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 3 - Henry Miller's Freakout
Alexander Scriabin: Symphony No. 4, Op. 54 "The Poem of Ecstasy"
Scriabin composed a piece so powerful, so emotional, so hair-raising, that even controversial writer Henry Miller said he “flipped out” when he first heard it. “For weeks, I was in a trance,” he said. “It was like a bath of ice and rainbows.” Pretty crazy stuff! Anyone can hear what Henry Miller tried to describe at the end of the piece, which positively explodes with sound.
Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini (whew!) has to have the longest name of all the famous composers—and that’s saying something! But when it came to composing, Puccini seemed to know that the simplest melodies made for the most unforgettable music. Just listen to the tenor aria “Nessun Dorma” from his opera “Turandot,” familiar to nearly everyone in the world. The soloist moves audiences to tears just by singing the same note in different octaves in the first two phrases.
MARCH 1 - Vaudevillian Softshoe in the Orchestra
Leroy Anderson: Sandpaper Ballet
Percussionists are great at making sounds on hundreds of different instruments—even those that aren’t normally seen outside of the hardware store! In this piece, Leroy Anderson asks percussionists to imitate the sound of vaudevillian softshoe with two knobbed blocks covered in sandpaper.
FEBRUARY 28 - Violin Divas
Niccolo Paganini: Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor, Op.7 "La Campanella": III. Rondo
As a soloist, Paganini used to purposefully break two or three of his violin strings during performances, playing an entire piece on just one or two strings and wowing his audience. It’s awe-inspiring to imagine the Italian composer playing “La Campanella” with one string—most violinists find the piece challenging even with unbroken violins!
FEBRUARY 27 - One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure
Johannes Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat, Op. 83: II. Allegro appassionato
Seems like that tired expression is true: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Brahms’ contemporaries didn’t have very nice things to say about his second piano concerto. Hugo Wolf called the piece “the nutritional equivalent of window glass, cork stoppers and stove pipes.” Upon hearing the piece, Tchaikovsky exclaimed of Brahms, “what a giftless so-and-so!” Yikes! Despite its initial reception from composer peers, Brahms’ piano concerto No. 2 went on to become one of the most popular solo piano works of all time.