Sticky Notes is a classical music podcast for everyone, whether you are just getting interested in classical music for the first time, or if you've been listening to it and loving it all your life. Interviews with great artists, in depth looks at pieces in the repertoire, and both basic and deep dives into every era of music. Classical music is absolutely for everyone, so let's start listening! Note - Seasons 1-5 will be returning over the next year. They have been taken down in order to be re-recorded in improved sound quality!
Mozart, The Music, The Myth, The Legend, w/ Jan Swafford
"I think Mozart just really loved people." - Jan Swafford.
For the Season 8 Finale, I had the great pleasure of welcoming back Jan Swafford, the great writer on music, who has written a spectacular new biography of Mozart. In this conversation, we talked about who Mozart really was as a person, some of the myths that defined him during his lifetime and into the present day, and of course, the incomparable music that Mozart was able to create, sometimes on a whim or in a single afternoon. This is a conversation about a man who understood people perhaps better than almost any composer, and a musician who scraped and struggled during his life while achieving immortality through his creations. Please note that this will be the last episode of Season 8 and Season 9 will begin on September 8!
The Life and Music of George Gershwin
George Gershwin’s story is like the story of so many American immigrants. His mother and father, Moishe and Rose Gershowitz, were Russian Jews who came to New York City in the 1890s looking for a better life and to escape persecution at home. Soon they became the Gershwines, and in 1898, Jacob Gershwine was born. Later on he changed his name to sound just a little bit more American, and the name George Gershwin was on its way to immortality. In just a few short years, the Gershowitz’s had become the Gershwins, and the story of George Gershwin was beginning to be written. On today’s show we’ll talk about some of Gershwin’s greatest works, including his Concerto in F, Rhapsody in Blue, and Porgy and Bess, but we’ll also talk about the collision between Classical and Pop music, a Russian Jew imbibing the purely American form of Jazz, and Gershwin’s place in the modern classical and jazz repertoire, and in America. Join us!
Haydn Symphony No. 94, "Surprise"
If you want to understand how a symphony works, look no further than the works of the Father of the symphony, Joseph Haydn.
In 1790, a concert promoter and impresario named Johann Peter Solomon showed up un-announced at the Vienna home of the great composer Joseph Haydn. He immediately told Haydn: “I am Solomon from London and I have come to fetch you.” What Salomon and Haydn were about to embark upon would be one of the greatest successes of both of their lives. Haydn would end up making 2 visits to London, presenting an adoring audience with 12 symphonies, almost all of which are still regularly performed today. But the most famous one is the one we’re going to be talking about today, the 94th symphony, nicknamed “Surprise” or in the slightly drier German version: “the one with the Drumstroke.” The piece is famous for this surprise, which is now so well known that it rarely surprises anyone, though we’ll get into just how you might be able to do that in 2022. But the entire piece is a masterpiece in its own right, and so today we’ll discuss all of the tricks and traps Haydn pulls with his audience, leading to one of the most enjoyable symphonies of his entire catalogue.
Derrick Skye: "Prisms, Cycles, and Leaps" w/ Derrick Skye
Derrick Skye is one of the most creative, innovative, and brilliant composers of our time. His orchestral work, Prisms, Cycles, and Leaps is a musical thrill ride spanning influences from literally all over the world, from West African Music, Balkan Folk Music, Hindustani Classical Music, all the way to Appalachan Folk harmonies. I had the great pleasure of talking my way through this piece with Derrick, exploring the mind-bogglingly complex rhythmic patterns, the melodic lines that blend cultures and harmonies, and the infectious joy of this unique piece. If you're not familiar wiith Derrick's music, trust me, take the time to get to know him and his music in this interview/analysis - you won't regret it!
The Music of Olivier Messiaen
There is one composer who I’ve never devoted a full show to that fills me with the same devotion and ecstasy as the people who claim that Wagner almost immediately dissolves them into tears. His music is widely played, but it has never been totally embraced by the wider classical music audience. There are a variety of reasons for this, but his uniquely 20th century language of tonality mixed with atonality mixed with something completely different from anyone who has ever written music makes it sometimes difficult to pin down his vast contribution to the world of music. His music is as deeply connected to his religious faith as any composer in history, and yes, that includes Bach. His music is as deeply connected to Nature as any composer who ever lived, and his music is tied directly to the colors he saw as he played and listened to it. His name is Olivier Messiaen, and he is one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. I wish I could describe to you the otherworldly feeling I get when I listen to his music, but for a very long time, I shied away from it. Perhaps the reason is that it’s extremely hard to talk about Messiaen’s musical outlook without talking about his religious faith. I’m a non-religious Jewish person, so the depths of devotion that Messiaen describes regularly as his inspirations were and are foreign to me. And yet, the first time I heard his L’Ascension, every single hair on my body seemed to stand on end. I was completely blown away by these ravishing harmonies, how light seemed to shine off of them, how Messiaen translated his religious devotion into sound. I’ve not talked about Messiaen’s music on the show because it’s not easy to grapple with, but I can’t wait any longer. Today I’ll tell you a bit about Messiaen’s life, his upbringing, his musical and religious revelations, and then I’ll discuss some of his greatest pieces using three frameworks - religion, nature and specifically birdsong, and color. Join us!
Dvorak Symphony No. 8
Bucolic. Sunny. Cheerful. Joyous. Folksy. Ebullient. Thrilling. These are all words that I found while researching Dvorak’s 8th symphony. Dvorak’s gift for writing the most gorgeous of melodies is on full display in his 8th symphony, a piece that has been charming listeners ever since its very first performances. It is, on its surface, an uncomplicated piece, bursting at the seams with melody after melody after melody, almost mirroring one of Brahms’ greatest one-liners, where he referred to his summer country home as a place where melodies were so heavily present thatt one had to be careful to avoid tripping on them! The overriding characteristic of this 8th symphony is joy, from its childlike key of G Major, to its raucous use of folk music, and even its smiling through tears slow movement.
Very often on this show I try to take pieces that are quite complicated and break them down for you to show you how to follow their twists and turns despite their complexities. But today, I’m going to do the opposite. Today, I’m going to take a piece that is, on its surface, quite simple, and I’m going to show you how this symphony is not quite as simple as it seems. It is a piece full of invention and of the scintillating energy of trying out new ideas. As Dvorak said, he would try to make this symphony ”different from the other symphonies, with individual thoughts worked out in a new way.” So today on the show we’re going to talk about how this symphony is different from other symphonies, and also how Dvorak constructs his chains of melodies that add up to the joyful whole of this piece, though tinged with the melancholy that is almost always present with Dvorak. Join us!
A extremely interesting and fun podcast at a very high, but absolutely understandable quality, beautifully written and narrated with heart by a young professional conductor. I am listening to it all the time
Es macht einfach Spaß, diesem fundierten Podcast zu lauschen, neue Ideen zu bekommen oder Bekanntes neu zu hören.