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, this Saturday at 5 pm on WRTI... Looking over the landscape of American orchestral music covering the 19th and into the 20th centuries as we have been, we see two names—not American—looming large. One is Beethoven, the other, Wagner. They are still huge now; imagine them in the eyes of American musicians then.

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday September 10th, 5 to 6 pm. Last month we left the Hungarian conductor Anton Seidl in late 19th-century New York City, where he led, at one time or another, the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Not too long after, the Spanish composer and pianist Enrique Granados was there, basking in a successful premiere at that same Met. The year was 1916—100 years ago.

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday from 5 to 6 pm on WRTI... As we’ve seen this year on Discoveries, the rise of American orchestral music followed composers and orchestras, as you might think. And because orchestras have leaders, we’ve started looking at conductors, too.

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.

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