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Dec 31
Fireworks
On this last day of 2010, we'll take a look back at some of the big stories of the past year. We said goodbye to some important names in the classical music world. Paid visits to some great summer music festivals and met some of the stars of tomorrow there. And observed several big composer anniversaries. Join us as we look back on a great year.
Dec 30
Andre Mathieu
Was he the most talented unknown composer of the 20th century? Some called him the "Canadian Mozart." Andre Mathieu was an astonishing prodigy as a composer and pianist. He played his own compositions at Carnegie Hall when he was 11, he beat the young Leonard Bernstein in a composition competition when he was 13. But he was also deeply troubled. He withdrew from public life before his 20s, and died, already forgotten, at age 39 in 1968. We'll hear the Tucson Symphony in concert, playing a set of Ballet Scenes by Andre Mathieu.
Dec 29
Richard_Strauss
Is it a stupendous work of art, a shameless piece of self-promotion, or a mockery of the music business? Maybe it's all three. "Ein Heldenleben,""A Hero's Life," by (and about) Richard Strauss. Strauss told a friend "I don't see why I shouldn't write a symphony about myself, I find myself as interesting as Napoleon." Whether you take the grandiose plot seriously, or see it as Strauss poking fun at his critics, it's an astonishing and entertaining piece. Bernard Haitink conducts the Chicago Symphony, in concert at Orchestra Hall in downtown Chicago.
Dec 28
Piano Keys
Pianist Mitsuko Uchida joins PT host Fred Child to talk about Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24. (She says "It is very dark, incredibly tragic," but the lilt in her voice conveys the beauty of that darkness.) And we'll hear her concert performance with the Cleveland Orchestra. Plus two concerts in Vienna: Lang Lang plays Chopin's "Aeolian Harp" Etude in the sumptuous acoustics of the Golden Hall at the Musikverein, and Yefim Bronfman plays the Paganini Etude No. 2 by Franz Liszt, at the outdoor gardens of Schonbrunn Palace.
Dec 27
Chopin
2010 marked the 200th anniversary of Frederic Chopin's birth. We brought you great performances of his music from all over the world. In today's show, something a little different. Nothing by Chopin himself, but a full hour of music inspired by him. Plus, a terrific performance of Dvorak's Seventh Symphony by Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony.
Dec 25
18th Century Christmas
We're celebrating Christmas around the world, our annual program of musical highlights from concert halls and churches all around the globe. Including ancient Byzantine carols from Romania, an over-the-top Christmas medley by Leroy Anderson, and two lovely settings of the Ave Maria. Plus, Bruce Adolphe's latest creation, "Santa and Isolde," a brilliant and hilarious collage of Christmas tunes and opera highlights.
Dec 24
holiday lights
For Christmas Eve day, we have a special mix of holiday music. From ancient to modern, from lively to reflective, it's a mix of familiar melodies and some new surprises. The haunting voice of Linn Andrea Fuglseth in a traditional Norwegian carol. A glass harmonica played in a limestone cave in Spain. The charming Tokyo FM Boys Choir singing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," in both English and Japanese. Plus much more. It's special holiday music from around the country and around the world.
Dec 23
Cantus
The PT Artists in Residence, the men of the vocal ensemble Cantus, join host Fred Child for conversation and a selection of holiday tunes. Everything from the ancient "Veni, Veni Emmanuel" to the dark Russian sound of Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Come Let us Worship," to a Cantus mash-up that they call "Pat a Drummer," a pairing of "Patapan" and "The Little Drummer Boy." Plus, we'll hear Bruce Adolphe's latest creation, "Santa and Isolde," a brilliant and hilarious collage of Christmas tunes and opera highlights.
Dec 22
18th Century Christmas
We're celebrating Christmas around the world, our annual program of musical highlights from concert halls and churches all around the globe. Including ancient Byzantine carols from Romania, an over-the-top Christmas medley by Leroy Anderson, and two lovely settings of the Ave Maria. Plus, Edward Elgar's "Nursery Suite," written for the four-year-old Princess Elizabeth, now Queen Elizabeth II of England. And Bruce Adolphe stops by for a new Piano Puzzler.
