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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: Later in this hour we will hear pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy play a Beethoven Piano Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. A 2-part question today: how many Beethoven piano concertos are there? And what is the nickname of the last one? Answer >>


      Top Stories

      Why the American National Anthem isn’t even American

      Yup. You read that correctly. The American National Anthem isn’t American. Well, it has become American. But ironically, the tune to the “Star Spangled Banner” is actually a British pub ballad. How did a drinking song that originated in the country from which America sought its independence travel across the pond and become our National more... more...

      How One Man Built the Great American Orchestra

        The names inscribed on the façade of Chicago’s Orchestra Hall – Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Wagner – are familiar to every concertgoer. But another name that is proudly displayed not once, but twice alongside this pantheon of musical masters may be less familiar to you: Theodore Thomas. Theodore Thomas founded what would later more... more...

      Countertenor David Daniels on Finding His Voice, Finding Himself, and Being Married by Justice Ginsburg

      David Daniels is “the most acclaimed countertenor of the day, perhaps the best ever,” to use the words of the New York Times. Though many know him best for portraying some of opera’s greatest heroes from Julius Caesar to Orpheus, he is also passionate about civil rights. more...

      QUIZ: What American Composer Are You?

      Take this quiz to find out which dean of American music you're most like! Are you sparse and minimal like Philip Glass? Or do you prefer the sis-boom-bah John Philip Sousa? Do you prefer Samuel Barber's sonic landscapes of America, or Scott Joplin's Ragtime portraits of American life? more...

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      The Immortal/Mark Simpson review – a blazingly original oratorio

      Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

      Simpson’s new occult-obsessed oratorio, with Melanie Challenger’s libretto about the founder of the Society of Psychical Research, asks the existential question: is anybody there?

      Mark Simpson says he composed the music for The Immortal, a blazingly original 40-minute oratorio steeped in the world of Victorian occultism, in a form of trance. If the purpose of art is to pose existential questions, then the piece, commissioned by the Manchester International festival and performed by the BBC Philharmonic, Manchester Chamber Choir and Exaudi, is concerned with what might be the most fundamental question of all: is anybody there?

      Related: Q&A: composer Mark Simpson

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      Gioachino Rossini: Guillaume Tell review – hits the mark, despite the booing

      Royal Opera House, London
      Yes, the rape scene was ugly. But to show something is not to endorse it – and we have seen far worse in opera

      Booing: the one petard guaranteed to hoist opera into the headlines. The Royal Opera’s new Guillaume Tell, perceptively conducted by Antonio Pappano, with a top cast led by Gerald Finley, John Osborn and Malin Byström, has achieved it as never before – and mid-performance at that. The noise on first night, which started as a lone shout and turned into a heckling barrage, was so solid I wondered if it had come from a prearranged, European-style claque. This grandest of red-plush auditoriums, for several minutes, became a loutish playground. How the performers kept going, steadfast and professional to the end, is anyone’s guess.

      Despite attempts in opera circles to turn it into a talking point, booing is a dead issue. It’s a given, part of the freedom of expression valued by a civilised world, though hardly itself a civilised gesture. I don’t like it. Others do. The question here was why it happened at all. If a production is unpopular, the usual place to voice opinion is at the final curtain (it was, too), when the production team come on to take their bow. Here it was a nasty interruption. It happens, rarely, elsewhere. In Vienna the police had to be called mid-Trovatore when a row broke out about the singer. The cause at the ROH, as widely reported, was a dance interlude in which Austrian soldiers – dressed in generic Nazi-Fascist uniforms – first molested, then stripped, then gang-raped a Swiss villager.

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      JS Bach: Partitas; English Suite review – a rewarding and highly personal disc

      Rudolf Buchbinder (piano)

      “Composed for music lovers, to refresh their spirits”, Bach’s six keyboard partitas were first published as a set in 1731. The Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder, now approaching 70, plays the contrasting No 1 in B flat and No 2 in C minor, plus the English Suite No 3 in G minor with its grand, almost “orchestral” opening prelude and well known Gavottes I & II. Usually associated with later Germanic repertoire (hear his Beethoven Sonatas at Edinburgh in August), Buchbinder emphasises bass figuration and an excess of baroque ornament takes a while to get used to on a modern Steinway. When you do, this is a rewarding and highly personal disc and the music dances.

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      new releases

      Beck: Symphonies, Op 2

      Naxos 8.573323

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      Abbado Conducts Schubert

      Deutsche Grammophon 479 4652

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      Nordic Affect: Clockworking

      Sono Luminus SLE-70001

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      Music of Orlande de Lassus

      Hyperion CDA-68064

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      Garrick Ohlsson: Etudes

      Hyperion CDA-68080

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