Arts Desk

Throughout the week

Listen to WRTI's Arts Desk features for a daily look into music in the Philadelphia region.

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Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky—who wrote such lush, sweeping melodies for strings—composed one violin concerto. But in it, he put a world of emotions. WRTI's Susan Lewis has more.

The Story Behind the Famous Bugle Call, "Taps"

May 23, 2020
The Washington Post/Getty Images

The powerful sound of a bugler playing “Taps” is a call to remember those who gave their lives in the service of the United States.

Scott Rodgerson/Unsplash

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in 1791 at age 35, before he finished his Requiem mass. But it wasn't the only funeral music he composed. WRTI's Susan Lewis has more on an earlier work that provides context for his musical journey. 

May 18, 2020. As Memorial Day approaches, we think of the service and sacrifice of so many to protect our country and keep us safe. Our classical album of the week, Some of These Days, is a recent release by pianist Lara Downes featuring American music about perseverence, hope, and caring for one another.

Jeremy Tressler

Houses and other buildings we inhabit are the subjects of eight works in pianist Nadia Shpachenko’s album, The Poetry of Places, winner of the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Classical Compendium.

Getty Images/Skodonell


Born in Shanghai in 1990, pianist Haochen Zhang won the Van Cliburn Competition in 2009, which launched his career. He went on to win an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2017, and today he's an international star, receiving kudos from media outlets around the globe. “Such a combination of enchanting, sensitive lyricism and hypnotizing forcefulness is a phenomenon encountered very rarely," says The Jerusalem Post. Two of his favorite things: Rachmaninoff and Philadelphia.

In these days of uncertainty, music can provide a safe haven, an escape, or even a boost of energy. I've found all of that and more in a new recording of the music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, the second oldest of Johann Sebastian's musical sons, and a composer who continually fascinates me.

May 11, 2020. If you listen to WRTI's weekday feature Flix@5, you're likely familiar with the music of Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957), whose scores for films include Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, The Sea Wolf, Kings Row, and Of Human Bondage. Korngold was one of the most important film composers in the history of Hollywood; his music for The Adventures of Robin Hood won him an Academy Award in 1939.

Mother's Day is a time to honor our mothers and the roles they've played in shaping who we are. Pianist Lara Downes' music shines a light on social justice, in the tradition of her own mother. 

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