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October 19 – Special Effects

Leroy Anderson: The Waltzing Cat
Who says classical music is stiff and formal? With all its oils, rosins and spit valves, and its instrumental materials ranging from elephant tusks to pipes of wood from the jungles of Brazil, classical music sounds like a cross between a zoo and an automotive garage if you ask us! And hey, with all those pieces emulating animal sounds, calling it a zoo isn’t far off. In this piece, “The Waltzing Cat,” the strings slip and slide between notes to achieve sounds of meowing, hissing and scratching.

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October 20 – 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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October 21 – Classical Geography

Ralph Vaughan Williams: Symphony No.7 “Sinfonia Antartica”: I. Prelude: maestoso
Ralph Vaughan Williams was so inspired after composing music for the film “Scot of the Antarctic” that he later wrote an entire symphony dedicated to the icy continent. In this section, the composer musically simulates the sounds of freezing wind and undulating waves.

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October 22 – 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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October 23 – Lost in the Closet

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!

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October 24 – Winning Women

Pauline Viardot-García: Six Morceaux
Many people we know as famous performers are also composers; this is not a new trend!  Consider, for example, the case of Pauline Viardot-García: a talented opera singer as well as a successful composer and arranger.  If you’ve never heard of her, her Six Morceaux are a good place to start.

Friday, October 20 at 8pm: Mark Salman

Concert pianist Mark Salman’s performances have taken him to Europe, Asia, Canada and throughout the United States. He has performed in Carnegie Hall, has been the subject of profiles in The New York Times and has been featured in numerous radio and television broadcasts in the U.S., Europe and in China.

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October 25 – What’s in a Name (J. Strauss Jr.’s Birthday)

Josef Strauss, Jr.: Tritsch-Tratsch Polka
You have certainly heard Johann Strass Jr.’s Tritsch-Trasch Polka before.  You might think there isn’t much to know about such a simple little piece…  But you’d be wrong!  This small gem of a piece has many fascinating details, from the inventive instrumentation to the disputed origins of its title, there is much to know about this popular dance.

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October 12 – 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.