This Week At The Classical Station

Photo by Dale Marie Muller, Roberts, Montana

This Week At The Classical Station

by Rob Kennedy

Sunday, February 7, 2021

This evening on Wavelengths we’ll celebrate Black History Month with classical excursions from two legendary American jazz composers, Benny Gholson and Wayne Shorter. We’ll also hear music of Mark Abel and Leo Brouwer.

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


This evening on Preview!, Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads the Philadelphia Orchestra in music of Rachmaninoff.  Rob Kennedy speaks with pianist Liza Stepanova about her CD, E Pluribus Unum. And we’ll hear music of North Carolina composer Dan Locklair. You can find program notes here.

Preview! offers the best in new classical recordings every Sunday at 6 p.m. Eastern. With Jeffrey David Smith.

Photo: Liza Stepanova by Jiyang Chen

This afternoon American composer Mark Abel is our guest on the February edition of My Life In Music. My Life In Music is made possible by our listeners and by The Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle. Mark began his career as a rock musician and later made his living as a journalist.

Join Rob Kennedy for My Life In Music at 5 p.m. Eastern.

Photo: Erik Doria

This morning Great Sacred Music includes music sung by The Utah State University Chamber Singers, The Cardinall’s Musick, and the Bach Collegium Japan. Also on the playlist is music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Hector Berlioz, and Feliz Mendelssohn.

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

Photo: Utah State University Chamber Singers by Andrew McAllister

On February 7 we observe the birthdays of Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927) and Polish conductor Antoni Wit (1944-).

Besides being the artistic director and conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra from 1906-1922, Carl Wilhelm Eugen Stenhammar managed to compose three symphonies, two piano concerti and a host of other works in his short life of fifty-six years. A student of Nadia Boulanger, Maestro Wit has conducted many of the world’s great orchestras. He currently teaches at the Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw.

Photos: Wilhelm Stenhammar c. 1916 in Vecko-Journalen, Author Unknown, Public Domain on; Antoni Wit, Unknown Author on

Saturday, February 6, 2021

This afternoon, as part of its 2020-21 radio broadcast season, the Metropolitan Opera will air its first-ever Listeners’ Choice broadcast, a historic performance chosen by radio listeners from around the world: Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor starring Maria Callas. This performance from December 8, 1956, is the renowned soprano’s only Met radio broadcast. She portrayed the tragic heroine who comes undone in one of opera’s most famous mad scenes. Callas joined a cast featuring Giuseppe Campora as Lucia’s lover Edgardo, Enzo Sordello as Enrico, her brother and Edgardo’s sworn enemy, and Nicola Moscona as Raimondo. Fausto Cleva conducted.

During December 2020, the Met invited members of its worldwide radio audience to vote for their favorite from among ten legendary performances drawn from the Met archives. The Listeners’ Choice broadcast of Lucia di Lammermoor will include new commentary and radio features reflecting on Callas’ portrayal of this iconic role, as well as comments from radio listeners explaining why this broadcast was their top choice.

The curtain goes up at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.

Photo: Maria Callas by Joop van Bilsen/Anefo, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic on

On February 6 we observe the birthday of Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau (1903-1991). Señor Arrau was considered one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century. Steinway & Sons has a fascinating article about Señor Arrau entitled “How Claudio Arrau Nearly Became Glenn Gould”

Photo: 1974 photo of Claudio Arrau by Allan Warren, CC BY-SA 3.0 on

Friday, February 5, 2021

The Metropolitan Opera presents Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor starring Maria Callas 1 p.m. Eastern, Saturday, February 6

On February 5 we observe the birthday of English conductor Sir John Pritchard (1921-1989).

He was the music director of the San Francisco Opera when he died. Besides being an authority on Mozart and Rossini, Sir John was well-regarded as a champion of contemporary British music for which he was knighted in 1983. He had a long association with the Glyndebourne Festival.

Photo: John Pritchard, Unknown Author on

Thursday, February 4, 2021

This evening the Thursday Night Opera House features Gioachino Rossini’s Otello. In a nutshell, the plot has Otello (José Carreras) in love with Desdemona (Frederica Von Stade), who’s been promised by her father, Elmiro (Samuel Ramey), to Rodrigo (Salvatore Fisichella). Iago (Gianfranco Pastine) tells Otello that she’s been unfaithful. Our 1979 recording features the Ambrosian Chorus and the Philharmonia Orchestra under the direction of Jesús López Cobos.

