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 Explore Music host, Lisa Bergman.
Support for KING FM’s Explore Music is made possible by the generosity of Diana Carey, Suzanne Poppema and John Cramer, Cookie and Ken Neil, Jim Roark, Sheila and Craig Sternberg, and Patricia Tall-Takacs and Gary Takacs.
MARCH 29 - Gus Painter, John S. Brook, and Fred Sour Cream
Bedrich Smetana: My Country: II. The Moldau
Some composers' names might be hard to pronounce, but they sure sound better than they would in English. Giuseppe Verdi’s name, for example, would be Joe Green; Gustav Mahler would be Gus Painter; and Johann S. Bach would be John S. Brook. And in this same alternate universe, Czech composer Bedrich Smetana’s name is Fred Sour Cream! In Fred’s honor, here is an excerpt from his famous “Moldau,” a piece inspired by the Czech river running through hundreds of miles of dairyland.
MARCH 28 - Tambourine Virtuosi
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.
MARCH 27 - A Cellist's Heart on His Sleeve
Pyotr Ilyich Tchiakovsky: Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33
There are little romantic secrets everywhere on earth, but some air their personal lives for all to see. When cellist Mstislav Rostropovich visited NBC’s Today Show, host Gene Shalit said, “It’s been said your courtship with your wife was unusually short—only a week.” To which Rostropovich replied: “Yes, that was big mistake.” Shallot was at a loss for words but managed to stammer back, “Really? A mistake?” “Yes,” the cellist replied, “that was one week lost.” Talk about wearing his heart on his sleeve!
MARCH 26 - The Gong in Classical Music
Carl Orff: Carmina Burana: O Fortuna
Few sounds can make the hair on the back of one’s neck stand up without fail. The sound of a huge gong is one of them! Gongs come in all different sizes, measuring anywhere from 20 inches to six feet in diameter. Listen for the gong in this passage from Carl Orff’s cantata “Carmina Burana” and try to guess how big it is.
MARCH 25 - The Bartók Pizzicato
Béla Bartók: String Quartet No. 4, Sz. 91: IV. Allegretto pizzicato
Can you hear a difference between Johann Strauss’ “Pizzicato Polka” and this movement? That’s the sound of the strings being plucked so hard that they’re slapping against the instruments’ fingerboards—a sound effect Bartók himself pioneered.