Creatively Speaking
5:12 pm
Sun February 8, 2015

Will 27 Pieces Win Violinist Hilary Hahn One More Grammy Award?

[Update: Yes! Hilary Hahn won in her category on February 8, 2015]

An encore may be played after a scheduled piece. However, it’s not an afterthought. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, violinist Hillary Hahn’s collection of commissioned encores, that is up for a GRAMMY for "Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance" at next month’s ceremony, showcases more than two dozen such works for violin and piano.

Radio script:

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Creatively Speaking
5:03 pm
Sun February 8, 2015

How a Charming & Deadly Con Man Inspired an Opera and Concerto: A Real-Life Story

A 19th-century American saloon is the setting for Bramwell Tovey's 'Songs of the Paradise Saloon" concerto for trumpet and orchestra, based on an evil manipulator, who was a shyster and a murderer.

The true story of a 19th-century swindler in New York City inspired not only an opera, but also a concerto. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on Bramwell Tovey’s Songs of the Paradise Saloon for trumpet and orchestra.

Radio Script:

Susan Lewis: Commissioned by the Calgary Opera, Bramwell Tovey became intrigued by the life of a notorious man named Alexander Keith. Both charming and deadly, Keith swindled many, and eventually planted explosives in an ocean liner, killing 80 people.  

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The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert
3:21 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and The Philadelphia Orchestra on WRTI: Feb. 8 at 1 PM

Jaap van Zweden, Photo credit: Marco Borggreve

On Sunday, February 8th, The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast features Amsterdam-born conductor Jaap van Zweden, music director of both the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (since 2008) and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (since 2012).

In a concert first broadcast on WRTI in May of 2013, Maestro van Zweden conducts two works composed by the Russian masters Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Sergei Prokofiev that could hardly be more different in their purpose and effect.

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Crossover: Feb. 7 at 11:30 AM
2:29 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

Remembering the Elegant Pianist Aldo Ciccolini, 1925-2015

The spectacular pianist Aldo Ciccolini passed away on Saturday, January 31, 2015 at age 89. Ciccolini was on the "Crossover Bucket List" of prospective guests for a very long time. And we’re not only saddened by his death, but also that we were never able to speak with him. But we do have the music and wonderful performances of this great pianist.

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Station Announcements
9:24 am
Fri February 6, 2015

WRTI Warp Drive...Mission Accomplished.

Can we quickly raise $325,000 to avoid the traditional-sounding Winter Drive, which is slated to begin on February 9th? Let's make it so!

WRTI has entered a new frontier in fund drives. Our mission: to eliminate the traditional Winter Drive as you know it, to boldly go where we’ve never gone before. Enter the WRTI Warp Drive.

What’s a Warp Drive? With your help, it’s faster than the speed of light! We quickly raise $325,000 — with your help now — to avoid the traditional-sounding Winter Drive, which is slated to begin on February 9th.  

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Creatively Speaking
11:56 am
Thu February 5, 2015

Opera Philadelphia Gets Wilde

Frank Harris (William Burden) urges Oscar Wilde (David Daniels) to flee to France.
Ken Howard The Santa Fe Opera

The East Coast premiere of an opera about the 19th-century, Anglo-Irish writer Oscar Wilde is from Feb. 6th t0 15th at the Academy of Music. As WRTI’s Jim Cotter reports, Wilde's life story is as compelling as his work.

Oscar Wilde came to America early in his career, even before he’d written anything of any consequence. He was already a gifted raconteur.

Historian John Cooper is an authority on Wilde in America. He says many of Wilde’s most-quoted phrases, like much of his writings, have a timeless quality.

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Creatively Speaking
1:44 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

What Did Bach Sound Like In The Time of Mendelssohn?

J.S. Bach (1685-1750)

For decades, musicians have struggled to determine what J.S. Bach sounded like in his own time. As The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns reports, The Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia is turning the clock in a different direction on February 8th at Girard College, determining what Bach sounded like in the time of...Mendelssohn.

