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September 14, 2019
Johann Strauss, Sr. had three musical sons: Johann, Jr.; Josef; and Eduard. Sometimes they worked together as musicians, but other times, there was bitter rivalry.
September 7, 2019
Johann Strauss, Jr. was the son of a very successful violinist and orchestra leader. Eventually, Johann, Jr. was in competition with his father, conducting an orchestra of his own. When the older Strauss died, people began to realize that the son was an even better musician and composer.
August 31, 2019
For years, the Hoe-Down from Aaron Copland's ballet Rodeo has been used in a commercial for the Beef Council. A lot of classical music turns up in T.V. commercials. It has been used to sell airlines, cars, cereal and even fertilizer.
August 24, 2019
tells the story of a cowgirl who is in love with a cowboy, but just can and apos;t get him to notice her. Once she finally does, she decides that she and apos;d rather spend time with another cowboy who was nice to her all along.
August 17, 2019
Agnes de Mille loved to dance. She became hooked on ballet as a child, after seeing the famous ballerina Anna Pavlova perform. Agnes de Mille performed all over America and Europe, but she didn't hit it big until Rodeo -- the ballet that launched her career.
August 3, 2019
Aaron Copland was a 20th century American composer from Brooklyn, New York. Copland is known for writing very American music, but he actually studied in France. His teacher, Nadia Boulanger, helped Copland find his way to an American sound in classical music.
July 27, 2019
Charles Ives loved to put hymns into his music. Several other composers borrowed hymn tunes; here are several examples from 20th Century American compositions.
July 20, 2019
The Country Band March has 12 recognizable popular and folk tunes in it. But Ives was not the only composer to put borrowed tunes in his music. Many classical composers -- including Ludwig van Beethoven, Mily Balakirev, and Percy Grainger -- used folk music in the pieces they wrote.
July 13, 2019
Charles Ives wrote the Country Band March about amateur musicians -- people who make music for the love of it. In the Country Band March Ives combines a tune that he wrote with bits and pieces of many other popular and folk tunes. See how many of them you can recognize.
July 6, 2019
The music that Charles Ives wrote was greatly influenced by his father, George. From the time he was a kid, Ives heard his father experiment with sound. George Ives always told Charlie to "stretch his ears," and Charlie did that with every piece of music he wrote.
June 29, 2019
Many countries around the world have national anthems and other patriotic songs that were written by classical composers. Haydn, Elgar and Verdi are just a few you'll explore here.
June 22, 2019
The minuet is a dance that started in the 1700's in the French court. Gradually, the minuet began to be used for non-dancing purposes, as a musical form -- especially as the third movement of symphonies. Minuets found their way onto the stage, too, in operas, plays, and ballets.
June 15, 2019
Every year, when the weather turned nice, Prince Esterhazy -- Franz Joseph Haydn's employer -- moved his entire household to his summer palace. When it turned cold again, everyone moved back to the main palace in the city. But one fall, it stayed warm for a very long time, and the prince didn't budge. The musicians in his orchestra wanted to go home, and Haydn found a musical way to tell the prince it was time to go: the Farewell Symphony.
June 8, 2019
Franz Joseph Haydn never had any children, but the musicians who worked for him liked him so much they called him Papa Haydn. And Haydn is also known as the "Father of the Symphony." He wasn't the first person to compose symphonies, but he did help the symphony to grow up as a musical form.
June 1, 2019
Franz Joseph Haydn spent over thirty years working as music director for the Esterhazy family. By the end of his life, Haydn was both rich and famous, and he had gotten along well with his employers - pretty unusual for a composer of that time.
May 25, 2019
Opera singer Denyce Graves talks with Naomi Lewin about what it's like to be an international opera star.
May 18, 2019
Giuseppe Verdi composed Aida for a new opera house in Cairo, Egypt that opened around the time as the opening of the Suez Canal. Aida is the story of an Ethiopian princess being held captive by Egyptians. One of the Egyptian generals is desperately in love with her, and she's in love with him -- but so is the daughter of the Egyptian king.
May 11, 2019
Guiseppe Verdi -- "Joe Green," in Italian -- was a great opera composer and Italian patriot. His music became part of the Italian fight for independence and unity.
May 4, 2019
An opera is like a play in which the characters sing all their lines. Opera singers do not use microphones -- their voices are trained, and can fill a whole theater with sound without any amplification. All operas have solo singers and an orchestra -- and a lot of operas have a chorus, too. Operas have been written in many different languages, including English.
