Tune in every night at 6 for a two-minute listening adventure packed with
fun facts and stories about great classical music! Have questions,
comments or ideas? Email the Exploring Music host, Lisa Bergman.
Maurice Ravel: Boléro
In 1928, Maurice Ravel was commissioned to compose a new
ballet score as an experiment. It was meant to be almost entirely
uniform in its melody, harmony and rhythm, with the only element
of variety to be supplied by the orchestral crescendo. It became a
worldwide sensation, much to Ravel’s embarrassment. He said of
his most famous piece, “It seems I have written only one masterpiece,
the Boléro. Unfortunately, there is no music in it at all.”
Camille Saint-Saëns: Carnival of the Animals:
We’ve learned about catgut strings and insects in classical music
—and as it turns out, fish and seaweed also have a place in the
classical world! In his “Carnival of the Animals: The Aquarium,” he
uses only strings, two pianos, and the shimmering glockenspiel to
capture images of liquid light and undulating waves.
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.
Georges Bizet: Carmen: Bohemian Dance
Those who believe just about anyone can play the tambourine
clearly haven’t heard the Bohemian Dance from Bizet’s spectacular
opera “Carmen!” Most people have trouble picking up this deceptively
simple-looking instrument without making a sound, so one can only
imagine what talent it takes to play this gypsy-inspired passage.
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C Minor,
Op. 67: II. Andante con moto
So you want to be a conductor? Lest you think it’s as easy as
counting to four, think about the musical background of some of
history’s greatest composers: Eugene Ormandy was a former
violinist; Toscanini a cellist; and Seattle’s own Gerard Schwarz a
trumpeter. Before they found their ultimate calling, these men all
achieved excellence on the other side of the stage!
EXPLORING MUSIC ARCHIVE
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