November 30, 2013

Giving Thanks with Music

Thanksgiving can mean many things in music. Handel expressed thanks for the end of a war in his Royal Fireworks Music, Haydn gave thanks for bountiful harvests in his oratorio The Seasons, and Charles Ives got nostalgic through old hymn tunes in his "Thanksgiving" section of his New England Holiday Symphony. We'll stay in a Thanksgiving mood with some great composers.


November 23, 2013

Leonard Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony

In 1979, the conductor Leonard Slatkin began a 17-year tenure as music director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. During those year, Slatkin  and that orchestra issued a series of recordings that raised the St. Louis ensemble to the ranks of one of the 10 best orchestras in the United States. Due to the decline in classical recording, that feat may not be duplicated in a very long time. We'll sample some of their recordings. 


November 16, 2013

1930s: Heyday for Recording Piano Music

The era of the 1930s was a heyday for the recording of piano music, both in solo pieces as well as piano concertos. The roster of great pianists was full of legendary names: Artur Schnabel in Beethoven, Arthur Rubinstein in Chopin, and both the composer Rachmaninoff in his own concertos but also his young Russian colleague Vladimir Horowitz as a rival in Rachmaninoff's music. We'll sample some of these historic recordings. 


November 09, 2013

The Daring Strategy of Naxos Records

The last 20 years or so have shown a retreat of major labels from the recording of classical music. But in that time, Klaus Heymann, the founder of Naxos records, has become a major player in that field by following a daring marketing strategy. He priced his CDs low, used Eastern European orchestras at low fees, and recorded much esoteric repertory for the first time. We'll sample some characteristic issues by that label. 


November 02, 2013

Toscanini: One of the Great Conductors?

In the 1950s, the reputation of Arturo Toscanini as one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century was widely accepted. But since then, the pendulum has swung, as pendulums will, and serious reservations have been raised about many aspects of Toscanini's legacy, especially his recorded performances. We'll review some of the pro and con critiques, and offer some samples of his performances.  


October 26, 2013

Violin Virtuosos of the 1930s

The period of the 1930s was the first full decade in which violin virtuosos could leave in permanent form their interpretations of the great violin concertos in the improved sound of electrical microphone recording. And record they did, whether they were older established performers like Jascha Heifetz and Josef Szigeti or younger rising stars such as Yehudi Menuhin. We'll sample some of these recordings.  


October 19, 2013

Recordings of Conductors Markevich and Scherchen

Two conductors who recorded much of the standard repertory in early days of the LP were Igor Markevich and Hermann Scherchen. Markevich recorded for the Deutsche Grammophon label, and Scherchen became famous recording for Westminster. Once their records were widely available, but few of their performances have been transferred to CDs. We'll look at their recording careers.


October 12, 2013

The Russians are Coming!

 ... On recordings, and in the flesh, in the 1950s! The cold war between the Soviet Union and the West got a little warmer in the mid 1950s, and some of the leading Soviet musicians were allowed to come West and give concerts.


October 05, 2013

Recordings of the Montreal Symphony

One of the orchestras which benefited from the introduction of digital recording and the compact disc was the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Charles Dutoit. Through a series of impressively sounding recordings on the London label, this orchestra and its conductor carved out a memorable niche, especially in the French orchestral repertory. We'll sample some of their recordings.


September 28, 2013

The Day That Classical Recording Stopped

The title of my show is a bit apocalyptic, but in 1996 or so, the major classical labels canceled or curtailed the contracts of many major classical artists, especially conductors. Yes, classical recording has continued but on a much reduced scale, even as the sale of CDs continues to drop. We'll sample some of the canceled conductors.


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Classical 24 Music Playlist

WILL Highlights

American Experience: Edison

8 pm Tuesday, Jan. 27, on WILL-TV: The life of the man remembered as the genius who created the modern world.