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Jun 30
J S Bach
It's probably not an exaggeration to say that Johann Sebastian Bach has inspired more composers than anybody else. Plenty of people over the centuries have claimed him as their muse. In today's show, three composers use Bach as a jumping-off point. And we'll hear from the master himself, his tour de force 6-part fugue from the "Musical Offering."
Jun 29
Tan Dun
How do you put together an orchestra? Usually, a select pool of applicants auditions in person, in private. In 2008 Google acquired YouTube and tried something very different. Google announced that anyone could make a video of themselves playing an orchestral instrument and upload it to YouTube. A group of music professionals and YouTube users then chose an orchestra of about a hundred players who were flown, all expenses paid, to New York City where they performed music commissioned by Google for the occasion: Tan Dun's Internet Symphony. Music for the 21st and wired Century on Friday's Performance Today.
Jun 28
Most composers can't wait for more people to hear their music and to recognize their name. Not Nikolai Kapustin. He doesn't talk to press, but the 74-year-old composer has conveyed one message: he has no desire to be famous. Despite his wishes, he is rapidly becoming well-known as a classically trained composer who also fell in love with jazz. On Thursday's Performance Today we'll hear Kapustin's jazz-tinged Piano Sonata No. 2 performed by Alexei Volodin in concert in Switzerland.
Jun 27
J S Bach
It's probably not an exaggeration to say that Johann Sebastian Bach has inspired more composers than anybody else. Plenty of people over the centuries have claimed him as their muse. In today's show, three composers use Bach as a jumping-off point. And we'll hear from the master himself, his tour de force 6-part fugue from the "Musical Offering."
Jun 26
Franz Joseph Haydn
It's always a touchy situation when the student finally eclipses the teacher. That subtle shift in dynamics that indicates the balance of power is about to flip-flop. That's what Joseph Haydn thought he saw in his rear-view mirror with his student Ignaz Pleyel, who was improving rapidly. So Haydn stepped up his game and wrote a terrific new symphony. In the end, Haydn didn't have that much to worry about with Pleyel. Today we'll hear Haydn's A-game, his Surprise Symphony, from a concert in San Francisco.
Jun 25
Boston
Performance Today is on the road, broadcasting from the studios of Classical New England in Boston today. In honor of our host city, we'll sample a few terrific performances by notable Boston musicians. Including composer Osvaldo Golijov and cellist Yo-Yo Ma, both Boston-area residents. They team up with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in Golijov's magical and mesmerizing "Azul." Plus, we'll hear from an innovative new chamber orchestra from Boston called A Far Cry.
Jun 23
Isle of the Dead IV
A rocky island, surrounded by black water, with a dark sky overhead. A boatman is rowing toward an out-cropping where, presumably, his ghostly white passenger will spend the rest of time. It's a painting by Arnold Bocklin called "The Isle of the Dead." Sergei Rachmaninoff was so taken with the painting that he wrote a tone poem called "The Isle of the Dead." We'll hear it today, from a concert in Cincinnati.
Jun 22
The Oslo Chamber Choir
Jun 21
Gustavo Dudamel
If Gustavo Dudamel was running on fumes the night he and the Los Angeles Philharmonic played at London's Barbican Hall, no one could tell. He and the members of the L.A. Phil had stayed up late the night before, celebrating his 30th birthday. And they went on to deliver a dynamite concert the next day. One critic called it "electrifying, impossible not to be swept away." We'll hear highlights from that post-birthday concert in today's show.
Jun 20
Gyorgy Ligeti
When art and politics collide, politics usually wins, at least in the short term. It depends on the size of the political hammer being wielded. But art almost always wins out in the end. Gyorgy Ligeti wrote a lively rhapsody on Romanian folk music that had a few too many crunchy, off-color harmonies in it. Officials banned it for 20 years, but couldn't ultimately squash it. We'll hear Ligeti's Concerto Romanesc from a concert in Buffalo. Plus, a rare international tour by a North Korean orchestra, in concert in Paris.
Jun 19
Isle of the Dead IV
A rocky island, surrounded by black water, with a dark sky overhead. A boatman is rowing toward an out-cropping where, presumably, his ghostly white passenger will spend the rest of time. It's a painting by Arnold Bocklin called "The Isle of the Dead." Sergei Rachmaninoff was so taken with the painting that he wrote a tone poem called "The Isle of the Dead." We'll hear it today, from a concert in Cincinnati.
Jun 18
Geoff Nuttall
Geoff Nuttall is the charming and genial host for chamber music concerts at the Spoleto Festival USA. He's there at every concert, introducing every piece of music, injecting wit and humor into every performance. In today's show, Nuttall introduces us to the original waltz king, Austrian composer Josef Lanner. We'll hear music by Lanner from the 2012 Spoleto Festival USA, the first of a number of Spoleto performances on PT this week.
Jun 16
Father and Child
In honor of the Father's Day holiday this weekend, we'll meet Canadian composer Robert Rival. Rival says his new piece, "Lullaby," was inspired by the experience of rocking his son to sleep. The Edmonton Symphony plays Robert Rival's "Lullaby," from a concert last month at Carnegie Hall in New York.
