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May 31
Sergei Rachmaninoff
The combination of an unusually thin skin and some particularly sharp digs by critics completely deflated Sergei Rachmaninoff, and sent him into a tailspin after the premiere of his first symphony. One critic compared it to the seven plagues of Egypt. Ouch. It took years for him to recover. Luckily, his second symphony was a monster hit, still an audience favorite today. We'll hear highlights, from a concert by the New York Philharmonic.
May 30
Vietnam Memorial
Memorial Day began as a day to honor the fallen soldiers of the American Civil War. Today, we celebrate and honor all those who have given their lives in service to their country. Cantus, PT's Artists in Residence, join host Fred Child today for music and conversation in honor of Memorial Day.
May 28
joshua bell
What could be more exciting for a musician than playing concertos with the world's great orchestras? Ask Joshua Bell that question, and he'll tell you: playing chamber music. Bell says there's nothing he likes better than making chamber music, taking an audience through an entire two-hour musical journey. He sets aside time in his schedule every year for a big recital tour. In today's show, we'll hear a highlight from this year's tour, a violin sonata by Edvard Grieg.
May 27
Carl Nielsen
How are your bodily fluids today? Too much black bile? Not enough phlegm? Ridiculous questions today, but in medieval times, people believed that there were four fluids that ruled our moods. Depending on the mix, you were choleric, phlegmatic, melancholic, or sanguine. Carl Nielsen ran across four comical paintings based on these four temperaments, and based his Second Symphony on them. We'll hear it, from a concert by the San Francisco Symphony.
May 26
Ukrainian pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk saw everything slip away in an instant, when a car crash led to a month-long coma. Gavrylyuk has fully recovered from that accident, and his playing is more powerful and poetic than ever. We'll hear him in concert in Miami. And another musician who has come back from a devastating injury: violinist Peter Oundjian lost full use of his left hand due to a repetitive stress disorder. So he took up conducting. In today's show, Oundjian leads the Toronto Symphony in excerpts from Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 4.
May 25
A 1946 Warner Brothers cartoon called Rhapsody Rabbit featured Bugs Bunny in white tie and tails, contending with everything from audience coughing to an impish little mouse, as he hammered and thundered his way through Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody Number 2 for Piano. Bugs puts in a brief appearance on the show today, before handing the reins over to the Liege Philharmonic. They'll play an orchestral arrangement of Liszt's most famous tune.
May 24
joshua bell
What could be more exciting for a musician than playing concertos with the world's great orchestras? Ask Joshua Bell that question, and he'll tell you: playing chamber music. Bell says there's nothing he likes better than making chamber music, taking an audience through an entire two-hour musical journey. He sets aside time in his schedule every year for a big recital tour. In today's show, we'll hear a highlight from this year's tour, a violin sonata by Edvard Grieg.
May 23
Richard Strauss
If your critics are accusing you of writing extravagant, self-indulgent music, maybe the best response isn't to write an over-the-top work called A Hero's Life, casting yourself as the hero. And when folks question you about it, maybe you shouldn't compare yourself with Napoleon and Alexander in your defense. But then, maybe you're not Richard Strauss, who did exactly that. Was he for real, or was it all a big joke? The story in today's show, and a performance by the Cleveland Orchestra.
May 21
This week, we welcome all our new listeners in Houston. PT is now being carried by Classical 91.7 in Houston. In today's show, we'll feature great performances by Hans Graf and the Houston Symphony and Da Camera of Houston, representing just a part of the vibrant arts scene in the nation's fourth-largest city.
May 20
beethoven
Yesterday we heard Beethoven's First Symphony. Today we'll hear its younger brother, the Second, written just two years later. It's a sunny, cheerful work. But it was born amidst the anguish Beethoven was experiencing over his increasing deafness. Plus, two real-life musical siblings: Christian and Tanja Tetzlaff and the Tetzlaff Quartet, in concert in California.
May 19
beethoven
When Beethoven's First Symphony premiered in Vienna in 1800, some listeners were shocked. It was so odd, so dissonant. They had no idea what they were in for with this guy. Beethoven would go on to revolutionize the form over the course of his nine symphonies. In today's show, we'll hear how it all began. Beethoven's First Symphony, from a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic.
May 18
This week, we welcome all our new listeners in Houston. PT is now being carried by KUHA in Houston. In today's show, we'll feature great performances by Hans Graf and the Houston Symphony and Da Camera of Houston, representing just a part of the vibrant arts scene in the nation's fourth-largest city.
May 17
Michael Tilson Thomas
Yesterday, we brought you Part I of Mahler's 8th Symphony, known as the Symphony of a Thousand. Today is the conclusion. Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas leads the massed forces of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the Pacific Boychoir, and the San Francisco Girls Chorus. MTT calls the work an "allegory of the distressed soul finding its way through trials to...blessedness."
May 16
Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler's monumental Symphony Number 8 (the Symphony of a Thousand) is ambitious in almost every way. Not just its size (intended for an amassed orchestra and chorus of 1,000 people), but in its emotional and intellectual content. Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony have just completed a massive recording project, recording all of the Mahler symphonies. MTT and San Francisco perform part one of the Symphony of a Thousand in today's show. Look for part two tomorrow.
May 14
Daphnis and Chloe
It's an ancient, simple story of boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy loses girl when she is abducted by pirates. Boy gets girl back, thanks to the intervention of a deity who is half-man and half-goat. OK, maybe the story of Daphnis and Chloe isn't so simple after all. But boy and girl live happily ever after in Maurice Ravel's ravishing, shimmering coming-of-age love story. The Montreal Symphony plays Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2, from a concert in Montreal.
May 13
Rococo art and music are often criticized as being a little fussy and overly decorative. All frosting and no cake. But Peter Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme not only has plenty of cake, there are also vegetables and a side of beef lurking under there too. Cellist Alisa Weilerstein serves up this hearty fare, from a concert with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in New York.
May 12
Jonathan Biss
Mozart wrote classy (and classical) music, but wasn't necessarily the classiest guy around. Let's just call him earthy, and leave it at that. Pianist Jonathan Biss doesn't go that far, but thinks a certain amount of irreverence is important for anyone who walks on stage to perform. "Nothing is sacred," he says. We'll hear these two irreverent souls together when Biss performs Mozart Piano Concerto No. 22 with the San Francisco Symphony.
May 11
Daphnis and Chloe
It's an ancient, simple story of boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy loses girl when she is abducted by pirates. Boy gets girl back, thanks to the intervention of a deity who is half-man and half-goat. OK, maybe the story of Daphnis and Chloe isn't so simple after all. But boy and girl live happily ever after in Maurice Ravel's ravishing, shimmering coming-of-age love story. The Montreal Symphony plays Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2, from a concert in Montreal.
May 10
Martha Argerich
It's hard to think of two more opposite characters in classical music than Dmitri Shostakovich and Martha Argerich. Argerich, the idiosyncratic free spirit, who says what she thinks and does what she wants. And Shostakovich, whose career and even his life depended on him toeing the Soviet party line. These opposites team up in today's show, as Martha Argerich performs Shostakovich's First Piano Concerto from the Verbier Festival in Switzerland.
May 9
Birthday Cake
It was a marathon event, a chamber music concert that lasted almost 12 hours. The occasion was the 50th anniversary of the Young Concert Artists organization, a group devoted to launching the careers of outstanding young musicians. We'll hear highlights from that super-sized concert that featured nearly 100 past and present YCA artists. Plus, Michael Tilson Thomas leads the San Francisco Symphony in Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, the Eroica.
May 7
Clara Schumann
Like many working mothers, Clara Schumann worried about her children when she wasn't there. "Give my little ones, for whom I yearn so much, 1000 kisses," she wrote while away on concert tour. Clara Schumann was one of the top pianists of her day, a much sought-after concert artist. She was also the family breadwinner during her husband Robert's long battle with mental illness. In today's show, a piano concerto by Clara Schumann, in honor of Mother's Day.
May 6
Clara Schumann
Like many working mothers, Clara Schumann worried about her children when she wasn't there. "Give my little ones, for whom I yearn so much, 1000 kisses," she wrote while away on concert tour. Clara Schumann was one of the top pianists of her day, a much sought-after concert artist. She was also the family breadwinner during her husband Robert's long battle with mental illness. In today's show, a piano concerto by Clara Schumann, in honor of Mother's Day.
May 5
Handel
Author Donna Leon joined PT host Fred Child recently to talk about her latest book, "Handel's Bestiary." It's an overview of all the animals that appear in arias from Handel's many operas. In today's show, we'll hear three of those bestial portraits: the tiger, the bee, and the moth. Plus, we have special music in honor of today's big Mexican holiday, Cinco de Mayo.
May 4
All this week on PT, we've been observing Critters Week: music about and inspired by animals. There's no fur in today's show, but an ample supply of feathers and fins. Pianist Mitsuko Uchida and friends perform Schubert's Trout Quintet from the Marlboro Music Festival. The work got its name from a tune Schubert used in the final movement: a song about a happy trout, splashing in a stream.
May 3
Tokyo String Quartet
The Tokyo String Quartet, perhaps surprisingly, has never been based in Tokyo, or even in Japan. Even so, they maintain close ties to Japan. So after this spring's devastating earthquake and tsunami, the members of the Tokyo String Quartet were quick to arrange a benefit concert. We'll hear highlights in today's show, including Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, in its original version for string quartet.
May 2
Alisa Weilerstein
When a friend suggested that cellist Alisa Weilerstein perform Elgar's Cello Concerto with conductor Daniel Barenboim, her initial reaction was an overwhelming "NO." In today's show, find out what Weilerstein's reluctance was all about, and the performance that eventually came from her overcoming it: cellist Alisa Weilerstein, conductor Daniel Barenboim, and the Berlin Philharmonic, performing the Elgar Cello Concerto in Oxford, England. Plus, music from Britain's royal wedding last Friday.