The Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara died on Wednesday at the age of 87. He wrote eight symphonies, nine operas, 12 instrumental concertos, plus a wide variety of orchestral, chamber, instrumental, choral and vocal works. [more inside]
Perhaps you remember Henryk Górecki's Symphony No. 3 "Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs", which became a surprise international hit after a BBC DJ played its haunting first movement in its entirety one day, shocking and surprising everyone with its slowly building fugue of energy that peaked with the entrance of Dawn Upshaw's soprano voice and then slowly ebbed back down into nothingness again like a musical palindrome. Well, now for something completely different: NPR brings us the a First Listen to the posthumously completed (by his son, from a piano score with notes for orchestration) Symphony No. 4, "Tansman Episodes", which NPR says "pounds, growls, swaggers and confounds."
Joseph Haydn wrote a total of 107 symphonies, and is known as the 'Father of the Symphony.' You can listen to them all online at Haydn107.com, where each symphony is presented in different interpretations, along with introductory notes.
Sibelius: Symphony No. 3 [YouTube]. There is no imagery and no drama—except that of the musical events themselves—for you to lose yourself in. This is like Haydn. You can't do anything with it except listen to it.
A Sunday morning is a fine time to listen to Leonard Bernstein discuss Brahms' 4th symphony, complete with crackling vinyl noise.
The BBC Philharmonic and Nero present A Dubstep Symphony.
Keeping Score is designed to give people of all musical backgrounds an opportunity to explore signature works by composers Hector Berlioz, Charles Ives, and Dmitri Shostakovich in depth, and at their own pace. The interactive audio and video explores the composers’ scores and pertinent musical techniques as well as the personal and historical back stories. [more inside]
Imagine this: 'This evening we are going to hear the 2nd Symphony by Claude Debussy, the Austrian première of Insect Life by the Finnish opera composer Kalevi Aho, and the 2nd Symphony by Bela Bartók.’ What is a symphony? What does the concept mean nowadays? And what does it mean, to compose symphonically?
San Carlo of the Symphony. Il Maestro Carlo Maria Giulini, orchestra conductor who passed away Tuesday at 91 "had an almost uncanny ability to transform the sound of an orchestra, any orchestra, into a dark and intense glow, which became his trademark over the years". "We have lost one of the greatest musicians of our time," says Esa-Pekka Salonen (.pdf), music director of the LA Philharmonic. Giulini has been called "the last humanist", a gentle man beloved by his orchestras, so humble in his approach to music that, always feeling the necessity to "fathom" each new work, it wasn't until the 1960s that he finally felt ready to conduct Bach, or the symphonies of Mozart and Beethoven. This from a man who, at the beginning of his career (as a viola player) had played under Richard Strauss. "I had the great privilege to be a member of an orchestra," Giulini said in 1982. "I still belong to the body of the orchestra. When I hear the phrase, 'The orchestra is an instrument,' I get mad. It's a group of human beings who play instruments." More inside.