Monday, March 29, 2021

Laughing Along

Why couldn't the string quartet find their composer? He was Haydn.

Everyone loves a good joke... or a really corny one. And classical music composers were no different.

Mozart loved pranks and jokes, in his life and in his music. His Divertimento for two horns and string quartet, also known as A Musical Joke, includes passages designed to mimic bad music notation and terrible playing as a way of having some fun.

Haydn also put jokes in his music, the most famous being his Symphony No. 94, nicknamed The Surprise Symphony for its sudden fortissimo chord in the second movement.

At WGUC, April 1st provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate the funny side of classical music.

As we look towards April Fools’ Day, Naomi Lewin gets us laughing with more musical jokes on Classics for Kids.

And there’s more – April Fools’ Day is also a day that we remember our dear friend Frank Johnson who enjoyed collecting music of all kinds, including some of the funniest interpretations of classical music from the likes of Monty Python, Bugs Bunny, PDQ Bach, Victor Borge, Spike Jones and more. 

Frank put together this April Fools’ Day Playlist, not as a practical joke but as a celebration of the joy that music brings to us every day. Get ready to laugh!

Happy April Fools' Day!

Monday, March 22, 2021

Daniil Trifonov: The Silver Age

“It’s one of my favorite places to visit in the United States. Very good food, as well.”  - Daniil Trifonov on Cincinnati and his new album, Silver Age.

“He has everything and more... tenderness and also the demonic element. I never heard anything like that,” marveled pianist Martha Argerich. Daniil Trifonov, who just turned 30 this month, has had a spectacular ascent of the classical music world, as a solo artist, champion of the concerto repertoire, chamber and vocal collaborator, and composer.

In 2019 he played two sold-out concerts at Music Hall and even the pandemic has not stopped demand for his remarkable talents. 

Daniil Trifonov’s busy 2021 season begins with concerts in Spain, France, Germany, and across Europe, and the release of his new album on Deutsche Grammaphon, Silver Age.

He was kind enough to call and talk about the new project:

Monday, March 15, 2021

Classical DYK

All of us at 90.9 WGUC try our best to provide you amazing classical music and we also really enjoy giving you interesting tidbits about the pieces, composers, and performers. (if you listen weekday mornings you already know that Brian O’Donnell ALWAYS has some super-cool information for us)

With that said, here are a few you probably didn’t know:

  • The London Symphony Orchestra was booked to travel on the Titanic's maiden voyage, but they changed boats at the last minute.

  • Franz Liszt received so many requests for locks of his hair that he bought a dog and sent fur clippings instead.

  • Havergal Brian's Symphony No. 1, the 'Gothic', requires over 800 musicians to perform, including 82 string players.

  • Domenico Scarlatti composed his 'cat fugue' after his cat, Pulcinella, walked across his keyboard.

  • The most expensive opera costume of all time was worn by Adelina Patti at Covent Garden in 1895. It was worth over $20 million.

  • Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin sang a Shostakovich song, 'My Homeland Hears', over the radio on his first space mission.

  • A single violin is made from over 70 individual pieces of wood.

    Rossini wrote the aria ‘Di tanti palpiti’ while waiting for some risotto in a Venice restaurant.

  • There are two skulls in Haydn’s tomb. His head was stolen by phrenologists and a replacement skull was put in his tomb. In 1954, the real skull was restored but the substitute was not removed.

  • The tension of the 230-odd strings in a grand piano exert a combined force of 22 tons on the cast iron frame.

For more interesting facts about the music you love, all you have to do is tune to 90.9 FM!

-Andy Ellis

Monday, March 8, 2021

A Conversation With Benjamin Grosvenor

"Playing For My Own Pleasure Rather Than Preparing For A Concert Was Quite Special!"

By Elaine Diehl:

One the 19th of February, Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor Tweeted: "My Liszt album with Decca Classics is out today! It was a bright moment for me last year to be able to set this down and I hope you enjoy!"

A week earlier, he and I talked about the new record, and surviving lockdown – click on the link to hear our conversation:

Monday, March 1, 2021

Remembering Paul Stanbery

This week, Brian O’Donnell pays tribute to the late Paul Stanbery, longtime music director of the Butler Philharmonic.

He’s joined by fellow conductors Carmon DeLeone and Michael Chertock for this loving memorial.

Michael Chertok and Carmon DeLeone