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Oct 31
Halloween Moon
When the 23-year-old Hector Berlioz saw a production of Shakespeare's Hamlet, he fell truly-madly-deeply in love with the actress who played Ophelia. He sent her passionate letters, which she ignored as the ravings of a crazed fan. So Berlioz wrote a bizarre symphony that told the story of their torrid (and completely imaginary) relationship, complete with betrayal, murder, and a descent into the underworld. For today's Halloween show, highlights from the Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz, from the 2012 Aspen Festival.
Oct 30
Classical Guitar
Perhaps no other instrument has as many facets as the guitar. It's part of nearly every culture and sub-culture in the world. John Dearman, one of the members of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, says that's the key to its success. He says, "The way to make classical guitar work is to exploit the diversity." John Dearman and the other members of the LAGQ will be in the PT studios today, following their own advice, exploiting the diversity of the guitar. We'll hear them in everything from 17th century Spain to modern-day jazz.
Oct 29
lion
The first musical instruments, back in the caveman days, were percussion instruments. Discarded bones, hollow logs covered with animal skins. A battery of noisemakers designed to instill fear in one's enemies and keep evil spirits at bay. Today, we'll meet a percussion instrument that would have fit right in in those early times, the lion's roar. Jerry Junkin and the Dallas Wind Symphony put the lion's roar to good use in a set of Renaissance dances. Plus, a couple of woodland sketches and one of the greatest musical sunrises ever, the opening of Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite.
Oct 27
Concertgebouw
The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam is an amazing old concert hall. Beautiful, opulent, with great sight lines and spectacular acoustics. But up until a few decades ago, it was a hall with a dirty little secret. It was sinking into the surrounding mud. As the hall slowly settled into the ooze, the musicians of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra happily, unknowingly fiddled away. In today's show, the story of how engineers rescued the hall from an untimely end. And we'll hear highlights from a recent concert at the Concertgebouw.
Oct 26
Tchaikovsky
Fate. Is it a friend or an enemy? Easy answer, as far as Peter Tchaikovsky was concerned. He railed against fate, calling it "the force which prevents our hopes of happiness from being realized. It is invincible and you will never vanquish it. All we can do is subject ourselves and lament." OK, so Peter was depressed. He veered wildly between fate the friend and fate the enemy in his Fourth Symphony, with gorgeous melodies crashing into invincible, musical brick walls. Mikhail Pletnev leads the Russian National Orchestra in a riveting performance of Tchaikovsky's Fourth from Warsaw, Poland.
Oct 25
Violin and Music
Two superb young violinists are in today's show. Hilary Hahn rose to stardom when she was just a teen-ager. Now in her early 30s, she made the sometimes uneasy transition from child phenom to adult star. She joins us today, along with pianist Orion Weiss, from the WQXR studios in New York. And we'll hear Augustin Hadelich in concert in Seattle. He made an arduous comeback to the violin after suffering devastating burns over 60% of his body.
Oct 24
Concertgebouw
The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam is an amazing old concert hall. Beautiful, opulent, with great sight lines and spectacular acoustics. But up until a few decades ago, it was a hall with a dirty little secret. It was sinking into the surrounding mud. As the hall slowly settled into the ooze, the musicians of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra happily, unknowingly fiddled away. In today's show, the story of how engineers rescued the hall from an untimely end. And we'll hear highlights from a recent concert at the Concertgebouw.
Oct 23
piano hammers
The piano is essentially a percussion instrument. You press a key, a hammer hits the corresponding string, and a note is produced. But is that all there is? There must be more to playing the piano than that. Today, we'll hear from three terrific pianists, Vladimir Feltsman, Nelson Freire, and Garrick Ohlsson. Ohlsson weighs in on the difficulties of the piano, calling it "a box full of diminuendos." But with those three in the driver's seat, we prefer to think of it as a box full of exquisite possibilities.
Oct 22
Ox
Only in the world of surrealism would a ballet called "The Ox on the Roof" have absolutely nothing to do with an ox. Or a roof. French composer Darius Milhaud wrote it in 1920, just after a two-year trip to Brazil. "The Ox on the Roof" is chock-full of Brazilian melodies and rhythms and energy. We'll hear a terrific performance of Milhaud's oxless, roofless, nonsensical ballet, from a concert in Amsterdam.
Oct 20
Tanglewood
For the past 75 years, the Boston Symphony Orchestra has been spending its summer seasons in the rolling hills of western Massachusetts, at the Tanglewood Music Festival. This past July, the BSO celebrated with a star-studded gala anniversary concert. PT host Fred Child was there. We'll hear highlights from that very special concert at Tanglewood, featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Emanuel Ax, and the Boston Symphony.
Oct 19
Cherry Blossoms
On the afternoon of March 11, 2011, a massive earthquake hit off the northeast coast of Japan. The magnitude 9.0 quake crushed roads and buildings and unleashed a mountainous wall of sea water a dozen stories tall. In all, about 16,000 people died that day. French composer Yannick Paget has been living and working in Japan since 2004. He poured out his grief into his music, writing a solo for violin and orchestra that he calls "Tears of Sakura." We'll hear the world premiere, from a concert in Osaka, Japan.
Oct 18
Martha Argerich
Pianist Martha Argerich is one of those rare artists who works outside the established system. She signs no contracts, plays when and where and what she chooses, frequently cancelling performances at the last minute. And yet she inspires a reverent adoration in her many fans, who refer to her as Madame Argerich. In today's show, we'll go to a concert in Switzerland where Madame Argerich actually showed up and played a Mozart concerto.
Oct 17
Tanglewood
For the past 75 years, the Boston Symphony Orchestra has been spending its summer seasons in the rolling hills of western Massachusetts, at the Tanglewood Music Festival. This past July, the BSO celebrated with a star-studded gala anniversary concert. PT host Fred Child was there. We'll hear highlights from that very special concert at Tanglewood, featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Emanuel Ax, and the Boston Symphony.
Oct 16
Carlos Santana
We know that on at least one occasion, rock guitar legend Carlos Santana did what PT listeners do every day. He tuned his car radio to a classical music station. One of the tunes he heard that day jumped out and grabbed him, wouldn't let go. He had no idea what it was. After a little detective work and with the help of a record store clerk, Santana solved the mystery. We'll hear that tune, from Johannes Brahms' Third Symphony, and the sultry, smoky version Santana incorporated into his "Love of my Life."
Oct 15
Mozart
Teacher and pupil both had wicked senses of humor. But the teacher always maintained a certain emotional distance in his music, more comedy and less pathos. It was the student who ventured into darker emotional corners. In today's show, a work by the student, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. His String Quartet No. 15 is almost unrelentingly dark. Mozart dedicated the work to his teacher, the sunny, funny Joseph Haydn.
Oct 13
Maria Schneider
Maria Schneider is a jazz composer based in New York City. She doesn't usually write music in the classical genre. But the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra recently commissioned her to write a piece for soprano and chamber orchestra. This weekend, we'll hear the world premiere of Schneider's "Carlos Drummond de Andrade Stories," from a concert by Dawn Upshaw and the SPCO.
Oct 12
Gustav Mahler
If you remember the comic science fiction series "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," you know that the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything is 42. Gustav Mahler asked himself that very same question, and came up with a slightly different answer. His response? A massive symphony known as the Resurrection Symphony, which addresses questions of life and death and what might lie beyond death. We'll hear highlights from a concert by Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic.
Oct 11
Chemistry
Two American scientists won the Nobel Prize for chemistry on Wednesday. Something about "G-protein-coupled receptors." It's all very mysterious and important and hard to understand. If only Alexander Borodin was still alive, he could translate for us. Borodin was perhaps the only professional chemist and composer. He never won a Nobel Prize, but did have an important chemical reaction named for him. History remembers him more for his music, though. We'll hear his Symphony No. 2, from a concert in Amsterdam.
