Classical 101

Classical 101 is Central Ohio’s source for 'round-the-clock classical music. Our hosts provide insight into classical music news from Columbus and around the world.

Explore concert previews, book and music reviews, arts features, web-exclusive playlists and archived audio and video of local and visiting musicians. Listen your way through our podcast archives of Opera Abbreviated and the Mozart Minute for a deeper dive into the music we play.

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Few operas have as tortured a performance history as Giuseppe Verdi's five-act opera set to a French libretto,  Don Carlos. The Opera's Story Set at the court of Philip II of Spain, circa 1563, Verdi's French Don Carlos is based on Friedrich Schiller's 1787 Don Karlos, Infant von Spanien.  Schiller defined the romantic age along with Goethe and later Heine,  and a true to life tale of a mad, deformed dwarf, the lot of the historical Don Carlos, wasn't about to work on the German stage of the time.

The Stories Music Tells Us

Jun 26, 2009

A couple of days ago I attended a fiction writing event led by noted local author and educator Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld at the Riffe Gallery downtown.  The event was an offshoot of the Riffe Gallery's current exhibition New Narratives: Paintings by Ohio Artists, curated by the Columbus Museum of Art's Dominique Vasseur.

How to Play Music with Less Pain

Jun 26, 2009

Yes, musicians are athletes and subject to injuries, even career-ending ones. Years of training and playing in awkward positions with repetitive motion causes wear and tear on the body. Now there is an award-winning resource available for  professional and amateur musicians, teachers and students, doctors and therapists.

Many musical performances are good; far fewer are great. What makes a performance good or great? Let's explore this question with two recent recordings of Dmitri Shostakovich's Fourth Symphony.

Bach On a Ukulele

Jun 26, 2009

Someone I know who plays a ukulele sent me a YouTube video of  a young man who is a virtuoso on this diminutive (but in his hands amazingly expressive)  instrument.  His name is Jake Shimabukuro, and his arrangement and performance George Harrison's song "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" has been viewed  more than three million times.

John Philip Sousa Comes to Columbus

Jun 26, 2009

OK...maybe not THE Sousa, but as close as any of us will ever get.

Recently I came across a recording of Humphrey Searle's Two Practical Cats, two movements for narrator, flute/piccolo, guitar, and cello based on texts from T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.

Beethoven Lives on Sesame Street

Jun 25, 2009

Thanks to the internet, I've discovered that Beethoven is alive and well and living on Sesame Street. That would be Murray Beethoven, who seems to have a similar hairstyle, but otherwise bears little resemblance to Ludwig.  He seems to possess Beethoven's name, Mozart's purported impishness, and Haydn's sense of humor, as seen in this video with none other than Yo-Yo Ma.

New Technologies Offer Something Gained and Something Lost

Jun 24, 2009

Imagine what the experience of music must have been like before the invention of recording technology,  before iPods, downloads, uplinks, CDs, tapes, and even records and turntables, let alone old 78 RPM Victrolas. If you wanted to hear music, you had to listen to it being made in the present moment by someone else or make it yourself.  Live music was the only kind of music there was.

This is an article I was asked to write for Opera Columbus's 25th anniversary program book a few years ago. "I'm not making this up, you know!" Diva Mary Garden Incites the Masses The meanest Buckeye linebacker is no match for a prima donna.

Okay, now I've really seen it all.  Do you know Mozart's Rondo alla turca, the third movement of his Piano Sonata, K. 331?  Sure you do. This rondo has been transcribed for a countless combination of instruments. But this video of two men playing Mozart's Turkish Rondo on the same guitar takes the cake:

. . . a whole new definition of chamber music.

As you likely know, the Columbus Symphony's search for a new music director is underway.  A recent post on former Chicago Symphony Orchestra executive director and American Symphony Orchestra League head Henry Fogel's Arts Journal blog, "On the Record," may be of local interest here in C-town.

Musical Fathers

Jun 19, 2009

This Sunday is Father's Day.  There are lots of musical dads out there - famous and not so famous. Leopold Mozart was, and even today still is, one of the most famous musical fathers.  In fact, he might not have been famous at all had he not been dad to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The Cleveland International Piano Competition Nears

Jun 19, 2009

Thirty-five young pianists from around the world converge on Cleveland July 27-August 9 in hopes of winning prizes and a record deal through the Cleveland International Piano Competition, held at The Cleveland Play House and Severance Hall every other year. First prize alone offers a cash prize of $50,000 (!) plus the following:

A few years back I produced a one hour broadcast special on choral music and choirs in Ohio. I met Dr. Catherine Roma, founder and director of Cincinnati's MUSE Choir and director of the UMOJA choir at the Warren Correctional Facility in Lebanon, Ohio. Catherine invited me to attend an early morning rehearsal with the men at Warren. I had never been inside a prison before. I've seen too many bad movies and too much bad television. I found a lot of humanity among the staff, the inmates, and certainly with Catherine.