This Week At The Classical Station

Photo: Dale Marie Muller, Roberts, Montana

This Week At The Classical Station

by Rob Kennedy


We lost many wonderful classical musicians in 2019.  This list begins with Gonzalo Castellanos on the top row far left and continues clockwise ending with Dame Fanny Waterman. Their performances, recordings, compositions, and teaching enriched countless lives. May they rest in peace.

January 10 Gonzalo Castellanos
January 16 Barry Tuckwell
February 1 Peter Serkin
February 9 Mirella Freni
March 11 Charles Wuorinen
March 25 Jennifer Bate
March 29 Krzysztof Penderecki
April 16 Kenneth Gilbert
April 27 Lynn Harrell
June 24 Jane Parker-Smith
July 1 Ida Haendel
July 6 Ennio Morricone
August 2 Leon Fleisher
October 30 Arthur Wills
August 14 Julian Bream
December 20 Fanny Waterman

Photos: Gonzalo Castellanos, Author unknown; Barry Tuckwell, Public Domain, on; Peter Serkin, Author unknown, on; Mirella Freni, Public Domain, on; Charles Wuorinen, Nina Roberts; Jennifer Bate,; Krzysztof Penderecki, Adam Kumiszcza, CC BY 3.0 on; Kenneth Gilbert, McGill University; Lynn Harrell, courtesy of Lynn Harrell; Jane Parker-Smith,; Ida Haendel, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike on; Ennio Morricone,; Leon Fleisher, CC BY 3.0 on; Arthur Wills,; Julian Bream, Public Domain, on; Fanny Waterman, Leeds Piano Competition

Sunday, January 3, 2021

This Sunday on Wavelengths we’ll hear the final installment in the Become trilogy of American composer John Luther Adams, music celebrating this remarkable planet we call home. We’ll also hear a work for viola and orchestra by Christoph Theofanidis, and Renée Fleming sings Björk.

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

Photo: John Adams/Donald Lee

This evening on Preview!, we’ll hear the London Haydn Quartet from its upcoming release, the 9th installment in their plan to record all the Haydn string quartets on period instruments. Rob Kennedy speaks with pianist Anna Fedorova about her recording Silhouettes, inspired by French composers and culture, and Orli Shaham plays Mozart.

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

Photo: Anna Fedorova/Marco Borrgreve

This morning Great Sacred Music includes music for the season sung by The Czech Philharmonic Chorus, the Tallis Scholars, and the Studio of Ancient Music of Montreal. Also on the playlist is music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Herbert Howells, and Peter Cornelius.

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

Photo: One of the Kings in a stained glass window in the Church Kilianskirche of Heilbronn, CC 2.5 on

Saturday, January 2, 2021

The Metropolitan Opera radio broadcast this afternoon features Philip Glass’ ground-breaking opera Satyagraha. Here is a synopsis from the English National Opera.

“Inspired by the life of Mahatma Gandhi, Satyagraha (first performed in 1980) tackles politics, where Akhnaten covers religion and Einstein on the Beach focuses on science, three main themes of the trilogy’s operas.

In his early years, Gandhi’s non-violent campaigns against racism in South Africa was known as ‘Truth force’ or ‘Satyagraha’, in Sanskrit. Composer Philip Glass wanted his opera to outline the world’s political and religious problems, as opposed to being a historical representation of Gandhi’s work. Because of this, as with all of Glass’s operas, Satyagraha doesn’t follow a conventional narrative, although it does loosely follow the life of Gandhi from his suit-wearing days as a lawyer in South Africa, to the holy man we can picture today.

The opera, performed entirely in Sanskrit, an ancient Hindu language, has no actual dialogue, instead verses adapted from the Bhagavad Gita are sung by the principles and the chorus. It is made up of three acts, which is each dedicated to a key figure related to Gandhi: Leo Tolstoy, of whom he had corresponded with, Rabindranath Tagore, a close friend, and Martin Luther King, who was inspired by Gandhi’s non-violent approach.”

The curtain goes up at 1 p.m. Eastern.

Photo: Scene from the 2011 production of Satyagraha at Metropolitan Opera/Ken Howard

On January 2 we observe the birthdays of Russian composer Mili Balakirev (1837-1910), English composer Sir Michael Tippett (1905-1998), and American clarinetist David Shifrin (1950-). Balakirev influenced a generation of Russian composers with his compositional techniques and nationalistic bent. A life-long pacifist, Sir Michael Tippett is perhaps best known for A Child of Our Time, which was the composer’s reaction to the horror of Kristallnacht. Mr. Shifrin has served as principal clarinetist with the Cleveland Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra, the Honolulu and Dallas symphonies and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and New York Chamber Symphony.

