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, Patricia Tall-Takacs and Gary Takacs, and Jean Viereck.
DECEMBER 1 - Musical postcard
Felix Mendelsshon: The Hebrides Overture, Op.26 "Fingal's Cave"
In 1830, Mendelssohn sent his sister, also a composer, a letter containing the opening phrase of this piece during a trip to Fingal’s Cave on an island off the coast of Scotland. The cave is a mass of beautiful basalt columns, and one can hear mysterious echoing noises from inside. In the letter, Mendelssohn wrote: "In order to make you understand how extraordinarily The Hebrides affected me, I send you the following, which came into my head there.”
NOVEMBER 30 - So much with so little
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?
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!