April 27, 2019
From the time Frederic Chopin was a child, audiences loved to hear him play the piano. A lot of composers were famous as keyboard players, too: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt...
April 20, 2019
In his Military Polonaise, Frederic Chopin uses the piano to imitate the drums that accompanied armies marching into battle. A lot of composers have put battle sounds into their music.
April 13, 2019
The polonaise is a dance that was fashionable in the Polish court. Since Polish nobility used to like to speak French, the name "polonaise" is French. Eventually, the polonaise caught on all over Europe, and even migrated to America. Lots of operas contain polonaises, and after a while, composers began to use the polonaise as a form for non-dancing, instrumental pieces.
April 6, 2019
Frederic Chopin was one of the greatest pianists of his day. Every single piece of music he wrote used the piano. The name Chopin doesn't sound very Polish because Chopin's father was born in France. Even though he was fiercely proud of being Polish, Frederic Chopin wound up moving to France, and never returned to Poland.
March 30, 2019
Through the centuries, there have been exceptional female performers - on the largest stages of the world, and in smaller, more intimate settings. They include Clara Wieck Schumann, Maria Theresia von Paradies, Nadia Boulanger, Dame Myra Hess, Rebecca Clarke, Jacqueline Du Pre, Evelyn Glennie, Maria Callas, Marian Anderson, and Leontyne Price.
March 23, 2019
A program featuring acclaimed conductor JoAnn Falletta, who talks about her early love of music, how seeing her first symphony concert inspired her to become a conductor, and all the listening and preparation that goes into being successful at her job.
March 16, 2019
There are many women composers these days, and this program introduces some of them: Caroline Shaw, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Anna and THORN;horvaldsd and oacute;ttir, Lera Auerbach, Kaija Saariaho, Chen Yi, Jennifer Higdon, Libby Larsen, Missy Mazzoli, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Tania Le and oacute;n.
March 9, 2019
Though many societies either forbade or looked down on women who wanted to be composers, many persevered. This show highlights Francesca Caccini, and Eacute;lizabeth Claude Jacquet de la Guerre, Louise Farrenc, C and eacute;cile Chaminade, Germaine Tailleferre, Hildegard von Bingen, Marianna Martines, Fanny Mendelssohn, Amy Beach, Florence Price, and Queen Lili'oukalani.
March 2, 2019
How women in world history - Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Elizabeth II, Aphra Behn, Joan of Arc, Emmeline Pankhurst, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, and Grace Hopper - inspired classical music compositions.
February 23, 2019
Music by composers with all kinds of hyphens to their African heritage: African-French, French-Cuban, African-English, and African-American.
February 16, 2019
Lots of movies use classical music. Sometimes, that music is such a big part of the movie that the two become linked forever.
February 9, 2019
Ragtime music is truly African-American music. It combines rhythms that were brought to this country by slaves, with musical forms brought over to the United States from Europe. Ragtime uses syncopated rhythms -- that is, the accents in the melody are shifted away from the strong beats in the bass line underneath.
February 2, 2019
From a very early age, Scott Joplin supported himself as a performing pianist. Eventually, he earned a living selling his compositions, too. Thanks to Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag, the most famous of all piano rags, Joplin became known as the King of Ragtime Writers.
January 26, 2019
"Gigue" is the French word for jig -- a lively dance in triple time. The jig started out as folk dance in Ireland, Scotland, and northern England, before finding its way into classical music.
January 19, 2019
Georg Philipp Telemann never studied composition - he taught himself how to write music. There are quite a few composers who taught themselves, including Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Edward Elgar, Francis Poulenc, Scott Joplin and others.
January 12, 2019
Georg Philipp Telemann composed during the Baroque period, which ran from about 1600 to 1750. Suzanne Bona, host of the National Public Radio program Sunday Baroque, talks with Naomi Lewin about Baroque music.
January 5, 2019
Telemann loved to write. He wrote more pieces of music than any other composer, and he also wrote not one, not two, but THREE autobiographies.
December 29, 2018
The Music Hall founded by Andrew Carnegie in New York City opened on May 5, 1891 with a concert conducted by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It quickly became known simply as ''Carnegie Hall,'' in honor of its donor.
December 22, 2018
George Frederick Handel's Messiah wasn't written for Christmas -- it was first performed in April. Hear some other pieces of classical music that traditionally get played during the Christmas season.
December 15, 2018
Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker is based on a story by German author E.T.A. Hoffmann. In The Nutcracker, a Christmas present -- a nutcracker -- comes to life as a handsome prince. He takes the young girl who received him as a present on some fantastic adventures.
