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Apr 30
Ludwig van Beethoven
Before he was a music celebrity, Beethoven was the new kid in town in Vienna. He was in his mid-20s and slowly earning a reputation as a great pianist and improviser. But nobody really knew if he could write music. Beethoven was eager to prove himself as a composer so he took a toe-tapper of a tune and wrote some virtuosic variations. That earned Beethoven a spot in a heated musical duel. Find out who won and how on Mondaya€™s Performance Today
Apr 27
Yuja Wang
Yuja Wang is known for her daring confidence and skill at the piano and for her adventurous taste in clothes, but at a recent concert in San Francisco, she took a different kind of risk: playing with a duet partner. The remarkable young Chinese pianist was in town to solo with the orchestra. And, as a fun way to open the concert, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas came out with her at the beginning of the evening. They shared a piano bench to play the Sonata for Piano Four Hands, by Francis Poulenc.
Apr 26
Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms wasn't exactly known for writing great xylophone parts. Or any xylophone parts, for that matter. But Arnold Schoenberg apparently thought that was just what Brahms needed. He orchestrated a Brahms piano quartet, and included a juicy part for the xylophone in the last movement. And he threw out the piano part entirely. Just a couple of the "improvements" in a wild, sometimes wacky, and ultimately very satisfying makeover by Arnold Schoenberg. We'll hear it, from a concert in New York.
Apr 25
Mozart
Of all Mozart's concertos for wind instruments, his clarinet concerto is arguably the finest. Gorgeous melodies, achingly beautiful harmonies. It's a perfect showpiece for what the instrument can do. Martin Frost plays Mozart's masterpiece, his one and only concerto for the clarinet. Plus, the harrowing story of how a near-fatal collision with a train taught Frost how to put work and rest into perspective.
Apr 24
Chen Yi
Chen Yi was a classical musician in China at the worst possible time, during the Cultural Revolution, when all Western art was banned. Chinese authorities searched her home, and took away all her family's classical recordings. Chen Yi herself was sent off to a labor camp. She held onto her music in her heart and her memory until the political climate changed. Chen Yi is now a successful composer living in the West. We'll hear one of her works, from a concert in St. Paul.
Apr 23
The Knights
At a time when some venerable American orchestras are going under, there are interesting new groups springing up to take their place in the musical landscape. One such orchestra is called the Knights, located in New York City. They're young, talented, innovative, and driven by a sense of musical discovery. We'll hear the Knights in concert, playing Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony.
Apr 21
Fred Child and Bruce Adolphe
Ten years ago this week, we introduced a brand new feature on our show. And the Piano Puzzler has been a huge hit with listeners ever since. Here's how it works. Every week, composer Bruce Adolphe re-writes a familiar tune in the style of a classical composer. We get one of our listeners on the phone to try to guess the tune and the composer Bruce is imitating. Play along and see if you can solve this week's Piano Puzzler.
Apr 20
king's singers
The King's Singers recently joined host Fred Child in our PT studios for a special hour of music and conversation. Long-time bass Stephen Connolly describes the tight-knit group as "six voices trying to sing as one." The legendary vocal ensemble from London did just that, entertaining a small studio audience with a half dozen songs, including their signature piece, "You are the New Day."
Apr 19
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."
Apr 18
Fred Child and Bruce Adolphe
Ten years ago this week, we introduced a brand new feature on our show. And the Piano Puzzler has been a huge hit with listeners ever since. Here's how it works. Every week, composer Bruce Adolphe re-writes a familiar tune in the style of a classical composer. We get one of our listeners on the phone to try to guess the tune and the composer Bruce is imitating. Play along and see if you can solve this week's Piano Puzzler.
Apr 17
Carnegie Hall
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Well, according to the old joke, "Practice!" Another way to get there is to listen to today's show. We've got an hour of performances from that venerable old hall on the corner of 57th and 7th in New York City. We'll hear highlights from concerts by pianist Arcadi Volodos, mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, and conductor Georg Solti.
