Sir Thomas Beecham was a man of strong likes and dislikes. The conductor was cold to the music of Bach, but very warm to Handel, and his love for the music of Mozart and Delius was famous. Less known was his affection for the earlier, less heroic symphonies of Franz Schubert. He recorded some of these works in the 1930s and later in the 1950s. There was something in the buoyant youthful cheerfulness in these earlier symphonies that appealed to the genial side of Beecham. We'll hear some of these recordings.
Classics of the Phonograph with John Frayne
John Frayne's weekly exploration of memorable recordings from the 20th century.
The Russian composer Alexander Glazunov was somewhat born out of the right time. He began writing late Romantic music when the music work was spinning into modernism. His beautifully crafted works seemed old fashioned in the early 20th century, but they have worn well. I'll play some of this most famous compositions.
Most conductors are musically trained as pianists. And many virtuoso pianists, at the height of successful careers, take up the baton and broaden their careers to include conducting as well as solo performing. Such has been the case the Vladimir Ashkenazy and Daniel Barenboim. We will trace some career paths, from keyboard to podium.
On Vintage Vinyl Day, let's look at record collectors, a special breed of folks. What drives the urge to collect records? What is collectable? What creates the special personal drive to collect a special kind of record? And finally, for patient spouses, is there any cure for the collecting bug, aside from putting on attachments to the house? And we will play collectable records as well.
This year is the 200 anniversary of the birth of Richard Wagner. After electrical recording started in 1925, there was an explosion of recording of Wagner's music, and in the parade of conductors putting on discs Wagner's Preludes, Overtures, and Interludes were such outstanding maestros as Albert Coates, Karl Muck, Leo Blech, and Leopold Stokowski. We'll hear some of those recordings.
You might think that long playing records were for classical music and the 45 rpm record was for popular music. But in Germany, much classical music was released on 45 rpm records between 1953 and 1965. Some years ago, the Deutsche Grammophon Company released on CDs a nostalgic collection of music released on those "little records with the big holes." We'll play some of them.
Spring turns everyone into a poet, and it seems to have an equally powerful effect on composers. The glorious season of spring has inspired symphonies, concertos, ballets, songs and "songs without words." We will dip into this torrent of joy, and, as the saying goes, "smell the flowers."
The conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch died recently. His career was mostly in Europe, especially conducting the operas of Richard Strauss in Munich. In i993 he was chosen to lead the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Sawallisch and Philadelphia took to each other in a very enthusiastic way. In his 10 year tenure there, he made many records, especially the music of Antonin Dvorak. We will hear some of his American records.
During the "Roaring Twenties" in England, two of the rising iconoclastic stars were Constant Lambert and William Walton. Lambert was a conductor and author as well as composer, and William Walton was shocking conservatives with his collaboration with the poet Edith Sitwell in his "Facade." We'll listen in and see what all the fuss was about.
One expects concert artists to have their temperamental oddities, but some performers become notorious for their quirks. The famous Italian pianist Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli was perhaps more famous for his cancellations than for his concerts. And Ivo Pogorelich has given concerts that have become the stuff of legends. We'll sample some of their recordings.