of His Majesty's Fireworks in 1749, that "the King objected to there being any musick, but when I told him the quantity and number of (trumpets and drums) martial musick there was to be, he was better satisfied, and said he hoped there would be no fiddles." George Frideric Handel got wind of that, and left the fiddles out of his Royal Fireworks Music. The Los Angeles Philharmonic and conductor Herbert Blomstedt give a performance, in honor of the 4th of July holiday.
Jul 1
Louis Lortie
Pianist Louis Lortie says he always prefers live performances to studio recordings. He says, "There's a spirit, an immediacy that you just don't get in the studio." Louis Lortie plays Beethoven's first piano concerto with spirit and immediacy, along with Kurt Masur and the Cleveland Orchestra. The performance was from the Cleveland Orchestra's annual winter residency in Miami. Plus, hour one is an all-Nordic hour.