Dec 21
Handel
Word on the street was, it was going to be something special. Advance ticket sales were hot. To pack as many people as possible into the theater, ladies were asked not to wear hoop skirts. Gentlemen were advised to please leave their swords at home. It was the premiere of Handel's Messiah in 1742. It's a work that still packs people into concert halls, nearly 270 years later. In today's show, one of the best Messiah performances from last season, by the Academy for Ancient Music Berlin and the Rias Chamber Chorus, from a concert in Berlin.
Dec 20
The Shaker ideal: Don't make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, don't hesitate to make it beautiful. The members of the Rose Ensemble join host Fred Child in the studio for early American holiday music, including several beautiful Shaker tunes. Plus, Ottorino Respighi's "Three Botticelli Pictures," from a concert in St. Paul.
Dec 18
Trevi Fountain, Rome
Ottorino Respighi loved his adopted home city of Rome, especially the hundreds of fountains. He once said, "I wonder why no one has ever thought of making the fountains of Rome 'sing,' for they are, after all, the very voice of the city." Since no one else thought to do it, Respighi took on the job. The result was his orchestral tone poem, "The Fountains of Rome," with its evocative depictions of splashing, gurgling, spurting water in the Eternal City. Vladimir Ashkenazy leads the San Francisco Symphony in a performance from Davies Symphony Hall.
Dec 17
Edvard Grieg
"Dear Mr. Grieg: I am writing about a project I propose, and I invite your participation. I propose to adapt my poem Peer Gynt for the stage. You will compose the music, yes?" That letter was from playwright Henrik Ibsen to composer Edvard Grieg in 1873. Grieg said yes, and the result was some of the greatest theater music ever written. Neeme Jarvi leads the Lucerne Symphony in a performance of Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, from Lucerne, Switzerland. And from that same concert, music from the play "Pelleas and Melisande," by Jean Sibelius.
Dec 16
Ludwig van Beethoven
History isn't absolutely clear on this point, but we're pretty sure today is Ludwig van Beethoven's birthday. Most of us have the image of the older Beethoven in our heads: stone deaf, isolated, angry, tormented. Some of that late Beethoven is in the show today, but also some early Beethoven, like a charming little Sonatina for recorder and guitar from the Minnesota Beethoven Festival. Plus Beethoven's massive oddity for orchestra, chorus, and piano soloist: the Choral Fantasy, from a concert in San Francisco.
Dec 15
Trevi Fountain, Rome
Ottorino Respighi loved his adopted home city of Rome, especially the hundreds of fountains. He once said, "I wonder why no one has ever thought of making the fountains of Rome 'sing,' for they are, after all, the very voice of the city." Since no one else thought to do it, Respighi took on the job. The result was his orchestral tone poem, "The Fountains of Rome," with its evocative depictions of splashing, gurgling, spurting water in the Eternal City. Vladimir Ashkenazy leads the San Francisco Symphony in a performance from Davies Symphony Hall.
Dec 14
Peteris Vasks
Sometimes, it helps to be reminded of why music is so important. Latvian composer Peteris Vasks wrote, "Beauty and harmony are rare in life, but in music, they are possible. I say 'Yes' until my last breath, to the beauty of the world." We'll hear Vasks saying "Yes" to beauty, in his lovely Cantabile for Strings, from a concert in Monaco. Plus, the women of Anonymous 4 join host Fred Child for music and conversation.
Dec 13
Tchaikovsky
It was a memorable collision between technology and art. A new instrument had just been invented in France: the celeste, a keyboard instrument with a sound like a tinkly set of magic bells. Peter Tchaikovsky heard it on a trip to Paris, and knew instantly that he had the perfect tune for it. Nowadays, people automatically associate the sound of the celeste with the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from his ballet, "The Nutcracker." At the premiere, the audience was astounded at the new invention. We'll hear Act II from the Nutcracker today, including that big celeste solo. Simon Rattle leads the Berlin Philharmonic.
Dec 11
Bruce Adolphe
In 1917, British composer Arnold Bax went to see the ruins of an ancient castle, where legend says King Arthur was born. Bax was inspired to write a symphonic poem about it. The result is called "Tintagel," named for that mysterious castle in Cornwall. Thomas Dausgaard leads the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, from a concert at the Concertgebouw. And Bruce Adolphe stops by for this week's Piano Puzzler.
