Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection

The first Saturday of each month, 5 to 6 pm

In Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, we uncover the unknown, rediscover the little-known, and take a fresh look at some of the remarkable treasures housed in the Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music in the Free Library of Philadelphia. The Fleisher Collection is the largest lending library of orchestral performance material in the world.

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday, July 2nd, 5-6 pm.... Recently on Discoveries we’ve been looking at the beginning generations of American composers of orchestral music. In the last decades of the 19th century they began making their way to Europe—mostly to Germany—to study their craft, which they then brought back. MacDowell, Chadwick, Parker, Paine, and others are prime examples of this pilgrimage. Their legacy remains to this day, through their music and their students.

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday, June 4, 5 to 6 pm... At the end of the 19th century, many thought that Edward MacDowell was the great composer America had been waiting for. He may have been. But if so, he was a great American composer cut down in his prime. The music of MacDowell is lyrical, vigorous, and at times gripping, but we get the feeling that we are witnessing the first blossoming of a great artist, one about to enter the later stages of a career that never happened.

On this month’s Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday May 7th, 5 to 6 pm, we continue our recent survey of the earlier American composers with a visit with George Whitefield Chadwick. It’s a revisit, too; on four previous occasions—from last month’s show all the way back to our third program in 2002—Chadwick has been turning up on Discoveries broadcasts.

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday, April 2nd, 5 to 6 pm. After World War I, there was a trail of American composers to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger. But in the years after the Civil War, early in American orchestral music, composers also went to Europe to study. Mostly, they went to Germany, and some of those, to Munich, at that time the second-greatest center of music in Europe, after Paris. After all, so many of the operas of the trend-setting Richard Wagner had premiered in this capital of Bavaria, and it was not all that far from Bayreuth, with its theater specially built for Wagner.

Discovering Beethoven?

Mar 2, 2016

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday, March 5th, 5 to 6 pm... It's a composer we’ve barely touched on in Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, and with good reason. Beethoven isn’t a discovery to us (although, thankfully, people new to classical music discover him all the time).

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday, February 6th, 5-6 pm... If it’s a small world, then the 19th-century world of American classical music was tiny. Last month we looked at George Frederick Bristow of New York, the first native-born composer to get a hearing from that new American institution, the symphony orchestra. Now we meet John Knowles Paine—for the second time; we heard his music on another Discoveries eight years ago.

At the beginning of a new year, consider the beginning of American orchestral music. George Frederick Bristow was the first American-born composer to succeed with that transplanted European institution, the symphony orchestra.

He was awarded, and accepted, and acquainted with success. Samuel Barber had so much success that it might be more proper to say that he endured, rather than enjoyed it. Donal Henahan wrote in his New York Times obituary of the composer, “Samuel Barber was hounded by success. Probably no other American composer has ever enjoyed such early, such persistent and such long-lasting acclaim.”

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday, December 5th, 5 to 6 pm on WRTI.

Even without Appalachian Spring, Aaron Copland might still be considered the greatest American composer. But this week, as we celebrate Copland’s birthday, WRTI’s Kile Smith thinks that the key to Aaron Copland is heard more clearly in Appalachian Spring than in any other of his works.
 


He won two Pulitzer Prizes; taught composers as disparate as Leonard Bernstein, Elliott Carter, and Leroy Anderson; and his books on harmony, counterpoint, and orchestration continue to be used by composers today. On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday Oct. 3rd, 5 to 6 pm.

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