Past Shows

Past Shows

A list of our most recent past shows:

Sort List by Date | Sort List by Composer

To see more, visit our complete list of composers or subscribe to our podcast.

Scott Joplin: Classical Music and the Movies
Lots of movies use classical music. Sometimes, that music is such a big part of the movie that the two become linked forever.

Scott Joplin: Ragtime Music
Ragtime music is truly African-American music. It combines rhythms that were brought to this country by slaves, with musical forms brought over to the United States from Europe. Ragtime uses syncopated rhythms -- that is, the accents in the melody are shifted away from the strong beats in the bass line underneath.

Scott Joplin: About Scott Joplin
From a very early age, Scott Joplin supported himself as a performing pianist. Eventually, he earned a living selling his compositions, too. Thanks to Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag, the most famous of all piano rags, Joplin became known as the King of Ragtime Writers.

Georg Philipp Telemann: The "Gigue" is Up!
"Gigue" is the French word for jig -- a lively dance in triple time. The jig started out as folk dance in Ireland, Scotland, and northern England, before finding its way into classical music.

Georg Philipp Telemann: Self-Taught Composers
Georg Philipp Telemann never studied composition — he taught himself how to write music. There are quite a few composers who taught themselves, including Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Edward Elgar, Francis Poulenc, Scott Joplin and others.

Georg Philipp Telemann: Go for Baroque
Georg Philipp Telemann composed during the Baroque period, which ran from about 1600 to 1750. Suzanne Bona, host of the National Public Radio program Sunday Baroque, talks with Naomi Lewin about Baroque music.

Georg Philipp Telemann: About Georg Philipp Telemann
Telemann loved to write. He wrote more pieces of music than any other composer, and he also wrote not one, not two, but THREE autobiographies.

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Carnegie Hall
The Music Hall founded by Andrew Carnegie in New York City opened on May 5, 1891 with a concert conducted by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It quickly became known simply as “Carnegie Hall,” in honor of its donor.

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Traditional Christmas Classical Music
George Frederick Handel's Messiah wasn't written for Christmas -- it was first performed in April. Hear some other pieces of classical music that traditionally get played during the Christmas season.

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker
Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker is based on a story by German author E.T.A. Hoffmann. In The Nutcracker, a Christmas present -- a nutcracker -- comes to life as a handsome prince. He takes the young girl who received him as a present on some fantastic adventures.

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Ballet
Ballet is a theatrical performance that tells a story using music, costumes, sets, and dance. Victoria Morgan, artistic director of the Cincinnati Ballet, talks with Naomi Lewin about ballet and ballet terms.

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: About Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Some composers in Tchaikovsky's day didn't think his music sounded "Russian" enough, but Tchaikovsky was Russian through and through. Tchaikovsky wrote symphonies, operas, songs, chamber music -- and of course, several wonderful ballets.

Zoltán Kodály: The Kodály Method
Zoltan Kodály developed a method for teaching music. It is still used by teachers around the world today. Jill Trinka, who teaches the Kodály Method, talks with Naomi Lewin.

Zoltán Kodály: Classical Composers who Used Folk Music
Zoltán Kodály was not the only composer to use folk tunes in the music he wrote. Here are some others.

Zoltán Kodály: The Story of Hary Janos
Kodály’s opera Háry János is about a real person who told real whoppers — big, fat lies. If you listened to him, you'd think he defeated Napoleon's army all by himself.

Zoltán Kodály: About Zoltán Kodály
Zoltán Kodály was born in a small town in Hungary. His father worked for the Hungarian railroad, so the family moved around a lot. This meant that as a kid, Zoltán heard folk music from many different parts of the country. When he grew up, Hungarian folk music became his passion. Kodály spent a large part of his life collecting his native music, and teaching his countrymen about it.

Edvard Grieg: Halloween Music
Appropriately spooky classical music for Halloween.

Edvard Grieg: Other Scandinavian Composers
Music by composers from the three official Scandinavian countries -- Norway, Denmark and Sweden -- and a couple of unofficial ones -- Finland and Iceland!

Edvard Grieg: The Story of Peer Gynt
"In The Hall of the Mountain King" is part of the incidental music Edvard Grieg wrote for Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt. Hear the story of the play as you listen to Grieg's music.

Edvard Grieg: About Edvard Grieg
Edvard Grieg was from a music-loving Norwegian family. In addition to becoming the leading Scandinavian composer of his day, Grieg became a big supporter of Norwegian arts and culture.

Felix Mendelssohn: Women Composers
Fanny Mendelssohn, Felix Mendelssohn's older sister, was a talented pianist and composer. So was Clara Schumann, wife of composer Robert Schumann. Also featured: music of Elizabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre, Cecile Chaminade, Germaine Tailleferre, Hildegard von Bingen, Amy Beach, and Thea Musgrave.

Felix Mendelssohn: Child Prodigy Composers
A child prodigy, Felix Mendelssohn began composing when he was 10. This week on Classics for Kids hear about other composers who started just as early -- or even earlier.

Felix Mendelssohn: Music Based on Shakespeare
Probably no playwright has had more music based on his work than William Shakespeare. Felix Mendelssohn, Henry Purcell, Hector Berlioz, Giuseppe Verdi are just a few of the composers who've been inspired by Shakespeare's plays.

Felix Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream
When Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn put on Shakespeare's comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream to entertain their family, the two of them played all the characters! Mendelssohn's music for A Midsummer Night's Dream illustrates many of the characters and situations in the play.

Felix Mendelssohn: About Felix Mendelssohn
By the time he was a teenager, Felix Mendelssohn was already an excellent pianist and composer. And Mendelssohn was very talented in other areas. In addition to German (his native language), Mendelssohn spoke French, English, and Italian. He was also a very good painter. And he became quite famous as a conductor.

Leonard Bernstein: American Composers with a Boston Connection
Leonard Bernstein grew up in the Boston area. Here are some more composers who spent time in and around that city.

Leonard Bernstein: Operettas in English
Leonard Bernstein's "Candide" is an operetta. An operetta is like an opera, with one big difference. In opera, everything is sung, but in operetta, there are spoken lines between the singing. Composers who wrote operettas in English include Sir Arthur Sullivan (who can't be separated from William S. Gilbert, who wrote the words for Gilbert and Sullivan operettas), Victor Herbert, Sigmund Romberg, and Rudolf Friml.

Leonard Bernstein: Bernstein and Musical Theater
When he was growing up, Leonard Bernstein loved to put on operas and other musical shows with his friends. That interest in musical theater continued all through his life, and produced such great Broadway musicals as "On The Town," "Wonderful Town," and "West Side Story."

Leonard Bernstein: About Leonard Bernstein
American-born Leonard Bernstein became famous all over the world as a composer, a conductor, and a pianist. In addition to writing classical music, composed classic Broadway musicals, including West Side Story.

John Philip Sousa: The Golden Age of American Bands
From the late 1800's to the early 1900's, professional bands toured all over the United States, and many towns in this country had their own amateur bands.

John Philip Sousa: American Military Bands
The United States Marine Band is this country's oldest military band. Each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces has its own band, and song. Captain Don Schofield, associate conductor of the United States Air Force Band of Flight, talks with Naomi Lewin about all the U.S. military bands.

John Philip Sousa: About "Stars & Stripes"
John Philip Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever is the official march of the United States of America. Sousa composed his most famous march in his head when he was on a ship coming back from a trip to Europe with his band. When the ship docked, he put the march down on paper and named it after the American flag he was so glad to see when he got home.

John Philip Sousa: About John Philip Sousa
John Philip Sousa -- the most American of composers -- was the son of immigrants to the United States. Because of his love for bands and band music, John Philip Sousa wrote many wonderful marches. As a result, he is known as the "March King."

Franz Liszt: What is a Rhapsody?
"Rhapsody" is an ancient word that means "songs stitched together". The Greeks used to write long poems in praise of their heroes, and then take bits and pieces of those poems and string them together for performance. In music, a rhapsody is a free-form piece that takes different tunes and strings them together.

