Spring turns everyone into a poet, and it seems to have an equally powerful effect on composers. The glorious season of spring has inspired symphonies, concertos, ballets, songs and "songs without words." We will dip into this torrent of joy, and, as the saying goes, "smell the flowers."
Classics of the Phonograph with John Frayne
The conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch died recently. His career was mostly in Europe, especially conducting the operas of Richard Strauss in Munich. In i993 he was chosen to lead the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Sawallisch and Philadelphia took to each other in a very enthusiastic way. In his 10 year tenure there, he made many records, especially the music of Antonin Dvorak. We will hear some of his American records.
During the "Roaring Twenties" in England, two of the rising iconoclastic stars were Constant Lambert and William Walton. Lambert was a conductor and author as well as composer, and William Walton was shocking conservatives with his collaboration with the poet Edith Sitwell in his "Facade." We'll listen in and see what all the fuss was about.
One expects concert artists to have their temperamental oddities, but some performers become notorious for their quirks. The famous Italian pianist Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli was perhaps more famous for his cancellations than for his concerts. And Ivo Pogorelich has given concerts that have become the stuff of legends. We'll sample some of their recordings.
Walter Legge founded the Philharmonia Orchestra of London in 1945. It quickly became one of the world's premier recording orchestras. In 1964, Legge wanted to disband this orchestra, but the members, with the help of conductor Otto Klemperer reformed it as the New Philharmonia Orchestra. We'll play recordings from this exciting period.
The Walden Quartet was for decades the String Quartet of the University of Illinois. The four members, Homer Schmitt, Bernard Goodman, John Garvey and Robert Swenson were all professors at the U of I. This ensemble was famous for playing contemporary music, and many of their readings were issued on recordings. We'll play portions of those recordings.
We'll begin one hour early at 10 am. The Hungarian musician Ferenc Fricsay was one of the rising conducting stars of the post WW II era. His performances with the Radio in the American Sector Orchestra in Berlin were featured on Deutsche Grammophon records. We'll hear some of these performances.
Jean Sibelius finished his violin concerto in 1904, but extensively revised it after its premiere. Not many years ago the original version was recorded, and this original version is fascinating. To hear another version of music you know well is like hearing it again for the first time. We will hear some of Sibelius' first thoughts on his famous concerto.
By the year of his death in 1965, Albert Schweitzer was one of the most famous men in the world. His general fame has dimmed, but among his many accomplishments was his fame as a scholar on the organ music of J.S. Bach, and his performances of Bach’s organ music. Schweitzer left many recordings of Bach’s music and we will sample some of those records.
Georg Philipp Telemann was on one of the most prolific composers in history. Among his accomplishments was inventing the music magazine. In 1728-29, Telemann put out "The Constant Music Master," a periodical in which he printed many genres of music, most of it by himself. We'll sample some of these pieces.