December 8, 2018
Ballet is a theatrical performance that tells a story using music, costumes, sets, and dance. Victoria Morgan, artistic director of the Cincinnati Ballet, talks with Naomi Lewin about ballet and ballet terms.
December 1, 2018
Some composers in Tchaikovsky's day didn't think his music sounded "Russian" enough, but Tchaikovsky was Russian through and through. Tchaikovsky wrote symphonies, operas, songs, chamber music -- and of course, several wonderful ballets.
November 24, 2018
Zoltan Kodaly developed a method for teaching music. It is still used by teachers around the world today. Jill Trinka, who teaches the Kodaly Method, talks with Naomi Lewin.
November 17, 2018
Zoltan Kodaly was not the only composer to use folk tunes in the music he wrote. Here are some others.
November 10, 2018
Kodaly's opera Hary Janos is about a real person who told real whoppers - big, fat lies. If you listened to him, you'd think he defeated Napoleon's army all by himself.
November 3, 2018
Zoltan Kodaly was born in a small town in Hungary. His father worked for the Hungarian railroad, so the family moved around a lot. This meant that as a kid, Zoltan heard folk music from many different parts of the country. When he grew up, Hungarian folk music became his passion. Kodaly spent a large part of his life collecting his native music, and teaching his countrymen about it.
October 27, 2018
Appropriately spooky classical music for Halloween.
October 20, 2018
Music by composers from the three official Scandinavian countries -- Norway, Denmark and Sweden -- and a couple of unofficial ones -- Finland and Iceland!
October 13, 2018
"In The Hall of the Mountain King" is part of the incidental music Edvard Grieg wrote for Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt. Hear the story of the play as you listen to Grieg's music.
October 6, 2018
Edvard Grieg was from a music-loving Norwegian family. In addition to becoming the leading Scandinavian composer of his day, Grieg became a big supporter of Norwegian arts and culture.
September 29, 2018
Fanny Mendelssohn, Felix Mendelssohn's older sister, was a talented pianist and composer. So was Clara Schumann, wife of composer Robert Schumann. Also featured: music of Elizabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre, Cecile Chaminade, Germaine Tailleferre, Hildegard von Bingen, Amy Beach, and Thea Musgrave.
September 22, 2018
A child prodigy, Felix Mendelssohn began composing when he was 10. This week on Classics for Kids hear about other composers who started just as early -- or even earlier.
September 15, 2018
Probably no playwright has had more music based on his work than William Shakespeare. Felix Mendelssohn, Henry Purcell, Hector Berlioz, Giuseppe Verdi are just a few of the composers who've been inspired by Shakespeare's plays.
September 8, 2018
When Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn put on Shakespeare's comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream to entertain their family, the two of them played all the characters! Mendelssohn's music for A Midsummer Night's Dream illustrates many of the characters and situations in the play.
September 1, 2018
By the time he was a teenager, Felix Mendelssohn was already an excellent pianist and composer. And Mendelssohn was very talented in other areas. In addition to German (his native language), Mendelssohn spoke French, English, and Italian. He was also a very good painter. And he became quite famous as a conductor.
August 25, 2018
Leonard Bernstein grew up in the Boston area. Here are some more composers who spent time in and around that city.
August 18, 2018
Leonard Bernstein's "Candide" is an operetta. An operetta is like an opera, with one big difference. In opera, everything is sung, but in operetta, there are spoken lines between the singing. Composers who wrote operettas in English include Sir Arthur Sullivan (who can't be separated from William S. Gilbert, who wrote the words for Gilbert and Sullivan operettas), Victor Herbert, Sigmund Romberg, and Rudolf Friml.
August 11, 2018
When he was growing up, Leonard Bernstein loved to put on operas and other musical shows with his friends. That interest in musical theater continued all through his life, and produced such great Broadway musicals as "On The Town," "Wonderful Town," and "West Side Story."
August 4, 2018
American-born Leonard Bernstein became famous all over the world as a composer, a conductor, and a pianist. In addition to writing classical music, composed classic Broadway musicals, including West Side Story.
July 28, 2018
From the late 1800's to the early 1900's, professional bands toured all over the United States, and many towns in this country had their own amateur bands.
July 21, 2018
The United States Marine Band is this country's oldest military band. Each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces has its own band, and song. Captain Don Schofield, associate conductor of the United States Air Force Band of Flight, talks with Naomi Lewin about all the U.S. military bands.
