7 episodes

Decomposed breaks down the stories that have shaped classical music, from secrets and scandals to acts of sheer genius. Hear these stories accompanied by the symphonies, operas and other masterpieces they inspired. Hosted by Jade Simmons, a classical concert pianist and storyteller, the first season of Decomposed takes on gender expectations, Cold War propaganda and the danger of putting your personal life on the stage. Produced in partnership with Classical Minnesota Public Radio.

Decomposed with Jade Simmons American Public Media

    • Music History

Decomposed breaks down the stories that have shaped classical music, from secrets and scandals to acts of sheer genius. Hear these stories accompanied by the symphonies, operas and other masterpieces they inspired. Hosted by Jade Simmons, a classical concert pianist and storyteller, the first season of Decomposed takes on gender expectations, Cold War propaganda and the danger of putting your personal life on the stage. Produced in partnership with Classical Minnesota Public Radio.

    A Cold War secret weapon

    A Cold War secret weapon

    George Gershwin visited African-American churches and nightclubs in South Carolina to craft the music for “Porgy & Bess.” Years after his death, the opera and its all-star cast played an unexpected role in Cold War relations.

    • 36 min
    “There is only one Beethoven”

    “There is only one Beethoven”

    Everybody knows the Beethoven story: He’s a brilliant composer who faced hearing loss; a genius who couldn’t listen to his own masterpieces. But there’s a different way to consider the story we think we know.

    • 35 min
    Symphony for a starving city

    Symphony for a starving city

    Making music under Stalin was a dangerous undertaking — it could end with applause or in a prison camp. In the brutal grip of World War II, Shostakovich composed a symphony so powerful, it was smuggled halfway around the world in order to be played.

    • 32 min
    “Why did you betray me?”

    “Why did you betray me?”

    This is the story of two letters Tchaikovsky received in the mail. One would lead to his greatest mistake; the other to the most intimate relationship of his life.

    • 37 min
    Oil, meet fire

    Oil, meet fire

    Richard Strauss and his wife Pauline de Ahna are often described as artist and muse. But you’ve never met a muse like Pauline. One of Strauss’ greatest musical masterpieces was ripped straight from the most scandalous moment of their marriage.
    For a complete list of the music in this episode, as well as recommended reading, visit decomposedshow.org

    • 31 min
    “A fallen, abominable, wicked girl”

    “A fallen, abominable, wicked girl”

    Clara Schumann was a child prodigy turned international sensation — when she never should have been on stage at all. This is the story of a woman who was born to play, and refused to stop.

    • 41 min

Customer Reviews

betscgee ,

Wonderful stories well told...

...about our favorite composers and compositions by someone with intimate knowledge of music and an infectious passion for her subjects and their works. Bravo!

Yanchao ,

Wonderful

I was secretly crying at the end of Tchaikovsky episode

Torchmini ,

Fun and enlightening!

Beautifully done looks at worthy pieces, carefully explained. I didn’t think I could love this music more, until these lectures.

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