233 episodes

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!

Sticky Notes: The Classical Music Podcast Joshua Weilerstein

    • Music
    • 4.9 • 192 Ratings

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!

    Schubert Sonata in B Flat, D. 960 (Part 1)

    Schubert Sonata in B Flat, D. 960 (Part 1)

    For a long time I’ve received emails and messages from people asking, and sometimes demanding, that I explore the solo piano repertoire. Other than a look at the Goldberg Variations of Bach, I’ve basically neglected a huge amount music, including some of the greatest works ever written. Why have I been doing this? Well, if I’m totally honest, it’s been slightly out of a sense of intimidation. I’m not a pianist, and I’ve always been somewhat in awe of the piano and pianists. Even after spending years with this music, I still felt that I just simply didn’t know the solo piano repertoire well enough to do it justice. Well, now that I’ve gone through ALMOST all of the symphonic standard repertoire, and now that I’ve started exploring the string quartet repertoire, I think it’s time to throw off this sense of awe and dive right in. You might think I might not reach too high to start off, maybe an early Beethoven sonata, or a Mozart or Haydn Sonata. Well, in my opinion you’ve got to go big or go home, so I’ve decided to explore one of the towering masterpieces not only of the solo piano genre, but of all music, Schubert’s Sonata in B Flat Major. This is a piece that has been described as “well-nigh perfect,” as “beyond analysis,” as including “the most extraordinary trill in the history of music,” and as “the climax and apotheosis of Schubert’s instrumental lyricism and his simplicity of form.” These are just a few of the superlatives I’ve found in researching this piece. It was written in the last weeks of Schubert’s short life, and it truly does take the listener on an unforgettable journey. There is nothing quite like Schubert’s final works, and so over the next two episodes, I will take you through this remarkable sonata, a piece that Alex Ross has described as “a premature communication from the beyond.” This is a huge piece, with so much to talk about, so I’ve split this episode into two parts. This week we’ll look at the first movement, and then in two weeks we’ll cover the final three movements. Join us!

    • 40 min
    Mozart Piano Concerto in D Minor, K. 466

    Mozart Piano Concerto in D Minor, K. 466

    H.C. Robbins Landon, the great musicologist, once wrote about Mozart that his music was “an excuse for mankind's existence and a small hope for our ultimate survival." I couldn’t agree more, especially when it comes to a piece like the one we’re going to talk about today, Mozart’s Piano Concerto in D minor, NO. 20, or K. 466. These days, Mozart is still one of the most popular composers in the world, one of two composers almost anyone on the street could name off the top of their head. But it might surprise you to know that Mozart was not always so popular. During the 19th century, Mozart’s music was seen as too light, graceful, and even superficial by the stormy Romantics who wanted to probe the deepest and darkest feelings of humanity and the natural world, by extreme means if necessary. Only a few of Mozart’s works were played regularly during this time period, and this concerto was one of them. It’s easy to say why - it is one of only two Mozart Piano Concertos in a minor key, and its stormy and dramatic character allowed the Romantics to create fantastical stories to go along with the piece, and to connect it to the one Mozart opera that remained popular throughout the 19th century, Don Giovanni. Strangely enough, I see a similar thing happening today, among young lovers of classical music. I often see Mozart’s music being criticized on social media by younger musicians as being too light and superficial, and sometimes I even see this criticism from musicians who seem to gravitate to works that have more extroverted dramatic intentions. But to me, Mozart is just as, if not more dramatic that many of the Romantic era composers. It's all just done in a very different way. This concerto might be the perfect example of all of this! It has all the drama you could ever want for you thrill seekers, and it also has all of the masterful subtlety that for me makes Mozart’s music so endlessly touching. This is a concerto of remarkable breadth of emotion, character, and feeling, and it’ll be a joy to take you through it this week. Join us! 


    Performance is Mitsuko Uchida with Camerata Salzburg. Assorted first movement cadenzas are performed by Michael Rische.


    • 48 min
    What is a Mode?

    What is a Mode?

    My first interaction with the musical term modes was Leonard Bernstein’s brilliant Young People’s Concert, also called What is a Mode? In that show, Bernstein showed how modes are an essential part of what makes modern music, meaning pop and rock music, tick. This was central to Bernstein’s point during this amazing show, which is available on Youtube, and he punctuated his discussion with multiple examples of pop music from the time that used modes. Today, on this Patreon sponsored episode, I was asked to go through all of the modes and show how they have been used in classical music. Much of my show today is modeled on and takes its inspiration from that Bernstein Young People’s Concert, and I’ll be peppering clips from that show throughout my own exploration. As Bernstein says, the common practice period of classical music, starting with Haydn and ending sometime early in the 20th century, didn’t feature a lot of modal music, though that doesn’t mean it was completely absent. So today I’ll explain what modes are, and we’ll go through each of the so called church modes, explaining their characteristics, and then showing you examples throughout musical history of exactly how these modes were used by the great composers. This show might seem a bit technical, but I think there’s a lot of really interesting and fascinating stuff here, so stick with me, and let’s explore modes together. Join us!

