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, and Jean Viereck.
OCTOBER 8 - A ticking rhythm
Leroy Anderson: The Syncopated Clock
What is an instrument, anyway? In a typical symphonic piece, you’ll probably hear strings, winds and brass. But composer Leroy Anderson loved to use typewriters, sleigh bells and more in the orchestra to subvert audiences’ expectations. Here’s a favorite Anderson composition, featuring a “clock” (it’s really a set of temple blocks) with an unexpected ticking rhythm.
For a definition of syncopation read here.
OCTOBER 7 - The whistling march
Arthur Pryor: The Whistler and His Dog
Arthur Pryor was a world-famous bandleader, trombonist and composer, known in part for his novelty marches. One of the most “novel” of all is this piece, which calls for a whistle and a barking dog in the orchestra!
OCTOBER 6 - The little flute that could
Antonio Vivaldi: Piccolo Concerto in C
What instrument in the orchestra is by far the smallest, yet can easily be heard above the fray of even the largest ensembles? The piccolo, of course! It’s invaluable for its ability to produce extremely high notes. One of the most familiar compositions using the piccolo is the Sousa march “Stars and Stripes Forever,” but before Sousa was even born, the piccolo was immortalized in a series of concertos written by Vivaldi. Give one of them a listen!
For information on the history of the piccolo read here.
OCTOBER 5 - The masked keyboardists
George Frederic Handel: Keyboard Suite No.1 in B flat, HWV 434: I. Prelude
Scarlatti and Handel were both keyboard superstars of their time, wowing audiences with their technical and improvisational skills. Once, they both attended a masquerade party, unaware of each other’s presence. Sitting at the harpsichord in a black mask was a man who played so extraordinarily that Scarlatti, looking on, exclaimed, “this must be the devil himself or that famous Saxon!” Well, he got it right the second time: it was Handel! For a biography of Handel read here.
OCTOBER 4 - The glorious tuba
Ralph Vaughan William: Tuba Concerto in F minor: I. Allegro moderato
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Tuba Concerto in F minor: I. Allegro moderato
Tubas are best known for bellowing out those low “oom-pah” sounds you hear from the back of large orchestras, so Vaughan Williams was at first maligned for his idea to compose an entire concerto centered on this large instrument. But Vaughan Williams got the last laugh: today, his tuba concerto is among his most popular compositions.
For information on the history of the tuba read here.