July 14, 2018
John Philip Sousa's The Stars and Stripes Forever is the official march of the United States of America. Sousa composed his most famous march in his head when he was on a ship coming back from a trip to Europe with his band. When the ship docked, he put the march down on paper and named it after the American flag he was so glad to see when he got home.
July 7, 2018
John Philip Sousa -- the most American of composers -- was the son of immigrants to the United States. Because of his love for bands and band music, John Philip Sousa wrote many wonderful marches. As a result, he is known as the "March King."
June 30, 2018
"Rhapsody" is an ancient word that means "songs stitched together". The Greeks used to write long poems in praise of their heroes, and then take bits and pieces of those poems and string them together for performance. In music, a rhapsody is a free-form piece that takes different tunes and strings them together.
June 23, 2018
In his day Franz Liszt was most famous as a pianist. So, were Mozart, Beethoven and a lot of other composers.
June 16, 2018
Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies were greatly influenced by gypsy, or Romani music. Brahms, Telemann and Verdi are among the many composers were attracted to this distinctive music.
June 9, 2018
Inspired by violinist Niccolo Paganini, Franz Liszt became a piano superstar. Many classical music superstars followed, including Jan Paderewski, Jenny Lind, Van Cliburn, Enrico Caruso, Yo-Yo Ma and Lang Lang.
June 2, 2018
Franz Liszt was a pianist, composer, conductor and teacher who came up with musical innovations in all those fields. He was the first of the virtuoso performers and invented the solo recital. As one of the greatest pianists the world has ever known, Liszt was a 19th century superstar.
May 26, 2018
Jonathan Larson, the composer of the musical ''Rent,'' used the same plot for this musical as Puccini did for La Boheme. Other composers also used classical music when they wrote their Broadway hits. ''Kismet'' is adapted from compositions by Russian composer Alexander Borodin and ''The Song of Norway'' uses tunes by Edvard Grieg to tell the story of Grieg's life.
May 19, 2018
Giacomo Puccini's opera La Boheme is about struggling artists in Paris. Its title means ''the bohemian lifestyle.'' But Bohemia isn't in France; it's in the Czech Republic. Other composers such as Antonin Dvorak, Bedrich Smetana, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Jules Massenet, were also inspired by this part of the world, using its music and describing its beautiful countryside in their works.
May 12, 2018
Around the year 1600, Italian composers started writing theater pieces that use music all the way through them. Instead of speaking, characters in operas sing their lines. From Claudio Monteverdi, who wrote the earliest opera that is still performed, through Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi and Puccini, Italy has produced some of the world's finest opera composers.
May 5, 2018
By the time Italian composer Giacomo Puccini was born in 1858, there had already been four generations of musicians in his hometown of Lucca. Most were church musicians, but Giacomo had other ideas. When he was a teenager, he went to hear a performance of Verdi's Aida. From that moment on he knew that what he wanted to do was write operas. He did, and became one of Italy's most beloved operatic composers.
April 28, 2018
Many composers used European dance forms in their work. Dvorak, Haydn, Chopin and Beethoven are just a few of the composers featured here.
April 21, 2018
The Hungarian Dances by Johannes Brahms were never really intended for dancing. But that doesn't mean that people in Hungary don't dance! Richard Graber, the director of a Hungarian dance company in Cleveland, talks with Naomi Lewin about Hungarian dancing.
April 14, 2018
When he was a young pianist, Johannes Brahms accompanied a Hungarian violinist, and fell in love with Hungarian music. His own Hungarian-flavored dances were written to entertain his friends at parties. Those friends convinced Brahms to publish his dances. When the first set was a hit, Brahms wrote and published another set.
April 7, 2018
Brahms, Bach, and Beethoven are known as the "Three B's" of classical music. Brahms always knew that he wanted to be a composer -- by the time he was six, he had thought up his own system for writing music down on a page.
February 24, 2018
William Grant Still was a 20th century African-American composer. But hundreds of years before he lived, there were other black composers. And there are black composers of classical music alive today.
February 17, 2018
After William Grant Still wrote his Afro-American Symphony, he found bits of poetry that he thought went with each movement. The poetry was written by Paul Laurence Dunbar, the first African-American to become a famous writer.
February 10, 2018
William Grant Still wanted to put the sound of the blues into a symphony. His Afro-American Symphony is centered on a bluesy theme. Still took that theme and did something entirely different with it in each of the Symphony's four movements.
