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.
JULY 25 - Irony in Opera
Giuseppe Verdi: Rigoletto: "La donna è mobile"
One of the most famous arias of all time is also one of the best examples of irony in popular culture. In this aria from the opera “Rigoletto,” the Duke of Mantua complains that the woman he tries to woo is fickle, too often flitting from man to man. Ironic, since the Duke himself is indecisive when it comes to women!
JULY 24 - A Bedpost with Indigestion
Carl Maria von Weber: Hungarian Fantasy, Op. 35 J.158
The bassoon is a soulful, humble instrument. It seems to have found its niche buried in the back of the orchestra, and it is often the butt of jokes: it was once said the bassoon is nothing more than a bedpost with indigestion! So it’s a pleasant surprise to hear seldom-composed bassoon solos like this one.
JULY 23 - Mendelssohn's Scottish Adventure
Felix Mendelssohn: 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.”
JULY 22 - Beautiful Brevity in Classical Music
Leroy Anderson: Melody on Two Notes
Our English teachers always told us that great writing is saying what you mean with the fewest number of words. The American composer Leroy Anderson took this to the extreme—he created a melody using only two notes. The melody never gets boring thanks to a lovely harmony that floats peacefully underneath.
JULY 21 - A bendable instrument
Johann Nepomuk Hummel: Trumpet Concerto in E flat, S. 49: III.Rondo
In its earliest form, the trumpet was made of everything from ceramic to silver, and they used to be so long and unwieldy that musicians learned how to bend them! Now, though trumpets are available in all shapes and sizes, there’s one standard size—easy to hold, but still incredibly difficult to play!
Learn more about this piece from the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra's program notes.