Interactive

Hector Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique

In 1827, Hector Berlioz wrote a ‘fantastic’ symphony created with a special theme, an idée fixe, to represent the object of his desire, actress Harriet Smithson. Follow the sometimes romantic, sometimes grotesque expression of the Harriet theme and learn more about what inspired Berlioz to create his first masterpiece.


AIR-DATE
October 2009
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0

Charles Ives: Holidays Symphony

Coming of age at the dawn of the twentieth century, Charles Ives saw the halcyon days of his youth fading fast. Not willing to let them go, he invented a striking new musical language to enshrine the feelings and ideals of a simpler time. But many, shocked by passages like the “fireworks” in ‘Fourth of July,’ found his new-fangled methods at odds with the memories he was trying to preserve. Did Ives go too far? Or did he succeed in turning his memories into music?


AIR-DATE
October 2009
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0

Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5

In 1937 Russia, at the height of Stalin’s purges, the Communist Party strongly denounced Dmitri Shostakovich’s most recent works. Fearing for his life, the young composer wrote a symphony ending with a rousing march.


AIR-DATE
October 2009
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0

Gustav Mahler: A world of experience

The music of Gustav Mahler reflects the world he lived in — from a Bohemian village to glittering world capitals — as well as his intensely personal interior experience: his passions, his sufferings, and his ongoing sense of being an outsider. Mahler filled his symphonic worlds with recurring tunes and rhythms from his past. Explore the world that inspired Mahler and the music he created.


AIR-DATE
December 1969
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0
TAGS

Igor Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring

Hear work that shocked the opening night audiences. Follow the score and see the ballet, with insights from MTT and musicians of the San Francisco Symphony. Also hear an interview about the reconstruction of the ballet and costumes with dance historians Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer.


AIR-DATE
November 2006
COMMENTS
29

Piotr Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4

Experience this masterpiece in Tchaikovsky’s own words. Learn about the events and influences that defined his character, his career, and his genius. See and hear the instruments of the orchestra that Tchaikovsky used in his music.


AIR-DATE
June 2004
COMMENTS
6

Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring

Explore the sights, sounds and influences that brought Copland to write music that gave Americans a sense of their own identity and created a truly American sound. With excerpts from the original 13-instrument version of Appalachian Spring.


AIR-DATE
November 2006
COMMENTS
16

Ludwig van Beethoven: 'Eroica'

Explore the Eroica score to learn how Beethoven created this masterpiece. Learn how Beethoven wove the themes in Eroica to shape the emotional journey of the music. Find out why keys were so important to Beethoven. Hear insights about the music from MTT and the musicians of the San Francisco Symphony. And then, explore the stories behind the Eroica.


AIR-DATE
October 2006
COMMENTS
41

Gustav Mahler: Mahler's Methods

Mahler said "Composing is like playing with building blocks, continually making new buildings from the same old blocks." Explore some of the most intriguing of Mahler's musical procedures.


AIR-DATE
April 2011
COMMENTS
0

Berlioz: Orchestration - The Idée Fixe

The instruments of the orchestra fall into four major families: strings, brass, woodwinds, and percussion. See a picture of the instruments used in Berlioz’s orchestra; hear the sound of that instrument and see the members of the orchestra talking about their own experiences in music.


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
3

Ives: Technique I:
Playing with Tunes

To George Ives, real music was made when people sang. He loved their enthusiasm, and he didn't care that they didn't always hit the pitches just right. One of his favorite experiments was to play a tune on glasses filled with just the right amount of water to make those "inbetween" tones. In this experiment, create your own "inbetween" tones. See how they change the feeling of the tune.


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
1

Ives: Technique II:
Playing in the Shadows

“Father had a kind of natural interest in sounds of every kind, everywhere, known or unknown, measured “as such” or not, and this led him into positions or situations that made some of the townspeople call him a crank…”  One of the "crank-like" things George Ives would do was to play his cornet from different spots on the pond, exploring the relationship between distance and sound. This experiment recreates his experiment, playing with the sound of a band on shore and a lone trumpeter playing Taps.


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
1

Ives: Technique III:
Piling It On

George Ives was Danbury’s bandmaster, and he was always trying quirky new musical ideas. One of the most famous was an extreme version of his piano experiments. He had two bands march toward each other, playing different songs in different keys and tempos just so he could hear what would happen when they collided…  In this experiment, see for yourself how it sounds when the two different marches collide.