Franz Liszt: Famous Pianist - Composers
In his day Franz Liszt was most famous as a pianist. So, were Mozart, Beethoven and a lot of other composers.

Franz Liszt: Romani, or Gypsy Music
Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies were greatly influenced by gypsy, or Romani music. Brahms, Telemann and Verdi are among the many composers were attracted to this distinctive music.

Franz Liszt: Classical Music Superstars
Inspired by violinist Niccolo Paganini, Franz Liszt became a piano superstar. Many classical music superstars followed, including Jan Paderewski, Jenny Lind, Van Cliburn, Enrico Caruso, Yo-Yo Ma and Lang Lang.

Franz Liszt: About Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt was a pianist, composer, conductor and teacher who came up with musical innovations in all those fields. He was the first of the virtuoso performers and invented the solo recital. As one of the greatest pianists the world has ever known, Liszt was a 19th century superstar.

Giacomo Puccini: Classical Music that Turned into Musical Theater
Jonathan Larson, the composer of the musical “Rent,” used the same plot for this musical as Puccini did for La Bohème. Other composers also used classical music when they wrote their Broadway hits. “Kismet” is adapted from compositions by Russian composer Alexander Borodin and “The Song of Norway” uses tunes by Edvard Grieg to tell the story of Grieg’s life.

Giacomo Puccini: Bohemian Music
Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Bohème is about struggling artists in Paris. Its title means “the bohemian lifestyle.” But Bohemia isn’t in France; it’s in the Czech Republic. Other composers such as Antonin Dvorak, Bedrich Smetana, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Jules Massenet, were also inspired by this part of the world, using its music and describing its beautiful countryside in their works.

Giacomo Puccini: A Brief History of Italian Opera
Around the year 1600, Italian composers started writing theater pieces that use music all the way through them. Instead of speaking, characters in operas sing their lines. From Claudio Monteverdi, who wrote the earliest opera that is still performed, through Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi and Puccini, Italy has produced some of the world’s finest opera composers.

Giacomo Puccini: About Giacomo Puccini
By the time Italian composer Giacomo Puccini was born in 1858, there had already been four generations of musicians in his hometown of Lucca. Most were church musicians, but Giacomo had other ideas. When he was a teenager, he went to hear a performance of Verdi’s Aida. From that moment on he knew that what he wanted to do was write operas. He did, and became one of Italy’s most beloved operatic composers.

Johannes Brahms: Classical Music Featuring Dances from European Countries
Many composers used European dance forms in their work. Dvorak, Haydn, Chopin and Beethoven are just a few of the composers featured here.

Johannes Brahms: Hungarian Dancing
The Hungarian Dances by Johannes Brahms were never really intended for dancing. But that doesn't mean that people in Hungary don't dance! Richard Graber, the director of a Hungarian dance company in Cleveland, talks with Naomi Lewin about Hungarian dancing.

Johannes Brahms: The Brahms Hungarian Dances
When he was a young pianist, Johannes Brahms accompanied a Hungarian violinist, and fell in love with Hungarian music. His own Hungarian-flavored dances were written to entertain his friends at parties. Those friends convinced Brahms to publish his dances. When the first set was a hit, Brahms wrote and published another set.

Johannes Brahms: About Johannes Brahms
Brahms, Bach, and Beethoven are known as the "Three B’s" of classical music. Brahms always knew that he wanted to be a composer -- by the time he was six, he had thought up his own system for writing music down on a page.

William Grant Still: Black Composers of Classical Music
William Grant Still was a 20th century African-American composer. But hundreds of years before he lived, there were other black composers. And there are black composers of classical music alive today.

William Grant Still: Paul Laurence Dunbar's Poetry
After William Grant Still wrote his Afro-American Symphony, he found bits of poetry that he thought went with each movement. The poetry was written by Paul Laurence Dunbar, the first African-American to become a famous writer.

William Grant Still: The Afro-American Symphony
William Grant Still wanted to put the sound of the blues into a symphony. His Afro-American Symphony is centered on a bluesy theme. Still took that theme and did something entirely different with it in each of the Symphony's four movements.

William Grant Still: About William Grant Still
William Grant Still has been called the Dean of Afro-American composers. Judith Anne Still, the composer's daughter, talks with Naomi Lewin about her father's life, and the difficulty he faced in the first half of 20th century America as a black man writing classical music.

Franz Schubert: Marches Not Written for Bands and Parades
Even though Schubert's Marche Militaire has the word "march" in the title, it was never actually meant for anyone to march to. Several other composers wrote march music without bands or parades in mind.

Franz Schubert: Music for Piano Four Hands
Franz Schubert wrote his Marche Militaire for piano four hands -- two people playing the same instrument. Here are some more pieces for piano four hands.

Franz Schubert: Take Me to Your Lieder
Songs in classical music are usually called "art songs." In German, art songs are called Lieder. Franz Schubert was a master of writing Lieder. Each of his songs combines poetry and music, voice and accompaniment, to make a complete musical short story.

Franz Schubert: About Franz Schubert
Franz Schubert's father expected his son to be a teacher in the school that he ran. But Schubert didn't last long at that job -- he was much more interested in writing music than paying attention to a classroom full of kids.

Georges Bizet: Firsts for the New Year
A collection of musical firsts, including the first string quartet, the first use of trombones in a symphony, and the first professional musician to make a recording.

Georges Bizet: Harmonic Texture in the Farandole
In the "Farandole" from Georges Bizet's Arlésienne Suite, there are examples of all three kinds of harmonic texture: monophony, homophony, and polyphony. Hear those terms explained in words and in music.

Georges Bizet: Christmas Carols in Classical Music
In celebration of the Christmas season, some classical compositions that have Christmas carols in them.

Georges Bizet: Jewish Composers (for Chanukah)
Georges Bizet was not Jewish, his father-in-law was. Bizet married the daughter of his composition professor, Jacques Halevi. To celebrate Chanukah, we learn about some other Jewish composers of classical music, including Salamone Rossi, Leonard Bernstein, Darius Milhaud, Jacques Offenbach and Aaron Copland.

Georges Bizet: About Georges Bizet
Georges Bizet's parents were both musicians, so he grew up surrounded by music. Today, Bizet is best remembered for his theatrical music -- operas and incidental music for plays.

George Gershwin: Jazz in Classical Music
George Gershwin was just one composer who used jazz in music that was written for the classical concert hall. So did Leonard Bernstein, Igor Stravinsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, and others.

George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue
George Gershwin wrote his Rhapsody in Blue in a big hurry, after he saw a newspaper announcement saying that he was writing a jazz concerto for a concert taking place in less than a month! Everyone loved the piece at its first performance, and at age 25, Gershwin became a musical celebrity.

George Gershwin: What is a Rhapsody?
"Rhapsody" is an ancient word that means "songs stitched together". The Greeks used to write long poems in praise of their heroes, and then take bits and pieces of those poems and string them together for performance. In music, a rhapsody is a free-form piece that takes different tunes and strings them together.

George Gershwin: About George Gershwin
George Gershwin was an American composer who combined classical music and jazz to create his own unique style. Gershwin wrote music for Broadway shows, movies, the concert hall, and opera. One of the people he liked to work with was his brother Ira, who wrote wonderful lyrics (words) for George Gershwin's songs.

Modest Mussorgsky: Halloween Music
Appropriately spooky classical music for Halloween.

Modest Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition
Russian artist and architect Victor Hartman was a good friend of Modest Mussorgsky. When Hartman died at the age of 39, there was a memorial exhibit of his work. That inspired Mussorgsky to create his own tribute to Hartman -- a composition depicting ten pieces of art from the exhibit. "Pictures at an Exhibition" was originally written for solo piano, but quite a few people have made orchestral versions of the piece. The best-known one is by Maurice Ravel.