    • 44 min
    Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1

    Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1

    In 1857, Brahms wrote to his friend Joseph Joachim about his first Piano Concerto, saying, “ “I have no judgment about this piece anymore, nor any control over it.”  Brahms first began sketching his first piano concerto in 1853, but it would be five full years before Brahms finished the piece, and another year until its first performance.  During that time, the piece became a Sonata, then a symphony, then a sonata for two pianos, and then finally a concerto for Piano and orchestra, or as the joke goes, a concerto for piano VERSUS orchestra.  The piece, and Brahms’ struggles with it, are completely understandable considering Brahms’ youth, and the extraordinarily tumultuous circumstances of his private life during the years of 1853-1858.  During this time period, he was anointed by no less than the kingmaker of classical music at the time, Robert Schumann, as the Chosen One that represented the future of music. He became friendly with both Robert and Clara Schumann, began achieving huge successes, then witnessed the slow mental breakdown of Robert, culminating in a suicide attempt and institutionalization, all while falling deeper and deeper in love with Clara Schumann, and she with him.  The turbulence and emotional weight of all of this is reflected in one of Brahms’ most impassioned works, the first piano concerto.  We’ll talk about the historical background for the piece, Brahms’ working out process, and of course, the structure and insides of this massive, daunting piece.

    • 1 hr 3 min
    Fast, Furious, Fortissimo

    Fast, Furious, Fortissimo

    Very often, when I tell people that I’m a classical musician, I am told, “wow, I love classical music! It’s so relaxing!” I think almost all classical musicians have heard that before, and you know what? Sometimes, it’s true! Classical music can be relaxing! But sometimes, and actually pretty often, classical music is NOT relaxing. It is exciting, emotional, passionate, and can make your heart race!  Don’t believe me? Today's show is all about proving that to you. I'm going to share with you some of the most thrilling, powerful,  and well, some of hte loudest music in the history of classical music. I should say SOME OF, because what we are going to play for you today is absolutely not an exhautive list. If you like what you hear today, there is so much more where that came from. What we’re going to do today is to take you through a kind of musical time machine of fast and furious symphonic music, trying to cover as many different styles and eras of classical music as possible.
    NOTE: What will appear on the podcast feed is a shortened version of a full live concert I did with the Aalborg Symphony a few weeks ago. I highly recommend listening to that version as well, which features full length performances of many of the pieces I'm talking about on the show. You can find that here:

    • 46 min
    Copland Symphony No. 3

    Copland Symphony No. 3

    There has always been a debate about “The Great American Symphony.” By the time most prominent American composers got around to writing large scale symphonic works, the symphony had very nearly gone out of fashion. To many musicians and thinkers, the symphony had passed on with the death of Mahler. With the advent of atonality, which essentially destroyed the developmental structure that symphonies rested on, there seemed to be nowhere for the symphonic genre to go. The traditional udnerstanding is that composers like Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and Sibelius, among others, picked the symphony back up from its deathbed and resurrected it. But there was a generation of American composers also writing symphonies around this time, and many of them have never quite gotten the consideration they deserve. Ives wrote 4 brilliant symphonies, Bernstein wrote 3 ambitious symphonies, there are the symphonies by the first generation of Black American composers, namely William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony, and then there are much less known symphonies by composers like Roy Harris, which were huge successes at the time of their premiers, but which have faded into obscurity. Despite many strong efforts, very few American symphonies have made their way into the standard “canon.” That is, except for one: Copland’s 3rd Symphony, which is almost certainly the most played American symphony. It was written as World War II was coming to an end, and it is one of Copland’s most ardent and life-affirming works. Naturally, connections were made to the Allied triumph in World War II, but Copland insisted that the symphony wasn’t a reflection of the era, writing: "if I forced myself, I could invent an ideological basis for the Third Symphony. But if I did, I'd be bluffing—or at any rate, adding something ex post facto, something that might or might not be true but that played no role at the moment of creation."
    Whatever the inspiration, this symphony has become one of Copland’s most enduring works, even though it is also in many ways one of his most complex. It is a massive work, nearly 40 minutes in length, and it requires a huge and virtuosic orchestra. It also features some of Copland’s most recognizable tunes, including of course, the Fanfare for the Common Man, which permeates the symphony and is in many ways its central theme. So today, on this Patreon Sponsored episode, we’ll dig deep into this symphony, mapping out its unusual form, and savoring the energy, optimism, and creativity with which Copland attacked the well-worn genre of the symphony. Join us! 

    • 1 hr 1 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
192 Ratings

192 Ratings

Bitofaplodder ,

One of the two best classical music podcasts in the Universe!

This is an utterly brilliant podcast. Joshua Weilerstein is engaging, unbelievably knowledgeable but accessible at the same time. He has a way of opens up classical music like no one else (apart from Tom Service whose ‘Listening Service’ podcast is the other best classical music podcast in the Universe). Listen to them all - they’re all wonderful!

Cheeks091 ,

Wish I had discovered it sooner

Absolutely insightful reviews! Thank you!!!!!

J boy 12 ,


Just discovered this. Absolutely superb - so informative and enjoyable. Looking forward to exploring the back catalogue. Thank you!

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