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.
SEPTEMBER 3 - Weird Titles in Classical Music
Erik Satie: Limp Preludes for a Dog
Standard titles for pieces in classical music are pretty boring, aren’t they? Suite No. 4. Symphony No. 1. Concerto in A. But there are some very notable exceptions. There’s nothing stale, for example, about “Unappetizing Chorale,” “She Who Talks Too Much,” and “Agreeable Despair.” It’s easy to imagine the avant garde, Belle Époque French composer Erik Satie was the man to come up with such odd names! Listen to one of his odder-titled pieces, “Limp Preludes for a Dog,” here.
Get an Erik Satie primer here, and buy this CD to get more acquainted with his music.
SEPTEMBER 2 - Mozart's Music Cataloguer
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Requiem in D minor, K.626: Introitus
Mozart composed one of the highest arias of his time in “The Magic Flute,” and it’s recognizable worldwide. Though he’s less touted for it, he also composed one of the lowest arias in the history of opera in “Abduction from the Seraglio.” The aria calls for a bass soloist to sing a low D. Listen and marvel!
SEPTEMBER 1 - 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.
AUGUST 31 - Catgut Strings
Erich Korngold: Violin Concerto in D, Op.35: II. Romance
Though most stringed musicians today use strings made of steel or synthetic polymer, some contemporary musicians swear by catgut strings. No, “catgut” strings aren’t actually made of cats’ guts—they’re actually from intestines of other animals, including sheep and cows. If you can stomach that, you’ll be rewarded with a rounder, sweeter instrumental tone.
AUGUST 30 - Nature in Classical Music
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.”