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 2 - The Instrument of Angels
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker, Op. 71: Waltz of the Flowers
What instrument in the orchestra makes the music of angels, plays up to seven octaves, has seven pedals, and can take up to 47 minutes—one minute per string—to tune? The harp! In its early stages, the instrument was quite small and popular among folk musicians. Its larger, louder, more modern incarnation has made its way into compositions from all the key composers starting in the late 18th century.
SEPTEMBER 1 - 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.
AUGUST 31 - The Triangle
Igor Stravinsky: The Firebird: Finale, "General Rejoicing"
The percussion section has an entire treasure trove of weird instruments at its disposal. The triangle, for example, produces a handful of different noises depending on how forcefully or quickly a musician strikes it. Listen for its magisterial bell-like noise at the end of Stravinsky’s “Firebird” finale.
Learn more about the triangle, and hear a rendition of the Nutcracker Suite played exclusively on bicycle parts.
AUGUST 30 - Creepy Crawly Sound Effects
Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Wasps: Overture
Does the sound of this piece make your skin crawl? That’s because Vaughan Williams composed it to replicate the buzzing noise a swarm of wasps makes. Listeners who can make it all the way through this movement are rewarded with a satisfying swat! noise at the end.