Classical 91.5

Music History

An energetic quiet descends on the auditorium as the light dims. You welcome the concertmaster with polite applause, and he leads the orchestra in one final tuning. The conductor strides confidently onstage, swinging her arm with panache to gesture for the orchestra to rise as she takes the bow on their behalf. As she takes her place at the podium, the audience on the edge of their seats, a few coughs break the silence. Suddenly, she slashes the air with her baton, drawing out Beethoven’s famous bah-bah-bah-bahh! and they’re off to the races with his Fifth Symphony.

You let the music wash over you in your seat. Its tense, agitated rhythms draw you in like a racing heartbeat, driving from one moment to the next. But after a minute or two, you find your mind wandering. Am I in the mood for dessert tonight? What was that TV series my sister told me about? Where did I leave my keys again?

While David Hochstein is not, like most of our Musicians of Rochester, someone you can meet as part of Rochester's musical community today, his legacy continues to have an impact on our lives. As we commemorate Memorial Day, I wanted to share the story of this young musician who gave his life in service to his country. 

David Hochstein was born in 1892, and grew up on Joseph Avenue. His father, Jacob, was a highly educated Russian-Jewish immigrant who spoke six languages and ran a print shop out of their house. Jacob was David’s first violin teacher, but soon passed him on to other more knowledgeable musicians from Rochester’s European immigrant community.

The Hochstein School has been a center for learning music and dance in Rochester now for 100 years.

Hear the stories and music that connect this community school to the history of our city over the past century - from its origins as a settlement school to teach music to immigrant children in Rochester, through years of growth and development to suit the changing needs of Rochester’s communities, to its role today as a place to learn and experience music, dance, and more.

Stream this radio special on-demand now online here: 

Celebrating with Fernando Sor

Feb 11, 2019

Guitarist (and Rochester treasure) Lawrence Johnson was featured earlier on WXXI as part of our series Musicians of Rochester. He and I have stayed in touch since that interview, and he recently reminded me that February 12th is most likely the birthday of his favorite composer Fernando Sor:  

"Fernando Sor was probably born Feb. 12 (1778) - the same month and day as your birthday! (The only record we have is his baptism on Feb. 14, 1778 - my understanding is that generally the birth preceeds the baptism - especially in winter months - by at least two days." 

In honor of that shared birthday, I asked Lawrence to share a few facts about Fernando Sor, along with a few recordings of his works. If these facts intrigue, you can also read more in this essay Lawrence Johnson wrote about this long overlooked guitarist/composer who has recently received more recognition and acclaim.

A ceremony commemorated the 100th anniversary of David Hochstein’s death Monday morning.

David Hochstein was born in 1892, later graduating from East High. He then got his masters in Europe with the help of George Eastman, and went on to play stages around the world, including Carnegie Hall.


Paths and Patterns, a Historical Perspective

Sep 27, 2018

Should music strive to be clear? More specifically, do composers have a responsibility to make the logic and processes behind a piece of music accessible to the average listener, and, if so, to what extent?

After having so much fun researching and speaking about the music that surrounded Queen Victoria, in her personal and public life, I have decided to create a Spotify playlist of some of that music.  It's a crazy anachronism, I know, but if I put it on a wax cylinder or one of Edison's machines, I don't think it would be as useful for you. 

Getty images

I love figure skating!  With the Winter Olympics on, here's your very basic guide to Western classical music AND some breathtaking spins, too.

The Other Haydn - Michael Haydn in Salzburg

Nov 6, 2017

  Michael Haydn's music will be performed this week in the inaugural concert of Ensemble PeriHIPsous – Rochester’s new “period” orchestra. These days, Michael Haydn is not quite as well-known these days as his older brother Franz Joseph Haydn - so musicologist and Ensemble PeriHIPsous founder Michael Ruhling has agreed to share some stories of this other Haydn here for our edification and reading enjoyment. 

Happy Birthday, Michael Haydn!

Sep 14, 2017

  That’s right, Michael Haydn.

What?! There were TWO HAYDNS who were revered composers in the late 18th century? So much talent in one family! (Must have had smart and encouraging parents.)

September 14 marks the 280th birthday of the composer Johann Michael Haydn (1737-1806).  Michael Haydn was a prolific composer of many different types of music, but best known for his fine sacred works written in Salzburg, which were widely distributed throughout Europe during his lifetime.  Despite his reputation as a first-rate composer, his fame quickly faded following his death, as the stars of the great Viennese Classical trinity of Joseph Haydn, W. A. Mozart, and Beethoven became brighter than all of their contemporaries.  

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