Boston Symphony Orchestra

Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle

Thursday, March 17, 2011
0 Comments   0 comments.

Celebrating Bartók

Friday, March 11, 2011
0 Comments   0 comments.

During this 130th anniversary year of the birth of Béla Bartók (born March 25, 1881), 99.5 All Classical celebrates the groundbreaking Hungarian composer with a series of on demand performances and features.

New England Conservatory Philharmonia
The Concerto for Orchestra, one of Béla Bartók's most enduring and popular masterpieces, was commissioned by conductor Serge Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  Performed for the first time in December 1944, it remains a regular fixture on orchestra programs around the world, and on March 9, 2011, Benjamin Zander conducted a performance at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall, with the NEC Philharmonia.
Listen On Demand

Discovery Ensemble
Courtney Lewis conducts one of Boston's most exciting orchestras, Discovery Ensemble, in Bartók's kaleidoscopic Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta. 99.5 All Classical host Brian McCreath talks with Lewis about the piece, with a walk-through of each of the movements, all recorded in 99.5 All Classical's Fraser Performance Studio.

Listen On Demand

Duke Bluebeard's Castle
In 1911, Bartók completed a one-act opera based on Charle Perrault's French fairy tale "Bluebeard," further revising it before its first performance in Budapest in 1918. A dark, pyschologically rich piece, Brian Bell offers a guided tour.
(image:  Gustave Doré's Barbe Bleue, courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Hear a guided tour at Backstage with Brian Bell


Takács Quartet, Muzsikás, and Márta Sebestyén
One of the premiere string quartets on today's concert stages joins forces with a legendary Hungarian folk ensemble and equally legendary Hungarian folk singer to explore the roots of Bartók's music.

Listen On Demand

Pianist Hung-Kuan Chen
Recorded in 2008 in 99.5 All Classical's Fraser Performance Studio, Hung-Kuan Chen performs a piece that combines Bartók's fascination with folk music and his evolving perspective of the piano as a percussion instrument, the Out of Doors Suite, in a program that also includes music by Brahms and Ravel.

Listen On Demand



Violinist Augustin Hadelich
Recorded in 2008 in 99.5 All Classical's Fraser Performance Studio, Augustin Hadelich performs Bartók's Sonata for solo violin, Sz. 117.

Listen On Demand

Violinist Lara St. John and Pianist Anton Kuerti at the Montreal Chamber Music Festival
Recorded on May 14, 2009, at St. James Church during the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, Lara St. John and Anton Kuerti perform Bartók's Rhapsody No. 2, Sz. 89, BB 96, written in 1928, part of a program that also includes music by Beethoven, Franck, Hindson, Ravel, and Liszt.

Listen On Demand


Roberto Abbado Conducts Beethoven's Fifth

Thursday, March 10, 2011
0 Comments   0 comments.

The Future of the BSO

Thursday, March 10, 2011
0 Comments   0 comments.

Mahler's Symphony No. 9

Friday, February 25, 2011
0 Comments   0 comments.

My Favorites: An Unknown Romeo and Juliet

By Brian Bell   |   Saturday, February 12, 2011
3 Comments   3 comments.

For the week of Valentine's Day, we'll be playing the music you love most, and in that spirit, here is the next in a series of what a few of us here at 99.5 All Classical love most.

Brian Bell is the long-time producer of our live Boston Symphony Orchestra broadcasts, as well as Sunday Concert.  Be sure to check out the archive of features and interviews Brian has produced at Backstage with Brian Bell.

We hope these ideas prompt you to think through your favorites, which you can submit here!

Feb. 12

I'll be honest with you. I'm not a big fan of choosing one piece of music over countless others. To me, there's an exclusionary tone to it. After all, Wanda Landowska once said, and I fully concur, that "masterpieces are not wolves that devour each other." Sometimes making choices like this does a disservice to the thousands upon thousands of works that deserve to be heard.

I would prefer such exercises along the lines of "music to listen to when you are in a grumpy mood", or "great music by composers who died of unnatural causes" (Stumped? What about Granados, Berg, Lully, Chausson, and we mustn't forget Stephen Albert*) or "the greatest pieces by composers you've never heard of" or, well, you get the idea.

Frequently, when asked such a question, I tend to gravitate to pieces that are relatively unknown. I still hold the established favorite works of music in high esteem and love them as much as anyone. But I like to think of classical music as a very large world, and a world that not only accepts a wide variety of tastes, but embraces them.

And here we are with Valentine's Day, so perhaps we can find something off the beaten path that implies a romantic tinge. A very large realm, and one that has emptied many a pen. Romeo and Juliet, for example, has inspired Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Berlioz, Bernstein ("West Side Story," right?) and Gounod for starters.

But an opera that I believe has never been staged in Boston (and please correct me with a comment below if I'm wrong!) is A Village Romeo & Juliet by Frederick Delius. There's an orchestral interlude called "A Walk to Paradise Garden" that says those things that only music can say.

Sir Thomas Beecham conducted the first performance in 1910, and made the first recording in less than ideal circumstances.  But if you'd like a great recording, look for the one by the BBC Symphony, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis.

(image:  Ernst Würtenberger's "Sali and Verena by the River")

*Enrique Granados died when the Sussex was torpedoed by a German U-boat on 24 March 1916. He saw his wife go overboard, and though unable to swim, he dove in after her. They both drowned, though the portion of the ship he was on was later towed into port.

Alban Berg died when he underwent emergency surgery on Christmas Day, 1935. The surgeon was inebriated and opened a major artery by mistake.

Lully died when he was beating time with a staff and hit his foot, which became infected. He died after refusing amputation.

Chausson died on June 10, 1899, when his bicycle crashed into a wall.

And Stephen Albert died December 27th, 1992, in an automobile accident on Cape Cod.

About the Author


Support for WGBH is provided by:
Become a WGBH sponsor


You are on page 43 of 51   |