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
0

Ives: Technique IV:
Singing Along

One of the things George Ives asked the young Charlie to do was to sing very famous melodies while he accompanied him in a totally different key. He had to hold his own. In this experiment, stretch your own ears by singing  “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” in one key while the pianist plays it in another.


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
1

Shostakovich: Symphony Number 5
Investigations

INVESTIGATING specific compositional techniques Shostakovich uses can help us better understand his musical language.


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
0

Shostakovich: Symphony Number 5
Musical Precedent

The way Shostakovich introduces his first motives gives us a hint as to their meaning. As the movement progresses, however, he transforms these motives in dramatic ways, changing things like tempo, instrumentation, dynamics, setting. Does doing so change their meanings as well?


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
0

Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring Ballet
Part 1

The Score to The Rite of Spring, Part I, annotated and presented with sketches from the choreographic reconstruction by Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer.


AIR-DATE
November 2006
COMMENTS
0

Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring Ballet
Part 2

The second part opens with the Mystic Circles of the Maidens and ends with the Sacrificial Dance. Excerpts present the music, choreography and incredible scenery of Stravinsky’s score and of the ballet. Click “What’s going on” to hear reconstructionist Millicent Hodson describe the movement in the ballet.


AIR-DATE
November 2006
COMMENTS
0

Stravinsky: MTT on Meter and Conducting

Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas talks directly to you about rhythm and meter, demonstrating how to conduct in 2, 3, and 4-5. Then, try your hand at conducting in this unique interactive game.


AIR-DATE
November 2006
COMMENTS
0

Stravinsky: MTT on Meter: Conduct In 2

Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas demonstrates how he conducts a section of The Rite of Spring in 2. Then, try your hand at conducting in this unique interactive game.


AIR-DATE
November 2006
COMMENTS
0

Stravinsky: MTT on Meter: Conduct In 3

Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas demonstrates how he conducts a section of The Rite of Spring in 3. Then, try your hand at conducting in this unique interactive game.


AIR-DATE
November 2006
COMMENTS
0

Stravinsky: MTT on Meter: Conduct In 4 & 5

Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas demonstrates how he conducts a section of The Rite of Spring in 4-5. Afterwards, he recalls his experience with Stravinsky's unorthodox conducting style.


AIR-DATE
November 2006
COMMENTS
0

Beethoven: A Revolutionary Use of Key

Beethoven had strong feelings about the meaning of each individual key signature. Explore how the character and relationship of keys used in Beethoven’s music changed the sound and meaning of the music.


AIR-DATE
October 2006
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0

Beethoven: Keys Have Character

Beethoven had strong feelings about the meaning of each individual key signature. Explore how the character and relationship of keys used in Beethoven’s music changed the sound and meaning of the music.


AIR-DATE
October 2006
COMMENTS
0

Beethoven: Tuning and Keys

In Beethoven’s time, instruments were tuned differntly from the way they are tuned today. This gave each key a unique sound that led to its association with a particular character. With an introduction by Dr. Bill Meredith of the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies at San José State.


AIR-DATE
October 2006
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0

Beethoven: Major and Minor

Whether the key is major or minor greatly influences the way a key sounds. Explore the difference in mood between major and minor keys used in Beethoven’s 'Eroica'.


AIR-DATE
October 2006
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0

Beethoven: Key Distance Creates Tension

Beethoven used modulation, the moving from one key to another, as another way to portray emotion. He would start in the home key and then modulate away from it. The farther he traveled from the home key, the greater the tension and the more the desire to return.


AIR-DATE
October 2006
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0

Beethoven: What’s in a Theme?

In Symphony No. 3, first movement, Beethoven builds the first theme from three basic motives. See how these motives construct the theme, and then how Beethoven expands and augments the theme throughout the movement.


AIR-DATE
October 2006
COMMENTS
0

Tchaikovsky: The Orchestra

The instruments of the orchestra fall into four major families: strings, brass, woodwinds, and percussion. See a picture of the instruments used in Tchaikovsky’s orchestra; hear the sound of that instrument and see the members of the orchestra talking about their own experiences in music.


AIR-DATE
June 2004
COMMENTS
35

Music’s Primal Moves

Explore how composers continually return to music’s primal moves. Listen to the subtle yet expansive range of emotion found in classical music. Experiment with the association between music and art.


