VPR Classical

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As World War II began to rage across Europe and the Pacific, communication technology had spread to most of the world. Radio and recording allowed a unified soundtrack of the conflict shared across continents and oceans. Both sides of the war began to practice the art of propaganda in an effort to inspire their people or demoralize their enemies. Music played an important role in this effort to control the hearts of the populace as each country strove to find their musical voice during the war.

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When he heard harmony, he saw color. Olivier Messiaen was not just a visionary composer; he was an organist, an ornithologist and a professor of world-wide acclaim. He was influenced by Ancient Greek theory, Hindu and Japanese culture, his own Roman Catholic faith and the songs of his feathered friends. His music stands as a pillar of the avant-garde in the 20th century.

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Today, music is everywhere. Invisible signals fly through the air carrying every possible genre and style that a person could ever want. We can access them from our homes, cars and phones enjoying content from around the world. In the 19th century this type of technology was just a dream in the minds of scientists and inventors, but the 20th century saw an explosion of communication and the rise of a device we call the radio.

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German composer, Paul Hindemith was a central figure in music and music theory in the 20th century, especially in the period between the wars. His music, teaching methods and theoretical treatises influenced a generation of composers.

2016 Holiday Programs On VPR And VPR Classical

Dec 22, 2016
Amanda Shepard

This holiday season, make VPR and VPR Classical part of your celebrations and enjoy a variety of special programs, ranging from traditional to new.

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In previous centuries there were prevailing styles and forms of music. The Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras have their own set of conventions that composers followed. But the 20th century saw fragmentation as composers reacted and counter-reacted to the artistic expressions around them. Neoclassism is an example of such a reaction.

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'Tis the season for Handel's Messiah! Nearly 275 years after it was first performed, Messiah has become a holiday season staple. Check out our list of performances and sing-alongs planned for the next few weeks and share with us any we might have missed.

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Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf is an excellent example of the Russian composer’s style; modernist harmonic expression with accessible melodies and familiar forms. His life though, was far from a fairytale and chronicles the volatile changes in Russia and the world in the first half of the 20th century.

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The Student Composer Showcase for December is Izzy Serebrov.

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June 28, 1914, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, was assassinated by Gavrilo Princip, a Yugoslav nationalist. This incident quickly escalated into one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history. The Great War, or World War I, saw the rise of revolutions and the death of 9 million soldiers and 7 million civilians. The philosophy, technology and geography of the world were forever altered. The world of music was also affected as composers served in battle and sought to express their patriotism and also the true human cost of the conflict.

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In music, there have been defining moments that change the world. A single piece, even a single performance, sends shock waves through the entire art form and suddenly things are never the same. The 1913 premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring was one such moment.

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This Thanksgiving holiday, join VPR and VPR Classical for entertaining and insightful programming and beautiful classical music as you spend time with family and friends.

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No other composer in recent history was able to adapt to the changing styles of his time like Igor Stravinsky. He was a composer of international acclaim with ties to Russia, Switzerland, Germany, France and even Hollywood. During his long life he saw war, revolution and dynamic shifts in artistic expression. Nevertheless, he was always in touch with his own compositional voice. His music of any style or genre sounds like Stravinsky.

Timeline: Bela Bartok

Nov 14, 2016
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Bela Bartok was a composer, pianist and musicologist. He was so devoted to his studies and artistic pursuits that he stated, “If I would cross myself I would say ‘in the name of Nature, Art and Science.’” His compositions had both a nationalistic fervor and an adventurous spirit, pushing the boundaries of music in the 20th century.

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Charles Ives was an organist, a baseball player, an insurance salesman and a part-time composer. He was ahead of his time, and his compositions inspired a growing modernist movement in American music during the 20th century.

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Throughout music history there have been schools of thought and practice. These schools were collections of composers around an institution or geographic location that worked together in the pursuit of new musical expression. 

Arnold Schoenberg was a composer, teacher, music theorist and painter. He developed techniques of composition that turned music upside down and backwards. He was called an expressionist and the founder of atonalism and serialism, but regardless of what Schoenberg is called he is one of the pivotal figures of 20th century music.

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French composer, Maurice Ravel was short in stature, slight of frame, impeccably dressed and careful about his manner. He lived a private life, but perhaps you could have found him walking in the woods outside of Paris at night pondering music in his head. “It’s lucky I’ve managed to write music,” Ravel wrote, “because I know perfectly well I should have never been able to do anything else.”

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Art influences art. The work of one discipline can inform and inspire the work of another. In France, at the close of the 19th century, a movement known as impressionism left its mark on the world of visual art, literature and music.

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Once in a great while an artist steps on to the scene that challenges the status quo and changes the way we look at art forever. At the dawning of the 20th century, France saw several of these individuals. Stephane Mallarme’s symbolic poetry and Claude Monet’s impressionistic paintings helped pave the way for new expression in their art forms. In the world of music, Claude Debussy stands as that pivotal figure whose works ushered in new sounds and ideas.

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