February 3, 2018
William Grant Still has been called the Dean of Afro-American composers. Judith Anne Still, the composer's daughter, talks with Naomi Lewin about her father's life, and the difficulty he faced in the first half of 20th century America as a black man writing classical music.
January 27, 2018
Even though Schubert's Marche Militaire has the word "march" in the title, it was never actually meant for anyone to march to. Several other composers wrote march music without bands or parades in mind.
January 20, 2018
Franz Schubert wrote his Marche Militaire for piano four hands -- two people playing the same instrument. Here are some more pieces for piano four hands.
January 13, 2018
Songs in classical music are usually called "art songs." In German, art songs are called Lieder. Franz Schubert was a master of writing Lieder. Each of his songs combines poetry and music, voice and accompaniment, to make a complete musical short story.
January 6, 2018
Franz Schubert's father expected his son to be a teacher in the school that he ran. But Schubert didn't last long at that job -- he was much more interested in writing music than paying attention to a classroom full of kids.
December 30, 2017
A collection of musical firsts, including the first string quartet, the first use of trombones in a symphony, and the first professional musician to make a recording.
December 23, 2017
In the "Farandole" from Georges Bizet's Arlesienne Suite, there are examples of all three kinds of harmonic texture: monophony, homophony, and polyphony. Hear those terms explained in words and in music.
December 16, 2017
In celebration of the Christmas season, some classical compositions that have Christmas carols in them.
December 9, 2017
Georges Bizet was not Jewish, his father-in-law was. Bizet married the daughter of his composition professor, Jacques Halevi. To celebrate Chanukah, we learn about some other Jewish composers of classical music, including Salamone Rossi, Leonard Bernstein, Darius Milhaud, Jacques Offenbach and Aaron Copland.
December 2, 2017
Georges Bizet's parents were both musicians, so he grew up surrounded by music. Today, Bizet is best remembered for his theatrical music -- operas and incidental music for plays.
November 25, 2017
George Gershwin was just one composer who used jazz in music that was written for the classical concert hall. So did Leonard Bernstein, Igor Stravinsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, and others.
November 18, 2017
George Gershwin wrote his Rhapsody in Blue in a big hurry, after he saw a newspaper announcement saying that he was writing a jazz concerto for a concert taking place in less than a month! Everyone loved the piece at its first performance, and at age 25, Gershwin became a musical celebrity.
November 11, 2017
"Rhapsody" is an ancient word that means "songs stitched together". The Greeks used to write long poems in praise of their heroes, and then take bits and pieces of those poems and string them together for performance. In music, a rhapsody is a free-form piece that takes different tunes and strings them together.
November 4, 2017
George Gershwin was an American composer who combined classical music and jazz to create his own unique style. Gershwin wrote music for Broadway shows, movies, the concert hall, and opera. One of the people he liked to work with was his brother Ira, who wrote wonderful lyrics (words) for George Gershwin's songs.
October 28, 2017
Appropriately spooky classical music for Halloween.
October 21, 2017
Russian artist and architect Victor Hartman was a good friend of Modest Mussorgsky. When Hartman died at the age of 39, there was a memorial exhibit of his work. That inspired Mussorgsky to create his own tribute to Hartman -- a composition depicting ten pieces of art from the exhibit. "Pictures at an Exhibition" was originally written for solo piano, but quite a few people have made orchestral versions of the piece. The best-known one is by Maurice Ravel.
October 14, 2017
The Mighty Handful, also known as the Mighty Five, were group of Russian composers who all wanted to develop a distinctly Russian style of classical music. The Mighty Five composers were Mily Balakirev, Alexander Borodin, Cesar Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
October 7, 2017
When he was a kid growing up, Modest Mussorgsky learned Russian fairy tales and folk stories from the family nurse. Those fairy tales put in an appearance in the music he wrote later on. Mussorgsky composed Pictures at an Exhibition in memory of an artist friend of his who died suddenly.
September 30, 2017
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a child prodigy. He wrote his first symphony when he was eight, but actually started composing at the age of five. In this show, hear about some other composers who started just as early.
September 23, 2017
Rondo is an Italian word that means round. A rondo is an instrumental form with a refrain that keeps coming back. Unlike the verses of a song, though, the music in a rondo changes between each repetition of the refrain.
September 16, 2017
In the 18th century, Janissary music became all the rage in Europe. Janissaries were the men who guarded the sultan of Turkey. They had wonderful bands that included instruments that sounded very exotic to European ears: cymbals, triangles and bass drums. When Janissary music caught on in Europe, many composers, including Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven, started using those instruments in their music.
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