AIR-DATE
June 2004
COMMENTS
0

Primal Moves: Match the Music

Though the tools of their trades are different, the arts share many techniques such as color, line, and form. Pair music and art to see and hear the interplay between visual art and music.


AIR-DATE
June 2004
COMMENTS
4

Primal Moves: Emotional Roots

Classical music’s expressive vocabulary begins with simple, direct emotions like joy, anger, wonder, sadness, then layers on a vast range of tone colors and compositional techniques that allow composers to extend these basis into a language capable of expressing te most suble variations of feeling. Explore the variations of emotion found in classical music.


AIR-DATE
June 2004
COMMENTS
2

Gustav Mahler: Mahler's Origins

Explore the soundscape that echoed in Mahler’s music throughout his life. Stroll around Iglau and listen to the kaleidoscope of sounds the young Mahler heard. Then listen to the way they took symphonic form in the very first bars of his first symphony.


AIR-DATE
April 2011
COMMENTS
1

Gustav Mahler: Mahler the Wanderer

Explore Mahler's expanding horizons as his conducting career blossoms and his compositional skills reach a new level of maturity in music composed during summer vacations in the Austrian countryside.


AIR-DATE
April 2011
COMMENTS
1

Gustav Mahler: Mahler in Vienna

Explore Mahler's world in the City of Music and the era of emerging modernism. See where he and other artists and intellectuals met to share ideas and inspiration - and where he settled down into family life.


AIR-DATE
April 2011
COMMENTS
0
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Mahler, Vienna

Gustav Mahler: Mahler's Life Between Worlds

Explore the last years of Mahler's life as he traveled back and forth between the Old World and the New. See where he experienced some of his most spectacular triumphs and his deepest disappointments.


AIR-DATE
April 2011
COMMENTS
2

Gustav Mahler: Mahler's Legacy

MTT reflects on the enduring legacy of Mahler's music.


AIR-DATE
April 2011
COMMENTS
0

Shostakovich - Opinions - A Telling Opening Theme

Following its premiere there was widespread speculation—from an ‘official’ review by Alexei Tolstoy to Shostakovich’s son Maxim’s remarks many years later-—about just what Shostakovich was saying. Reading how others interpreted the music may help you decide what you think this controversial symphony means.


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
2

Ives’s Memos

“—not memoirs—no one but the President of a nice Bank or a Golf Club, or a dead Prime Minister, can write ‘memoirs’. Many of these things are of no interest to anyone but a stray and distant cousin or so—or to me—sometimes.”


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
0

Berlioz: The Programme - The Idèe Fixe

IN THREE DIFFERENT VERSIONS of the program, we see that Berlioz changed his story in subtle ways. Some of these changes refer to Harriet. Do they reflect Berlioz’s own changing feelings for his heroine?


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
0

Berlioz: Mémoires - The Idée Fixe

Drawn from Berlioz’s own Mémoires, learn more about Symphonie fantastique as told by the composer.


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
0

Shostakovich: Symphony Number 5 - Testimony - A Telling Opening Theme

Few pieces in history have been so dependent on historical context. Contemporary writings by Shostakovich’s family, friends, colleagues, even some by the composer himself, help us understand the dramatic personal, professional and political forces that shaped his message.


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
3

Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring: The Premiere's Story

May 29, 1913, a night that will be forever infamous as a night so chaotic, so outrageous that it incited a riot. Learn more about the events as they transpired at the première of Le Sacre du Printemps that night at Le Théâtre des Champs-Élysées.


AIR-DATE
November 2006
COMMENTS
0

Copland: In Search of the American Sound

See and hear a chronicle of Copland’s life—from his roots in Brooklyn, to the travels abroad, to the influences that shaped his music.


AIR-DATE
November 2006
COMMENTS
0

Copland: Could it Be Modern?

A scrapbook timeline exploring the themes and roots of modernism in Copland’s early music.


AIR-DATE
November 2006
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0

Stravinsky: The Players Behind
The Rite of Spring

Of the Rite of Spring, Diaghilev’s ballet master Enrico Cecchetti was quoted as saying “I think the entire thing was done by four idiots.” Learn more about the four men behind The Rite of Spring – Stravinsky, the composer; Roerich, the designer; Diaghilev, the empresario; and Nijinsky, the choreographer.