Modest Mussorgsky: The Mighty Handful
The Mighty Handful, also known as the Mighty Five, were group of Russian composers who all wanted to develop a distinctly Russian style of classical music. The Mighty Five composers were Mily Balakirev, Alexander Borodin, Cesar Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

Modest Mussorgsky: About Modest Mussorgsky
When he was a kid growing up, Modest Mussorgsky learned Russian fairy tales and folk stories from the family nurse. Those fairy tales put in an appearance in the music he wrote later on. Mussorgsky composed Pictures at an Exhibition in memory of an artist friend of his who died suddenly.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Child Prodigy Composers
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a child prodigy. He wrote his first symphony when he was eight, but actually started composing at the age of five. In this show, hear about some other composers who started just as early.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: What's a Rondo?
Rondo is an Italian word that means round. A rondo is an instrumental form with a refrain that keeps coming back. Unlike the verses of a song, though, the music in a rondo changes between each repetition of the refrain.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Janissary Music
In the 18th century, Janissary music became all the rage in Europe. Janissaries were the men who guarded the sultan of Turkey. They had wonderful bands that included instruments that sounded very exotic to European ears: cymbals, triangles and bass drums. When Janissary music caught on in Europe, many composers, including Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven, started using those instruments in their music.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Mozart's Operas
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote his first opera when he was twelve, and opera continued to fascinate him throughout his life. Mozart had such genius for combining music and theater that he took opera to a whole new level. No other composer from Mozart's day still has so many operas performed all over the world.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: About Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
When Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart sat down at the keyboard at the age of three, it was clear to his father Leopold that he had a genius on his hands. From the first pieces he composed as a five-year-old, to the Requiem he was working on when he died, right before his 35th birthday, Mozart wrote an astonishing amount of beautiful music.

Antonin Dvorák: Other Musical Nationalism
Antonin Dvorak and his fellow Czech composers were among the first music nationalists. Here's a look at many others, including composers from America.

Antonin Dvorák: Music Nationalism circa 1848
All across Europe in the 19th century, there was a wave of nationalism as people fought for political independence. Composers started wanting musical independence, too. When they started putting folk tunes and dance rhythms from their native countries into their music, and wrote about local legends, history, and landscapes, musical nationalism was born.

Antonin Dvorák: Composers Who Visited America
In 1892, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's trip to the New World, a wealthy New Yorker invited Antonin Dvorak to visit America. Tchaikovsky, Albeniz, and Delius were among the other European composers who visited this country before the days of air travel.

Antonin Dvorák: About Antonin Dvorák
At the time when Czech composer Antonin Dvorak was born, the Czech people had no country of their own. The regions where they lived -- Bohemia and Moravia -- were part of the Austrian Empire. Dvorak wrote a lot of Czech-sounding compositions, but hardly ever used any actual folk melodies in his music.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Roll Over Beethoven
For some reason, Beethoven has been the butt of many musical jokes over the years. You can find Beethoven references everywhere from disco, to the Beatles, to the Broadway musical.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Music that Imitates Inanimate Objects
The beginning of the second movement of Beethoven’s 8th Symphony imitates a metronome -- a mechanical device that ticks steadily to help musician keep to the beat of the music. Other composers wrote music that ticks, or that imitates other inanimate objects -- including a doll and a typewriter.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Beethoven's Symphonies
Plenty of composers wrote more symphonies than Beethoven, but few did more to change the way the symphony sounded. Beethoven's First Symphony reflects the fact that he learned from Mozart and Haydn. At the time he composed his Third, it was the longest symphony ever written, and Beethoven's Ninth was the first symphony to use voices. Beethoven’s 5th Symphony may be the most famous piece of music ever written.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Beethoven the Pianist
Beethoven was a pianist. During his lifetime, the piano changed quite a bit, and those changes were reflected in the music Beethoven composed for the intstrument. William Black, head of the piano department at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, talks with Naomi Lewin about how Beethoven's music followed the development of the piano.

Ludwig van Beethoven: About Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a uniquely talented composer and musician. But by the time Beethoven was 30, his increasing deafness put an end to his career as a pianist. That did not stop him from continuing to compose some of the most beautiful music the world has ever known. As a composer, Beethoven was a revolutionary. He took the Classical forms he learned from Mozart and Haydn, and pushed them into the next period of musical history -- the Romantic era.

George Frederick Handel: Music by Royalty and Nobility
Handel wrote his Water Music for the King of England. Lots of aristocrats hired composers to write music for them. But some kings and nobles wrote music themselves, including King Henry VIII; Alfonso X; Frederick the Great and others.

George Frederick Handel: Other Composers' Water Music
The Water Music that Handel composed may be the most famous classical music associated with water, but there are lots of other composers who wrote watery pieces.

George Frederick Handel: The Story of Handel's Water Music Show
As soon as Handel got his first job of court composer to a German prince, he headed for England. Through a bizarre twist of royal succession, that prince ended up becoming king of England. Instead of staying angry at Handel for leaving Germany, King George I asked him to compose music for a huge party he held on barges on the River Thames.

George Frederick Handel: About George Frederick Handel
1685 was a very good year for German composers. Within the space of a month, two of the greatest were born: Johann Sebastian Bach, and George Frederick Handel. Handel spent most of his career in England, where he wrote and produced both operas and oratorios.

Antonio Vivaldi: Spring Music
Vivaldi is not the only composer who wrote music about the seasons, or about spring. Many other composers wrote springtime music.

Antonio Vivaldi: Violin Concertos Through the Ages
Concertos got their start in 17th century Italy. The history of violin concertos follows the history of great violinists.

Antonio Vivaldi: Poetry and Sound Effects in Vivaldi's Spring Concerto
Vivaldi based each of his The Four Seasons concertos on a set of sonnets -- poems. The music in each of the Four Seasons describes exactly what's going on in the poems. "Spring" includes birds, brooks, breezes and thunderstorms. See how many of those you can hear in Vivaldi's music.

Antonio Vivaldi: About Antonio Vivaldi
Antonio Vivaldi was the oldest of six (some say nine) children. His father was a barber, baker and violinist. Vivaldi inherited his father's musical talent, and his flaming red hair. Vivaldi became a priest, but he spent most of his life composing and teaching music.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Composer Teachers and their Students
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov spent years as a professor at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Many of his students became famous composers themselves: Anatol Liadov, Alexander Glazunov, and Igor Stravinsky. A lot of famous composers studied with each other.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: The Bees and the Birds
There are many pieces of classical music -- besides "The Flight of the Bumblebee" -- that are about bees, birds, and other winged creatures. Composers use various instruments to imitate insects, and to create all kinds of bird calls.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Russian Operas
Many pieces of music from Russian operas have become much more famous in the concert hall than on the opera stage. Some of these pieces include Tchaikovsky's Waltz and Polonaise from Eugene Onegin, Alexander Borodin’s Polovstian Dances from Prince Igor, and Sergei Prokofiev’s march from The Love for Three Oranges.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: The Tale of Tsar Saltan
The Flight of the Bumblebee comes from an opera called The Tale of Tsar Saltan, which is based on a story by the famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. In the opera’s complicated plot, Prince Gvidon is separated from his father, Tsar Saltan, and ends up ruling an island full of enchanted objects and animals -- including an enchanted swan, whom the prince marries once she gets turned back into a princess.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: About Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov became a navy officer in order to follow in his older brother’s footsteps. But his real talent lay in music. After leaving the navy, he became a teacher at the St. Petersburg Conservatory -- even though he had little formal music education himself.

Johann Sebastian Bach: The Story of the Brandenburg Concertos
When Johann Sebastian Bach sent a set of six concertos to the Margrave of Brandenburg -- a German official -- the Margrave probably never even looked at the music. Bach called his pieces "concertos for a variety of instruments," because each one calls for a different instrumental combination.

