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.
MARCH 6 - Gambling in Classical Music
Georges Bizet: Carmen: Card Song
There's nothing quite like a game of cards--and even better if it happens in the middle of an opera! Countless operas use card games as plot devices, but the most frightening instance of all is in Bizet's "Carmen," when the title character dares to tell her own fortune with cards. She's transfixed when she flips the last card...and it portends death.
Learn about an opera centered entirely on cards, Sergei Prokofiev's The Gambler.
MARCH 5 - Anvils in the Orchestra
Giuseppe Verdi: Il Trovatore: "Vedi! Le fosche notturne"
Orchestras have as many as 33 different instruments, and sometimes composers go wild and add even more “instruments” not usually seen in concert halls. Take, for example, Verdi’s Anvil Chorus from the opera “Il Trovatore,” sung by a group of gypsies at dawn banging on their anvils while forging metal.
MARCH 4 - "If it's rubbish they want, it's rubbish they'll get!"
Georges Bizet: Carmen: "Votre toast...je peux vous le render"
Believe it or not, this world-famous opera was once loathed…by the performers who premiered it! Word has it the male and female leads both hated the showpiece arias Bizet had written for them and demanded he rewrite them. The French composer scrambled to rewrite the now-ubiquitous aria “Votre toast…he peux vous le render,” reportedly grumbling all the while, “If it’s rubbish they want, it’s rubbish they’ll get!”
MARCH 3 - Henry Miller's Freakout
Alexander Scriabin: Symphony No. 4, Op. 54 "The Poem of Ecstasy"
Scriabin composed a piece so powerful, so emotional, so hair-raising, that even controversial writer Henry Miller said he “flipped out” when he first heard it. “For weeks, I was in a trance,” he said. “It was like a bath of ice and rainbows.” Pretty crazy stuff! Anyone can hear what Henry Miller tried to describe at the end of the piece, which positively explodes with sound.
Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini (whew!) has to have the longest name of all the famous composers—and that’s saying something! But when it came to composing, Puccini seemed to know that the simplest melodies made for the most unforgettable music. Just listen to the tenor aria “Nessun Dorma” from his opera “Turandot,” familiar to nearly everyone in the world. The soloist moves audiences to tears just by singing the same note in different octaves in the first two phrases.