AIR-DATE
November 2006
COMMENTS
0

Beethoven: Revolutionary Ties

Discover more about 18th century Vienna and the events and influences that helped shape Beethoven and his music.


AIR-DATE
October 2006
COMMENTS
0

Tchaikovsky’s Story

This pictorial presentation of the key events in Tchaikovsky’s life, find out more about how his place in history was shared by his contemporary composers, and defined by world events.


AIR-DATE
June 2004
COMMENTS
0

Shostakovich: Symphony Number 5
4th Movement - The Final March

Shostakovich ended his symphony with a march, a guaranteed Stalin favorite. But the score reveals details that may suggest a less-than celebratory finale.


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
5

Shostakovich: Symphony Number 5
1st Movement - An Altered Folk Song

The score contains musical clues that can help us decipher Shostakovich’s intentions.


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
0

Shostakovich: Symphony Number 5
2nd Movement - A Musical Joke?

Literally meaning ‘joke,’ the scherzo has often been a place where composers feel free to have some fun. Given the circumstances, does Shostakovich dare joke? And if so, about what and with whom is he joking?


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
0

Shostakovich: Symphony Number 5
3rd Movement - Slow Movement Pathos

With the slow movement, a composer has the opportunity to change the emotions of the symphony yet again. At the Fifth Symphony’s premiere, many thought Shostakovich used this opportunity to expresses a deep sense of mourning. If so, whom or what has been lost?


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
1
TAGS
Score

Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique
I. Reveries, Passions

Berlioz gives this version of the idée fixe, which comes near the end of the movement, a completely different character--one of passionate frenzy--by changing the orchestration, dynamics and phrasing.


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
9

Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique
II. A Ball

In this movement the story continues: “The artist finds himself in the most varied situations—in the midst of the tumult of a party, in the peaceful contemplation of the beauties of nature; but everywhere, in town, in the country, the beloved image appears before him and disturbs his peace of mind.”


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
7

Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique
III. Scene in the Fields

Here Berlioz wrote of his artist protagonist: “Finding himself one evening in the country, he hears in the distance two shepherds piping a ranz des vaches in dialogue. This pastoral duet, the scenery, the quiet rustling of the trees gently brushed by the wind, the hopes he has recently found some reason to entertain, all concur in affording his heart an unaccustomed calm, and in giving a more cheerful color to his ideas.”


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
0

Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique
IV. March to the Scaffold

The drama unfolds: “Convinced that his love is unappreciated, the artist poisons himself with opium. The dose of the narcotic, too weak to kill him, plunges him into a sleep accompanied by the most horrible visions. He dreams that he has killed his beloved, that he is condemned and led to the scaffold, and that he is witnessing his own execution.”


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
1

Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique
V. Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath

More nightmare than dream, as Berlioz describes: “[The artist] sees himself at the sabbath, in the midst of a frightful troop of ghosts, sorcerers, monsters of every kind, come together for his funeral. Strange noises, groans, bursts of laughter, distant cries which other cries seem to answer.” The idée fixe has turned grotesque and the movement finishes with violence and frenzy.


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
4

Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique
I. Reveries, Passions

THE SCORE REVEALS the different techniques Berlioz used to paint an ever-changing portrait of his muse as the Symphony progresses.


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
7

Ives: A Symphony: New England Holidays
I. Washington's Birthday

Growing up as the son of a bandleader, Charles Ives was always surrounded by music. He learned early on the power of popular tunes to bring back thoughts of people, places, events, even feelings. One of his favorite techniques was to quote bits of tunes his audience would know to evoke the memories they shared. But many found the way he quoted them quite shocking.


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
3

Ives: A Symphony: New England Holidays
II. Decoration Day

Like his father, Charles liked to replicate the natural way that sound occurred. One of his favorite techniques was to place one or two instruments apart from the rest of the orchestra, as if to capture a fleeting thought from the recesses of one's memory. According to Ives, these instruments "should always be kept at a much lower intensity than the other parts, standing in the background as a kind of shadow to the others…"


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
1

Ives: A Symphony: New England Holidays
III. The Fourth Of July

Ives portrayed his memories as a jumble of seemingly independent sounds, riffs, and tunes, all layered on top of each other. "I wrote this," Ives said of The Fourth of July, "feeling free to remember local things etc., and put in as many feelings and rhythms as I wanted to put together. And I did what I wanted to, quite sure that the thing would never be played, and perhaps could never be played…"


