Classical 101

The British Library, Online Manuscript Collection: Harley 978, f.11

Sumer Is Icumin In, Sing Cu-Cu

Yes, "Sumer Is Icumin In," means exactly what it sounds like; "summer is coming in." So whence came this seasonal tiding? This popular Medieval tune is actually the earliest known piece of 6-part polyphony and a fabulous example of the Wessex dialect of Medieval England.

Stu Rosner

OK...that isn't COMPLETELY true.  Yes, Keith Lockhart is celebrating his 20th anniversary with the Boston Pops this season.  Yes, he is conducting a concert on Saturday.  Yes, there will be a HUGE fireworks display.

You've figured out by now that Lockhart will be on the podium as the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra performs it's annual Independence Day concert on Boston’s Charles River Esplanade.

 Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the San Francisco Symphony
Kristen Loken / San Francisco Symphony

As we head toward the Fourth of July weekend, the next Symphony @ 7 will feature the Third Symphony  of American composer Charles Ives,  a work from 11910 titled "The Camp Meeting," with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.


I believe! I believe we will win! I believe we will win!

It's a catchy chant, but it is certainly neither the first nor the last. Football chants, or soccer chants for Americans, have been a fixture of the sport at least since Sir Elgar's tribute to the Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1898. Since the American National Women's Team has now progressed to the finals for the World Cup, it might be a fitting time to explore music and football, er... I mean soccer.

Boyce Lancaster

It's hard to beat the Fourth of July.  Fireworks displays, cookouts and picnics, a day at the pool...but no July 4th celebration is complete without some great music.

There are several entertainment opportunities this weekend.  If Red, White, and Boom simply isn't enough, or is maybe too much:

Thomas Bradley-WOSU Public Media

I have just finished directing an opera. The performances were enjoyed by full houses. Everything went well, and this wasn't my first time at the rodeo.

I send you herewith a few dos and don'ts for the next time you direct an opera:


Gunther Schuller, iconic Jazz-Classical composer, horn player and teacher shown here conducting Charles Mingus' "Epitaph," in 2007 for the New England Conservatory.
New England Conservatory

There are two ways to look at the title of this post.

Gunther Schuller died last week at age 89. He was a composer, conductor, professor and arts administrator with a seventy year career. He could be in heaven telling St. Peter the celestial chimes are out of tune OR we could be discussing Schuller's performance of Saint Peter, an oratorio by John Knowles Paine.

Katie Whitsett/ Yoga on High

Today is the last Monday in June and the last Classical 101 "Ohm" Monday of the series. For the occasion, we have once again teamed up with Yoga on High for a special yoga pose sequence complete with music that spans centuries. This "Ohm" Monday is all about time.

Siegfried Lauterwasser

In Classical music, where does the power lie?  Some would say those who control the purse strings run the show.  That is true, generally speaking.  Who wields the big stick, however?

Ah... a clue!

The conductor?


Yes, the conductor controls the overall sound of the orchestra.  The musicians do what the conductor asks.  (Is that laughter I hear?) According to some, however, for some 30 years, the most powerful person in Classical music was Ronald A. Wilford.


Christopher Purdy goes on air for Classical 101 nearly every day, but what does the opera-loving host do in his "free" time? Well, he directs operas, of course.

The next Fretworks program on Classical 101 will include Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg's popular Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 arranged for 3 guitars and performed by the Netherlands Guitar Trio.  The Morning Mood sounds pretty chipper with three guitars, and In the Hall of the Mountain King sounds like a jamboree.

The XV International Tchaikovsky Competition is in full swing in Moscow, with the names of the pianists advancing to the second round having been announced.  When Van Cliburn won the very first one in 1958, he turned the music world upside down, becoming the only classical musician to ever receive a ticker tape parade in New York City.  Here he is on his return engagement in 1962.

The next Classical Showcase on Friday evening at 7 on Classical 101, will present two great works: Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 in G and Symphony No. 5 in D Minor by Dmitri Shostakovich.  