Johann Sebastian Bach: What's a Concerto?
A concerto is a piece of music in which one or more solo instruments get to shine in front of an orchestra. A concerto can be written for any instrument. A "concerto grosso" is a concerto for two groups of instruments -- a smaller group of soloists alternating with a larger group.

Johann Sebastian Bach: The Sons of Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was married two times, and had a grand total of 20 children! All of Bach's ancestors were musicians, and his sons were expected to follow in his musical footsteps. Some of them became famous composers, too.

Johann Sebastian Bach: About Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was born into a musical dynasty. The Bach family had over 300 years' worth of professional composers and musicians, but Johann Sebastian was the most famous of all of them. In addition to being one of the greatest composers the world has ever known, Bach was also an excellent organist and violinist.

Gioachino Rossini: Weather in Music
Depicting a thunderstorm in music was one of Rossini's specialties. Here are some more examples of musical thunderstorms.

Gioachino Rossini: Overtures
Usually, an overture is a piece of music played at the beginning of a play, opera or ballet in order to set the mood. But there are also other kinds of overtures.

Gioachino Rossini: The Story of William Tell
The William Tell Overture was written to open an opera by Gioachino Rossini. The opera is based on a legend about the Swiss hero William Tell. According to the legend, William Tell was an expert with a bow and arrow who shot an apple off his son's head. You can hear the political turmoil in William Tell's Switzerland in Rossini's music.

Gioachino Rossini: About Gioachino Rossini
Italian composer Gioachino Rossini was born in 1792 and died in 1868, so you might think that he celebrated 76 birthdays. But Rossini was born in a leap year, on February 29th, so he only had 18 official birthdays! Rossini was the most successful opera composer of his day.

Sergei Prokofiev: The Story of Lt. Kije
Lt. Kijé is the story of an imaginary soldier, created when the Russian Tsar misread a smudged name on a list of his men. Everyone around the Tsar was too afraid to tell him there was no such person, so they just invented an entire life for the nonextistent Kijé. He gets married and become a hero -- all on paper. When the Tsar finally demands to meet Kijé, the military holds his funeral.

Sergei Prokofiev: How Suite It Is
In music, a suite is a specific collection of pieces. Here are some examples of various kinds of musical suites.

Sergei Prokofiev: Musical Sleigh Rides
Prokofiev was not the only classical composer to paint a musical portrait of a sleigh ride on a snowy day. Listen as we take you through several other examples of this frosty form of transportation.

Sergei Prokofiev: About Sergei Prokofiev
Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev lived and traveled around the world, but found that he was most at home in Russia. This look at his life takes you on his travels and highlights some of his music, including Peter and the Wolf, which he wrote for the Central Children's Theatre in Moscow.

Ralph Vaughan Williams: Winter in Music
It’s December, and winter has officially begun. This is a program of music with wintery themes.

Robert Schumann: Music for the Harvest Season
On this week’s Classics for Kids show, music for the harvest — and for fall.

Robert Schumann: All in the Musical Family
Robert and Clara Schumann were a husband and wife musician/composer team. But theirs was not the only family in which musician were linked by marriage. Others include Dvorak/Suk, Wagner/Liszt, Mozart/Weber, and the Bachs.

Robert Schumann: Clara Schumann
Clara Wieck was born in 1819 in the German city of Leipzig. Her father, Friedrich Wieck, was a piano teacher who decided even before his daughter was born that she was going to be a famous pianist. Clara toured all over Europe, playing in concert halls and for royalty.

Robert Schumann: About Robert Schumann
From the time he was young, Schumann knew that he wanted to write. The only question was, should he write words, or music? Eventually, Schumann became known as a famous composer and a music journalist.

Igor Stravinsky: Composer Teachers and their Students
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov spent years as a professor at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Many of his students became famous composers themselves: Anatol Liadov, Alexander Glazunov, and Igor Stravinsky. A lot of famous composers studied with each other.

Aaron Copland: Classical Music in Pop
What do Frank Sinatra, Blood Sweat and Tears and John Denver have in common? They all used classical music in some of their pieces. After Aaron Copland composed his Fanfare for the Common Man, the piece was also adapted by several popular musicians. Let’s explore some more classical music that made the transition to pop.

Aaron Copland: What's in a Name
In 1942, Eugene Goossens, music director of the Cincinnati Symphony, invited two dozen or so composers to write fanfares honoring those serving in World War II. Hear some more of those fanfares, and take a guess why Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man is the only one that's still regularly performed.

Aaron Copland: Tiptoe Through the Fanfare
A look at exactly what's going on musically in Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man.

Aaron Copland: About Aaron Copland
Aaron Copland was a 20th century American composer from Brooklyn, New York. Copland is known for writing very American music, but he actually studied in France. His teacher, Nadia Boulanger, helped Copland find his way to an American sound in classical music.

Aaron Copland: What is a Fanfare
The word fanfare comes from a French word that means to blow trumpets. Fanfares have been used for centuries to announce someone or something important. Presidential inaugurations, movies, the Olympics -- they've all had special fanfares written for them.

Edvard Grieg: Incidental Music
Incidental music creates a mood, or illustrates the action for what is going on in a play, movie or television show.

Dmitri Kabalevsky: Incidental Music
Incidental music creates a mood, or illustrates the action for what is going on in a play, movie or television show.

Dmitri Kabalevsky: Musical Jokes
Even though classical music is sometimes referred to as "serious music," a lot of times it just isn't. Serious, that is -- classical composers wrote some very funny music.

Dmitri Kabalevsky: What's a Galop
The kind of galop that Dmitri Kabalevsky put his suite The Comedians has nothing to do with horses. In fact, it's not even spelled the same as a horse's gallop. The one-l galop is a lively dance. Quite a few composers have written galops.

Dmitri Kabalevsky: The Comedians Suite
After Dmitri Kabalevsky wrote music for a play called The Inventor and the Comedians, he put selections from that music into a concert suite called The Comedians. Listen to what's going on in that suite.

Dmitri Kabalevsky: About Dmitri Kabalevsky
By the time Dmitri Kabalevsky was 14, the Russian Revolution had turned his country into a communist state. In spite of the Soviet Union's control over artists of all kinds, Kabalevsky managed to make a successful career as a composer.

Giuseppe Verdi: Famous Instrumental Music from Opera
Many operas feature music that is has become so famous all by itself, you might just forget that it's part of an opera!

John Philip Sousa: I Love a Parade!
Before television, radio, and the movies, it used to be a very big deal when the circus came to town. Circus parades and performances were always accompanied by marches called "screamers" -- a name that probably came from the fact that the music screams for attention.

Claude Debussy: Non-Dancing Music Based on Dances
The last movement of Claude Debussy's Children's Corner is a cakewalk -- a dance done by African-American slaves on plantations. But Debussy didn't intend for anyone to dance to his cakewalk. Lots of other composers wrote music that wasn't meant for dancing, even though it was based on dances.

Claude Debussy: Music Composed for Children
A lot of classical music was written just for kids. Peter and the Wolf is just the beginning -- there are also pieces based on children's books, toys, games, and more.

Claude Debussy: The Children's Corner
Claude Debussy had a daughter named Emma-Claude, but everyone called her Chouchou, a French pet name that means "darling." When Chouchou was three years old, she started taking piano lessons. Her proud father composed the Children's Corner as a present for her, even though it was much too hard for her to play at the time. The suite was meant to entertain Chouchou, since it starred her favorite toys.

Claude Debussy: About Claude Debussy
Even when he was young, Claude Debussy loved to experiment with new sounds. That got him into trouble when he was a student at the Paris Conservatory, but it turned out to be a good thing when he grew up. Inspired by Impressionist poets and visual artists around him, Debussy created Impressionism in music.

Sergei Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf
"Peter and the Wolf" is a childhood classic. Peter, his animal friends, his grandfather, the wolf and the hunters all have appropriate musical themes that make this piece a delight to hear.

