This Week at The Classical Station

Photo: Old Orchard Beach,, Fair Use

This Week at The Classical Station

by Rob Kennedy

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet in C sharp minor, Op. 131, stands as one of the most profound and innovative compositions in the chamber music repertoire. Composed in 1826, just a year before Beethoven’s death, this piece is often considered to be the summit of his late quartets.

The quartet consists of seven movements, performed without a break, which contributes to the overarching continuity of the work:

Adagio ma non troppo e molto espressivo
Allegro molto vivace
Allegro moderato
Andante ma non troppo e molto cantabile
Adagio quasi un poco andante

Musical Expression
The opening fugue immediately establishes a world of emotional depth and complexity. A serene and reflective theme is transformed through the course of the quartet, weaving together the diverse movements and emotional landscapes.

The vivacity of the second movement contrasts sharply with the introverted character of the first. The middle movements showcase Beethoven’s gift for thematic development and lyrical beauty, while the final movements build to a triumphant conclusion.

Historical Context
The Op. 131 Quartet belongs to Beethoven’s late period, a time of personal turmoil and artistic experimentation. Deaf and in poor health, Beethoven still managed to break new ground, transcending classical forms, and expressing a profound humanism that resonates to this day.

Schubert, who heard the quartet shortly before his death, was deeply affected by it, and it has continued to inspire musicians and listeners alike.

Beethoven’s String Quartet in C sharp minor is not just a piece of music; it’s an exploration of the human soul. Its unique structure and emotional breadth make it a monumental work that rewards deep listening and engagement. It represents a significant part of Beethoven’s legacy and stands as a testament to his unyielding creativity and his mastery of the quartet form.

You can hear this beautiful piece of classical music played by the Dover Quartet during the 6 p.m. hour of Preview!

This morning Great Sacred Music includes performances by Bach Collegium Japan, Tallis Scholars, and Capella Brugensis. Also on the playlist are works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joaquin Despres and many more.

Great Sacred Music begins at 8 a.m. right after Sing for Joy. Mick Anderson hosts.

On August 20 we observe the birthdays of Austrian composer Josef Strauss (1827-1870), Canadian conductor Mario Bernardi (1930-2013), and Israeli violinist Maxim Vengerov (1974-).

Josef Strauss was a member of the famous Viennese musical family. He was the son of Johann Strauss I, and brother of Johann Strauss II. Maestro Bernardi was the founding conductor of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, Ontario, as well as the conductor of the CBC Radio Orchestra. Vengerov has appeared with many of the world’s major orchestras.

Photo: Maxim Vengerov by Pascale Bitz

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Go the last mile with your used vehicle. If your automobile (or truck, boat, motorcycle, RV, or aircraft) is no longer of use to you, it can still go a long way as a donation in support of the programs you love here at The Classical Station. The Center for Car Donations (CFCD) manages the donations on our behalf. Call them toll-free at 877-WCPEUSA for more information or to begin the car donation process. Tell them that WCPE The Classical Station is the recipient of your donation. A CFCD representative will schedule a pickup that’s convenient for you and provide you with confirmation of your donation. We will mail you a confirmation that states how much your vehicle sold for at auction. This amount is what you can claim on your itemized tax return.

You will also receive a one-year subscription to Quarter Notes, our member magazine. Thank you for your support.

On August 19 we observe the birthdays of Romanian composer and conductor George Enescu (1881-1955) and American conductor Gerard Schwarz (1947-).

Enescu shares the distinction with Fritz Kreisler of being the youngest students admitted to the Vienna Conservatory at the age of seven. Maestro Schwarz has been the music director of the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina since 2007. He was music director of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra from 1985-2001, and Music Director of Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival from 1982-2001.

Photo: Gerard Schwarz by Yuen Lui

Friday, August 18, 2023

Celebrate the loved ones in your life. Day Dedications and ongoing Patron Announcements on The Classical Station are thoughtful gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions. Like a musical duet, you can honor a loved one and support great music, together.

