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.
DECEMBER 18 - Swan Song
Camille Saint-Saëns: Carnival of the Animals: The Swan
Camille Saint-Saens captured the incredible sight of a gorgeous white swan moving effortlessly across the surface of a mirror-like lake by using the simplest of tools: A violin playing a sustaining melody gliding quietly, beautifully, effortlessly, over the gently paddling notes of the piano.
DECEMBER 17 - Archery and horseback riding in music
Gioachino Rossini: William Tell: Overture
Rossini wasn’t the first composer to find musical inspiration in athletic activity, but his William Tell Overture is certainly the most well-known example of sports-influenced music. Listen for Rossini’s references to archery and horseback riding in this über-famous sound bite.
DECEMBER 16 - 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.
DECEMBER 15 - The Presidential Medal of Freedom
Aaron Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man
Aaron Copland knew a thing or two about the power of brevity. In this piece, dedicated to those who fought in World War II, he used only percussion and brass, creating a starkly moving sound that won him the 1964 Presidential Medal of Freedom.
DECEMBER 14 - 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.