This Week At The Classical Station

Photo: Ian B. Kennedy

This Week At The Classical Station

by Rob Kennedy

Sunday, May 17, 2020

This Sunday on Wavelengths we’ll hear music of American minimalist composer Terry Riley. We’ll also hear works by Rachel Matthews and Joel Phillip Friedman.

Wavelengths brings you the best in contemporary classical music, Sundays at 9 p.m. Eastern. With host Ed Amend.

This evening on Preview! pianist Garrick Ohlsson joins the Takacs Quartet to play music of American composer Amy Beach. Rob Kennedy speaks with trumpeter Paul Merkelo about his CD, The Enlightened Trumpet. Also on the program are works by acclaimed Japanese film composer Joe Hisaishi, and violinist Franziska Pietsch plays music of Francis Poulenc.

Preview! brings you the best in new classical recordings and arts news each Sunday from 6 to 9 p.m. Eastern. With host David Jeffrey Smith.


This morning Great Sacred Music includes music sung by the Kansas City Chorale, His Majestie’s Clerkes, and the Cambridge Singers. Also on the playlist is choral music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Carson Cooman, and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Great Sacred Music. Beautiful choral and organ music. Every Sunday morning. 8 a.m. Eastern. Right after Sing For Joy. With Rob Kennedy.

Photo: C.B. Fisk, Inc.

On May 17 we observe the birthdays of French composer Erik Satie (1866-1925), Hungarian-born French violinist Sandor Vegh (1912-1997), Swedish dramatic soprano Birgit Nilsson (!918-2005), Czech composer Frantisek Kovaricek (1924-2003), English horn player Dennis Brain (1921-1957) and English pianist Paul Crossley (1944-). Éric Alfred Leslie Satie was unusual both as a person and as a composer. Sandor Vegh was highly-regarded as a violinist and teacher. Ms. Nilsson was highly-acclaimed for her roles in Richard Wagner’s operas. Frantisek Kovaricek taught at the Prague Conservatory. Dennis Brain died tragically in a car crash at the age of 36. Paul Crossley studied with Olivier Messiaen.


Saturday, May 16, 2020

On May 16 we observe the birthday of American conductor Andrew Litton (1959-). A native of New York City, Maestro Litton has been associated with several prominent orchestras including the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra.

Photo: Steve J. Sherman

Friday, May 15, 2020

On May 15 we observe the birthdays of Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643), Irish composer Michael William Balfe(1808-1870), Swedish composer Lars-Erik Larsson (1908-1986) and American violinist Anne Aiko Meyers (1970-). With one foot in the Renaissance and the other in the Baroque era, Padre Monteverdi is a fascinating composer who wrote operas and a remarkable piece of sacred music entitled Vespro della Beata Vergine. While his output included 29 operas and myriad other works, Michael William Balfe is known to modern audiences for his opera The Bohemian Girl. Lars-Erik Larsson studied composition with Alban Berg and used serial composition techniques in many of his works. A child prodigy, Ms. Meyers has been a champion of new music, both performing and commissioning it.


Thursday, May 14, 2020

Enjoy three one-act operas by Giacomo Puccini on this evening’s Opera House. Known collectively as Il Trittico, they were premiered on December 14, 1918 at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House. Originally, Puccini planned to write each opera to reflect different parts of Dante’s Divine Comedy. However, he eventually based only Gianni Schicchi on a fleeting reference in the Florentine’s epic poem. As a whole, Il Trittico is quite balanced. Il Tabarro is very dark and brooding, full of the violence and grit associated with verismo opera. Suor Angelica, Puccini’s personal favorite, is an uplifting tale of religious redemption. Gianni Schicchi is the most popular, a comedic farce full of greed and conniving. Nowadays it is rare for all three operas to be mounted as a single production, but you are going to hear Il Trittico as Puccini conceived it.

The curtain goes up at 7 p.m. Eastern. Listen on 89.7 FM in Central North Carolina or online and on our apps. Bob Chapman hosts.

Photos: Il Trittico poster from Puccini

On May 14 we observe the birthdays of Russian composer Ivan Vishnegradsky (1893-1979), German-American conductor Otto Klemperer (1885-1973), and American pianist Alan Marks (1949-1995). A word about these musicians: Vishnegradsky was noted for his compositions using the quarter tone scale. Maestro Klemperer was considered one of the great conductors of the 20th-century. Alan Marks lived the latter part of his short life in Berlin, Germany.



Wednesday, May 13, 2020

On May 13 we observe the birthdays of three English musicians; composer Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900), conductor Jane Glover (1949-), and violinist Tasmin Little (1965-). Sir Arthur Sullivan collaborated with W.S. Gilbert on fourteen operas. Jane Glover has conducted at many of the world’s great opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera. Tasmin Little studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School in London where one of her classmates was Nigel Kennedy.


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

On May 12 we observe the birthdays of French composers Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) and Jules Massenet (1842-1912), and English composer Lennox Berkeley (1903-1989). Some facts about these gentlemen: Gabriel Fauré was a favorite pupil of Camille Saint-Saëns. Jules Massenet is best known for his operas of which he wrote more than thirty. Sir Lennox Berkeley taught composers Richard Rodney Bennett and John Tavener.

Photos: Lennox Berkeley Society &

Monday, May 11, 2020

This evening Monday Night at the Symphony features the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra.  On the program is music of  Antonín Dvořák, Alexander Glazunov, and Robert Schumann in performances led by Karl Anton Rickenbacher, Neeme Jarvi, and current music director Jakub Hrůša, See Daily Playlists for details.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Photo: Peter Eberts

Renaissance Fare celebrates the merry month of “Maying” with music for dancing around the May pole performed by the Cambridge Singers, the Baltimore Consort, the King’s Noyse, and many others.

Renaissance Fare airs this evening at 7:00 p.m. George Douglas hosts.

Photo: The Peasant Dance (1568) by Pieter Brueghel

On May 11 we observe the birthdays of Russian composer Anatoly Lyadov (1855-1914), Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein (1887-1961), and American composer William Grant Still (1895-1978). Trained as a pianist, Anatoly Konstantinovich Lyadov composed mostly for that instrument. Despite losing his right arm in a battle in World War I, Paul Wittgenstein resolved to play the piano again. He arranged and commissioned dozens of works for piano left hand. A Guggenheim Fellow, William Grant Still studied with George Whitefield Chadwick and Edgard Varèse.