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.
SEPTEMBER 18 - Expression Without Words
Heitor Villa-Lobos: Bachiana Brasileira No. 5
Sometimes, music says it best when it says nothing at all. Such is the case in Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos’ “Bachiana Brasileira No. 5,” which calls for a soprano soloist to sing an entire aria on the sound “ah.” Who knew so few words could evoke such strong emotion?
Read more about the diva who sang this and more, Anna Moffo.
SEPTEMBER 17 - Europe's Oldest Music
Anonymous: 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.
SEPTEMBER 16 - Unexpected Instruments
Maurice Ravel: Piano Concerto in G: I. Allegramente
Leroy Anderson: Sleigh Ride
Don’t worry, that whipping sound you hear at the beginning of the piece isn’t from a real whip. The sound is produced from a wooden instrument whose two pieces slap together loudly.
SEPTEMBER 15 - Vaughan Williams' Risky Move
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Tuba Concerto in F minor: I. Allegro moderato
Tubas are best known for bellowing out those low “oom-pah” sounds you hear from the back of large orchestras, so Vaughan Williams was at first maligned for his idea to compose an entire concerto centered on this large instrument. But Vaughan Williams got the last laugh: today, his tuba concerto is among his most popular compositions.
SEPTEMBER 14 - 1,001 Nights of Stories
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade, Op. 35: I. The Sea and Sinbad's Ship
Rimsky-Korsakov’s fascination with Eastern culture is seen in this piece, inspired by a story about an evil Sultan who vows to kill each of his wives after the first night of the wedding. This piece is the musical story of one wife who escaped her fate by telling the Sultan a riveting story that ended on a cliffhanger each night—for 1,001 nights in a row! Finally, on the last night, the Sultan gives up his horrible plan altogether and lets his wife live.