Dec 10
Simon Rattle
It's Christmas Eve, and there's a big party. Young Clara gets a special present, a nutcracker. At midnight, the Christmas tree grows magically, and the Nutcracker springs to life, doing battle with an army of mice. It's Act One of "The Nutcracker," by Peter Tchaikovsky. Conductor Simon Rattle says that the more he listened to Tchaikovsky's masterpiece, the more fascinated he became by it. Today, Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic perform Act One of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker." And they'll be back on Monday's show for Act Two.
Dec 9
Johannes Brahms
When it came to writing symphonies, Johannes Brahms entered the game relatively late. He was in his forties when he finished his first one, having labored over it for almost 15 years. The second was a much easier birth. He wrote it over the course of one glorious summer in southern Austria. Brahms joked that it was a region where "the melodies were so abundant, one had to be careful not to step on them." Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony take care with Brahms' lovely melodies, in a performance from San Francisco's Davies Hall.
Dec 8
Bruce Adolphe
In 1917, British composer Arnold Bax went to see the ruins of an ancient castle, where legend says King Arthur was born. Bax was inspired to write a symphonic poem about it. The result is called "Tintagel," named for that mysterious castle in Cornwall. Thomas Dausgaard leads the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, from a concert at the Concertgebouw. And Bruce Adolphe stops by for this week's Piano Puzzler.
Dec 7
Georg Philip Telemann
Music teachers might be horrified at this idea, but one of the greatest composers of the Baroque era was almost completely self-taught. Georg Philipp Telemann had a total of about two weeks of lessons when he was a teenager. After that, he was on his own. We'll hear one of Telemann's orchestral suites, where he imagined what music from far-off places would sound like. Places like Turkey, Moscow, Switzerland, and Portugal. Plus, a Russian and a German imagine music from Spain and come up with the same title: two Spanish Caprices, by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Moritz Moszkowski.
Dec 6
Debussy Claude
Claude Debussy once tried his hand at painting, but decided music had a much better way of depicting the glint of sunlight on water, the ever-changing undulations of the sea, and the smell of a salty mist shimmering in the air. In today's show, Esa-Pekka Salonen leads the New York Philharmonic in Debussy's masterpiece for the senses, "La Mer," or "The Sea."
Dec 4
Franz Joseph Haydn
Conductor Roger Norrington remembers one early-morning rehearsal with New York's Orchestra of St. Luke's. Given the hour, he had encouraged the musicians to take it easy. Instead, Norrington says, they "went off like maniacs. I just had to keep up." In today's show, Roger Norrington and the "maniacs" of the OSL, with their high-powered work ethic, perform Haydn's Symphony Number 99 at Carnegie Hall.
Dec 3
beethoven
When Beethoven wrote his Triple Concerto in 1803, he pointed out to his publisher that the piece was unique. That was more than 200 years ago -- it's still (nearly!) unique today: a piece for *three* soloists and orchestra. We'll hear it from a special concert this year in Hamburg. Alan Gilbert conducting the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra, with pianist Lars Vogt, violinist Veronika Eberle, and cellist Gustav Ravinius. And this week's 21st century work is a neo-Romantic symphonic poem by Canadian composer Allan Gilliland: "Shadows and Light."
Dec 2
Franz Joseph Haydn
Conductor Roger Norrington remembers one early-morning rehearsal with New York's Orchestra of St. Luke's. Given the hour, he had encouraged the musicians to take it easy. Instead, Norrington says, they "went off like maniacs. I just had to keep up." In today's show, Roger Norrington and the "maniacs" of the OSL, with their high-powered work ethic, perform Haydn's Symphony Number 99 at Carnegie Hall.
Dec 1
Jean-Fery Rebel
If you think musical chaos began in the 20th century, you'll have to adjust your calendar by about 200 years. When Jean-Fery Rebel was writing a ballet about the creation of the world in 1738, he threw caution to the wind, and threw every note in the scale into one crashing, grinding, tooth-rattling opening chord. It's utter chaos, like the world he was trying to depict. Happily, the music quickly evolves into a set of charming dances. We'll hear a performance of music two centuries ahead of its time, by the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra.