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 31 - 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.
OCTOBER 30 - Resolutions in Classical Music
Richard Wagner: Tristan and Isolde: Prelude
Johann Sebastian Bach: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
Classical music makes tons of resolutions all year long, but they have little to do with diet or exercise! But just like a massage, they resolve tension…harmonic tension, that is! In the Prelude from Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde,” for example, the entire 111-bar opening is one gooey, voluptuous string of question marks. But just when you feel like Sherlock Holmes ready to pounce on a resolution, one note slips, and you lose your toehold, swimming once again in the deep end. Not all building tension results in resolution…sometimes it just seduces the listener into the next question mark!
OCTOBER 29 - Classical Impressionism
Maurice Ravel: Miroirs: Une barque sur l'océan
Elements of nature are more common than you might think in classical music--particularly the theme of water. This piece is a masterful example of impressionism, an artistic style portraying impressions of sight, sound, smell and taste in a sensuous haze. It really captures the movement of the ocean, the tiny glimmers of sunlight on top of waves, the storms surging, the calm glassy surface. It's so effective that you'll want to keep your dramamine handy!
OCTOBER 28 - Recycling in Classical Music
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Festival Coronation March, "Marche Solennelle"
Tchaikovsky, great composer though he was, had his not-so-inspiring moments. One such moment came in May 1891, when he was invited to compose and conduct a piece for the grand opening of Carnegie Hall. Rather than compose a new piece, he simply recycled one of his earlier compositions and tried to pass it off as an original. But he underestimated the musical intelligence of his American fans: at that grand opening, the audience members immediately recognized the music. HA--caught in the act!
OCTOBER 27 - A Cellist's Heart on His Sleeve
Pyotr Ilyich Tchiakovsky: Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33
There are little romantic secrets everywhere on earth, but some air their personal lives for all to see. When cellist Mstislav Rostropovich visited NBC’s Today Show, host Gene Shalit said, “It’s been said your courtship with your wife was unusually short—only a week.” To which Rostropovich replied: “Yes, that was big mistake.” Shallot was at a loss for words but managed to stammer back, “Really? A mistake?” “Yes,” the cellist replied, “that was one week lost.” Talk about wearing his heart on his sleeve!