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
1

Ives: A Symphony: New England Holidays
IV. Thanksgiving And Forefathers' Day

A church organist for many years, Ives was impressed by the power of a simple hymn, especially when sung by a chorus of untrained voices. "I remember, when I was a boy," he said, "when things like … 'The Shining Shore'… and the like were sung by thousands of 'let out' souls. There was power and exaltation in these great conclaves of sound from humanity…"


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
1

Shostakovich: Symphony Number 5
1st Movement - A Telling Opening Theme

Composers often build first themes from pregnant filled with possibilities for what the symphony is about. What can we learn from the motives that comprise Shostakovich’s first theme?


AIR-DATE
October 2009
COMMENTS
2

Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring
Part I - Adoration of the Earth

After a difficult winter, the world awakens to spring. Eight excerpts starting with the opening and ending in the the Dance of the Earth. Mouse over the “markups” to learn more about key moments in this movement. Click “Learn More” to see sketches from the choreography and to hear a narrative of the ballet by ballet reconstructionist Millicent Hodson.


AIR-DATE
November 2006
COMMENTS
0

Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring
Part II - The Sacrifice

The second part opens with the Mystic Circles of the Maidens and ends with the Sacrificial Dance. Seven excerpts present the music, choreography and incredible scenery of Stravinsky’s score and of the ballet. Mouse over the “markups” to learn more about key moments in this movement. Click “Learn More” to see sketches from the choreography and to hear a narrative of the ballet by ballet reconstructionist Millicent Hodson.


AIR-DATE
November 2006
COMMENTS
0

Beethoven: Symphony No. 3, 'Eroica'
I. Allegro con brio

Excerpts of the score to Beethoven’s Eroica with video notations in the score, and explorations of theme and Beethoven’s use of key. Five excerpts present critical moments in the first movement.


AIR-DATE
October 2006
COMMENTS
6

Beethoven: Symphony No. 3, 'Eroica'
II. Marcia funebre: Adagio assai

The moving second movement is shown in four annotated interactive excerpts. This “Funeral March” is a powerful musical evocation of the massive state funerals of the French Revolution. As we see the procession pass before us we ask ourselves the question, “who has really died here?”


AIR-DATE
October 2006
COMMENTS
0

Beethoven: Symphony No. 3, 'Eroica'
III. Scherzo: Allegro vivace

The Third movement is all about play, as can be seen and heard in two short excerpts. Amidst the abundance of the fields and vineyards, Beethoven composes his own harvest of joy and affirmation, a renewed embrace of life in all its richness and mystery.


AIR-DATE
October 2006
COMMENTS
0

Beethoven: Symphony No. 3, 'Eroica'
IV. Finale: Allegro molto

Six excerpts to the triumphant Fourth movement. Here we have Beethoven the showman, the ultimate improviser who can turn even the most inconsequential of themes into the basis for a masterwork.


AIR-DATE
October 2006
COMMENTS
1

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4
1st Movement

Tchaikovsky wrote of the opening of the Fourth Symphony: “The Introduction is the kernel of the whole symphony, unquestionably its main idea: this is Fate, the force of destiny, which ever prevents our pursuit of happiness from reaching its goal, which jealously stands watch lest our peace and well-being be full and cloudless.”


AIR-DATE
June 2004
COMMENTS
0

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4
2nd Movement

Tchaikovsky describes the Second movement as a series of bittersweet emotions evoked by reflecting on the past. He tells of being overtaken by childhood memories that bring feelings of intimate familiarity and yet, at the same time, irretrievable distance.


AIR-DATE
June 2004
COMMENTS
1

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4
3rd Movement

Tchaikovsky’s description of the Third movement underscores his abilities as a scene painter, even in a work that has no specific plot. It is in these moments that his imagination is most playful, witty, and free.


AIR-DATE
June 2004
COMMENTS
0

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4
4th Movement

The Finale is a culmination of the emotional scenarios in the three preceding movements. An individual has felt isolation in a crowd, but can still find gratification from the people around him. The dynamic between loneliness and fulfillment is both a universal human condition and a reflection of the deepest conflict in Tchaikovsky’s own life.


AIR-DATE
June 2004
COMMENTS
0