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Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection
5:46 am
Wed February 4, 2015

1915: Waldteufel and Taneyev

Émile Waldteufel

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday, 5-6 pm... One hundred years ago, and the world was in upheaval. The 19th century was fast becoming a memory by 1915. The previous generation’s nationalism in classical music had catapulted new languages into the concert hall, but it was now seen as irrelevant, corrosive, or at best, old-fashioned. Nationalism was now viewed through the War, in its second year, called “Great” by some and “World” by others. In a few decades it would take on a name even more horrible than World War; it would be called the “First.”

Two very different composers who died in 1915 signify the passing century remarkably well. One was the friend of royalty; another, the friend of musical royalty.

Émile Waldteufel’s violinist brother Léon won admission to the Paris Conservatory, and the father Louis moved the entire family there, from Strasbourg in the Alsatian region of France. It was a smart move, for Louis Waldteufel conducted his own successful orchestra, and found even more fame in the country’s capital city. Émile went on to study piano at the Conservatory, soloed with the Waldteufel Orchestra, and at 27, became the court pianist for Empress Eugénie.

But the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71 greatly altered royal life. Waldteufel continued to play for small elite gatherings but was otherwise little-known. The Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII), however, attended one of those events, loved a little waltz he heard, and invited the piano-playing composer, Émile Waldteufel, to London. It was there that he became famous, writing dances that are still heard today, including Les Patineurs, or The Skater Waltz. He composed and conducted throughout Europe and retired to Paris. After a hugely successful career, he died when Debussy and Stravinsky were au courant.

Sergei Taneyev was also a pianist—a brilliant one—and a music critic and voracious scholar of seemingly any subject that came along. Mathematics, philosophy, science, and history all came under his intense interest, but it was composition that was his dearest love. It expressed itself for him in rigorous counterpoint, the exacting placement of note against note and line against line. Large washes of sound or simple folk tunes evoking a Russian mythos little interested him. Bach and Mozart were to be revered.

Tchaikovsky, 16 years older than Taneyev and one of his best friends, nevertheless feared his criticism. The world-famous composer would ask him sincerely to tell him what he thought of a certain work, and Taneyev obliged, in brutal frankness. He rubbed other composers the wrong way, but his friendship with Tchaikovsky remained undiminished, if needing, here and there, a couple of days’ cooling off. Taneyev, in fact, was the soloist for the Moscow premiere of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, and gave the Russian premiere of the Second as well as the world premiere of the Third.

Their outlook was indeed similar, and after Tchaikovsky’s death Taneyev completed and edited some of the unfinished works. Searching for a more international or cosmopolitan expression, they had not bought into the Russianism of Balakirev or Mussorgsky. But Taneyev’s Suite de Concert, really a violin concerto, is his most famous work, and is filled with, ironically, folk-like beauty. A heart attack killed him as he recuperated from pneumonia he caught attending the funeral of another world-famous composer, Scriabin. 1915 was certainly a year of upheaval.

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Creatively Speaking
6:05 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

A Young Composer Inspired by One Book, One Philadelphia's 'Orphan Train'

Composer TJ Cole wrote "O Children, Dear Children," to accompany the Jan. 22nd launch of the 2015 One Book, Philadelphia program.

Curtis Institute of Music composition student TJ Cole is only 21, but she already has a string of impressive commissions under her belt. Last year she was chosen to write a piece of music based on the Free Library's 2015 One Book, One Philadelphia selection - Orphan Train, a novel by Christina Baker Kline.

It’s the story of 91-year-old Vivian, who lost her family as a child, and 17-year-old Molly, a foster child who also knows what it’s like to be alone and unwanted.  

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Philadelphia Music Makers
5:37 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

The Musical Heart of Michelle Cann

Pianist Michelle Cann

Pianist Michelle Cann's musical evolution started early.

Her father, the music teacher at the local parochial elementary school, made sure that she had ample access to experiment from a young age.

At seven years old, Cann began piano lessons in earnest, hoping to become as successful with the instrument as her older sister, who had been taking lessons for years.

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