Classical Music

When cases of the coronavirus spiked in March, doctors and nurses across the country found themselves overwhelmed with work. The shutdown also took away an important creative outlet for a special breed of medical professional: classical musicians. That's why John Masko, a symphony conductor in Boston, founded the National Virtual Medical Orchestra, giving those in the medical field a chance to perform and connect with each other.

"I kept hearing from musician after musician from our ensemble [about] how much they wish they were playing," Masko says.

One of America's most beloved and resourceful pianists has died. Leon Fleisher was 92 years old. He died of cancer in Baltimore Sunday morning, according to his son, Julian.

The pianist's roller coaster career began with fame, moved to despair and ended in fulfillment.

Philadelphia's All City Music Program has been teaching kids for over 70 years. The All City Orchestra Summer Academy—ACOSA, now in its second year—is going one step further, teaching the technology skills students need to share their music in 2020 and beyond.

Join us on Sunday, July 26th at 12 PM on WRTI 90.1 to hear Episode 3 of “This Week with Yannick,” an eight-week radio series, hosted and curated by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

David Swanson

It was 1931 when Eleanor Blum arrived in Philadelphia at age 17 to study piano at the Curtis Institute of Music—and she never left. "Mrs. Sokoloff," as she was known to students and educators alike at the storied conservatory, died on July 12, 2020 at age 106 of natural causes. She taught at Curtis, the place she called home, for more than 84 years, and was planning to teach this fall despite the pandemic.

So, your Independence Day weekend may be a little different this year, but one thing is the same: WRTI is here for you. We have classical and jazz fireworks planned for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Details from playlists and special shows for each day are listed below.

A Juneteenth Message from WRTI 90.1

Jun 18, 2020

As a mission-driven station, WRTI champions music as a vital cultural resource to move and inspire, educate and entertain, all while reflecting the community we serve.

Professional trumpet player, educator, advocate, and arts leader Stanford Thompson is founder and executive director of Play On, Philly, which teaches hundreds of children in underserved communities to play classical music in orchestral settings.

Courtesy of Jeri Lynne Johnson

In 2008, African-American conductor Jeri Lynne Johnson founded Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, an ensemble of classically trained musicians from diverse cultures and ethnicities as a model for the 21st century. She shared with WRTI's Susan Lewis her thoughts about the possibilities for change in classical music culture.


Prolific film composer Michel Legrand wrote "The Summer Knows," the theme for the film Summer of '42, which won an Academy Award in 1971 for Best Original Dramatic Score. The theme song won a Grammy the same year for Best Instrumental Composition and became a standard recorded by a variety of artists. Watch these videos of the song, showing the music’s enduring and wide-ranging appeal across musical genres.

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