Apr 16
mayumi_kanagawa
Apr 14
Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg
Apr 13
Titanic
Apr 12
mayumi_kanagawa
There's plenty of gloomy talk these days about the impending death of classical music. Nay-sayers point to dwindling audiences and orchestra balance sheets awash in red ink. After today's show, you won't be able to reach any conclusion except one: the future of classical music is in very good hands. We're featuring some remarkable young musicians, including Time for Three, pianist Mariangela Vacatello, and PT's newest Young Artist-in-Residence, violinist Mayumi Kanagawa, who will be in the PT studios for the next five days.
Apr 11
Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg
Like plenty of other great ideas, at first glance, it might leave you scratching your head a bit. Start with an old chestnut by Antonio Vivaldi, the Four Seasons. And see it through an entirely different lens, the sultry, smoky Argentinian tango. Is that really such a good idea? Well, in a word, yes! Violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg plays Astor Piazzolla's Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, from a concert in San Francisco.
Apr 10
Mozart
Times were tough for Mozart in the summer of 1788. His financial life was a shambles, and he was reduced to writing a series of pitiful letters to a friend, pleading for money. But at the same time, he was also writing his final three symphonies, each of them a masterpiece. He churned them out over the course of two months that summer. We'll hear Mozart's Symphony Number 39, from a concert by James Levine and the Boston Symphony.
Apr 9
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 generate a lot of emotion in his performances. Pollini joins Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic for a lively - and emotional - performance of Beethoven's Second Piano Concerto.
Apr 7
Lorin Maazel
On July 12, 1941 conductor Lorin Maazel led the NBC Summer Symphony in a concert that was broadcast live from coast to coast. He was 11 years old. Among the pieces he led on that 1941 live national broadcast was the Symphony No. 40, the great G-minor Symphony by Mozart. The very same Lorin Maazel just turned 82. And last month, he led another live national broadcast of that very same piece, the Symphony No. 40, by Mozart. We'll hear this Mozart Symphony, the second time around, on today's Performance Today.
Apr 6
J S Bach
This day is holy for two of the world's great religions, Judaism and Christianity. Jews observe the beginning of Passover at sundown tonight. And Christians call this day Good Friday, the day Jesus died on the cross. In today's show, music in observance of both traditions, including traditional Passover songs and highlights from the Bach St. John Passion.
Apr 5
Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler's massive Fifth Symphony rages on for over an hour. But in the middle of that storm, there's a 10-minute oasis of calm. The Adagietto from Mahler's Fifth has been used for everything from funerals for heads of state to Olympic skating routines. Most people hear it as an outpouring of grief, but some say there's much more to it than that. In today's show, the story behind Mahler's Adagietto and a performance from the Aspen Music Festival.
Apr 4
Lorin Maazel
On July 12, 1941 conductor Lorin Maazel led the NBC Summer Symphony in a concert that was broadcast live from coast to coast. He was 11 years old. Among the pieces he led on that 1941 live national broadcast was the Symphony No. 40, the great G-minor Symphony by Mozart. The very same Lorin Maazel just turned 82. And last month, he led another live national broadcast... of that very same piece, the Symphony No. 40, by Mozart. We'll hear this Mozart Symphony, the second time around, on today's Performance Today.
Apr 3
L'Arpeggiata
It's music from the early 1600s played with a contemporary feel. The members of the early music ensemble L'Arpeggiata like to sound old and new at the same time. On Tuesday's Performance Today we'll hear the rest of their unique concert two weeks ago at Carnegie Hall in New York with music for Holy Week combining early Italian motets and Corsican folk songs with improvisation influenced by everything in between.
Apr 2
L'Arpeggiata
This music is old and new, at the same time. On today's show we'll hear a group from Paris called L'Arpeggiata. They play music from the 1600s and 1700s, but much of what they do is improvise around those pieces from hundreds of years ago. Listen to Monday's Performance Today for L'Arpeggiata from a gorgeous concert earlier this month at Carnegie Hall in New York City.