WRTI Spotlight

Latest From ICON Magazine
3:21 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

Art Blakey Was Behind It All

Drummer and bandleader Art Blakey

Art Blakey was to the small band what Duke Ellington was to the big band, meaning that over the years Blakey’s small groups—like Ellington’s big bands—produced a great number of jazz artists, many of whom became jazz legends.

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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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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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The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert on WRTI
7:35 am
Sun February 1, 2015

The Philadelphians in Concert on WRTI: Ricardo Morales Plays Debussy and Rossini, Feb. 1 at 1PM

Ricardo Morales speaks with WRTI's Susan Lewis during intermission.

The Philadelphia Orchestra's Principal Clarinet Ricardo Morales shows off his virtuosic skills in two very different and very challenging works on the Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert broadcast, Sunday, February 1st at 1 pm.

Debussy’s Rhapsody No. 1 for Clarinet and Orchestra and Rossini’s Introduction, Theme, and Variations for Clarinet and Orchestra, are two of three 40/40 works on today’s program. And these two performances are the first, ever, by The Philadelphia Orchestra.

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A Birthday party for Stan Getz & Sonny Stitt
7:20 am
Sun February 1, 2015

A BP Special! A Night Honoring a Bossa-Innovator and a Boss Tenor, Feb. 2, 6 to 9 PM

Tune in to WRTI on February 2nd as Bob Perkins celebrates two jazz greats!

What do you get when you put together a hard-driving percussive Bebop saxophonist with a lyrical, warm Cool Jazz saxophonist?  Sonny Stitt and Stan Getz, of course! February 2nd marks the birth of both of these giants of jazz, and Bob Perkins is getting set to celebrate.

Stitt and Getz both arrived on the jazz scene in the mid 1940s. And both went through numerous assignments in big bands and combos as they continued developing their unique jazz voices.  

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The Metropolitan Opera on WRTI
2:15 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

The Met Opera on WRTI: Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann, Jan. 31, 1 PM

Erin Morley sings Olympia and Vittorio Grigolo sings Hoffmann in The Met Opera's Les Contes d'Hoffmann

Tenor Vittorio Grigolo sings the title role of Hoffmann, the tortured poet and unwitting adventurer who is looking for love in Jacques Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann, a fantasy opera based on three short stories by E. T. A. Hoffmann. The libretto was written by Jules Barber; the opera was first performed in 1881 in Paris. Saturday, January 31, 1 to 4:30 pm on WRTI.

One of the most-beloved opera arias is The Tales of Hoffmann's Barcarolle, Belle nuit, ô nuit d'amour:

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The Metropolitan Opera on WRTI
11:06 am
Sat January 24, 2015

The Met Opera on WRTI: Kristine Opolais Sings Mimi in Puccini's LA BOHEME, Jan. 24, 1 PM

Soprano Kristine Opolais sings Mimi in Puccini's LA BOHEME
Marco Borggreve

Franco Zeffirelli’s classic take on Puccini’s most popular opera, the immortal tale of tragic young love, is set among the rooftops of bohemian Paris. Soprano Kristine Opolais sings the role of the fragile Mimì, with Jean-François Borras as the love-sick poet Rodolfo. Riccardo Frizza conducts. Puccini's La Boheme, Saturday, January 24, 1 to 4 pm.

Do you know the astonishing story about how Kristine Opolais made history at The Met? Read about it here!

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The Fabulous Philadelphians on WRTI
2:59 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

The Philadelphians on WRTI: David Kim Plays Tchaikovsky, Cristian Macelaru Conducts, Jan. 25, 1 PM

Philadelphia Orchestra Conductor-in-Residence Cristian Macelaru

Join us on Sunday, January 25th at 1 pm for a Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert re-broadcast of a Verizon Hall performance first heard in December of 2013. You'll hear two delightful pieces by Tchaikovsky that feature Concertmaster David Kim as soloist: the Serenade Melancholique, and Valse-Scherzo - both personally meaningful works to Mr. Kim, who was the only American awarded a prize at the 1986 quadrennial Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.

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Symphony in C on WRTI
2:57 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Romantic Favorites and Charles Peck's Metropolitan: Symphony in C, Jan. 25 at 3 PM on WRTI

Composer Charles Peck's "Metropolitan" is featured in this broadcast.

Gems from the Romantic repertoire take center stage following a performance of the winning entry in the 2015 Young Composers Competition with music by Charles Peck. One of the first concerti of the Romantic age, Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1, will feature pianist Roman Rabinovich. The concert concludes with Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony in B minor, based on Lord Byron’s dramatic metaphysical poem.

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