Jun 15
Father and Child
It's hard enough to balance work and family life. But for classical musicians who travel a lot, it can be even more difficult. Today, in honor of Father's Day, we'll talk to pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, and find out how fatherhood has changed his life. Andsnes says, "I'm both crying and laughing more easily than before." We'll hear Andsnes in concert in Poland. And the Edmonton Symphony plays Robert Rival's Lullaby, written last year for his newborn son.
Jun 14
Lang Lang
Musically-speaking, pianist Lang Lang came of age long ago. He's been an international star since he was a teen-ager. But at last, all of us who are on the far side of 30 get to welcome Lang Lang into the fold. Today is his 30th birthday. We'll celebrate with highlights from his sold-out concert two weeks ago at Carnegie Hall in New York.
Jun 13
hourglass
A certain amount of self-doubt is normal. But composer Anton Bruckner always had more than his share. He was notorious for revising his music, never being quite satisfied with the result. Finally, at the end of his life, he had a clear vision of what he wanted his Ninth Symphony to be. There was just one problem. At age 72, he was running out of time. In today's show, the story of Anton Bruckner's Ninth Symphony and a performance by the Berlin Philharmonic.
Jun 12
Yulianna Avdeeva
The International Chopin Piano Competition only comes around once every five years. Pianists practice for years just to earn the right to compete. Russian pianist Yulianna Avdeeva was 25 when she took home the gold medal in the 2010 Chopin Competition. Today, we'll get a chance to meet her. She plays music by Chopin and Bach in the PT studios.
Jun 11
Jean Sibelius
Stefan Jackiw is the man Jean Sibelius wanted to be. Jackiw is immensely talented, a world-class violinist still only in his 20s. At 26, Sibelius was forced to admit that he didn't have either the talent or the nerves to make it as a violinist. Distraught, he turned to his only other option, composing. But in settling for second-best, Sibelius achieved an immortality he never would have known as a performer. Stefan Jackiw plays Sibelius' Violin Concerto in today's show, from a concert in Nashville.
Jun 9
Vanessa Perez
Loving parents usually try to steer their children away from making the same mistakes they did. Thankfully, children don't always listen. Vanessa Perez's mother was a pianist who suffered from terrible stage fright, who thought that the life of a musician was just too hard. So when Vanessa asked for piano lessons, her mother said no. Eventually, she gave in, and Vanessa is now enjoying the life of a concert artist that had eluded her mother. We'll meet Vanessa Perez in today's show.
Jun 8
Robert Levin
Pianist Robert Levin believes in taking risks during performances. Not for his own glorification, but to deepen the level of communication between artist and audience. And for the simple fact that, in his view, to risk nothing is to achieve nothing. In today's show, Robert Levin takes risks, improvising his own cadenzas in a Mozart piano concerto, with the Nashville Symphony. Nicholas McGegan conducts.
Jun 7
Franz Schubert
Giacomo Puccini made it all seem so romantic in his opera, "La Boheme." But the Bohemian lifestyle that he celebrated was painfully real for some artists. Franz Schubert lived the Bohemian life in Vienna in the early 19th century, moving from garret to garret, sleeping on friends' couches, never having a place to call his own. Still, out of that poverty, Schubert wrote elegant, opulent music. We'll hear his String Quartet No. 15 in today's show, from a concert in Paris.
Jun 6
Pines of Rome
Ottorino Respighi wrote a trilogy of orchestral tone poems based on the sights and sounds of his beloved city of Rome. Writing about "The Pines of Rome," Respighi said, "The centuries-old trees which so dominate the Roman landscape became witnesses to the events of Roman life." In today's show, ancient history uncovered by the Cleveland Orchestra. Giancarlo Guerrero leads a concert performance of "The Pines of Rome."
Jun 5
Transit of Venus
Gustav Holst was a stargazer, fascinated with the nighttime wanderings of the planets. In today's show, we'll turn to Holst's greatest work, his suite called the Planets, to celebrate a rare planetary event, the Transit of Venus. Every century or so, Venus causes a tiny solar eclipse when it comes between the earth and the sun. The last one of the 21st century takes place today. Fittingly, there was another Transit of Venus in 1874, the year Gustav Holst was born.
Jun 4
Vanessa Perez
Loving parents usually try to steer their children away from making the same mistakes they did. Thankfully, children don't always listen. Vanessa Perez's mother was a pianist who suffered from terrible stage fright, who thought that the life of a musician was just too hard. So when Vanessa asked for piano lessons, her mother said no. Eventually, she gave in, and Vanessa is now enjoying the life of a concert artist that had eluded her mother. We'll meet Vanessa Perez in today's show.
Jun 2
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.
Jun 1
Queen Elizabeth II
The British are beginning a year-long celebration starting this weekend. It's Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee, a celebration of her 60 years on the throne. In today's show, we'll celebrate with our friends across the pond. We'll hear from Tony Holt, who was a boy soprano at the coronation ceremony in 1953. And we'll hear some of the same music that was played at the coronation ceremony.