VPR Classical

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Italian opera was in severe decline in the first decade of the 19th Century. However, thanks to the works of composers like Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini, a new golden age was about to dawn. The brightest star of this new operatic style was Gioachino Rossini.


Join Reuben Jackson, host of Where Have We Met Before, for his second annual pre-Academy Awards program. The show features selections from memorable Hollywood film scores by David Amram, Bernard Herrmann, Duke Ellington, Terrence Blanchard, and many others.

Broadcast Saturday 2/20 at 11 a.m. and Monday 2/22 at 8 p.m.

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Beethoven loomed so large in early 19th Century Germany that other composers are often overlooked. One prime example is Carl Maria von Weber, a founder of the Romantic Movement.

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The last decade of the 18th century was a time of incredible change in the western world. The technological advances of the industrial revolution, the wars and upheaval of the enlightenment and the rise of scientific rationalization had eroded old certainties within the collective consciousness.

In other words, when you question or change all of the old rules of society, technology, politics and religion what are you left with? You’re left with yourself – at least that’s answer the Romantics gave.

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Composers were not the only ones who shaped the course of music. Sometimes a librarian influences the future in ways that no one could ever imagine. Baron Gottfried van Swieten is a name that isn’t too familiar in the musical world today but his work, energy and encouragement touched a generation of composers.

Musicians have been sampling other artists' songs for decades. Though some get into hot water when they blur the lines between homage and theft, when pop culture borrows a tune from classical music, it's usually more flattery than fines.

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The years 1813 to 1816 were a dry period for Beethoven. He was wrestling with his health and with his family.

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At the dawning of the 19th century, Beethoven had not given up hope that his doctors would find a treatment to reverse his hearing loss. His condition was not only affecting his musical output but also his social life, which was very important to him.

Ludwig van Beethoven has been called the most admired composer in all of music history. His legacy stands as a monument for the entire 19th century and beyond.

Billy Reed / Flickr

With the holiday season come performances of Handel's Messiah

Know of a Messiah performance or sing-along not listed here?  Tell us about it! 

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The word "symphony" is one of the most iconic musical terms, but what makes a piece of music a symphony? The term itself is a compound word with Greek roots meaning “sounding together."

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Franz Joseph Haydn is a towering figure of the Classical era. He didn’t just mimic the changes of the late 18th century, in a large way, his music was the change. He forged new genres. 


December's Student Composer Showcase features Erik Heitsmith, a 7th grader at Black River Middle School in Ludlow. Erik's pieces begin with a musical germ inspired by "an everyday activity. Like brushing your teeth, or eating breakfast.”

Broadcast Monday Dec. 7 at 11:30 a.m.; Wednesday Dec. 9 at 8:30 a.m.; Friday Dec. 11 at 4 p.m.; Saturday Dec. 12 at 9 a.m.

Ken Howard/Metropolitain Opera

Launched in 1931, the Metropolitan Opera’s Saturday matinee broadcasts are the longest-running continuous classical music program in radio history. Find information about these productions here.

Listen Saturday afternoons during the Met season at 1.

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The Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century called into question the powers of the monarchy and religious dogma. There was an emphasis on scientific rigor and simplicity. This movement found its start in the writings of philosophers and made it ways into politics and eventually art – even the world of opera through the reforms of Christoph Willibald Gluck.

Bayreuth Festival 2015 / Enrico Nawrath

Wagner from the source, in the very theater the composer designed for his music dramas. Deutsche Welle presents Tristan and Isolde by Richard Wagner, recorded from the opening concert of the Bayreuth festival 2015. Hear the Bayreuth Festival Chorus & Bayreuth Festival Orchestra conducted by Christian Thielemann.

Broadcast Saturday, Nov. 28 at 1 p.m.

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The death of J.S. Bach in 1750 has traditionally been regarded as the end of the Baroque Period. The well-known Classical era of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven is said to have begun in 1775.  The transitional, 25 year period between is known as Rococo.


Every month, VPR Classical highlights the music of a young local composer in a feature called the Student Composer Showcase. For November, we meet Waterbury’s Rachel Schwartz, a Junior at Harwood Union High School.

Broadcast Monday 11/2 at 11:30 a.m.; Wednesday 11/4 at 8:30 a.m.; Friday 11/6 at 4 p.m.; Saturday 11/7 at 9 a.m.

Credit Ben Resnik

It's time once again for the insights and selections of our favorite musical cross-pollinator. This month, VPR's Reuben Jackson takes us through the world of contemporary American opera.

October features an interview with Peter Stopschinski, whose Bum Phillips: An All American Opera recently premiered in Houston, where Phillips was coach of the Houston Oilers.  We'll also hear jazz-tinged versions of works by Samuel Barber, Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and others.

Broadcast Monday, October 26th at 8 p.m.

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Georg Philipp Telemann was unquestionably the most prolific composer of his generation. He wrote over 3,000 individual works ranging from chamber music to opera, from oratorios to cantatas.