Past Shows

Past Shows

A list of our most recent past shows:

Sort List by Date | Sort List by Composer

To see more, visit our complete list of composers or subscribe to our podcast.

Scott Joplin: Classical Music and the Movies
Lots of movies use classical music. Sometimes, that music is such a big part of the movie that the two become linked forever.

Scott Joplin: Ragtime Music
Ragtime music is truly African-American music. It combines rhythms that were brought to this country by slaves, with musical forms brought over to the United States from Europe. Ragtime uses syncopated rhythms -- that is, the accents in the melody are shifted away from the strong beats in the bass line underneath.

Scott Joplin: About Scott Joplin
From a very early age, Scott Joplin supported himself as a performing pianist. Eventually, he earned a living selling his compositions, too. Thanks to Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag, the most famous of all piano rags, Joplin became known as the King of Ragtime Writers.

Georg Philipp Telemann: The "Gigue" is Up!
"Gigue" is the French word for jig -- a lively dance in triple time. The jig started out as folk dance in Ireland, Scotland, and northern England, before finding its way into classical music.

Georg Philipp Telemann: Self-Taught Composers
Georg Philipp Telemann never studied composition — he taught himself how to write music. There are quite a few composers who taught themselves, including Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Edward Elgar, Francis Poulenc, Scott Joplin and others.

Georg Philipp Telemann: Go for Baroque
Georg Philipp Telemann composed during the Baroque period, which ran from about 1600 to 1750. Suzanne Bona, host of the National Public Radio program Sunday Baroque, talks with Naomi Lewin about Baroque music.

Georg Philipp Telemann: About Georg Philipp Telemann
Telemann loved to write. He wrote more pieces of music than any other composer, and he also wrote not one, not two, but THREE autobiographies.

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Carnegie Hall
The Music Hall founded by Andrew Carnegie in New York City opened on May 5, 1891 with a concert conducted by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It quickly became known simply as “Carnegie Hall,” in honor of its donor.

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Traditional Christmas Classical Music
George Frederick Handel's Messiah wasn't written for Christmas -- it was first performed in April. Hear some other pieces of classical music that traditionally get played during the Christmas season.

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker
Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker is based on a story by German author E.T.A. Hoffmann. In The Nutcracker, a Christmas present -- a nutcracker -- comes to life as a handsome prince. He takes the young girl who received him as a present on some fantastic adventures.

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Ballet
Ballet is a theatrical performance that tells a story using music, costumes, sets, and dance. Victoria Morgan, artistic director of the Cincinnati Ballet, talks with Naomi Lewin about ballet and ballet terms.

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: About Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Some composers in Tchaikovsky's day didn't think his music sounded "Russian" enough, but Tchaikovsky was Russian through and through. Tchaikovsky wrote symphonies, operas, songs, chamber music -- and of course, several wonderful ballets.

Zoltán Kodály: The Kodály Method
Zoltan Kodály developed a method for teaching music. It is still used by teachers around the world today. Jill Trinka, who teaches the Kodály Method, talks with Naomi Lewin.

Zoltán Kodály: Classical Composers who Used Folk Music
Zoltán Kodály was not the only composer to use folk tunes in the music he wrote. Here are some others.

Zoltán Kodály: The Story of Hary Janos
Kodály’s opera Háry János is about a real person who told real whoppers — big, fat lies. If you listened to him, you'd think he defeated Napoleon's army all by himself.

Zoltán Kodály: About Zoltán Kodály
Zoltán Kodály was born in a small town in Hungary. His father worked for the Hungarian railroad, so the family moved around a lot. This meant that as a kid, Zoltán heard folk music from many different parts of the country. When he grew up, Hungarian folk music became his passion. Kodály spent a large part of his life collecting his native music, and teaching his countrymen about it.

Edvard Grieg: Halloween Music
Appropriately spooky classical music for Halloween.

Edvard Grieg: Other Scandinavian Composers
Music by composers from the three official Scandinavian countries -- Norway, Denmark and Sweden -- and a couple of unofficial ones -- Finland and Iceland!

Edvard Grieg: The Story of Peer Gynt
"In The Hall of the Mountain King" is part of the incidental music Edvard Grieg wrote for Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt. Hear the story of the play as you listen to Grieg's music.

Edvard Grieg: About Edvard Grieg
Edvard Grieg was from a music-loving Norwegian family. In addition to becoming the leading Scandinavian composer of his day, Grieg became a big supporter of Norwegian arts and culture.

Felix Mendelssohn: Women Composers
Fanny Mendelssohn, Felix Mendelssohn's older sister, was a talented pianist and composer. So was Clara Schumann, wife of composer Robert Schumann. Also featured: music of Elizabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre, Cecile Chaminade, Germaine Tailleferre, Hildegard von Bingen, Amy Beach, and Thea Musgrave.

Felix Mendelssohn: Child Prodigy Composers
A child prodigy, Felix Mendelssohn began composing when he was 10. This week on Classics for Kids hear about other composers who started just as early -- or even earlier.

Felix Mendelssohn: Music Based on Shakespeare
Probably no playwright has had more music based on his work than William Shakespeare. Felix Mendelssohn, Henry Purcell, Hector Berlioz, Giuseppe Verdi are just a few of the composers who've been inspired by Shakespeare's plays.

Felix Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream
When Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn put on Shakespeare's comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream to entertain their family, the two of them played all the characters! Mendelssohn's music for A Midsummer Night's Dream illustrates many of the characters and situations in the play.

Felix Mendelssohn: About Felix Mendelssohn
By the time he was a teenager, Felix Mendelssohn was already an excellent pianist and composer. And Mendelssohn was very talented in other areas. In addition to German (his native language), Mendelssohn spoke French, English, and Italian. He was also a very good painter. And he became quite famous as a conductor.

Leonard Bernstein: American Composers with a Boston Connection
Leonard Bernstein grew up in the Boston area. Here are some more composers who spent time in and around that city.

Leonard Bernstein: Operettas in English
Leonard Bernstein's "Candide" is an operetta. An operetta is like an opera, with one big difference. In opera, everything is sung, but in operetta, there are spoken lines between the singing. Composers who wrote operettas in English include Sir Arthur Sullivan (who can't be separated from William S. Gilbert, who wrote the words for Gilbert and Sullivan operettas), Victor Herbert, Sigmund Romberg, and Rudolf Friml.

Leonard Bernstein: Bernstein and Musical Theater
When he was growing up, Leonard Bernstein loved to put on operas and other musical shows with his friends. That interest in musical theater continued all through his life, and produced such great Broadway musicals as "On The Town," "Wonderful Town," and "West Side Story."

Leonard Bernstein: About Leonard Bernstein
American-born Leonard Bernstein became famous all over the world as a composer, a conductor, and a pianist. In addition to writing classical music, composed classic Broadway musicals, including West Side Story.

John Philip Sousa: The Golden Age of American Bands
From the late 1800's to the early 1900's, professional bands toured all over the United States, and many towns in this country had their own amateur bands.

John Philip Sousa: American Military Bands
The United States Marine Band is this country's oldest military band. Each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces has its own band, and song. Captain Don Schofield, associate conductor of the United States Air Force Band of Flight, talks with Naomi Lewin about all the U.S. military bands.

John Philip Sousa: About "Stars & Stripes"
John Philip Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever is the official march of the United States of America. Sousa composed his most famous march in his head when he was on a ship coming back from a trip to Europe with his band. When the ship docked, he put the march down on paper and named it after the American flag he was so glad to see when he got home.

John Philip Sousa: About John Philip Sousa
John Philip Sousa -- the most American of composers -- was the son of immigrants to the United States. Because of his love for bands and band music, John Philip Sousa wrote many wonderful marches. As a result, he is known as the "March King."

Franz Liszt: What is a Rhapsody?
"Rhapsody" is an ancient word that means "songs stitched together". The Greeks used to write long poems in praise of their heroes, and then take bits and pieces of those poems and string them together for performance. In music, a rhapsody is a free-form piece that takes different tunes and strings them together.

