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Bill Explores the biggest musical mountains, 7pm Mon-Fri 2/20-24

Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic and a host of choruses and vocal soloists in Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 at Walt Disney Concert Hall
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic and a host of choruses and vocal soloists in Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 at Walt Disney Concert Hall

From Schoenberg to Mahler and more, Bill McGlaughlin explores the works that require huge numbers of musicians and long periods of time.

Week of February 6, 2023 - César Franck (1822-1890) Born in 1822 in Liège, Franck was initially known as a gifted improviser on the organ - and considered by some to be the greatest composer of organ music after J. S. Bach - but over time we have come to understand the breadth of his skills as a pianist and teacher and composer. From his faculty post at the Paris Conservatoire to his lifelong position as organist and maître de chapelle at the Basilica of Sainte-Clotilde, Franck had an outsized influence on the music of 19th century Paris. We’ll hear music from Lalo, Chausson, and Delibes, and from Franck, we’ll get to savor his Symphonic Variations for piano and orchestra; the Psyché, symphonic poem for chorus and orchestra; and of course, the great D Minor Symphony.

Week of February 13, 2023 - Tudor Music The House of Tudor reigned from Henry VII through Elizabeth I, and during this time the arts were loved and supported by church and state alike. This support gave rise to a new type of English secular music, music that was not folk music and didn’t belong to the church. Though the Tudor poets are better known than the composers, the composers have left quite a legacy. In this edition of Exploring Music, we'll listen to William Byrd, Thomas Tallis, and to Henry VIII, who himself wrote many beautiful pieces.

Week of February 20, 2023 - Too Darn Big This week we are ascending some of the most colossal musical mountains in existence — Arnold Schoenberg's Gurrelieder and Havergal Brian's Gothic Symphony, these are works that are (usually) too big to program on Exploring Music. These compositions are not only long, but they require a “symphony of a thousand.” Schoenberg's Gurrelieder will be performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus, City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus, and five soloists, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. And, for Havergal Brian’s Gothic Symphony, we will hear the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Chorus, BBC Concert Orchestra and Choirs, Bach Choir, Brighton Festival Chorus, soloists, and this performance will be conducted by Martyn Brabbins.

Week of February 27, 2023 - A Guitar Fest The inspiration for this week came from a listener responding to Bill’s call for new program ideas. This listener wrote that he would like to see shows dedicated to Andrés Segovia and went on to say, “Of all musicians I have known, no one dominated the field as he did. Almost single-handedly, he converted the guitar from a plaything to a concert instrument. Several composers dedicated their works to him. The thrill of my life was to be his dinner companion at his last (or maybe also first) performance in Columbus at the Ohio Theatre in the late 1970s. An amazing artist, and an unforgettable man!” So, this week, Andrés Segovia and others will perform guitar works by Bach, Villa-Lobos, Albéniz, and Brouwer.