This Week at The Classical Station

“Marsh Splendor” by James Melvin. From our Virtual Art Gallery

This Week at The Classical Station

by Rob Kennedy

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 73 is often considered one of the most cheerful and optimistic pieces in the symphonic repertoire. Composed in 1877, this four-movement masterpiece is sometimes nicknamed the “Pastoral Symphony,” a term more commonly associated with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6. The music paints scenes that could easily make you think of calm lakes, rolling hills, and sun-dappled forests—though Brahms himself said that he never intended to depict specific scenes.

The symphony opens with a lush, sweeping melody that sets the mood. Imagine stepping into a warm embrace; that’s the first movement for you. It’s followed by a second movement that is more contemplative, a kind of quiet afternoon of the soul, providing room for introspection and emotional richness.

The third movement is a light-hearted dance, like the laughter among old friends or the wind rustling through the trees. It adds a touch of humor and playfulness that contrasts with the more serious moods of the other movements.

Finally, the fourth movement bursts forth like a bright sunny day after a cloudy week. The music swells and builds, like a joyful sprint to a finish line or the triumphant finale of a feel-good movie.

So, even if you can’t tell Brahms from Beethoven, this is a piece that invites you in. You don’t have to be a classical music aficionado to appreciate the emotional journey it offers. Whether you’re in it for the sumptuous melodies, the contrasting moods, or just the sheer beauty of the orchestration, Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 is a celebration of the soul’s landscapes—making it a must-listen for anyone in search of musical upliftment.

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

This morning’s Great Sacred Music includes performances by the Cambridge Singers and the Holland Boys’ Choir. You’ll hear works by Dan Locklair, Johann Sebastian Bach, Anton Arensky, and many more.

Great Sacred Music. 8 a.m. Right after Sing for Joy. With Mick Anderson.

On August 27 we observe the birthdays of German composer Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612), Russian inventor Leon Theremin (1896-1993), English composers Eric Coates (1886-1957), and Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979).

Herr Hassler studied with Andrea Gabrieli in Venice. He brought the music of the Venetian school to Germany when he returned home. Leon Theremin invented the theremin which was one of the first electronic instruments. Eric Coates was well-known for his light music and film scores. More than half of Rebecca Clarke’s music remains unpublished. She was also a fine viola player.

Photo: Eric Coates, Fair Use, Faber Music, Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, August 26, 2023

On August 26 we observe the birthdays of German conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch (1913-2013), American saxophonist and composer Branford Marsalis (1960-), and our very own Richard “Dick” Storck.

Maestro Sawallisch was Music Director for several important orchestras including the Vienna Symphony, l’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Branford Marsalis is a saxophonist, composer, and bandleader. Dick Storck has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in radio including over 25 years here at The Classical Station. Dick hosts our afternoon drive program, Allegro, and is the voice you often hear at the top of every hour when he identifies the station.

Photo: Dick Storck by WCPE Photo Services

Friday, August 25, 2023

Open white flower with red and yellow center on a small, worn, wooden outdoor surface, seen from aboveThe beauty and inspiration that classical music offers are the reasons so many people hold it so close to their hearts. Classical music is an experience without boundaries. It’s an experience that exists to bring forth the passion and wonder around us, the emotions we have, the challenges and struggles we face, and also the moments of pure joy that grace our lives every once in a while. This is music worth standing behind with your donation of support now. Keep it real for The Classical Station with your gift.

You can give securely online or call us anytime at 800-556-5178 to have a member of staff take down the details of your gift. Don’t forget to choose a Thank You Gift. Thank you for your support of The Classical Station.

Photo: “The last rose of summer” by Alice Brown May. From our Virtual Art Gallery

On August 25 we observe the birthday of American composer, conductor, and pianist Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990).

A graduate of Harvard University, Maestro Bernstein then attended the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia where he studied with Fritz Reiner and Randall Thompson. He conducted most of the world’s orchestras at one point or another. Remarkably facile as a composer, Bernstein composed several very successful Broadway musicals as well as a variety of works in many genres. He was also a brilliant teacher and lecturer.

Photo: Jack Mitchell

Thursday, August 24, 2023

“Ariodante” is an opera seria in three acts by George Frideric Handel. The Italian-language libretto was based on a work by Antonio Salvi, which in turn was adapted from Canti 5 and 6 of Ludovico Ariosto’s “Orlando Furioso.” The opera was first performed in London’s Covent Garden Theatre on January 8, 1735. Here’s a synopsis:

Act 1:
In medieval Scotland, Prince Ariodante is set to marry the princess Ginevra, daughter of the King of Scotland. Polinesso, the Duke of Albany, also desires Ginevra and plots to disrupt the engagement. He manipulates Dalinda, a lady-in-waiting who secretly loves him, into helping him. Polinesso tells her that if she dresses as Ginevra, he will have proof of Ginevra’s infidelity, thus ending the engagement.

Act 2:

Portrait of George Frederic Handel by Philippe Mercier, Public Domain

Dalinda, dressed as Ginevra, meets Polinesso, and Ariodante’s brother, Lurcanio, sees them together. He believes Ginevra has been unfaithful and tells Ariodante. Heartbroken, Ariodante attempts to commit suicide but is saved by a passing ship.

Polinesso, feeling triumphant, persuades the King to give him Ginevra’s hand in marriage. The King, believing his daughter has dishonored herself, agrees but disowns her. Lurcanio publicly accuses Ginevra of infidelity, and she collapses in despair.

Act 3:
Dalinda confesses her part in the deception to Lurcanio, who falls in love with her. Together they plan to expose Polinesso. Ariodante, who survived his suicide attempt, returns in disguise.

Polinesso attempts to kill Dalinda to keep her quiet but is killed by Lurcanio. Dalinda’s innocence is proven, and Ariodante’s true identity is revealed.

The opera concludes with the forthcoming marriages of Ariodante and Ginevra, and Lurcanio and Dalinda, and a general celebration of truth and virtue.

“Ariodante” combines moving arias and lively choruses with a gripping plot that explores themes of love, betrayal, and redemption. It remains one of Handel’s most performed operas and is often admired for its emotional depth and musical brilliance.

You can enjoy this opera this evening on the Thursday Night Opera House beginning at 7 p.m.

On August 24 we observe the birthday of American composer Stephen Paulus (1949-2014). A GRAMMY Award-winning composer principally of operas and choral music, he was the co-founder of the American Composers Forum.

Photo: Sharolyn Hagen

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

What can we play for you on Friday? If you’re reading this and have never asked us to play something for you, it’s really easy to do. Click on the  Request Music link at the top of our web page. That will pull up a short form where you can tell us what to play, who composed it, your name, and where you live. That’s all there is to it. We play listener requests between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern every Friday.

The Saturday Evening Request Program is another opportunity for you to hear a piece you have requested. Again, if you have never asked us to play anything, why not fill out the Request Music form now? We’d love to hear from you.
Photo: iStock Photos

On August 23 we observe the birthdays of English composer and conductor Constant Lambert (1905-1951) and American conductor Karina Canellakis (1981-).

Lambert was a student of Ralph Vaughan Williams and Sir Malcolm Sargent at the Royal College of Music. In 1931 Lambert was appointed Conductor and Music Director of the Vic Wells Ballet which later became the Royal Ballet. Born and raised in New York City, Maestra Canellakis attended The Curtis Institute and The Juilliard School. She is the chief conductor of the Radio Filharmonisch Orkes in the Netherlands. Karina was our guest on My Life In Music in October 2019. You can listen to our interview with her on our Conversations With Conductors page.

Photo: Karina Canellakis by Mathias Bothor

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

From London to Toronto, from Seoul to your very own home – The Classical Station’s reach spans across the globe. Have you ever considered becoming a part of our worldwide community of music lovers?

By becoming a sustaining member, you don’t just support us; you become an integral part of a mission to spread the joy and depth of classical music to every corner of the world. Whether you choose to contribute $10, $20, $30, or more each month, your generosity ensures that the timeless art of classical music continues to resonate with people everywhere.

This financial support helps us cultivate a global appreciation for the great masterpieces, inspire new audiences, and connect with classical enthusiasts like yourself. It’s more than a donation; it’s an investment in a musical legacy.

Join us in this harmonious journey and become a sustainer today. You can easily contribute online or reach out to us at 800-556-5178. Your support means the world to us, and we thank you for helping make music that truly transcends borders.

On August 22 we observe the birthdays of English composers Christopher Gibbons (1615-1676) and Sir Edward Bairstow (1874-1946), and French composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918).

Gibbons was the second son of Orlando Gibbons who was one of England’s prominent composers of the late Tudor period. Sir Edward Bairstow was Organist of York Minster from 1913 to 1946. It was Claude Debussy who stated that “Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” The two leading impressionistic composers, Debussy and Ravel, delighted in breaking musical rules. The result was a whole fresh approach to musical composition.

Photo: Claude Debussy, Félix Nadar, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Monday, August 21, 2023

This evening, Monday Night at the Symphony features the English Chamber Orchestra. The program includes music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Benjamin Britten, and Frederick Delius conducted by Daniel Barenboim, Raymond Leppard, and Richard Bonynge.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. Eastern. Tell your smart device to “Play The Classical Station.”

On August 21 we observe the birthdays of French composer Lili Boulanger (1893-1918) and British mezzo-soprano Dame Janet Baker (1933-).

Sister of Nadia Boulanger who taught many American musicians, Lili was a child prodigy who died at the very young age of twenty-five. Her compositions reveal a remarkable talent, leaving one to marvel at what might have been had she lived longer. Active from the 50s to the 80s, Dame Janet Baker was highly regarded for her interpretations of baroque as well as contemporary music. Happy 89th birthday, Dame Janet!

Photo: Lili Boulanger, Unknown Author, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons