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February 13 – Nature in Music

Vaughan Williams: The Wasps: Overture
Does the sound of this piece make your skin crawl? That’s because Vaughan Williams composed it to replicate the buzzing noise a swarm of wasps makes. Listeners who can make it all the way through this movement are rewarded with a satisfying swat! noise at the end.

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February 14 – Tear-Jerkers

Edward Elgar: Salut d’amour, Op.12
Why do certain pieces of music stir the soul, warm the heart and start up the tear ducts? Perhaps it’s a certain association, a tender memory or just a moment of vulnerability. We just can’t explain it! Elgar’s “Salut d’amour” is one such tear-jerker for our announcer, Lisa Bergman. What classical pieces get you all sentimental? Let us know on our Facebook page.

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February 15 – Little Secrets

John Alden Carpenter: Adventures in a Perambulator: The Lake
With unemployment figures constantly in the news, some aspiring composers out there might be wary to take on such a risky profession as composing. But don’t forget, composing doesn’t have to be a full-time job—it can also be a hobby on the side! There are plenty of noteworthy part-time composers, such as scientist Alexander Borodin, Emperor Fredrick II the Great, and John Alden Carpenter, who graduated from Harvard and oversaw his family’s mill supply company.

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January 31 – Operatic Disasters

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Don Giovanni, K.527: Don Giovanni, a cenar teco
At a 1958 performance, disaster struck smack in the middle of the Met’s production of Don Giovanni. It happened in Act II, just before the banquet scene in which the 20-foot granite commendatore comes to life. All of a sudden, and definitely not on cue, the backdrop went up and the huge backstage doors swung open to welcome a new set from storage. Talk about bad timing! Suddenly, audiences were transported from 18th Century Spain to East 55th Street, honking taxis and all.

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February 1 – Recycling

Milhaud: Scaramouche, Op.165b
Sometimes, just like the rest of us, composers are on a deadline.  When this is the case, they do what others sometimes do: they cut corners.  Join KING FM’s Lisa Bergman on this episode pf Explore Music to hear about one such circumstance in the life of composer Darius Milhaud and its unexpected consequences!

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February 2 – What’s in a Name

Villa-Lobos: Dance of the White Indian (from Ciclo Brasileiro)
Composers have been able to get away with some seriously questionable claims.  Take for instance Brazilian composer Hector Villa-Lobos’s claim that he had native Brazilian ancestry, despite the fact that he almost certainly had 100% Spanish ancestry.  Furthermore, regarding his piece on the subject, he claimed that it was a dance… which it isn’t.  Yeesh!

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February 3 – Mendelssohn’s Birthday!

Felix Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in D Minor
Everyone loves Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor. But what about this excellent violin concerto, which Yehudi Menuhin resurrected after the piece had lain dormant for 130 years? Word has it the piece was passed down through generations of Mendelssohns, barely noticed, until a rare books dealer took interest in the manuscript and showed his violinist friend. The rest is history: now this electrifying concerto is beloved in classical circles!