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Dig Into Wagner's Ring Cycle with Exploring Music, April 2020

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Soprano Kirsten Flagstad as the heroine Brunhilde

Wagner's Ring Cycle is a gigantic undertaking. The show features big voices, a very full orchestra, and intense drama. Creating the work took a quarter of a century, and it has become part of the regularly-performed operatic canon. Bill McGlaughlin will help breakdown this work this month on Exploring Music. 

Week of April 6, 2020 - Wagner's Ring Cycle - For most operas, a five-hour survey would more than cover every measure, every note – but not this one, Wagner’s crowning achievement. Bill helps us understand and enjoy this long and fanciful journey, with richly textured music that continues to grow in complexity as the operas proceed. Wagner spent a quarter of a century writing the libretto and composing the music that follows the dramatic struggles of gods, heroes, and mythical creatures. We will listen to orchestral preludes, arias, and more from The Rhinegold, The Valkyrie, Siegfried, and Twilight of the Gods.

Week of April 13, 2020 - Mendelssohn, Schumann & Brahms String Quartets - This week we focus on one of the most delightful and storied chapters of the string quartet's history, centering around the works of three romantic composers—Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Brahms. After 50 years of fantastic string quartets from Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, the well seemed to be drying up—young composers just weren’t writing string quartets. Operas and piano pieces, yes, but not string quartets, and then to save the day steps in Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Brahms! Bill starts the week off with the double quartet (octet) from 16-year-old Felix Mendelssohn. Felix’s sister, Fanny Mendelssohn, said she felt that she was lightly carried up in the air with this string octet.

Week of April 20, 2020 - Music from the Magic Box — An Excess of Pleasure - What happens when your favorite classical music radio host tackles spring cleaning? We reap the benefits of his discoveries! Bill was digging deep into the back of his hall closet when he spied a mysterious box. He wondered, he reached, he opened, and he found a treasure trove of wonderful recordings: Andras Schiff playing Beethoven Op. 111 and the Diabelli Variations, Martha Argerich playing Mozart Concerti with Claudio Abbado, and many, many more. And we'll get to discover them all, right along with Bill.

Week of April 27, 2020 - Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) - A look at the life and music of one of Russia's most talented and controversial composers, Sergei Prokofiev. Born in Tsarist Russia, Prokofiev was a brilliant pianist who delighted in shocking the bourgeoisie with his outrageous creations, and he went on to become one of the most beloved composers of the 20th century.  Seven symphonies, great concertos, ballets like Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella, plus more treasures. Come explore the music of Sergei Prokofiev with Bill McGlaughlin.