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.
MAY 30 - Felix and Fanny
Fanny Mendelssohn: Song Without Words, Op. 8 No. 3
Felix Mendelssohn's sister, Fanny, grew up with equal encouragement and support from their loving parents. She became an accomplished pianist and composer as a child and went on to write some 500 pieces. But there was one big problem: because she was a woman, no one would publish her music. So she cut a deal with her brother: after writing a series of "Songs Without Words," she asked Felix to publish the set for her. Musicologists still have a hard time figuring out which of these songs were composed by her and which were written by Felix.
MAY 29 - Catgut Strings
Erich Korngold: Violin Concerto in D, Op.35: II. Romance
Though most stringed musicians today use strings made of steel or synthetic polymer, some contemporary musicians swear by catgut strings. No, “catgut” strings aren’t actually made of cats’ guts—they’re actually from intestines of other animals, including sheep and cows. If you can stomach that, you’ll be rewarded with a rounder, sweeter instrumental tone.
MAY 28 - A Baritone's Ultimate Challenge
Gioachino Rossini: The Barber of Seville: Largo al factotum
This aria from Rossini’s comic opera “The Barber of Seville” is perhaps the most demanding few minutes of singing for any baritone. The range is wide, the tempo is fast…and the words present quite a difficult tongue-twister! Perhaps that’s why the aria’s repeated “Figaro” passage is one of the only operatic moments to make its way into popular culture.
MAY 27 - Setting a Musical Speed Record
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: The Tale of Tsar Sultan: The Flight of the Bumblebee (trans. Heifetz)
Earlier in this series, we learned how Niccolò Paganini started a violin revolution with his killer playing. Today we’re featuring violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman, who can play a whopping 16 notes per second! Believe it or not, that’s nothing compared to the honeybee’s wings, which beat about 8 times faster.
MAY 26 - Violin Divas
Niccolo Paganini: Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor, Op.7 "La Campanella": III. Rondo
As a soloist, Paganini used to purposefully break two or three of his violin strings during performances, playing an entire piece on just one or two strings and wowing his audience. It’s awe-inspiring to imagine the Italian composer playing “La Campanella” with one string—most violinists find the piece challenging even with unbroken violins!