Photos: David Shifrin/; others:

Friday, January 1, 2021

2020 was an amazing year here at The Classical Station. That’s entirely because of your support. We simply could not do this without you.

Happy New Year from the staff and volunteers of The Classical Station!


Thursday, December 31, 2020

We have compiled our Top 100 Music Survey. A number of established favorites ranked highly on the list. Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was the clear winner. Many listeners commented on the challenge of limiting their favorite choices to five works, so we have an Honorable Mentions list for those pieces just outside the Top 100. Among those were Maurice Ravel’s Pavane for a Dead Princess, and Terry Mizesko’s Sketches from Pinehurst. You can see the list on our website under the News and Events banner.

Thank you to everyone who participated. We value your input.

Prosit Neu Jahr! Let’s toast the New Year with Die Fledermaus! Johann Strauss Junior’s bubbly operetta is a wonderful tradition in many opera houses around the world. On this final Thursday Night Opera House broadcast of 2020, we’ll present a truly gala performance led by Herbert von Karajan, featuring a guest list of famous singers at Prince Orlovsky’s party that includes some of the greatest voices of the mid-twentieth century.

The curtain goes up at 7 p.m. Eastern. Tell your smart speaker to “play The Classical Station.”

Photo: Scene from the 2014 production of Die Fledermaus by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

On December 31 we observe the birthdays of Russian-born American violinist Nathan Milstein (1904-1992) and American composer Jennifer Higdon (1962-). Milstein was considered one of the great violinists of the 20th-century. Dr. Higdon is the Milton L. Rock Chair in Composition Studies at The Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia. You can hear a conversation we had with Jennifer on our Conversations With Composers page on this website.

Photos: Nathan Milstein by Larry Davis. on; Jennifer Higdon by J. Henry Fair

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Do you know a young person who is thinking about becoming a composer? Then you need to have her listen to the podcasts we have recorded with acclaimed musicians such as Jennifer Higdon, George Crumb, Dan Locklair, Christopher Tin, to name a few that we have on hand. You can find these podcasts here on this website on Conversations With Composers.

Celebrate the special classical music lover in your life with a daily, weekly, or monthly announcement here on The Classical Station. With a Sustaining Membership of $100 per month, you can have a weekly on-air dedication. To find out more about day dedications and patron announcements on The Classical Station or to renew your announcement, contact Dan McHugh at 800-556-5178 or email him.

On December 30 we observe the birthdays of Russian composer Dmitry Kabalevsky (1904-1987), English conductor Sir David Willcocks (1919-2015), and American composer Nancy van de Vate (1930-). Besides being a composer of some note in Soviet Russia, Kabalevsky wrote music for children in an effort to connect them with serious music. Sir David Willcocks was one of the most respected and influential choral conductors of the 20th century. His seventeen years (1957-1974) as music director of King’s College Choir, Cambridge, inspired choirs and choral directors worldwide. A prolific composer, New Jersey native Nancy van de Vate is a resident of Vienna where she teaches composition at the Institute for European Studies.

Photos: Dmitri Kabalevsky, author unknown on; Sir David Willcocks/Maggie Heywood; Nancy van de Vate/American Composers Alliance

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

On December 29 we observe the birthdays of Spanish cellist Pablo Casals (1876-1973) and Welsh conductor Grant Llewellyn (1960-).

A native of Catalonia, Spain, Pau Casals i Defilló was quite simply one of the greatest cellists of the 20th century. Maestro Llewellyn is Music Director of the North Carolina Symphony and the Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne.

Photos: Grant Llewellyn/Michael Zirkle; Pablo Casals from Library of Congress Photographs, Public Domain on

Monday, December 28, 2020

Like many non-profits, we count on our End of the Year Fund Drive to raise the money we need to balance our budget.  Give online or call 800-556-5178. Remember that you can call and speak with a real live human being 24/7 here at The Classical Station. That’s one of the things that makes us special.

After you have made your gift, be sure to select a Thank You Gift. Or if you prefer, you can donate a portion of your gift to the WCPE Education Fund. Thank you for your support of the music you love so much!

This evening Monday Night at the Symphony features the London Symphony Orchestra. On the program are works by Sergei Rachmaninoff, Sir Edward Elgar, and Robert Schumann, in performances led by Sir Georg Solti, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, and current music director, Sir Simon Rattle.

Photo: London Symphony Orchestra

On December 28 we observe the birthdays of Portuguese composer João Domingos Bomtempo (1775-1842). and English violinist Nigel Kennedy (1956-). The son of an Italian court musician, Bontempo was the first Director of the National Conservatory of Portugal. Kennedy is at home with a variety of musical genres, including classical, jazz, and klezmer.

Photos: João Domingos Bomtempo, 1814 portrait by Henrique José da Silva in Museu Nacional da Música on; Nigel Kennedy/Nicholas Hudek