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May 31
Saint-Saens
Camille Saint-Saens wrote The Carnival of the Animals for a private party and hoped that would be the last time it was ever heard. He thought it was too goofy to be published or taken seriously. It's now his most popular piece all around the world. We'll hear the hopping kangaroos, the braying donkeys and even the rattling bones of this piece from a concert in Buffalo, New York on Friday's Performance Today
May 30
Mel Blanc
The great voice-over actor, Mel Blanc, was born on this day, May 30th, in 1908. He created voices for Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig, Foghorn Leghorn, Pepe Le Pew, and so many memorable characters in Warner Brothers cartoons. We'll celebrate Mel Blanc's birthday with a few excerpts from classic cartoons, and highlight the classical music they so often featured.
May 29
Igor Stravinsky
It was an unusually hot day in Paris: May 29th, 1913. But the heat of the late-day sun was nothing compared to the inferno generated by that day's performance at the city's big ballet company. It was an event that would change music forever: the premiere of Igor Stravinsky's ballet, the Rite of Spring. To mark the 100th anniversary of that famous and infamous premiere, music writer Alex Ross tells the story of that musical riot. And we'll go to Dallas to hear Jaap van Zweden lead a concert performance by the Dallas Symphony, on Wednesday's Performance Today.
May 28
C.P.E. Bach
Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, was an avid music-lover, and a fine flutist. He even wrote a few respectable flute concertos. Which presented a dilemma for his court composer, CPE Bach. Bach was obligated to write concertos for Frederick the Great, but could his be *better* than the King's own concertos? (Never wise to show up the King!) The answer, apparently, was yes. The Flute Concerto in D minor by CPE Bach combines elegance, wit, and virtuosity in a piece that the King found eminently play-able. Fred Child takes us to a concert performance in Regensburg, Germany, on Tuesday's Performance Today.
May 27
Johann Sebastian Bach
King Frederick the Great dared J.S. Bach. Could Bach improvise a three-part fugue on a weird melody? Then, he double dared him. Could Bach write a six-part fugue on the same tune? It seemed impossible, but Bach was Bach. Bach's answer to that challenge from King Fred, on Monday's Performance Today.
May 25
Deborah Voigt
This month, soprano Deborah Voigt has been on stage at the Metropolitan Opera in New York singing the role of Brunnhilde in Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle. We asked Voigt what Wagner's music means to her as a singer. Her first answer was "LONG," but her second answer showed how she really feels. "You will constantly discover things in Wagner's music that you didn't hear" the first or even fifth time, she said. "It's just so rich." Deborah Voigt talks about the composer who is about to celebrate his 200th anniversary on Tuesday's Performance Today.
May 24
Timothy Kantor
Some musicians find teaching to be a drag on their performing careers. For violinist Tim Kantor, it's exactly the opposite. He says his students not only re-focus his energy on the joy of musical discovery, they constantly inspire him with new ideas. Tim Kantor will close his week as PT's Young Artist in Residence with a set of musical bon-bons by Fritz Kreisler and Jean Sibelius. PT host Fred Child welcomes him to the studio on Friday's Performance Today.
May 23
Orchestra of St. Luke's
The Orchestra of St. Luke's spent four years searching for a new Principal Conductor. They wanted *just* the right chemistry between their ensemble and a leader, and they found it in 35 year-old Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado . PT host Fred Child joins him at the New York home of the Orchestra of St. Luke's today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday) for conversation about that mysterious chemistry between an orchestra and a conductor, and for music. In a PT exclusive performance, they'll play the Symphony No. 4, by Robert Schumann, on Thursday's Performance Today.
May 22
Richard Wagner
May 21
Deborah Voigt
This month, soprano Deborah Voigt has been on stage at the Metropolitan Opera in New York singing the role of Brunhilde in Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle. We asked Voigt what Wagner's music means to her as a singer. Her first answer was "LONG," but her second answer showed how she really feels. "You will constantly discover things in Wagner's music that you didn't hear" the first or even fifth time, she said. "It's just so rich." Deborah Voigt talks about the composer who is about to celebrate his 200th anniversary on Tuesday's Performance Today.
May 20
Felix Mendelssohn
Throughout this school year Performance Today been featuring some of the most talented young musicians from conservatories and schools of music around the country. On Monday, we welcome our new Young Artist in Residence: violinist Timothy Kantor. He'll perform in the studio every day this week, starting on Monday with a sonata by Felix Mendelssohn.
May 18
Maurice Ravel
In 1908 Maurice Ravel wrote an enchanting piece for solo piano called Ondine or water fairy. Ravel often did orchestral versions of his piano pieces, but not this one. He left it as a piano solo. However, that hasn't stopped others from trying. On this weekend's Performance Today we'll hear a fascinating musical experiment. The Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra had Louis Lortie play Ravel's solo piano version. Then, without a break, they played a 1990 orchestration of the piece. We'll hear them back to back, just as they were done on stage in Brazil.
May 17
Calefax
Oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bass clarinet and bassoon. What a weird combination. Can that possibly work for anything? On Friday's Performance Today we'll meet a band who make it work for just about everything. They call themselves Calefax and we'll hear them perform a concert in the Netherlands.
May 16
Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss knew horns. His father Franz was among the great horn players of the day and he often listened to his father rehearse and perform. When Richard Strauss was 18 years old, he wrote a concerto for his father--and exceptionally difficult concerto, no less. On Thursday's Performance Today we'll hear Philip Myers take the solo role with the New York Philharmonic in a performance of a horn concerto for dad.
