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May 31
piano hammers
We've got two powerhouse pianists in today's show. They each talk about the emotional challenges of performing. While he says he loves playing, Evgeny Kissin limits his concerts to 40 or 50 performances a year, because he finds it so draining. And Emanuel Ax is candid about his stage fright. Both are phenomenal performers, despite the challenges. In today's show, Kissin plays Chopin in Sydney, Australia, and Ax plays Beethoven in Los Angeles.
May 30
Firebird
The legend of the firebird comes down to us from many different cultures. The details differ, but the essence of the story is the same. This magical bird is immortal, dying in fire and being reborn in the ashes of its former self. In 1910, the then-unknown Igor Stravinsky ensured his own immortality, writing music for the new ballet, "The Firebird." Today we'll hear a performance by the Cincinnati Symphony.
May 29
Gustav Mahler
Usually, when we hear about some newly-rediscovered piece of music, it's in some dusty monastery in Europe. In today's show, the story of Gustav Mahler's Blumine, which went missing for about 80 years and turned up in the library at Yale University. We'll hear a performance of Mahler's lost-and-found work, from a concert by the New York Philharmonic.
May 28
Vietnam Memorial
Memorial Day has come to be a celebration, the unofficial first day of summer. It's also a day to remember our men and women in uniform. In today's show, we have some summer celebrations, and also a most beloved American work, Samuel Barber's Adagio for strings. Plus a new work by Kevin Puts that honors servicemen and women buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
May 26
Bruce Adolphe
Every week on our Piano Puzzler, 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 mimicking. Is it "Stand by Your Man" in the style of Tchaikovsky? Or maybe "Do Re Mi" in the style of Schoenberg? Play along, see if you can guess the tune and the composer in this week's Piano Puzzler.
May 25
Piano Keys
Today we're featuring two amazing young pianists whose stars are rising. Conrad Tao is 17, still finishing his studies at the Juilliard School in New York. Earlier this week, Tao won a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. We'll hear him in recital in Florida. Yuja Wang is 25, and has been delivering jaw-dropping performances ever since she appeared on the international scene about a decade ago. We'll hear her in concert in San Francisco, playing Ravel's Concerto for the Left Hand.
May 24
Lang Lang
Pianist Lang Lang is a classical music celebrity, a hero to many. But he also has his own heroes. In today's show, Lang Lang talks about his idol, composer Franz Liszt. The two have more in common than you might think. Both showmen with blazing technique on the piano, both utterly fearless on the concert stage. Lang Lang gives a fiery performance of Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1, in concert with the Cincinnati Symphony.
May 23
Yo-Yo Ma
It's climbing season again on Mount Everest, and the tallest peak in the world just claimed another four lives this week. There was no loss of life or limb when Yo-Yo Ma played what some call the Mount Everest of concertos, the Cello Concerto by Antonin Dvorak. We'll hear his spectacular performance, from a concert with the Atlanta Symphony.
May 22
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach's music is almost like another element, another building block in the chemistry of the world. Lots of artists have thrown a pinch or two of Bach into the fire and come up with some interesting new alloy. Count Rob Moose among them. Today we'll hear his new arrangement of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, including parts for banjo, mandolin, and guitar.
May 21
Ludwig van Beethoven
It's beautifully solemn in places. But elsewhere, it's almost beside itself with glee. The Symphony No. 7 by Beethoven is many things, which led one contemporary of Beethoven's to say it was evidence that Beethoven was "ready for the madhouse." In today's show, Michael Tilson Thomas leads the San Francisco Symphony in Beethoven's Symphony No. 7.
May 19
Bernstein 2
Leonard Bernstein's one-act opera, "Trouble in Tahiti," has languished since he wrote it in 1952. Opera companies rarely stage it these days. But the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra just commissioned an orchestral suite based on music from "Trouble in Tahiti." We'll hear the world premiere in this weekend's show, from a concert this spring in New York.
May 18
Mozart
Death stood peering over Mozart's shoulder as he struggled to finish his Requiem Mass in 1791. Mozart was ill, and seemed to know that he was in a race against time. He wrote frenziedly. But in the end, death didn't have the patience to wait for him to finish. Mozart died at age 35, leaving it to others to complete this beautiful and tormented work. In today's show, a performance of Mozart's Requiem from a concert in Amsterdam.
May 17
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 French National Orchestra plays Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2, from a concert in Paris.
May 16
malikov
This week, we've been getting to know the newest PT Young Artist-in-Residence, Alexander Malikov. He's been in the studios every day this week. In today's show, he talks about the advantages and disadvantages of working on the fortepiano, the 18th-century ancestor of the modern piano. And he plays a sonata by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.
