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Exploring Music focuses on the musical buffoonery of Puccini, Haydn and PDQ Bach, week of 8/7-8/11 @ 7pm

Peter Schickele, the man behind the comic persona of P.D.Q. Bach, is also a talented composer of serious music.
Illustration by Bendik Kaltenborn
Peter Schickele, the man behind the comic persona of P.D.Q. Bach, is also a talented composer of serious music.

Music, like any language, has its jokes, witticisms, and puns. This week Bill explore all this musical buffoonery!

Week of August 7, 2023 - Clowning Around This week's focus is musical buffoonery! Music is a language, and like all others, it has its jokes, witticisms, and puns. For composers, clowning around with music takes the same skills as writing a great symphony. And these fun, charming works show the genius of the composers who have written them. We will hear musical clowning around from Mozart, Puccini, Haydn, and PDQ Bach.

Week of August 14, 2023 - A Little Traveling Music, Please Wanderers, farewells, and sightseeing; people are always on the go. This week, Bill calls up, “A Little Traveling Music, Please” from the pens of Handel, Smetana, Duke Ellington, plus others. Reflections from such travels infuse themselves into their works, as we will discover throughout the week. We will hear selections from Beethoven’s Les Adieux, Schubert’s Die Schöne Mullerin and Haydn’s Farewell Symphony. Week of

August 21, 2023 - Antonin Dvořák (1841-1904) A five-part biography on the life of Bohemia’s most celebrated composer. Bill starts with Dvořák's early compositions and music from one of his first influences, Bedřich Smetana. The week continues with Dvořák traveling to America where he helped define our musical identity. Dvořák composed his Symphony No. 9, From the New World, while living in the U.S. as director of the National Conservatory in New York. During his stay, he met African American classical musician Harry T. Burleigh, who sang spirituals to him. Dvořák said that these spirituals were the authentic music of America, and they would deeply influence his future compositions such as The American Quartet featured in the fourth episode.

Week of August 28, 2023 - Emotion and Meaning in Music  Is music merely a collection of ordered pitches and vibrations in the air, or is there inherent and universal meaning contained within? Does music convey anger, longing, desire, or humor? This week Bill delves into one of the most mysterious and fundamental qualities of music: its ability to convey emotion to the listener. Starting with Gil Shaham’s performance of Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto with the New York Philharmonic, we’ll also listen to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and end the week with a Bach Toccata. Bill asks us to listen and ask ourselves, “What do we feel when we listen to this music and why?”