May 15
Igor Stravinsky
"Good composers borrow, great composers steal." That quote is often attributed to Igor Stravinsky, one of the most original composers of the 20th century. Even when Stravinsky pilfered musical ideas, though, he made them very much his own. When Stravinsky wrote ballet music in 1919, he lifted tunes from about two centuries earlier, but tweaked them enough to put his own stamp on them. On Wednesday's Performance Today, we'll hear the result: The Pulcinella Suite by Igor Stravinsky from a concert in Cologne, Germany.
May 14
Maurice Ravel
In 1908 Maurice Ravel wrote an enchanting piece for solo piano called Ondine or water fairy. Ravel often did orchestral versions of his piano pieces, but not this one. He left it as a piano solo. However, that hasn't stopped others from trying. On Tuesday's Performance Today we'll hear a fascinating musical experiment. The Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra had Louis Lortie play Ravel's solo piano version. Then, without a break, they played a 1990 orchestration of the piece. We'll hear them back to back, just as they were done on stage in Brazil.
May 13
beethoven
Napoleon's defeat inspired two noisy pieces of music. There was Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. But there was also a noisy, impetuous, militant march by Beethoven called Wellington's Victory, one of those rare occasions when the loser's name is more known than the winner. Beethoven's march is not played as often as the Tchaikovsky, but it's a fascinating piece with a curious history. On Monday's Performance Today, we'll hear Wellington's Victory in performance from a concert in Dublin, Ireland.
May 11
Stile Antico on Performance Today
The 12-member British vocal ensemble Stile Antico joins host Fred Child for a very special performance and conversation. They sing a variety of gorgeous music from the 1500s, including a hymn by Orlando di Lasso, and talk about the legacy of British cathedral choir schools, It's music with a penetrating beauty on Wednesday's Performance Today.
May 10
Violinist Rachel Barton Pine
Violinist Rachel Barton Pine says, "there's nothing more fundamental than holding an infant in your arms and rocking them gently to sleep." Classical composers are no different than other parents--singing, soothing, sometimes pleading their children to sleep. But many of them wrote their own lullabies. On Friday's Performance Today, Rachel Barton Pine plays a handful of little-known lullabies by well-known composers. Just in time for Mother's Day.
May 9
Violin and Music
Doesn't it seem like people cough a lot at classical music concerts? A German behavioral economist recently found that audiences cough twice as much sitting in a concert hall as they do in normal life. On Thursday's Performance Today we'll talk with Professor Andreas Wagener who has measured this concert hall coughing and explored the bigger question: Why?
May 8
Stile Antico on Performance Today
The 12-member British vocal ensemble Stile Antico joins host Fred Child for a very special performance and conversation. They sing a variety of gorgeous music from the 1500s, including a hymn by Orlando di Lasso, and talk about the legacy of British cathedral choir schools, It's music with a penetrating beauty on Wednesday's Performance Today.
May 7
Tokyo String Quartet
The Budapest String Quartet was founded, logically, in the city of Budapest. The Cleveland Quartet made their home in, you guessed it, Cleveland, Ohio. But the Tokyo Quartet has never been based in Tokyo. Four bright young music students from Tokyo each moved to the United States to study, met in New York City and in 1969 formed a string quartet. The Tokyo Quartet has been a major force in the world of classical music for 44 years, but this season is their last. On Tuesday's Performance Today we'll hear a performance by the Tokyo Quartet as they celebrate their farewell tour.
May 6
George Antheil
1924 was a landmark year for American music. It was the year of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue first made audiences swoon. George Antheil was another American composer who loved jazz. He liked the idea of Rhapsody in Blue, but he thought Gershwin's piece missed the gritty down-and-dirty heart of jazz and blues. On Monday's Performance Today we'll hear George Antheil's answer to Rhapsody in Blue, but with a little more gravel in it: Antheil's Jazz Symphony from 1925.
May 4
Bill Eddins
Conductor, pianist and candid commentator Bill Eddins joins host Fred Child in the studio to take listeners on a tour of his favorite pieces of classical music. He talks about the unappreciated humor in Beethoven's symphonies, the sly keyboard prowess of Alicia de Larrocha, and Eddins reveals what he calls "the sexiest piece of classical music ever written." Find out the answer and get the conductor's take on classical music on Friday's Performance Today.
May 3
Bill Eddins
Conductor, pianist and candid commentator Bill Eddins joins host Fred Child in the studio to take listeners on a tour of his favorite pieces of classical music. He talks about the unappreciated humor in Beethoven's symphonies, the sly keyboard prowess of Alicia de Larrocha, and Eddins reveals what he calls "the sexiest piece of classical music ever written." Find out the answer and get the conductor's take on classical music on Friday's Performance Today.
May 2
Simone Dinnerstein and Tift Merritt
It might seem to be an unlikely partnership: classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein and singer-songwriter Tift Merritt. On the surface their musical worlds sound very different, but Dinnerstein says when you strip away the details like genre, and instrument and even notation, at the core "what we have in common has to do with emotion and color." On Thursday's Performance Today, Simone Dinnerstein and Tift Merritt discuss finding each other and on finding common musical ground. They'll also play music from their new CD collaboration called "Night."
May 1
Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
The long wait is over... in St. Paul, at least. While their colleagues across the Mississippi River at the Minnesota Orchestra in Minneapolis are still locked in a contract dispute, for the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra the six month work stoppage is over. The ensemble will return to the concert stage next week. On Wednesday's Performance Today, we'll sample the sound of the SPCO in concert with Hans Graf conducting the Mother Goose Suite by Maurice Ravel.