Oct 10
Jonathan Biss
Jonathan Biss is a sensitive performer and a deep musical thinker. His favorite composer is Robert Schumann. Biss says, "There's nothing in Schumann that isn't at least bittersweet...He's the one composer who really gave voice to all of our vulnerability." Today and tomorrow, Jonathan Biss joins host Fred Child in the studio for music and conversation about this most poetic of composers.
Oct 9
The Drunken Monk
Religion has always sought to explain the inexplicable. What's the meaning of life? Why do we suffer? How do we get to heaven? Sorry to say, a group of disaffected 12th-century monks were too busy writing about the pleasures of sex, gambling, and gluttony, and raging against the vagaries of fate, to earn their theological bread. Carl Orff set those surprising texts to equally surprising and powerful music in his "Carmina Burana" in 1936. Today we'll hear a performance by the Chicago Symphony, from last week's opening concert at Carnegie Hall.
Oct 8
Juraj Valcuha
Conductor Juraj Valcuha has been taking the music world by storm for the last few years. He's only 36, but has already led most of the top orchestras in Europe and America. Last season saw him debuting with the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, along with return engagements with other top orchestras. We'll hear a performance from Valcuha's big year. He leads the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Sergei Rachmaninoff's 3rd Symphony.
Oct 6
Cleveland, Ohio
The city of Cleveland may be a diamond in the rough, but there's nothing rough about the music scene there. The Cleveland Orchestra is consistently acclaimed as one of the best orchestras in the world. Apollo's Fire, the Cleveland Baroque Orchestra, gives lively and inventive early music performances. And ChamberFest Cleveland just finished its inaugural season with a bang. Join us for today's show, a celebration of Cleveland.
Oct 5
leonard slatkin
A number of major American orchestras are in financial crisis this year. In today's show, we'll hear news about the Minnesota Orchestra, whose musicians have been locked out after contract negotiations failed to reach an agreement earlier this week. And we'll hear from conductor Leonard Slatkin about the tricky process of moving forward after a labor crisis is over. Slatkin is music director of the Detroit Symphony, which went through a bitter, six-month musicians' strike last year.
Oct 4
Big Bird
In today's show, two stories of inspiration - one sweet, one sinister. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma appeared on Sesame Street in the late 1980s, expertly accompanied by a trio of honkers and dingers. Three-year-old Matthew Zalkind was watching, and fell in love with the cello right then and there. Now all grown up, he plays a Faure trio at Marlboro. And Igor Stravinsky's frightening run-in with a gang of Nazi thugs in 1932 fueled the dark emotions of his Symphony in Three Movements. We'll hear a performance by the New York Philharmonic.
Oct 3
Cleveland, Ohio
The city of Cleveland may be a diamond in the rough, but there's nothing rough about the music scene there. The Cleveland Orchestra is consistently acclaimed as one of the best orchestras in the world. Apollo's Fire, the Cleveland Baroque Orchestra, gives lively and inventive early music performances. And ChamberFest Cleveland just finished its inaugural season with a bang. Join us for today's show, a celebration of Cleveland.
Oct 2
Simone Dinnerstein
Like many watershed moments, the one that happened to pianist Simone Dinnerstein was painful and life-altering. She calls it her "nightmare performance," one where she suffered a serious memory lapse. It caused her to re-evaluate everything about how she plays, how she practices, how she learns music. In today's show, Dinnerstein shares how she got back on track after that, and plays a Beethoven Piano Concerto in Copenhagen.
Oct 1
Imogen Cooper
British pianist Imogen Cooper is known for the beauty and emotional depth of her playing. She's especially admired for her interpretations of Schubert, Beethoven, and Mozart. In today's show, she plays Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23, in concert in Newcastle, England. Bright and sunny outer movements shelter a wonderfully dark, tragic slow movement at its core. Cooper gives both darkness and light their due, in a performance with Thomas Zehetmair and the Northern Sinfonia.