Program Archives

Felix Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 3 in a Op. 56 “Scottish”
02/07/19

Felix Mendelssohn first got the idea for his third symphony while on a trip to Scotland. He was 20 years old at the time, and he wasn’t in any hurry to finish the symphony – he took 13 years to...

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
02/06/19

Tchaikovsky only has one chamber work featuring piano and strings: a Piano Trio, and initially, he had no interest in writing such a work. However, in March of 1881 Russian pianist Nikolai...

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade Op. 35
02/05/19

This Evening’s Masterwork is the story of The Thousand and One Nights, the collection of Middle Eastern and Indian tales, turned into music. Rimsky-Korsakov completed Scheherazade in 1888...

Karl Goldmark
02/04/19

Karl Goldmark was actually a self-taught composer – his formal musical studies actually focused on the violin, which he began playing at the age of 11. It’s fitting, then, that his most performed...

Franz Joseph Haydn
02/01/19

Sometimes music gets lost for a while… and in the best cases it gets rediscovered. That was the case with Franz Joseph Haydn’s A-Major Violin Concerto, which was discovered in 1949, and...

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovksy
01/31/19

Tchaikovsky had hoped that his First Piano Concerto would be premiered by Director of the Moscow Conservatory, Nicolai Rubinstein, but that did not happen. Tchaikovsky recounted the exchange with...

Sergei Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2 in e Op. 27
01/30/19

The premiere of Rachmaninoff’s First Symphony was so disastrous that it left the composer in a state of chronic depression for the following three years – Rachmaninoff later recalled the premiere...

Richard Strauss: Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life)
01/29/19

Ein Heldenlaben in English is “a hero’s life,” and it is self-referential. Strauss received criticism for this upon the work’s premiere: critics noted how the tone poem was “a monstrous...

Robert Schumann: Piano Concerto in a minor Op. 54
01/28/19

Robert Schumann’s only piano concerto was not always a concerto: in 1841 the composer produced a Fantaisie in a-minor for piano and orchestra, which later evolved into the first movement of his...

John Field: Piano Concerto No. 2 in A-flat
01/25/19

It’s hard to pin down when Irish composer John Field composed his Second Piano Concerto – most likely it happened between 1805 and 1811, and it may have actually been the third piano concerto he...

Zoltan Kodaly: Peacock Variations
01/24/19

Zoltan Kodaly is perhaps best known for his work in ethnomusicology, particularly studying the folk music of Eastern Europe and creating pieces influenced by that study, and his Peacock...

Cesar Franck: Piano Quintet in f minor
01/23/19

Precision plays a key role in Cesar Franck’s Piano Quintet: the music clearly reveals the artistic lineage of Franck – mostly the Germanic tradition – and the counterpoint is,...

William Alwyn
01/18/19

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...

Antonin Dvorak
01/17/19

About fifty years ago, Dvorak’s symphonies were reshuffled a bit and numbered the way we know now. In Dvorak’s time, his Symphony in D was originally published as No. 1 – but it is now known as...

Sergei Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 1 in f-sharp minor Op. 1
01/16/19

Believe it or not, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1 was actually a student work by the composer:  it was composed when he was just 18 years old. However, the version we know today was...

Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 2 in D Op. 73
01/15/19

Johannes Brahms took quite a bit of time to compose his first symphony – nearly 20 years – so it may have been a shock when he churned out his second symphony essentially overnight. He composed...

Ludwig van Beethoven
01/10/19

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...

Sergei Rachmaninoff
01/10/19

Perhaps one of Rachmaninoff’s most popular works, the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini is a work for solo piano featuring Paganini’s 24th Violin Caprice as the theme, with 24 variations on...

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 26 “Coronation”
01/09/19

Mozart composed his 26th Piano Concerto around the same time he was writing dramatic operas such as The Marriage of Figaro and The Abduction from the Seraglio, and in a lot of...

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 8 in F Op. 93
01/08/19

The Symphony No. 8 by Beethoven is a work that draws heavily on the Classical period, despite Beethoven himself ushering in the Romantic period. The work is light and humorous, which was...

Manuel De Falla: Nights in the Gardens of Spain
01/07/19

Manuel De Falla composed his work for piano and orchestra, Nights in the Gardens of Spain, during the First World War, but the conception of the piece took place earlier during a stay in...

Isaac Albeniz: Iberia Suite
01/04/19

Iberia was originally a solo piano work by Isaac Albeniz that features a “wealth of imagery,” according to the composer’s French contemporaries. The work took three years to compose, totaling...

Victor Herbert
01/01/19

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...

Antonin Dvorak
12/17/18

The Symphony No. 7 by Antonin Dvorak holds a special status amongst the composer’s nine symphonies. Compared to its neighbors, the sixth and eighth symphonies, the seventh is much...

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
12/14/18

Though it’s no mystery that Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for 4 Winds is charming, there is quite a bit of mystery surrounding it. The main problem is figuring out why the original...