Classical 91.5

Bill explores "The Curse of the Ninth," Exploring Music for October 2019

Sep 30, 2019

The Curse of the Ninth

Many great composers have died after composing their 9th symphony - fact or fiction?  Bill McGlaughlin explores the Curse of the Ninth the week of October 21.

Week of September 30, 2019 - A Visit with Arnold Steinhardt  Exploring Music spent a couple of marvelous days with one of the world’s violin giants, Arnold Steinhardt, first violinist for 45 years of the Guarneri Quartet. This week will feature Arnold talking about his youth in L.A., his time with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra, his studies with Josef Szigeti, and his time with the Guarneri Quartet. Arnold was keen that we listen to some of the great musicians who'd inspired him along the way — a who's who of remarkable figures —Kreisler, Elman, Heifetz, on and on. Arnold is not only a towering musician — yeah, he stands six feet three, but I'm talking about fiddle playing — he is also beloved among his colleagues for his generosity, intelligence, and kindness.

Week of October 7, 2019 - Maiden Voyages  The first symphony of a composer can be their hardest challenge and greatest reward, and can launch their careers. This week we look at these first symphonies, maiden voyages out into deep musical oceans. Bill explores the trials and tribulations of Haydn’s, Beethoven’s, and Mendelssohn’s first symphonic works. Romance is in the air on the second episode, when Bill tells us the story of Clara Schumann inspiring her husband to write his first symphony.

Week of October 14, 2019 - A Green and Pleasant Land  With William Blake’s famous words as a stepping-off point, we’re traversing the pastoral musical landscapes of the British Isles. Bill opens with a reading of Hilaire Belloc's idyllic essay, "The Mowing of a Field." We continue with a piece written by Patrick Hadley on the occasion of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s 70th birthday, as well as one of Vaughan Williams’s folk influenced works. Then Bill turns his focus to 16th century lute music from William Byrd, and to Felix Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture, inspired by a visit to Fingal’s Cave in Scotland. We also enjoy music from the friendship of Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst.

Week of October 21, 2019 - The Curse of the Ninth! Ninth Symphonies  Why did so many of music’s great symphonists die after completing their ninth symphony?  This week's theme is the curse of the ninth symphony which began with Beethoven in the mid-1820s. Over time, the myth grew that when writing your ninth symphony, it would be your last and perhaps also your last year on earth. Beethoven's ninth symphony is a massive work and takes over an hour to perform. We’ll sample five landmark compositions: the ninth symphonies of Beethoven, Schubert, Bruckner, Dvorak, and Mahler.

Week of October 28, 2019 - Demons, Spooks, and Other Things That Go Bump in the Night  Darkness descends on Exploring Music as Malcolm Arnold leads a pair of drunken bassoonists through a dark foggy peat bog, Henry Cowell conjures a banshee from the piano, and Paganini’s violin flirts with the devil. Bill lines up the composers who delight in the supernatural – but it’s not all about Halloween in America: there’s Walpurgisnacht (throughout Europe), and St. John’s Eve (international). EM conjures the ghosts, the goblins, Mephistopheles, and other phantasmagoria depicted by Brahms, Berlioz, Verdi, Busoni, and Offenbach.