Contact our Membership Department for more information. 919-556-5178

On August 18 we observe the birthdays of Italian composer Antonio Salieri (1750-1825), Canadian composer and conductor Sir Ernest MacMillan (1893-1973), and Russian conductor Dmitri Kitayenko (1940-).

Signor Salieri taught Schubert, Liszt and Beethoven. Sir Ernest MacMillan was one of the most influential musicians of his generation in Canada. Maestro Kitayenko was the conductor of the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra for many years. He has made many recordings with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Happy 83rd birthday, Maestro!

Photo: Dmitri Kitayenko by Gert Paul Harris

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Giacomo Puccini’s opera “Turandot” is a famous three-act opera that was left unfinished by the composer and later completed by Franco Alfano. The libretto is written by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni, and the story is based on a play by Carlo Gozzi. Here’s a synopsis of the opera:

Act I

“Giacamo Puccini” by Gerard Catapano. Inspired by all Puccini’s music, all his operatic works

The opera is set in ancient Peking, China, where a prince named Calaf falls in love with the icy Princess Turandot at first sight. To win her hand, suitors must answer three riddles posed by the princess; failure to do so results in execution. Calaf accepts the challenge, despite pleas from his father Timur and the servant girl Liù, who is secretly in love with Calaf.

Act II
The second act is divided into two scenes. In the first scene, Turandot explains the reasons behind her cruelty, stemming from the violent history of her ancestors.

In the second scene, Calaf successfully answers the three riddles. Turandot is horrified, but Calaf offers her a way out: If she can discover his name by dawn, he will forfeit his life. Turandot accepts the challenge and orders that no one in Peking shall sleep until his name is discovered. The refrain “Nessun Dorma” (No One Shall Sleep) underscores this scene.

The third act opens with a conversation between Calaf and Liù. Liù is captured and tortured by Turandot’s guards to reveal Calaf’s name but refuses to do so. To spare herself further pain, she grabs a dagger from a soldier and kills herself.

Calaf, angered by Liù’s death and determined to change Turandot’s icy heart, confronts Turandot and kisses her. Turandot is initially resistant but finds herself drawn to him. Calaf reveals his name and places his life in her hands.

As dawn breaks, Turandot appears before the emperor and the people of Peking. Instead of revealing Calaf’s name, she proclaims that she knows the stranger’s name, and it is “Love.” The opera concludes with a passionate duet between Calaf and Turandot, celebrating their newfound love.

“Turandot” has become particularly famous for its powerful and moving music, especially the tenor aria “Nessun Dorma,” which is one of the most well-known pieces in the operatic repertoire.

Our broadcast of “Turandot” on the Thursday Night Opera House comes from the archives of the late Al Ruocchio. The curtain goes up at 7 p.m.

On August 17 we observe the birthday of Spanish classical guitarist Ángel Romero (1946-).

Señor Romero comes from a family of distinguished musicians. His father is Celedonio Romero. His brothers are Pepe and Celin. Ángel was the first guitar soloist to appear with the Los Angles Symphony Orchestra which he did at the age of sixteen.

Photo: Angel Romero by Levg, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Common

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

A great piece of music is a journey worth taking. It takes you to a place you know or one that you want to get to know better. A great piece of classical music lives, it breathes. It paints a picture of life in ways that no other genre can. That’s why we are dedicated to sharing the magic of this music near and far with anyone who wants to experience it. But it’s only possible with your support.  Keep the music alive here on The Classical Station, your home for classical music. Do your part for music that matters.

Give securely online or, if you prefer, call us anytime at 800-556-5178. A member of staff is on duty 24/7 and will be happy to receive your gift. Don’t forget to select a Thank You Gift!

Photo: The Blue Diamond Gallery

On August 16 we observe the birthdays of French composer Gabriel Pierné (1863-1937), American organist and conductor Paul Callaway (1909-1995), and Israeli conductor Yoel Levi (1950-).

