Classical 101

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

The angel of death visited Mozart in December 1791. Then the angel of debt besieged Mozart's widow for years to come.

Danish composer Carl Nielsen wrote his Fourth Symphony at the height of the First World War.  It is about "the elemental will to live."  


It is easy to fall into a routine or comfort zone in our listening, especially the more entrenched in a music scene one becomes. It happens. But what happens when musicians reach across genres to listen to one another and audiences follow? 

Keith Lockhart on stage with the Boston Pops
Boston Symphony Orchestra

No plans for this Friday night? No problem. WOSU TV will be airing two concerts to knock your socks off and ring in the weekend. 

Warner Brothers

Warner Brothers cartoons have introduced generations of youngsters to classical music.  This is a short thank you to Bugs, Elmer, Daffy, and the gang for making music fun and funny!

Chuck Jones has a fabulous website which will keep you scrolling, and scrolling, and scrolling.  (Really...just trust me and try it.)

Karen Vlach, album photography / Supraphon

Czech pianist, Ivan Moravec died on July 27 at the age of 84.  He was one of the greats, although perhaps less well-known to some than he should have been.  Born and trained in Prague, his international career was launched in 1964 when he appeared with the Cleveland Orchestra and George Szell.

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

How tall was Mozart? What color were his eyes? Did he ever pretend to be a cat?

In a recent blog, I wrote about Colin Matthews' composition Pluto, the Renewer, which he added to Holst's The Planets in 2000. (Pluto May Be Small, but it SOUNDS Big, July 15, 2015)

However, it has been revealed that someone else got there first.

Leonard Bernstein.

Yes, the conductor/composer who taught many to love music with his Young People's Concerts with the New York Philharmonic beat Matthews there by some 28 years.

Caterina Lichtenberg and Mike Marshall
Courtesy of Mike Marshall

Three duos with different combinations of instruments are featured this week on Fretworks.  Julian Gray and Ron Pearl have an overture by Handel arranged for two guitars, mandolin players Caterina Lichtenberg and Mike Marshall complete the 15 Two-Part Inventions of J.S. Bach that we began last week, and Flutist Gary Schocker and guitarist Jason Vieaux have the Roumanian Folk Dances of Bela Bartok.

Joel Vega / Mid-Ohio Opera

You can't have too much opera. Ohio is blessed with a world class company in Cincinnati, a reborn and fantastic Opera Columbus , Opera Project Columbus, Cleveland Opera, Toledo, Canton and Akron Operas and the latest, Mansfield's Mid-Ohio Opera.


Exotic music by Rimsky-Korsakov and a rare Debussy composition are in store for the next Symphony @ 7 on Classical 101.  Thursday evening at 7, I'll have Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky Korsavov's orchestral masterpiece, the symphonic suite Sheherazade, and Claude Debussy's Rapsodie for Saxophone and Orchestra.

Dizzy Feet Foundation

Saturday, July 25th, is National Dance Day.  It's the brainchild of producer Nigel Lythgoe and director Adam Shankman, among others, to support, improve and increase access to dance education in the United States.  National Dance Day was launched in 2010 by Lythgoe, who is co-creator of the television competition So You Think You Can Dance, and co-president of the Dizzy Feet Foundation, which he co-founded with Shankman in 2009.  

Lisa Marie Mazzucco

You've heard the old joke, "How do I get to Carnegie Hall?  Practice, practice, practice."  There are many people, famous and not, to whom credit for the line has been given.  Some say Jack Benny, but the president of the Jack Benny International Fan Club says no.  Another says an anonymous person on the street.  Heifetz and Rubinstein have also been mentioned.

John Williams and Gustavo Dudamel
Mathew Imaging

This Friday, July 24th, Maestro Gustavo Dudamel will lead the LA Philharmonic in a John Williams Tribute Concert, but you don't have to be in California to catch the performance. 

Clive Barda / Royal Opera House

Rossini's five act grand opera Guilliaume Tell  is having a controversial  run of performances at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London. Damiano Michelietto's new production includes a rape scene, not in any way included by the composer in the opera's premiere in Paris in 1830.

image of a portrait of Mozart in which he wears a birght red oat

In the final year of his life, Mozart composed his piano variations on the aria Ein Weib ist das herrlichste Ding – “A Wife Is the Most Glorious Thing” – from a Singspiel by his friend the singer and composer Benedikt Schack.

Judging solely from Mozart’s correspondence, Schack’s aria could easily have served as Mozart’s personal theme song.

Courtesy of the artist

The evocative and dramatic "Asturias" from the Suite española of Isaac Albeniz will open the program on the next Fretworks Saturday evening at 7:00 PM on Classical 101.  Guitarist Milos Karadaglic will be featured from his debut recording on Deutsche Grammophon from a few years back, Mediterráneo.

The "Linz" Symphony by Mozart is the next featured work on Symphony @ 7 this Thursday evening on Classical 101.  Also, for Peter Schickele's 80th birthday coming up on Friday, I'll have his Clarinet Concerto in a recording with the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra.

Yale University Press, book cover

Many reviewers of Leeds University Professor, David Cooper's new book on Béla Bartók have remarked that Cooper leads readers to believe that the famous Hungarian composer was on the Autistic spectrum. 

In the newly-published biographical study, Cooper cites clinical psychologist Michael Fitzgerald, the Henry Marsh Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin,  on the possibility of Bartók displaying characteristics of Aspergher's Syndrome. 


NASA's New Horizons interplanetary probe has been much in the news recently as it approached it's rendezvous with Pluto in the outer reaches of our solar system.  As you most likely have read, when the New Horizons probe was launched in 2006, Pluto still had planet status.  It has since been reduced to what was called a "dwarf planet," sliding down the chart faster than a B-list celebrity. 

Rob Davidson

The XV International Tchaikovsky Competition just wrapped up.  The 17th Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition commences in October.  The screening jury for the 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition is traveling the world looking for it's next set of contestants for 2017.  Meanwhile, the Cincinnati World Piano Competition, which just wrapped up it's latest competition last month with the finals held before a packed house...fired Awadagin Pratt, one of Classical music's finest pianists and a piano professor and artist in residence at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music - with an e-mail.

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

"Neither a borrower nor a lender be," said Polonius to his young adult son, Laertes, in Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Personalities being what they are, Mozart was evidently a borrower.

Art song, lied, lieder, mélodie, canzona, song, or boring, German, turgid, fat people screaming? The art of lyric poetry being set to music for one voice with piano accompaniment has a bad rap among many. You mean we gotta' sit there while somebody sings at us in a language we don't understand about babbling brooks, wifty-eyed maidens and stupid swans? No sets, no costumes, no pulchritude? And you can't dance to it? Gimme a break.

Columbus Symphony Orchestra website

Music icons such as The Commodores and Pink Martini will be visiting our fair city this month for the Picnic With The Pops series hosted by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. Classical 101 has the details. 

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: