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, and Jean Viereck.
NOVEMBER 29 - Donizetti's birthday
Gaetano Donizetti: The Daughter of the Regiment: Ah! mes amis, quel jour de fête
This aria from Donizetti’s “La Fille du Regiment” is considered to be the Mount Everest for tenors: it ain’t no picnic to climb, but there’s an immense sense of satisfaction awaiting anyone who reaches the top. Donizetti cruelly places a string of nine high Cs in a row right smack in the middle of the solo, which few tenors can sing passably. But guess which portly Italian opera legend used to knock it out of the park? That’s right: Luciano Pavarotti.
NOVEMBER 28 - Back to the source
Gregorian Chant: Ut queant laxis
Exactly how old is Gregorian chant? So old that it is literally the source of all European classical music following its invention. Before Gregorian chant, which began to crop up in monasteries around 600 AD, it was widely believed that music was simply impossible to notate. It’s thanks to chant that modern-day musicians can glance at lines and dots on a page and make wonderful music.
NOVEMBER 27 - One VERY low D!
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: The Abduction from the Seraglio, K.384: O, wie will ich triumphieren
Mozart composed one of the highest arias of his time in “The Magic Flute,” and it’s recognizable worldwide. Though he’s less touted for it, he also composed one of the lowest arias in the history of opera in “Abduction from the Seraglio.” The aria calls for a bass soloist to sing a low D. Listen and marvel!
Tchaikovsky wrote this piece, now one of the most famous classical pieces in the world, because he was proud of Russia’s successful defense against the invasion of Napoleon’s French army in 1812—so it’s only fitting that the piece calls for a cannon in the orchestra!
NOVEMBER 25 - Unexpected comic relief
Richard Wagner: Die Walküre: Act III: Wo ist Brünnhild
In 1956 at Covent Garden in London, the man performing the bass role of Wotan in “Die Walküre” was in a hurry to get onstage. He quickly grabbed his cloak from its pink, fluffy hanger in the dressing room, strolled onstage and began to sing…only to realize a moment later than he’d taken the coat hanger with him! We can say with certainty that’s the only time an audience has laughed at the very serious character of Wotan in Wagner’s “Ring” operas.