Franz Liszt: Famous Pianist - Composers
In his day Franz Liszt was most famous as a pianist. So, were Mozart, Beethoven and a lot of other composers.

Franz Liszt: Romani, or Gypsy Music
Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies were greatly influenced by gypsy, or Romani music. Brahms, Telemann and Verdi are among the many composers were attracted to this distinctive music.

Franz Liszt: Classical Music Superstars
Inspired by violinist Niccolo Paganini, Franz Liszt became a piano superstar. Many classical music superstars followed, including Jan Paderewski, Jenny Lind, Van Cliburn, Enrico Caruso, Yo-Yo Ma and Lang Lang.

Franz Liszt: About Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt was a pianist, composer, conductor and teacher who came up with musical innovations in all those fields. He was the first of the virtuoso performers and invented the solo recital. As one of the greatest pianists the world has ever known, Liszt was a 19th century superstar.

Giacomo Puccini: Classical Music that Turned into Musical Theater
Jonathan Larson, the composer of the musical “Rent,” used the same plot for this musical as Puccini did for La Bohème. Other composers also used classical music when they wrote their Broadway hits. “Kismet” is adapted from compositions by Russian composer Alexander Borodin and “The Song of Norway” uses tunes by Edvard Grieg to tell the story of Grieg’s life.

Giacomo Puccini: Bohemian Music
Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Bohème is about struggling artists in Paris. Its title means “the bohemian lifestyle.” But Bohemia isn’t in France; it’s in the Czech Republic. Other composers such as Antonin Dvorak, Bedrich Smetana, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Jules Massenet, were also inspired by this part of the world, using its music and describing its beautiful countryside in their works.

Giacomo Puccini: A Brief History of Italian Opera
Around the year 1600, Italian composers started writing theater pieces that use music all the way through them. Instead of speaking, characters in operas sing their lines. From Claudio Monteverdi, who wrote the earliest opera that is still performed, through Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi and Puccini, Italy has produced some of the world’s finest opera composers.

Giacomo Puccini: About Giacomo Puccini
By the time Italian composer Giacomo Puccini was born in 1858, there had already been four generations of musicians in his hometown of Lucca. Most were church musicians, but Giacomo had other ideas. When he was a teenager, he went to hear a performance of Verdi’s Aida. From that moment on he knew that what he wanted to do was write operas. He did, and became one of Italy’s most beloved operatic composers.

Johannes Brahms: Classical Music Featuring Dances from European Countries
Many composers used European dance forms in their work. Dvorak, Haydn, Chopin and Beethoven are just a few of the composers featured here.

Johannes Brahms: Hungarian Dancing
The Hungarian Dances by Johannes Brahms were never really intended for dancing. But that doesn't mean that people in Hungary don't dance! Richard Graber, the director of a Hungarian dance company in Cleveland, talks with Naomi Lewin about Hungarian dancing.

Johannes Brahms: The Brahms Hungarian Dances
When he was a young pianist, Johannes Brahms accompanied a Hungarian violinist, and fell in love with Hungarian music. His own Hungarian-flavored dances were written to entertain his friends at parties. Those friends convinced Brahms to publish his dances. When the first set was a hit, Brahms wrote and published another set.

Johannes Brahms: About Johannes Brahms
Brahms, Bach, and Beethoven are known as the "Three B’s" of classical music. Brahms always knew that he wanted to be a composer -- by the time he was six, he had thought up his own system for writing music down on a page.

William Grant Still: Black Composers of Classical Music
William Grant Still was a 20th century African-American composer. But hundreds of years before he lived, there were other black composers. And there are black composers of classical music alive today.

William Grant Still: Paul Laurence Dunbar's Poetry
After William Grant Still wrote his Afro-American Symphony, he found bits of poetry that he thought went with each movement. The poetry was written by Paul Laurence Dunbar, the first African-American to become a famous writer.

William Grant Still: The Afro-American Symphony
William Grant Still wanted to put the sound of the blues into a symphony. His Afro-American Symphony is centered on a bluesy theme. Still took that theme and did something entirely different with it in each of the Symphony's four movements.

William Grant Still: About William Grant Still
William Grant Still has been called the Dean of Afro-American composers. Judith Anne Still, the composer's daughter, talks with Naomi Lewin about her father's life, and the difficulty he faced in the first half of 20th century America as a black man writing classical music.

Franz Schubert: Marches Not Written for Bands and Parades
Even though Schubert's Marche Militaire has the word "march" in the title, it was never actually meant for anyone to march to. Several other composers wrote march music without bands or parades in mind.

Franz Schubert: Music for Piano Four Hands
Franz Schubert wrote his Marche Militaire for piano four hands -- two people playing the same instrument. Here are some more pieces for piano four hands.

Franz Schubert: Take Me to Your Lieder
Songs in classical music are usually called "art songs." In German, art songs are called Lieder. Franz Schubert was a master of writing Lieder. Each of his songs combines poetry and music, voice and accompaniment, to make a complete musical short story.

Franz Schubert: About Franz Schubert
Franz Schubert's father expected his son to be a teacher in the school that he ran. But Schubert didn't last long at that job -- he was much more interested in writing music than paying attention to a classroom full of kids.

Georges Bizet: Firsts for the New Year
A collection of musical firsts, including the first string quartet, the first use of trombones in a symphony, and the first professional musician to make a recording.

Georges Bizet: Harmonic Texture in the Farandole
In the "Farandole" from Georges Bizet's Arlésienne Suite, there are examples of all three kinds of harmonic texture: monophony, homophony, and polyphony. Hear those terms explained in words and in music.

Georges Bizet: Christmas Carols in Classical Music
In celebration of the Christmas season, some classical compositions that have Christmas carols in them.

Georges Bizet: Jewish Composers (for Chanukah)
Georges Bizet was not Jewish, his father-in-law was. Bizet married the daughter of his composition professor, Jacques Halevi. To celebrate Chanukah, we learn about some other Jewish composers of classical music, including Salamone Rossi, Leonard Bernstein, Darius Milhaud, Jacques Offenbach and Aaron Copland.

Georges Bizet: About Georges Bizet
Georges Bizet's parents were both musicians, so he grew up surrounded by music. Today, Bizet is best remembered for his theatrical music -- operas and incidental music for plays.

George Gershwin: Jazz in Classical Music
George Gershwin was just one composer who used jazz in music that was written for the classical concert hall. So did Leonard Bernstein, Igor Stravinsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, and others.

George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue
George Gershwin wrote his Rhapsody in Blue in a big hurry, after he saw a newspaper announcement saying that he was writing a jazz concerto for a concert taking place in less than a month! Everyone loved the piece at its first performance, and at age 25, Gershwin became a musical celebrity.

George Gershwin: What is a Rhapsody?
"Rhapsody" is an ancient word that means "songs stitched together". The Greeks used to write long poems in praise of their heroes, and then take bits and pieces of those poems and string them together for performance. In music, a rhapsody is a free-form piece that takes different tunes and strings them together.

George Gershwin: About George Gershwin
George Gershwin was an American composer who combined classical music and jazz to create his own unique style. Gershwin wrote music for Broadway shows, movies, the concert hall, and opera. One of the people he liked to work with was his brother Ira, who wrote wonderful lyrics (words) for George Gershwin's songs.

Modest Mussorgsky: Halloween Music
Appropriately spooky classical music for Halloween.

Modest Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition
Russian artist and architect Victor Hartman was a good friend of Modest Mussorgsky. When Hartman died at the age of 39, there was a memorial exhibit of his work. That inspired Mussorgsky to create his own tribute to Hartman -- a composition depicting ten pieces of art from the exhibit. "Pictures at an Exhibition" was originally written for solo piano, but quite a few people have made orchestral versions of the piece. The best-known one is by Maurice Ravel.

