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.
OCTOBER 1 - A Long-Lost Piece
Emil von Sauer: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor
Ever get that feeling that you can’t live without something you’ve lost and then rediscovered? Open your heart to the composer Emil von Sauer, known for his poetic imagination. Sauer had the gumption to play Liszt’s own Hungarian Rhapsody for his audition to study with the famous pianist. To everybody’s surprise, Liszt kissed him and welcomed him with open arms afterward! Listen to this once-lost, indescribably beautiful piece from Sauer, which won pianist Stephen Hough a performance Grammy.
SEPTEMBER 30 - A Love Letter to Spain
Manuel de Falla: Nights in the Gardens of Spain: I. In the Generalife
Spanish composer Manuel de Falla magically captured the essence of Spain with rhythm, melody and texture. This three-movement work is actually a piano concerto, but the piano is more a source of color than a spotlight showpiece, accompanying strings in a love ballad and imitating the sounds of Spanish fountains and castanets.
SEPTEMBER 29 - Melodic Miracles
Leo Delibes: Lakmé: "Sous le dôme épais"
There are thousands of examples of passion and romance in classical music. But Delibes’ opera “Lakmé” is so romantic that the thick canopy of jasmine described in this hypnotic duet seems to exude both sound and scent. It’s a miracle of melody—two delicate lines interwoven almost as one, accompanied by the gentle pizzicato of strings.
SEPTEMBER 28 - Under the Sea
Camille Saint-Saëns: Carnival of the Animals: Aquarium
We’ve learned about catgut strings and insects in classical music—and as it turns out, fish and seaweed also have a place in the classical world! In his “Carnival of the Animals: The Aquarium,” he uses only strings, two pianos, and the shimmering glockenspiel to capture images of liquid light and undulating waves.
SEPTEMBER 27 - The Classical Zoo
Leroy Anderson: The Waltzing Cat
Who says classical music is stiff and formal? With all its oils, rosins and spit valves, and its instrumental materials ranging from elephant tusks to pipes of wood from the jungles of Brazil, classical music sounds like a cross between a zoo and an automotive garage if you ask us! And hey, with all those pieces emulating animal sounds, calling it a zoo isn’t far off. In this piece, “The Waltzing Cat,” the strings slip and slide between notes to achieve sounds of meowing, hissing and scratching.
SEPTEMBER 23 - Archery and horseback riding in music
Gioachino Rossini: William Tell: Overture
Rossini wasn’t the first composer to find musical inspiration in athletic activity, but his William Tell Overture is certainly the most well-known example of sports-influenced music. Listen for Rossini’s references to archery and horseback riding in this über-famous sound bite.
SEPTEMBER 22 - A bone-chilling instrument
Camille Saint-Saëns: Danse Macabre, Op. 40
Good composers can paint pictures of just about anything with the right orchestration. Camille Saint-Saëns, in his genius, used xylophones in his “Danse Macabre” to make listeners think of skeletons. What is it about the xylophone that makes us think of bones?
Learn more about Camille Saint-Saens here. Still not sure about the difference between xylophones and marimbas? Read up here.