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It's a musical journey to Merrie England on Exploring Music, June 2020

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Merrie England

This month host Bill McGlaughlin takes us to the country pubs, the pageantry of royal ceremonies, and the beautiful countryside of Merrie England to hear music of Dowland, Vaughan Williams, Edward Elgar and more. Travel with us the week of June 22nd.

Week of June 1, 2020 - The Viola - A weeklong celebration of the exquisite music written for this “inner voice”. The viola is the middle sister of the stringed instruments, sitting between the violins and the cellos, and playing in a clef written just for her.  The viola is often misunderstood and mistaken for a “larger violin” or sometimes either forgotten about or made the butt of jokes. But, the viola sings with a dark richness that composers loved!  Mozart, Brahms, and Dvorak played the viola; Hindemith did too.  And these composers, plus many more, figured out how to let this instrument have her day in the sun with concertos, tone poems, and orchestral solos. You too will fall in love with the viola.

Week of June 8, 2020  - The Four Seasons – “The Four Seasons fill the measure of the year; there are four seasons in the mind of men” – John Keats. Starting with this quote Bill plays many works inspired by summer, fall, winter, and spring. We’ll hear the boundless majesty of the summer sun in Haydn's Die Jahreszeiten, and the frosty and shivering winds of Vivaldi's Winter, and then to spice up this week, we’ll hear Astor Piazzolla’s tango, Four Seasons of Buenos Aires (Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas) performed by the Trio Solisti. Bill will recite poems that complement the seasonal music, and we’ll listen to Tchaikovsky’s Seasons performed by Yefim Bronfman.

Week of June 15, 2020 - Antonin Dvo?ák (1841-1904) - A five-part biography on the life of Bohemia’s most celebrated composer. Bill starts with Dvo?ák's early compositions, and music from one of his first influences, Bed?ich Smetana, and continues with his travels to America where he helped define our musical identity. Dvo?ák composed Symphony 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 Dvo?ák that moved him to say it was the authentic music of America, and would deeply influence his future compositions such as The American Quartet featured in the fourth episode.

Week of June 22, 2020 – Merrie England Ready your passport! We’re travelling to Merrie England. Vaughan Williams, Elgar, Dowland, all wrote music based on the folk tunes in the country pubs, the pageantry of royal ceremonies, and the images of their beautiful countryside. Come open your ears and walk with us through the pathways of England. Greensleeves, Turtle Doves, and Dame Janet Baker. Britannia rules the waves!

Week of June 29, 2020 - Symphony, Part IV - We start this week featuring the symphonic form at its Romantic apex, with Austrian composers Anton Bruckner and Gustav Mahler, and then cross the English Channel to Britain to listen the music of Edward Elgar. 22 symphonies among the three of them, and all the more remarkable since Bruckner was in his 40s before he composed his first, and Elgar had just turned fifty! Wonderful vivid, colorful orchestral symphonies from the height of the romantic period on this week of Exploring Music.