Modest Mussorgsky: The Mighty Handful
The Mighty Handful, also known as the Mighty Five, were group of Russian composers who all wanted to develop a distinctly Russian style of classical music. The Mighty Five composers were Mily Balakirev, Alexander Borodin, Cesar Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

Modest Mussorgsky: About Modest Mussorgsky
When he was a kid growing up, Modest Mussorgsky learned Russian fairy tales and folk stories from the family nurse. Those fairy tales put in an appearance in the music he wrote later on. Mussorgsky composed Pictures at an Exhibition in memory of an artist friend of his who died suddenly.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Child Prodigy Composers
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a child prodigy. He wrote his first symphony when he was eight, but actually started composing at the age of five. In this show, hear about some other composers who started just as early.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: What's a Rondo?
Rondo is an Italian word that means round. A rondo is an instrumental form with a refrain that keeps coming back. Unlike the verses of a song, though, the music in a rondo changes between each repetition of the refrain.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Janissary Music
In the 18th century, Janissary music became all the rage in Europe. Janissaries were the men who guarded the sultan of Turkey. They had wonderful bands that included instruments that sounded very exotic to European ears: cymbals, triangles and bass drums. When Janissary music caught on in Europe, many composers, including Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven, started using those instruments in their music.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Mozart's Operas
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote his first opera when he was twelve, and opera continued to fascinate him throughout his life. Mozart had such genius for combining music and theater that he took opera to a whole new level. No other composer from Mozart's day still has so many operas performed all over the world.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: About Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
When Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart sat down at the keyboard at the age of three, it was clear to his father Leopold that he had a genius on his hands. From the first pieces he composed as a five-year-old, to the Requiem he was working on when he died, right before his 35th birthday, Mozart wrote an astonishing amount of beautiful music.

Antonin Dvorák: Other Musical Nationalism
Antonin Dvorak and his fellow Czech composers were among the first music nationalists. Here's a look at many others, including composers from America.

Antonin Dvorák: Music Nationalism circa 1848
All across Europe in the 19th century, there was a wave of nationalism as people fought for political independence. Composers started wanting musical independence, too. When they started putting folk tunes and dance rhythms from their native countries into their music, and wrote about local legends, history, and landscapes, musical nationalism was born.

Antonin Dvorák: Composers Who Visited America
In 1892, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's trip to the New World, a wealthy New Yorker invited Antonin Dvorak to visit America. Tchaikovsky, Albeniz, and Delius were among the other European composers who visited this country before the days of air travel.

Antonin Dvorák: About Antonin Dvorák
At the time when Czech composer Antonin Dvorak was born, the Czech people had no country of their own. The regions where they lived -- Bohemia and Moravia -- were part of the Austrian Empire. Dvorak wrote a lot of Czech-sounding compositions, but hardly ever used any actual folk melodies in his music.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Roll Over Beethoven
For some reason, Beethoven has been the butt of many musical jokes over the years. You can find Beethoven references everywhere from disco, to the Beatles, to the Broadway musical.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Music that Imitates Inanimate Objects
The beginning of the second movement of Beethoven’s 8th Symphony imitates a metronome -- a mechanical device that ticks steadily to help musician keep to the beat of the music. Other composers wrote music that ticks, or that imitates other inanimate objects -- including a doll and a typewriter.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Beethoven's Symphonies
Plenty of composers wrote more symphonies than Beethoven, but few did more to change the way the symphony sounded. Beethoven's First Symphony reflects the fact that he learned from Mozart and Haydn. At the time he composed his Third, it was the longest symphony ever written, and Beethoven's Ninth was the first symphony to use voices. Beethoven’s 5th Symphony may be the most famous piece of music ever written.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Beethoven the Pianist
Beethoven was a pianist. During his lifetime, the piano changed quite a bit, and those changes were reflected in the music Beethoven composed for the intstrument. William Black, head of the piano department at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, talks with Naomi Lewin about how Beethoven's music followed the development of the piano.

Ludwig van Beethoven: About Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a uniquely talented composer and musician. But by the time Beethoven was 30, his increasing deafness put an end to his career as a pianist. That did not stop him from continuing to compose some of the most beautiful music the world has ever known. As a composer, Beethoven was a revolutionary. He took the Classical forms he learned from Mozart and Haydn, and pushed them into the next period of musical history -- the Romantic era.

George Frederick Handel: Music by Royalty and Nobility
Handel wrote his Water Music for the King of England. Lots of aristocrats hired composers to write music for them. But some kings and nobles wrote music themselves, including King Henry VIII; Alfonso X; Frederick the Great and others.

George Frederick Handel: Other Composers' Water Music
The Water Music that Handel composed may be the most famous classical music associated with water, but there are lots of other composers who wrote watery pieces.

George Frederick Handel: The Story of Handel's Water Music Show
As soon as Handel got his first job of court composer to a German prince, he headed for England. Through a bizarre twist of royal succession, that prince ended up becoming king of England. Instead of staying angry at Handel for leaving Germany, King George I asked him to compose music for a huge party he held on barges on the River Thames.

George Frederick Handel: About George Frederick Handel
1685 was a very good year for German composers. Within the space of a month, two of the greatest were born: Johann Sebastian Bach, and George Frederick Handel. Handel spent most of his career in England, where he wrote and produced both operas and oratorios.

Antonio Vivaldi: Spring Music
Vivaldi is not the only composer who wrote music about the seasons, or about spring. Many other composers wrote springtime music.

Antonio Vivaldi: Violin Concertos Through the Ages
Concertos got their start in 17th century Italy. The history of violin concertos follows the history of great violinists.

Antonio Vivaldi: Poetry and Sound Effects in Vivaldi's Spring Concerto
Vivaldi based each of his The Four Seasons concertos on a set of sonnets -- poems. The music in each of the Four Seasons describes exactly what's going on in the poems. "Spring" includes birds, brooks, breezes and thunderstorms. See how many of those you can hear in Vivaldi's music.

Antonio Vivaldi: About Antonio Vivaldi
Antonio Vivaldi was the oldest of six (some say nine) children. His father was a barber, baker and violinist. Vivaldi inherited his father's musical talent, and his flaming red hair. Vivaldi became a priest, but he spent most of his life composing and teaching music.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Composer Teachers and their Students
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov spent years as a professor at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Many of his students became famous composers themselves: Anatol Liadov, Alexander Glazunov, and Igor Stravinsky. A lot of famous composers studied with each other.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: The Bees and the Birds
There are many pieces of classical music -- besides "The Flight of the Bumblebee" -- that are about bees, birds, and other winged creatures. Composers use various instruments to imitate insects, and to create all kinds of bird calls.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Russian Operas
Many pieces of music from Russian operas have become much more famous in the concert hall than on the opera stage. Some of these pieces include Tchaikovsky's Waltz and Polonaise from Eugene Onegin, Alexander Borodin’s Polovstian Dances from Prince Igor, and Sergei Prokofiev’s march from The Love for Three Oranges.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: The Tale of Tsar Saltan
The Flight of the Bumblebee comes from an opera called The Tale of Tsar Saltan, which is based on a story by the famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. In the opera’s complicated plot, Prince Gvidon is separated from his father, Tsar Saltan, and ends up ruling an island full of enchanted objects and animals -- including an enchanted swan, whom the prince marries once she gets turned back into a princess.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: About Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov became a navy officer in order to follow in his older brother’s footsteps. But his real talent lay in music. After leaving the navy, he became a teacher at the St. Petersburg Conservatory -- even though he had little formal music education himself.

Johann Sebastian Bach: The Story of the Brandenburg Concertos
When Johann Sebastian Bach sent a set of six concertos to the Margrave of Brandenburg -- a German official -- the Margrave probably never even looked at the music. Bach called his pieces "concertos for a variety of instruments," because each one calls for a different instrumental combination.

