Program Archives

Gustav Holst
08/29/18

It may come as a surprise but Gustav Holst’s orchestral suite The Planets is not about the actual planets in our solar system – rather, he has composed music that takes on the personality of the...

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
08/28/18

One of the first critics to write about Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony noted that the orchestration was “essentially modern, and even ultra-modern.” This was ten years after the composer completed...

Ludwig van Beethoven
08/27/18

Like a lot of works in the 18th and 19th Century, Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto in C Major was misnumbered. He completed the concerto after what would become his 2nd piano concerto… evidently...

Hamilton Harty
08/24/18

Hamilton Harty composed his Irish Symphony for the 1904 Feis Ceoil, an annual festival of Irish music that began in 1897. Harty’s Symphony won the grand prize that year in the festival’s...

Edward Elgar
08/23/18

In many ways, Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto is a reaction to the First World War. He composed it in 1919, and it embodies a realization that life in Europe would never be the same. In fact, Elgar’...

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
08/22/18

Mozart’s keyboard concertos are the most personal of his works: many of them were composed as a way of showcasing the composer’s own piano playing in public performances. The Piano Concerto No. 21...

Modest Mussorgsky
08/21/18

When Modest Mussorgsky completed his Pictures at an Exhibition in 1874, it wasn’t the version for orchestra we hear most often. It was actually an incredibly difficult suite for solo piano. The...

Ludwig van Beethoven
08/20/18

While Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is dark and driven, the Symphony No. 6 is like walking down the sunnier side of the same street. He did most of the work on the Sixth while he was completing the...

Victor Herbert
08/17/18

Victor Herbert was not just a composer; he was also a world-class virtuoso cellist, and he composed two cello concertos for himself to perform. The first was written and premiered in 1885 in...

Nicolo Paganini
08/16/18

Classical Music history has a long tradition of great instrumental soloists composing great works to showcase their instrument: composers like Rachmaninoff and Brahms are two great examples. Both...

Franz Joseph Haydn
08/15/18

Franz Joseph Haydn’s 45th Symphony, the “Farewell” Symphony, is one of the more theatrical and problem-solving symphonies from the 18th century… At the very end of the symphony, after a short...

Franz Schubert
08/14/18

No one really knows why Franz Schubert subtitled his Fourth Symphony “tragic:” some believe it was perhaps an attempt to attract a publisher, or maybe because it’s the first symphony he wrote in a...

Antonin Dvorak
08/13/18

The serenade, as a genre, can sometimes lead to disappointing pieces: compositions often produced by composers still figuring things out creatively. Not so with Antonin Dvorak. In the composer’s...

Reinhold Gliere
08/10/18

Reinhold Gliere started work on his first symphony while he was a student at the Moscow Conservatory, and the work is unmistakably Russian. In a lot of ways it is closer in character to the music...

William Alwyn
08/09/18

English composer William Alwyn was a bit of a Renaissance artist: not only was he a composer, he also wrote poetry and painted at an exceptional level. He began his studies in composition at the...

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
08/08/18

The Piano Concerto No. 27 by Mozart is the finale piano concerto that the composer would write, being completed in early 1791 and premiered by the composer just a couple months later. In fact, a...

Ludwig van Beethoven
08/07/18

At the time of writing his Second Symphony, Beethoven had not yet transformed into the mythic, dramatic Romantic composer we know him as today… but he was definitely on his way. It was during this...

Franz Schubert
08/06/18

In his own words, Schubert essentially said that the only reason he started out to write his Octet for Strings & Winds was so he could prepare himself for the task of composing a full-scale...

Richard Strauss
08/03/18

The Sonatina No. 1 for winds by Richard Strauss is a work the composer completed late in his life – in 1943 – at a time when he was recovering from an illness, which is why he subtitled the...

Johannes Brahms
08/02/18

There is something about the Brahms Symphony No. 3 in F that may come across as truly serene. Each of the four movements ends quietly, an unusual, yet pleasant, feature to the work. Even the final...

Felix Mendelssohn
08/01/18

In October of 1830, Mendelssohn went to Italy, a trip that last 10 months, and a trip in which he found himself starting out in Venice and travelling south to Rome, and then onward to Naples. The...

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
07/31/18

In his lifetime, Mozart composed 27 piano concertos – and out of all of those, only two of them are in a minor key. This evening’s masterwork, the Piano Concerto No. 20 in d minor, is probably the...

Reinhold Gliere
07/30/18

Reinhold Gliere was only two years younger than Rachmaninoff, and in a lot of ways, his music shows it. Gliere’s music is firmly rooted in the Russian cosmopolitan style – but one major difference...

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
07/27/18

The Souvenir of Florence by Tchaikovsky originated as a string sextet in the latter part of the 1880s. He composed it while in Italy, but later revised it in Russia, and it’s the last chamber work...

Alexander Borodin
07/26/18

Alexander Borodin was a notoriously slow worker, so it’s no wonder that it took the composer five years to compose his first extended work, the Symphony No. 1. Although the audience did not...