Exploring Music

Archive for October, 2010

Exploring Music: Richard Strauss

Strauss was a musical Wunderkind who excelled at piano and violin and began composing at age 6. Bill introduces us to a composition of the young Strauss with his Serenade in E-flat Major.

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Strauss’s struggles with composing a comic opera turned into one of his wittiest and most memorable tone poems: Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche.

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Inspired by the philosphy of Friedrich Nietzsche, Strauss set about composing one of his most instantly recognizable works, the monumental Also sprach Zarathustra

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Strauss worked with librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal on such operas as Der Rosenkavalier and Ariadne auf Naxos. In 1911, von Hoffmannsthal approached Strauss about reviving the 17th century play Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, which resulted in this neo-classical orchestral suite entitled Der Bürger als Edelmann.

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Towards the end of Strauss’s life, his creativity was blossoming in ways that it hadn’t in years. Bill explores the supreme artistry of “Ist dies etwa der Tod?” from the composer’s Vier letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs).

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Exploring Music: Cello Concerti

To begin his week on cello concerti, Bill traces the roots of the instrument and discusses its longtime appeal to composers and audiences alike.

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After a long drought in the cello concerto from Mozart through Mendelssohn, the idiom enjoyed a resurgence in the late 19th century. Camille Saint-Saëns composed one of the most enduring works during this period.

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Édouard Lalo, a Frenchman with Spanish roots, composed his Cello Concerto in D minor in 1877.

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Bill relates the love story that underlies some of the melodies in Antonin Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104.

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Cello Concerto week ends with a smattering of 20th century works, including Bachiana Brasiliera No. 5 for soprano and eight cellos, by Heitor Villa-Lobos.

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Joe Gianono

Today we featured the music of Joe Gianono, whose home on the web is here: http://www.joegianono.com/

Of the performers in SMALL CRAFT WARNINGS, Joe writes: “Elaine Chelton on piano is one of the principal piano soloists with the New York City Ballet and Luellen Abdoo is an equally accomplished violinist.”   The music is part of “a play about a bunch of once normal people who self destruct and find themselves living together under the subway system in NYC.  Some eventually find their way back into the light of the real world… and some do not.”

Also featured today: A SLIPPERY SLOPE with trumpeter Glen Drewes.

Check it out!

Exploring Music: Incidentally Speaking

This week’s celebration of incidental music commences with a rollicking example from Mozart and the play: Thamos, King of Egypt.

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A new German translation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream inspires a teenage Felix Mendelssohn to compose brilliant incidental music.

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Even more Shakespeare is explored on today’s episode, as we take a listen to Arthur Sullivan’s incidental music for Macbeth.

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Bill introduces us to a rarely-heard work by Claude Debussy, based on the grim tale of martyred Saint Sébastien.

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On today’s program we hear two very different takes on incidental music for the tale Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, including this breathtaking trumpet part by Richard Strauss.

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