234 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
    • 4.8 • 16 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 2)

    Schubert Sonata in B Flat, D. 960 (Part 2)

    There are a few tropes when it comes to Schubert’s late music. The pieces are very long. They have four movements.  The first two movemnts are expansive, magisterial explorations of the human psyche, and the last two movements are much lighter, almost like two different pieces are at play. All of these tropes fit the Schubert B Flat Sonata we started talking about a couple of weeks ago. After the huge first movement, Schubert takes us into a world of the most remarkably simple and yet profoundly moving music in the second movement, followed by a scherzo and last movement that seem(and I emphasize the word seem) to wash all of that away. The last two movements of this sonata in particular have come in for criticism in some quarters, but this is nothing new for Schubert. You hear this criticism about his G Major Quartet, his cello quintet, and other large scale works. It’s also been theorized that the final two movement “curse” Schubert seemed to struggle with is why he left his 8th symphony unfinished. But as you’ll hear today, I don’t think there’s much, if anything, to criticize in these final two movements, and I’ll try to argue that there’s no drop off in quality in this music, just a different approach and outlook. But the bulk of today’s show will be about this second movement. There is something beyond otherworldy in this character of Schubert’s music. It doesn’t belong to our world, but it doesn’t belong to another world either. Instead it goes somewhere even deeper than we can possibly imagine. Schubert goes to a different place than any other composer when he is in this “mood,” and in this movement, that bleak character is married to profound consolation, creating a movement of utter perfection. So let’s explore the final three movements of this remarkable Sonata together. Join us!

    • 54 min
    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

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
16 Ratings

16 Ratings

podcastaholic anonymous ,

Part music theory, part history, wholly entertaining

Weilerstein shares biographical anecdotes about the composers, tells us about the writing of the piece and important context about the time it was written in and musical influences, all while breaking down, sometimes measure-by-measure, what makes the piece such a masterpiece. All of these background stories make it an extremely interesting podcast even for people who have never studied music a day in their lives.

Erez S. ,

Fantastic podcast. Thanks!

I had been listening to classical music for decades. Just discovered the show lately and it gives me each episode new insights and thoughts to many of my beloved music. Pure joy. Thanks👍

zahi_o ,

Issac oberman

I listen to this podcast every week and as a music lover and an armature musician I learn a lot and enjoy it very very much.

I have only one thing to ask: I would love to have a recommended recording or a link to Spotify/Apple Music for the composition of the week. It’s also a must for the episodes with multiple pieces.

Thank you for this podcast!!!

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