Dmitri Shostakovich

Tara McMullen

Be sure to join us Sunday, January 10th at 1 pm for our weekly Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast! Guest conductor Marin Alsop and pianist Jon Kimura Parker join the Philadelphians for George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. This is the original jazz band version, Ferde Grofe’s faithful orchestration of Paul Whiteman’s arrangement.

Ken Howard

Join us this Saturday for a rare revival of Dmitri Shostakovich’s searing drama Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, heard in an archived Met Opera performance from November. Shostakovich’s towering tragedy of adultery and murder stars the commanding dramatic soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek as the heroine who suffers the vicissitudes of her treachery. Brandon Jovanovich is her co-conspirator and lover, and James Conlon conducts. Saturday, April 18, 1 to 4:15 pm on WRTI.

In early 1941, Dmitri Shostakovich was nervous. He was one of Soviet Russia's most brilliant composers, but he had fallen out of favor with the ruthless dictator Joseph Stalin.

He'd been forced to denounce several of his own pieces of music, and some of his friends and family had been imprisoned or killed. He knew the same thing could happen to him.

With this Tiny Desk Concert by the Grammy-winning Pacifica Quartet, we have the opportunity to explore the world of a single composer. With the arguable exception of Béla Bartók's six string quartets, it's generally accepted that the 15 by Dmitri Shostakovich are the strongest body of quartets since Beethoven.

This season, The Philadelphia Orchestra juxtaposed Beethoven’s path-breaking symphonies and concertos with those of the great orchestral master of the 20th century Dmitri Shostakovich...we’ll be treated to such a pairing Sunday afternoon at 1 pm.

Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, who had been in and out of favor with Soviet authorities for decades, wrote his 10th symphony in 1953 - the year Stalin died. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the work is both political and personal, with parts written in musical code.

On Sunday, June 8, 2014, on WRTI, Stephane Deneve leads The Philadelphia Orchestra in a performance of Shostakovich's 10th Symphony and Beethoven's Violin Concerto.

Shakespeare's 450th

Apr 5, 2014

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday, 5 to 6 pm, we celebrate the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare, who lived from 1564 to 1616, and well-apparell’d April (Romeo and Juliet, act 1, scene 2) being the very month he was born, approves our dip into Fleisher’s Shakespeare list once more.

The Free Library of Philadelphia is celebrating the Bard’s birth (find all the events here)—our whole city is much bound to him (Romeo and Juliet, 4, 2)—so we’re happy to join in the great coil (Much Ado About Nothing, 3, 3) with more of the many Fleisher works inspired by Shakespeare. To discover all such titles in the Fleisher Collection, only send an email to fleisher@freelibrary.org, and the list will fly swiftly to you with swallow’s wings (Richard III, 5, 2).

One year, 1861, saw the completion of two of the works on the program today. One is the Overture to King Lear by the Russian Mily Balakirev. That a composer known for energizing the Russian nationalist school of music would write a work connected with an English playwright is interesting. But Balakirev’s horizons were broader than the mere use of folksong.
 

Tellingly, he also supported the career of Tchaikovsky (when other Russian nationalists were grumbling about the European—meaning non-Russian, meaning German—sound of his music). Tchaikovsky, of course, loved Shakespeare. Balakirev’s early Overture to King Lear shows that the composer, although largely self-taught, knew the “European” orchestral style well. Even though he finished the work in 1861, he revised it 40 years later, after a long withdrawal from the music world.

It could hardly be more appropriate than to have music about the Danish Hamlet by the Danish Niels Gade, the most important musician in his country at the time. Nationalism was also in the air in Denmark, and early in his life Gade studied Danish folk traditions. But he went to Germany, taught and conducted there, and when he came back to Copenhagen his style was more international: this, in 1861, is the sound of Gade’s Hamlet.

Carried with more speed before the wind (The Comedy of Errors, 1, 1), we fly a century later to music from the 1964 film Hamlet by another Russian, Dmitri Shostakovich. He wrote prodigiously for the concert stage, but went back to film music often during his career. One reason for this was his on-again, off-again relationship with the Soviet regime. Many of his artist colleagues were imprisoned because of putative sins against the government, some were killed, and for most of his life Shostakovich was haunted by the fear of the knock on the door in the middle of the night.

But film music was an approved outlet. Shostakovich’s sometimes-violent voice seems tamer on film, but hearing the music removed from the visual is a bright reminder of his genius. That Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, and Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon, could release this for us, approves celebration of this day with shows (King Henry VIII, 4,1).

This Sunday at 1 pm, join us for a Philadelphia Orchestra concert from October. Yefim Bronfman, one of the world's greatest pianists, brings his unique blend of power, virtuosity, and grace to Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 - its delicate solo opening bars and fiery conclusion serving as an ideal vehicle to showcase Bronfman's talents.

Beethoven and Shostakovich grew up in different countries in different centuries. But, as WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, a renowned Russian conductor, leading The Philadelphia Orchestra on this week’s concert broadcast, finds a great affinity between the two musical giants.

Sunday afternoon, November 24, 2013, on WRTI, Semyon Byshkov leads The Philadelphia Orchestra in a performance of Shostakovich’s 11th Symphony and Beethoven’s fourth piano concerto, with Yefim Bronfman as soloist. Susan will interview Maestro Semyon Byshkov at Intermission about Shostakovich's 11th Symphony.

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