Decomposed breaks down the stories that have shaped classical music, from secrets and scandals to acts of sheer genius. Hear these stories accompanied by the symphonies, operas and other masterpieces they inspired. Hosted by Jade Simmons, a classical concert pianist and storyteller, the first season of Decomposed takes on gender expectations, Cold War propaganda and the danger of putting your personal life on the stage. Produced in partnership with Classical Minnesota Public Radio.
George Gershwin visited African-American churches and nightclubs in South Carolina to craft the music for “Porgy & Bess.” Years after his death, the opera and its all-star cast played an unexpected role in Cold War relations.
Everybody knows the Beethoven story: He’s a brilliant composer who faced hearing loss; a genius who couldn’t listen to his own masterpieces. But there’s a different way to consider the story we think we know.
Making music under Stalin was a dangerous undertaking — it could end with applause or in a prison camp. In the brutal grip of World War II, Shostakovich composed a symphony so powerful, it was smuggled halfway around the world in order to be played.
Richard Strauss and his wife Pauline de Ahna are often described as artist and muse. But you’ve never met a muse like Pauline. One of Strauss’ greatest musical masterpieces was ripped straight from the most scandalous moment of their marriage.
For a complete list of the music in this episode, as well as recommended reading, visit decomposedshow.org