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May 2016
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5 Hidden Gems By Classical Composers You Should Know

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All month long, WFMT is featuring hidden gems by composers you love and some who may be less familiar each day at 9:00 AM central. Enjoy these five hidden gems below, and tune in each day in May at 9:00 AM central at 98.7 FM or anywhere in the world from wfmt.com or our apps or Apple and Android.

  1. Alkan’s Symphonie, Op 39YouTube Preview Image

    Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813-1888) was a contemporary of Chopin and Liszt, and his prowess at the keyboard was no less great than theirs. Though was quite reclusive, he was loved among some of the great cultural figures of his time, some of whom he met at Parisian salons. His works fell largely into obscurity after his death, which some apocryphal accounts say was caused by a bookcase that fell on him in his apartment. One of his great masterpieces is his Symphonie for solo piano.

     

  2. Zelenka’s Miserere in C “Il fondamento”
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    Jan Dismas Zelenka (1697-1745), a Czech contemporary of Bach, was one of the most widely-regarded composers in Saxony, where he spent much of his professional life. Dresden, Saxony’s capitol, was an international melting pot because it is geographically located in the center of Europe. Composers at the Dresden court enjoyed a rich bounty of musical resources including players from around the continent. In Zelenka’s Miserere, you can hear the “mixed style” that was so loved and admired in international Saxony.

  3. Reubke’s Piano Sonata in b-flat
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    In the middle of the 18th century with the Seven Years War, Saxony fell to Prussia. Dresden, however, remained an important musical center for some time to come. Julius Reubke (1834 – 1858) had the opportunity to study with Liszt in Berlin before he eventually settled in Dresden at the end of his career. His Piano Sonata in b-flat major is one piece that shows the influence of his mentor Liszt, who wrote a similar work with his Piano Sonata in b minor.

  4. Reger: Serenade in G, Op 141A
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    Max Reger (1873 – 1916) and J.S. Bach shared the same adopted city of Leipzig, where each of them held major positions. Reger was the music director of the Leipzig University Church and a professor at the Royal Conservatory in Leipzig. In his spare time, Reger he was also the court composer to the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen(!). The breadth of his work, not surprisingly, is astonishing. He worked in every genre from instrumental fugues to theatre music.

  5. Taneyev: Piano Quintet, Op 30
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    Sergei Taneyev (1856 – 1915) was in the same composition class as Tchaikovsky. Though both composers were highly active in their day, Taneyev’s reputation did not enjoy the same fate as his classmate’s.  They were, however, lifelong friends. In fact, Taneyev was one of the few people who Tchaikovsky trusted to offer honest advice regarding his work. His honesty with other musicians, though, made his relationships with other contemporary composers more complicated.

  • Melanie Mendoza

    I love this series; everyone knows and listens to the greatest hits of classical music, but these hidden gems are especially treasured and deserve more attention. I would love to have the entire list of hidden gems in one big list, pretty please!

  • Sonia Csaszar

    These “Hidden Gems” certainly deserve the title! My question though, is it because of their cost that Peter stopped the Tuesday NIght Opera programs? Many of those Tuesday operas were also hidden gems, especially when he treated us to some Baroque operas that are not staged around us.

  • Melanie Mendoza

    Wow! This just what I had asked for. Thank you!