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.
NOVEMBER 23 - ...And They Lived Happily Ever After
Louis Spohr: Sonata in G for Violin and Harp, Op.115: I. Allegro
German violinist Louis Spohr was busy composing, conducting and inventing—but was he too busy for love? Not on your life! He married harpist Dorette Schiedler on the promise that they’d play violin and harp duets together forevermore. It’s because of this promise that he composed gobs of duets for these two instruments, which happen to go great together when the violin is tuned a half step below its default key.
NOVEMBER 22 - A Plucky Musical Technique
Johann Strauss, Jr.: Pizzicato Polka
Can you spot the difference between this and other orchestra pieces? What’s missing from the musicians’ hands? That’s right—the bow! The technique of playing a stringed instrument by plucking its strings is called “pizzicato.”
NOVEMBER 21 - Gambling in Classical Music
Georges Bizet: Carmen: Card Song
There's nothing quite like a game of cards--and even better if it happens in the middle of an opera! Countless operas use card games as plot devices, but the most frightening instance of all is in Bizet's "Carmen," when the title character dares to tell her own fortune with cards. She's transfixed when she flips the last card...and it portends death.
Learn about an opera centered entirely on cards, Sergei Prokofiev's The Gambler.
NOVEMBER 20 - 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.
NOVEMBER 19 - 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.