Johann Sebastian Bach: What's a Concerto?
A concerto is a piece of music in which one or more solo instruments get to shine in front of an orchestra. A concerto can be written for any instrument. A "concerto grosso" is a concerto for two groups of instruments -- a smaller group of soloists alternating with a larger group.

Johann Sebastian Bach: The Sons of Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was married two times, and had a grand total of 20 children! All of Bach's ancestors were musicians, and his sons were expected to follow in his musical footsteps. Some of them became famous composers, too.

Johann Sebastian Bach: About Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was born into a musical dynasty. The Bach family had over 300 years' worth of professional composers and musicians, but Johann Sebastian was the most famous of all of them. In addition to being one of the greatest composers the world has ever known, Bach was also an excellent organist and violinist.

Gioachino Rossini: Weather in Music
Depicting a thunderstorm in music was one of Rossini's specialties. Here are some more examples of musical thunderstorms.

Gioachino Rossini: Overtures
Usually, an overture is a piece of music played at the beginning of a play, opera or ballet in order to set the mood. But there are also other kinds of overtures.

Gioachino Rossini: The Story of William Tell
The William Tell Overture was written to open an opera by Gioachino Rossini. The opera is based on a legend about the Swiss hero William Tell. According to the legend, William Tell was an expert with a bow and arrow who shot an apple off his son's head. You can hear the political turmoil in William Tell's Switzerland in Rossini's music.

Gioachino Rossini: About Gioachino Rossini
Italian composer Gioachino Rossini was born in 1792 and died in 1868, so you might think that he celebrated 76 birthdays. But Rossini was born in a leap year, on February 29th, so he only had 18 official birthdays! Rossini was the most successful opera composer of his day.

Sergei Prokofiev: The Story of Lt. Kije
Lt. Kijé is the story of an imaginary soldier, created when the Russian Tsar misread a smudged name on a list of his men. Everyone around the Tsar was too afraid to tell him there was no such person, so they just invented an entire life for the nonextistent Kijé. He gets married and become a hero -- all on paper. When the Tsar finally demands to meet Kijé, the military holds his funeral.

Sergei Prokofiev: How Suite It Is
In music, a suite is a specific collection of pieces. Here are some examples of various kinds of musical suites.

Sergei Prokofiev: Musical Sleigh Rides
Prokofiev was not the only classical composer to paint a musical portrait of a sleigh ride on a snowy day. Listen as we take you through several other examples of this frosty form of transportation.

Sergei Prokofiev: About Sergei Prokofiev
Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev lived and traveled around the world, but found that he was most at home in Russia. This look at his life takes you on his travels and highlights some of his music, including Peter and the Wolf, which he wrote for the Central Children's Theatre in Moscow.

Ralph Vaughan Williams: Winter in Music
It’s December, and winter has officially begun. This is a program of music with wintery themes.

Robert Schumann: Music for the Harvest Season
On this week’s Classics for Kids show, music for the harvest — and for fall.

Robert Schumann: All in the Musical Family
Robert and Clara Schumann were a husband and wife musician/composer team. But theirs was not the only family in which musician were linked by marriage. Others include Dvorak/Suk, Wagner/Liszt, Mozart/Weber, and the Bachs.

Robert Schumann: Clara Schumann
Clara Wieck was born in 1819 in the German city of Leipzig. Her father, Friedrich Wieck, was a piano teacher who decided even before his daughter was born that she was going to be a famous pianist. Clara toured all over Europe, playing in concert halls and for royalty.

Robert Schumann: About Robert Schumann
From the time he was young, Schumann knew that he wanted to write. The only question was, should he write words, or music? Eventually, Schumann became known as a famous composer and a music journalist.

Igor Stravinsky: Composer Teachers and their Students
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov spent years as a professor at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Many of his students became famous composers themselves: Anatol Liadov, Alexander Glazunov, and Igor Stravinsky. A lot of famous composers studied with each other.

Aaron Copland: Classical Music in Pop
What do Frank Sinatra, Blood Sweat and Tears and John Denver have in common? They all used classical music in some of their pieces. After Aaron Copland composed his Fanfare for the Common Man, the piece was also adapted by several popular musicians. Let’s explore some more classical music that made the transition to pop.

Aaron Copland: What's in a Name
In 1942, Eugene Goossens, music director of the Cincinnati Symphony, invited two dozen or so composers to write fanfares honoring those serving in World War II. Hear some more of those fanfares, and take a guess why Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man is the only one that's still regularly performed.

Aaron Copland: Tiptoe Through the Fanfare
A look at exactly what's going on musically in Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man.

Aaron Copland: About Aaron Copland
Aaron Copland was a 20th century American composer from Brooklyn, New York. Copland is known for writing very American music, but he actually studied in France. His teacher, Nadia Boulanger, helped Copland find his way to an American sound in classical music.

Aaron Copland: What is a Fanfare
The word fanfare comes from a French word that means to blow trumpets. Fanfares have been used for centuries to announce someone or something important. Presidential inaugurations, movies, the Olympics -- they've all had special fanfares written for them.

Edvard Grieg: Incidental Music
Incidental music creates a mood, or illustrates the action for what is going on in a play, movie or television show.

Dmitri Kabalevsky: Incidental Music
Incidental music creates a mood, or illustrates the action for what is going on in a play, movie or television show.

Dmitri Kabalevsky: Musical Jokes
Even though classical music is sometimes referred to as "serious music," a lot of times it just isn't. Serious, that is -- classical composers wrote some very funny music.

Dmitri Kabalevsky: What's a Galop
The kind of galop that Dmitri Kabalevsky put his suite The Comedians has nothing to do with horses. In fact, it's not even spelled the same as a horse's gallop. The one-l galop is a lively dance. Quite a few composers have written galops.

Dmitri Kabalevsky: The Comedians Suite
After Dmitri Kabalevsky wrote music for a play called The Inventor and the Comedians, he put selections from that music into a concert suite called The Comedians. Listen to what's going on in that suite.

Dmitri Kabalevsky: About Dmitri Kabalevsky
By the time Dmitri Kabalevsky was 14, the Russian Revolution had turned his country into a communist state. In spite of the Soviet Union's control over artists of all kinds, Kabalevsky managed to make a successful career as a composer.

Giuseppe Verdi: Famous Instrumental Music from Opera
Many operas feature music that is has become so famous all by itself, you might just forget that it's part of an opera!

John Philip Sousa: I Love a Parade!
Before television, radio, and the movies, it used to be a very big deal when the circus came to town. Circus parades and performances were always accompanied by marches called "screamers" -- a name that probably came from the fact that the music screams for attention.

Claude Debussy: Non-Dancing Music Based on Dances
The last movement of Claude Debussy's Children's Corner is a cakewalk -- a dance done by African-American slaves on plantations. But Debussy didn't intend for anyone to dance to his cakewalk. Lots of other composers wrote music that wasn't meant for dancing, even though it was based on dances.

Claude Debussy: Music Composed for Children
A lot of classical music was written just for kids. Peter and the Wolf is just the beginning -- there are also pieces based on children's books, toys, games, and more.

Claude Debussy: The Children's Corner
Claude Debussy had a daughter named Emma-Claude, but everyone called her Chouchou, a French pet name that means "darling." When Chouchou was three years old, she started taking piano lessons. Her proud father composed the Children's Corner as a present for her, even though it was much too hard for her to play at the time. The suite was meant to entertain Chouchou, since it starred her favorite toys.

Claude Debussy: About Claude Debussy
Even when he was young, Claude Debussy loved to experiment with new sounds. That got him into trouble when he was a student at the Paris Conservatory, but it turned out to be a good thing when he grew up. Inspired by Impressionist poets and visual artists around him, Debussy created Impressionism in music.

Sergei Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf
"Peter and the Wolf" is a childhood classic. Peter, his animal friends, his grandfather, the wolf and the hunters all have appropriate musical themes that make this piece a delight to hear.

 

Classics for Kids is supported by: