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Jun 30
Johannes Brahms
Violinist Nikolaj Znaider thinks that passion repressed is more interesting than passion expressed. He hears both in the violin concerto by Johannes Brahms. Znaider says we should look to the young Brahms - handsome, confident, defiant - when we hear the concerto. Znaider channels the passion of Brahms in a performance with the Cleveland Orchestra.
Jun 29
Kirill Gerstein
Kirill Gerstein is the most recent winner of the Gilmore Artist Award, the most lucrative award for classical pianists. Handed out once every four years, it comes with a $300,000 prize. Perhaps a bit surprising for someone who started out as a jazz pianist. In today's show, Gerstein talks about how he decided to focus on classical music, and admits that he still wonders if he did the right thing in giving up jazz. Gerstein plays Rachmaninoff's First Piano Concerto in San Francisco.
Jun 28
Mozart hadn't quite arrived when he wrote his Symphony Number 34. He was still living in his home town of Salzburg, where he felt constrained and unappreciated. Franz Schubert's 9th Symphony was grander and more complex than anything he had written so far. So grand that they call it his Great Symphony now. So complex that no one could play it. In today's show, these two great symphonies, by frustrated young composers. From concerts by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony.
Jun 27
Planets Moon Sun Outerspace
Their names come from Roman mythology. The ancients called them wandering stars, and assigned each its own personality. One is the bringer of war, while another brings peace. One is jolly and benevolent. Its neighbor is remote and mystical. Gustav Holst poured his passion for astrology into his greatest work, his orchestral suite called "The Planets." We'll hear a performance by Peter Oundjian and the Toronto Symphony.
Jun 25
Emanuel Ax
In this weekend's show, two of the greatest pianists around: Yefim Bronfman and Emanuel Ax. Bronfman plays Shostakovich in London, and Ax (pictured) plays Mozart in Berlin. Plus, Bruce Adolphe drops by for this week's Piano Puzzler.
Jun 24
Zoe Keating is a classically-trained cellist. But she uses more than a cello and a bow to make music. She also uses a computer and a set of foot pedals to create musical loops and layers, improvising and recording on the fly. She recently joined host Fred Child in the PT studios for conversation and her unique brand of avant cello music. We'll hear her arrangement of the slow movement from Beethoven's Seventh Symphony.
Jun 23
Tchaikovsky
The term "Little Russia" sounds innocuous to our ears, even charming. But say those words to a Ukrainian, and you might just wind up with a black eye. "Little Russian" is a demeaning term for all things Ukrainian. It's also the nickname of Tchaikovsky's Second Symphony. A critic gave it the label, because it's infused with Ukrainian folk melodies. We'll hear a performance by the Sydney Symphony and conductor Hans Graf.
Jun 22
Alexander Borodin was a professional chemist, with little time to compose. Usually, he took forever to finish a piece of music. But one summer, he took some time off work and wrote a string quartet. The Jerusalem String Quartet plays Borodin's String Quartet No. 2, in concert in New York City. And Yefim Bronfman (pictured) plays Dmitri Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2, from a concert in London. Shostakovich wrote it in honor of his son Maxim's 19th birthday.
Jun 21
Sheet music
They're two works that were almost lost forever. Georges Bizet's Symphony in C sat on a shelf at the Paris Conservatory library for 60 years, a long-forgotten homework assignment by the 17-year-old composer. A researcher discovered it in 1933, dusted it off and got it published. And Anton Webern's lovely "In the Summer Breeze" spent some time in a hole in the ground, hidden by Webern himself as Russian troops marched into Vienna in 1945. We'll hear both, from concerts in Switzerland and New York.
Jun 20
It's not that Gustav Mahler found his visit to Niagara Falls uninspiring. Far from it - he thought it was spectacular. It's just that, when he and his wife visited there in 1910, there was something bigger on his mind, something he thought was even more impressive. It was the piece he was to conduct that night in nearby Buffalo, the Symphony No. 6 by Beethoven. We'll hear the piece that outshines Niagara Falls, in a concert by the Buffalo Philharmonic.
Jun 18
Mischa Maisky
Pianist and conductor Jeffrey Kahane sums up the dilemma of musical fatherhood: How do you encourage your child as a musician without living your life and dreams through him or her? Kahane's son Gabriel is a successful composer and songwriter. He joins host Fred Child for music and conversation, and to talk about his dad. Plus, the father-and-daughter team of Mischa (pictured) and Lily Maisky, in concert in Croatia.
Jun 17
Mischa Maisky
Pianist and conductor Jeffrey Kahane sums up the dilemma of musical fatherhood: How do you encourage your child as a musician without living your life and dreams through him or her? Kahane's son Gabriel is a successful composer and songwriter. He joins host Fred Child for music and conversation, and to talk about his dad. Plus, the father-and-daughter team of Mischa (pictured) and Lily Maisky, in concert in Croatia.
Jun 16
Claudio Monteverdi
In 1607, there was no such thing as time off work to mourn the death of a spouse. So when Claudio Monteverdi's wife died, he had to keep putting pen to paper, composing music for, of all things, a royal wedding. Monteverdi can be forgiven if it's not the jolliest of wedding music. But his Vespers are quietly, hauntingly beautiful. We'll hear a performance from suburban Cleveland.
Jun 15
Julia Fischer
Violinist Julia Fischer has been playing to packed concert halls ever since she was a child. She says, "I was already extremely conscientious when I was 10 years old. I was always aware of what it meant to go onstage and stand in front of a thousand people...I was very self-critical, and strict with myself." That self-discipline paid off. Today, she's one of the top violinists in the world. In today's show, Julia Fischer plays the Bruch Violin Concerto, from a concert in Geneva.
Jun 14
Heironymous Bosch painted dark, frightening pictures of hell in the 15th century, with tortured souls suffering in agony. Dante used words rather than paint in his Divine Comedy. But he came up a similar picture of hell, along with the inscription "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here" on the gates. Composer Luigi Boccherini painted a lively, boisterous picture of hell, one that draws us in rather than sends us fleeing. No need to abandon hope in today's show. We'll hear Boccherini's "The Devil's House," from a concert by Mercury Baroque in Houston.
Jun 13
Someone once said be careful what someone mistakes you for. They just may be right. In today's show, two stories of musicians who recreated themselves after someone mistook them for something they weren't. Jaap van Zweden (pictured) was a violinist, until Leonard Bernstein handed him a baton and asked him to conduct. And Makoto Ozone was a jazz pianist, until an orchestra hired him to play Mozart. After the initial shock, both van Zweden and Ozone trained intensively to fit into their new mistaken identities. We'll hear van Zweden conducting Tchaikovsky in Dallas, and Ozone playing Chopin in Warsaw.
Jun 11
Quartet New Generation
Quartet New Generation is made up of four young women from Germany who play recorders. They play everything from the Renaissance to the avant garde. They sometimes even put on platinum wigs and play techno dance music. The Quartet New Generation stopped by the PT studios recently for music and conversation with PT host Fred Child. They'll play works by Handel and Minnesota composer Mary Ellen Childs.
Jun 10
Quartet New Generation
Quartet New Generation is made up of four young women from Germany who play recorders. They play everything from the Renaissance to the avant garde. They sometimes even put on platinum wigs and play techno dance music. The Quartet New Generation stopped by the PT studios recently for music and conversation with PT host Fred Child. They'll play works by Handel and Minnesota composer Mary Ellen Childs.
Jun 9
Daniel Barenboim
Daniel Barenboim is a full-time pianist. And a full-time conductor. If you think that adds up to too much, Barenboim is quick to disagree. In fact, he wants to keep up the frenetic pace. He says, "I pray every day that I will not get comfortable in my old age." In today's show, Barenboim the pianist and Barenboim the conductor, from concerts in Vienna and Essen, Germany.
Jun 8
Franz Schubert
In today's show, a couple of blatant cases of false advertising. Johannes Brahms promised his publisher a dour, sad, tragic Second Symphony. But what he delivered was the sunniest and cheeriest of all his symphonies. And Franz Schubert (pictured) subtitled his Fourth Symphony "The Tragic." Tune in to today's show and see if you think the label fits. We'll hear performances from New York and Amsterdam.
Jun 7
For pianist Evgeny Kissin, playing to a live audience is an emotional balancing act. On the one hand, he says that it's so emotionally draining that he limits the number of concerts he gives. But he also says he wouldn't have it any other way. When someone asked if he tries to forget about the audience during a concert, he was incredulous. He said, "Why on earth should I try to forget about the audience when it is for them that I go on stage and play?" In today's show, Evgeny Kissin plays to an audience at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland.
Jun 6
Sharon Isbin
Classical musicians often trace their lineage, not through their parents, but through their teachers. Being able to say "My teacher's teacher's teacher's teacher was Beethoven" is something that sounds impressive. But with so many generations in there, does it really imply anything? In today's show, a classical guitarist who was a first-generation student of the legendary Andres Segovia. We'll hear the student, Sharon Isbin, play music written for her teacher, Joaquin Rodrigo's "Fantasy for a Gentleman."
Jun 4
Mstislav Rostropovich
Today's show features some of the greatest performances of the 20th century, including Vladimir Horowitz's return to the stage after a dozen years of self-imposed exile. Plus, Leonard Bernstein conducting an international orchestra at the Berlin Wall just after it fell. And Mstislav Rostropovich's (pictured) return to Russia, leading an American orchestra in an all-American tune, "Stars and Stripes Forever."
Jun 3
It started as a way to communicate in the gold mines of South Africa, where workers were chained together, forbidden to talk. Now it's an important and beloved part of South African culture. British composer David Bruce explains the story of gumboot dancing, and talks about his new piece called "Gumboots." We'll hear a performance from the Spoleto Festival USA.
Jun 2
Alison Balsom
Like other complex pieces of machinery, musical instruments evolve and improve over time. In 1795, Anton Weidinger invented the equivalent of power steering for the trumpet. He created a trumpet with keys, so the player could play every note with ease, not just some of them. Weidinger also happened to be a colleague of Joseph Haydn's. The result of that confluence was Haydn's Trumpet Concerto in E-flat. We'll hear a performance by British trumpeter Alison Balsom, from a concert last month in Manchester, England.
Jun 1
Heimbach power plant
Two giant turbines loom large on the stage. Black iron hooks and chains dangle from the ceiling. No, it's not a medieval torture chamber. It's a concert venue, although an admittedly unusual one. It's the Heimbach Power plant in Germany, site of the Spannungen Chamber Music Festival. We'll hear a Dvorak piano quintet from Heimbach today on PT.