May 15
Musikverein Goldener Saal
Vienna's Musikverein is one of those spectacular old European concert halls. The walls and ceilings shimmer with real gold. And the acoustics are every bit as magnificent as the decor. We'll hear pianist Lang Lang in a recital at the Musikverein, playing Beethoven's "Appassionata" Sonata. Plus, we'll hear from a special New Year's Day concert there. Daniel Barenboim and the Vienna Philharmonic rattled those golden walls and ceilings with Johann Strauss, Jr.'s "Thunder and Lightning Polka."
May 14
malikov
Today we'll meet our newest PT Young Artist-in-Residence, pianist Alexander Malikov. He's a student at Oberlin College, about ready to graduate. Oberlin is a terrific music school, but it's also a top-notch liberal arts college. Malikov shares his thoughts on getting a well-rounded education, and plays a Beethoven piano sonata in the PT studios.
May 12
Bruce Adolphe
Every week on our Piano Puzzler, 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 mimicking. Is it "Stand by Your Man" in the style of Tchaikovsky? Or maybe "Do Re Mi" in the style of Schoenberg? Play along, see if you can guess the tune and the composer in this week's Piano Puzzler.
May 11
Clara Schumann
In a time when women were generally expected to give up their careers when they married, Clara Schumann was an exception. She had a big international career as a pianist, was a fine composer, a mother of eight children, and the chief bread-winner in the family. On Friday's Performance Today we'll hear music by Clara Schumann, in honor of Mother's Day.
May 10
Roman Totenberg
On Thursday's Performance Today, we remember violinist Roman Totenberg, who died on Tuesday. In Totenberg's marathon 90-year professional career, he worked with composers like Samuel Barber, taught hundreds of students and launched two important musical institutions: The Aspen Music Festival and Music Academy of the West. The classical music world would be a different place had it not been for Roman Totenberg. We'll honor his contribution by listening to his performance of Ernest Bloch's Violin Concerto.
May 9
george gershwin
George Gershwin had it all: talent, looks, charisma, spiffy art deco apartment on Riverside Drive with the grand piano, the parties, the Isamo Noguchi bust of himself. And, of course, a melodic gift that escaped the theatre and lived in memory. On Wednesday's Performance Today, we'll hear one of George Gershwin's influential forays into the concert hall, played by an equally charismatic pianist from Quebec. Alain Lefevre plays George Gershwin's Concerto in F.
May 8
J S Bach
In 1721, the Margrave of Brandenburg got a gift that he didn't quite know how to appreciate. Bach sent him a bound manuscript with six lively concertos for chamber orchestra. The Margrave didn't really know what to make of it, so he ignored it. Thankfully, history hasn't ignored Bach's Brandenburg Concertos. We'll hear the first of the six, on Tuesday's Performance Today from APM.
May 7
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. We'll hear her, in concert with the Cleveland Orchestra. Plus, concert performances by pianists Lang Lang and Yefim Bronfman in Vienna.
May 5
Mark O'Connor
The Roma people (also known as Gypsies) have long lived on the fringes of Eastern European society. But even though they themselves have been marginalized, their influence on classical music has not. In today's show, we'll hear Haydn's "Gypsy Rondo" Trio and the world premiere of Mark O'Connor's "March of the Gypsy Fiddler."
May 4
David Grossman from the New York Philharmonic
Every day on Performance Today, we hear great musicians in concert. How did they get to be so good? And how do they stay on top of their game? On Fridaya€™s show, we'll meet double bass player David Grossman from the New York Philharmonic. He'll tell us what it's like to live at the bottom of the orchestra, musically speaking, and wea€™ll hear him perform Mozarta€™s Sinfonia Concertante.
May 3
The woodwind quintet (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and horn) has been around for a couple of centuries. One group in particular, though, has been revolutionizing how the music world thinks about quintets. The Imani Winds have been together since 1997, writing much of their own music, and commissioning new works by other composers. As a result, the quintet landscape has forever changed. In today's show, the members of the Imani Winds join host Fred Child in the studio for music and conversation.
May 2
Mark O'Connor
The Roma people (also known as Gypsies) have long lived on the fringes of Eastern European society. But even though they themselves have been marginalized, their influence on classical music has not. In today's show, we'll hear Haydn's "Gypsy Rondo" Trio and the world premiere of Mark O'Connor's "March of the Gypsy Fiddler."
May 1
Midori
Violinist Midori joined host Fred Child in our PT studios recently for an hour of music and conversation. She talked about the singular power of music by Bach ("so spiritual, so cleansing, so difficult") and about the many ways in which she is reaching out to young musicians and young listeners.