Photo album from the Brahms-Institut of Lubec

A new live concert recording of Johannes Brahms' Symphony No. 1 in C Minor will be presented  this evening on the next Symphony @ 7 .  It was the concluding performance of A Celebration of Peace Through Music which took place on May 5 of last year at Washington D. C.'s Constitution Hall.

Opera Project Columbus

According to writer Thomas C. Wolfe, you can't go home again.

As far as Maestro Alessandro Siciliani is concerned, he IS home.

Yoga on High

Yesterday, millions of yogis celebrated the first International Yoga Day so today's "Ohm" Monday is a special collaboration with the teachers at Yoga on High.

These professional yogis have made a special Classical 101 Energizing Sequence for you to download and practice along with a dynamic playlist. Let's enjoy this beautiful "Ohm" Monday!

Christopher McLallen

Twenty years ago, the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos released an album which rocketed to the top of the charts.  Chant was an instant, and enduring, hit.  It has sold over 6,000,000 copies. and Alan Warburton

You may have seen a few of these videos floating around Facebook. Various artists have been using everything from 3D animations to actual light installations in art galleries to cue up Baroque and Classical music to visually-stimulating displays that are nothing short of mesmerizing.

Columbus International Children's Choir in concert.
Columbus International Children's Choir

The Columbus International Children's Choir, conducted by Tatiana Kats, travels to New York next week for a performance in Carnegie Hall on June 27.  

image of a portrait of Mozart in which he wears a bright red coat

His genius secured his immortality despite his untimely death. His Requiem - ironically unfinished at his death - he believed he was composing for his own funeral.

Mozart may have been pursued by intimations of his own mortality, but he wasn't haunted by the idea of death. However, the death of his father, Leopold Mozart, may well have been a different story.

John Eliot Gardiner conducting at Carnegie Hall in 2012.
Melanie Burford / For NPR

Claudio Montiverdi's Vespers of 1610 will be the next musical offering presented on the "Carnegie Hall Live" series on Classical Showcase Friday evening at 7 on Classical 101.  


This Saturday on Fretworks, I'll have, "Music from the Time of Cervantes," with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet from their new CD, New Renaissance. The selections, arranged by William Kanengiser, are mostly by anonymous 15 th to 17 th century Spanish composers, but the CD also includes pieces by Diego Pisador, Luys de Navarez, and Antonio Martin y Call.


You might think that after the disastrous premier of his First Symphony in 1897, Sergei Rachmaninoff could have given up writing symphonies for good.  The great Russian pianist and composer went into a nearly three year long depression that ended only after the intervention of psychological counseling, which resulted in his popular Second Piano Concerto in 1901.  

Fortunately for us, Rachmaninoff also wrote two more symphonies.  On the tonight's Symphony @ 7, I'll have the well-received and popular Symphony No. 2 in E Minor from 1908.

When I was growing up, I played a lot of baseball.  Inevitably, games would sometimes get rained out.  Outdoor concerts suffer the same consequences, though many go on "rain or shine," because the musicians are under cover.  Pity the poor concertgoers, who are not.  It is the risk you take with outdoor performances and sports.

Flood Magazine, Deutsch Grammophone image

If you think Wagner's operas were too long and feared you might fall asleep in the middle of Die Meistersinger, how about an eight hour lullaby?  As reported by Reuters, British composer Max Richter has written the longest piece of classical music ever recorded, and it's meant to put you to sleep, literally.  In fact it's called "SLEEP."

Silohette of a person catching the sun in from of a body of water.
Yuval Y / Flickr

Be sure to join Classical 101 this weekend for some special music to celebrate the first day of summer and Father's Day.

Elephants at the Pairi Daiza Zoo in Belgium sway to music being played by two violinists.
Pairi Daiza Zoo / Facebook

We know music can soothe our souls and lift our spirits, but is there something universally appealing about music that resonates beyond our own species?

In the mid 90s, the music industry began to slowly dismantle itself.  In a business version of "death by a thousand cuts," recording industry executives ignored the approaching digital tsunami, because it was sunny and calm at the beach.

Ronald A. Wilford, the President and CEO of Columbia Artists Management (CAMI), died on Saturday at  the age of 87.