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

Photo: Gioachino Rossini, Author Unknown, on Biography Online

On February 4 we observe the birthday of Austrian-born American conductor Erich Leinsdorf (1912-1993).

Leinsdorf served several American orchestras including the Cleveland Orchestra and the Boston Symphony, as music director. He was one of the great conductors of the 20th-century.

Photo: Erich Leinsdorf, Author Unknown on New England Historical Society

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Simply Strings Weekend
Saturday & Sunday, February 6 & 7
We’ll feature music for violin, viola, cello, bass, guitar, mandolin, and harp in performances by the great masters of the 20th-century as well as today’s brightest young players.

On February 3 we observe the birthday of German composer Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847).

Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy was born into a wealthy family. He was a versatile musician who played the piano and organ as well as composing in a variety of genres. We’ll be playing his oratorio Elijah on Great Sacred Music this coming Sunday.

Photo: Portrait of Felix Mendelssohn by James Warren Childe, Public Domain on

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

On February 2 we observe the birthdays of French composer Louis Marchand (1669-1732), Austrian-born violinist Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962), Lithuanian-born American violinist Jascha Heifetz (1901-1987), and American lutenist Paul O’Dette (1954-).

Apparently a hot-tempered gentleman, Monsieur Marchand was employed by the King of France. J.S. Bach was known to have played Marchand’s music. Herr Kreisler studied with Anton Bruckner, Léo Delibes, and Jules Massenet among others. He was widely considered one of the great violinists of the 20th century. Jascha Heifetz was another virtuoso violinist of the last century. He recorded extensively. Professor of Lute and Director of Early Music at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, Paul O’Dette specializes in early music.

Photo: Engraving of Louis Marchand by Ch. Dupuis, after the original portrait by Robert – Bibliothèque nationale de  France, Public Domain on; Photo of Fritz Kreisler from Library of Congress, Public Domain on; Photo of Jascha Heifitz, Unknown Author, Public Domain on; Photo of Paul ODette courtesy BEMF


Monday, February 1, 2021

This evening Monday Night at the Symphony features the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra.  On the program are works by Johannes Brahms, Bedrich Smetana, and Felix Mendelssohn in performances led by Neeme Jarvi, Claus Peter Flor, and current Principal Conductor Jakub Hrůša.

Photo: Peter Eberts

Valentine’s Day By Advance Request
Sunday, February 14, 12 noon until 5 p.m. Eastern
Make a classical music request in honor of your sweetie. We’ll play as many requests as we can from noon until 5:00 p.m. Because of the shortened hours we encourage you to ask for shorter works or single movements. Submit your request by February 10 to make sure we can play it for you.

This evening American composer Mark Abel is our guest on the February edition of My Life In Music. My Life In Music is made possible by our listeners and by The Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle. Mark began his career as a rock musician and later made his living as a journalist. Join Rob Kennedy for My Life In Music this evening at 7 p.m. Eastern. This program will be rebroadcast Tuesday, February 2 at 3 a.m. Eastern.

Photo: Erik Doria

On February 1 we observe the birthdays of German/Swedish composer Johan Agrell (1701-1767), Italian composer Francesco Veracini (1690-1768), Italian composer Alessandro Marcello (1673-1747), Swedish composer Adolf Lindblad (1801-1878), Irish-born American composer Victor Herbert (1859-1924), and Italian soprano Renata Tebaldi (1922-2004).

Herr Agrell wrote chamber music including 22 symphonies. Highly skilled as a violinist, Signor Veracini composed chamber music including a set of violin sonatas which are still in the repertoire today. Signor Marcello was born into a noble Venetian family. He is best-known for an oboe concerto which Johann Sebastian Bach adapted in BWV 974. Adolf Lindblad wrote music in a variety of chamber genres such as voice and piano. Victor Herbert was a prolific composer who wrote over 40 operettas of which Babes in Toyland is probably his most familiar to modern ears. Renata Ersilia Clotilde Tebaldi is considered to have been one of the 20th-century’s finest opera singers. She made her debut at La Scala in 1946.

Photos: Johann Agrell by Valentin Daniel Preisler, Public Domain on; Franceso Veracini, Author Unknown, Public Domain on; Alessandro Marcello, Author Unknown, Public Domain on; Adolf Lindblad, Author Unknown, Public Domain on; Victor Herbert, Library of Congress, Public Domain in; Renata Tebaldi, Unknown Author on Fondazione Renata Tebaldi