Illuminating 60-second flights through the world of classical music with host and longtime NPR commentator Miles Hoffman. Produced by South Carolina Public Radio.
Several centuries ago, it was common for violin makers to print their names in Latin on the paper labels they glued in their instruments. That’s what the great Italian violin maker Antonio Stradivari did, and that’s why an instrument made by Stradivari is known as a Stradivarius. Stradivari was born around 1644, and he died ninety-three years later, in 1737. He learned his craft as an apprentice to Nicolò Amati, and it was Amati’s grandfather, Andrea Amati, working back in the 1500s, who’s
Staccato is the Italian word for “separated,” or “detached.” Staccato notes are notes that are not sustained for their full rhythmic value: they come to a short stop, which separates them from notes that follow. They also usually have a clean, sharply articulated start . The opposite of staccato is legato , which means “connected.” Composers often specifically indicate that notes or passages should be played staccato, and they do so by placing dots, dashes, or little wedges over the notes in
A song cycle is a set of songs whose texts—often by a single poet—are linked by a common subject, mood, or story. Though the songs of the cycle are all individual entities, they’re designed to be heard together. And if the marriage of music and poetry in the song represents a 19 th -century Romantic ideal, the song cycle carries that ideal even further, allowing for an expanded range of expression, a deeper exploration of the individual psyche. Beethoven’s An die Ferne Geliebte , “To the distant
For centuries, composers of classical music have been borrowing and adapting ideas and styles from popular music. Renaissance composers, for example, based Roman Catholic masses on popular tunes. Later composers made liberal use of folk tunes and folk styles of all kinds, and modern composers have borrowed freely from jazz and blues, among many other popular styles. But here’s what we sometimes forget: It’s always worked in the other direction, as well. The chords and harmonic progressions that
I’ve been reading about the guitar lately, and here’s what I’ve found: When it comes to the history of the guitar, the only thing that’s certain… is that nothing is certain. Did the early plucked ancestors of the modern guitar make their way to Europe from Asia and the Middle East? Possibly . There are tomb paintings from ancient Egypt, after all, and Hittite stone carvings from over three thousand years ago that show guitar-like instruments, not to mention an actual guitar-like instrument from
To make an arrangement of a musical composition is to rewrite the composition for a new set of musical forces—to rewrite a wind quintet for string quartet, for example, or to transform a string quartet into a piano trio. In the process of arrangement, a piece may be altered in all sorts of ways, but the original composition always remains recognizable. And arranging is an art in itself—it can be done ingeniously and beautifully, helping us to hear a piece with fresh ears—and it can be done
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Lovely and illuminating
Who cannot spare one minute to learn something new? The host is a high-energy violist who is so eager to share what he knows that one cannot help but be curious to learn more about the segment's topic.