Monsieur Pierné was a student of César Franck and Jules Massenet. Dr. Callaway was organist and choirmaster at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, Washington, DC, from 1939-1977. Maestro Levi is the Music Director and Principal Conductor of the KBS Symphony Orchestra in Seoul, South Korea.

Photo: Yoel Levi by Kevin Abosch

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) – Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15

I. Allegro con brio
II. Largo
III. Rondo: Allegro

Drawing of head of a young Beethoven

“Beethoven as a Young Man” by Balazs Szabo

Although titled as his first piano concerto, Beethoven’s Concerto No. 1 in C Major was actually composed after the Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major. Completed in 1795, this concerto vividly illustrates Beethoven’s emerging compositional voice, while still paying homage to the Classical traditions epitomized by his predecessors Mozart and Haydn.

Structure and Musical Ideas
The concerto is divided into the traditional three movements:

I. Allegro con brio: The opening movement is filled with youthful exuberance and dramatic contrast. It begins with a lively orchestral exposition, introducing the main thematic material, followed by the entrance of the solo piano, which develops these ideas with virtuosic flair.

II. Largo: A serene and reflective movement, the Largo showcases Beethoven’s lyrical gift. The beautiful interplay between the orchestra and the soloist creates an intimate, almost chamber music-like atmosphere.

III. Rondo: Allegro: The final movement is a spirited Rondo, marked by a playful theme and sparkling energy. It features several contrasting episodes and concludes with an exhilarating coda, underlining the composer’s innovative spirit.

Historical Context
Piano Concerto No. 1 was premiered in Vienna with Beethoven himself as the soloist. The work was well-received and became a vehicle for Beethoven to display not only his compositional talent but also his extraordinary abilities as a pianist.

Though rooted in the Classical style, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 hints at the Romanticism that would come to define his later works. Its combination of grace, vitality, and emotional depth makes it a staple in the concerto repertoire.

This piece represents a young Beethoven, fully aware of the tradition he inherited, yet imbued with an innovative spirit that would lead him to redefine the boundaries of music.

Our performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 offers a glimpse into a transitional moment in music history, where the grace of the 18th century meets the boldness of the 19th. Through its elegant melodies, dramatic contrasts, and virtuosic demands, it remains a vibrant and engaging piece that continues to resonate with audiences around the world. You can hear this beautiful piece of classical music on Classical Cafe this morning during the 10 a.m. hour.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

On August 15 we observe the birthdays of English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912), French composer Jacques Ibert (1890-1962), and German-American composer Lukas Foss (1922-2009).

Coleridge-Taylor studied composition at the Royal College of Music with Sir Charles Villiers Stanford. Ibert wrote seven operas and five ballets, among other compositions. Foss was a classmate of Leonard Bernstein at the Curtis Institute.

Photo: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Unknown Author, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Monday, August 14, 2023

This evening, Monday Night at the Symphony features the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra which was founded in 1946. The program includes music by Felix Mendelssohn, Johannes Brahms, and Franz Schubert conducted by Claus Peter Flor, Jonathan Nott, and Robin Ticciati.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. Eastern.

The August edition of Renaissance Fare presents music from England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First. You’ll hear music by William Byrd, John Dowland, Anthony Holborne, and more, plus great musicians like The Boston Camerata, the Canadian Brass, and lutenist Julian Bream.

Join George Douglas this evening at 7:00 p.m.

Photo: From a drawing in Cassell’s Library of English Literature, Henry Morley, 1883

On August 14 we observe the birthdays of English composer Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876) and French conductor Georges Prêtre (1924-2017). Wesley received his middle name because of his father’s love of Bach. Monsieur Prêtre earned international recognition as a fine conductor of opera in the major opera houses of the world.

Photo: Samuel Sebastian Wesley, Unknown Author, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons