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The Keeping Score Series: 13 Days when Music Changed Forever
Sundays at 8:00 pm
The San Francisco Symphony’s radio project called The Keeping Score Series: 13 Days When Music Changed Forever is about musical revolutions: the composers, works, and musical movements that changed the way people heard or thought about music. Each program will explore the historical backdrop and the musical precursors to the revolutionary change, and examine the aftershock and the lasting influence of that moment in music history.
The production design will include musical excerpts mixed with commentary from the host, pop icon Suzanne Vega, and interviews with composers, musicologists, writers, and musicians. Michael Tilson Thomas, music director of the San Francisco Symphony, will be the key interview subject.
The producer of the series is Tom Voegeli, known as one of the leading audio producers in the United States. He has received multiple awards for his work, including two Grammy Awards, a Prix Italia for Best Radio Drama, three Peabody Awards, several Audie Awards for the Best Book on Tape, and an Ohio State Award. He is also known for his radio adaptations of the Star Wars films, as the creator of the long-running radio series Saint Paul Sunday, and as a theatrical sound designer.
The script writers are:
- Justin Davidson, music critic for New York Magazine and Newsday. Mr. Davidson was a Pulitzer Prize winner in 2002.
- Tim Page, currently Professor of Journalism and Music at the University of Southern California and former music critic for The Washington Post, Newsday, and The New York Times. Mr. Page was a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1997.
- Pierre Ruhe, former music critic for The Atlanta Journal Constitution and The Washington Post.
- Chloe Veltman, host of KALW’S Voice Box, a weekly radio series about the art of song, chief theater critic for SF Weekly, and a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC Music Magazine, among others.
The series is underwritten by the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr Fund, the Andrew W Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
April 3, 2011
February 24, 1607: The Premiere of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo
This is a program about the dawn of opera, but also about secular music becoming through-composed high art (something that had been the exclusive purview of church music). We’ll look at precursors to L’Orfeo in ancient Greece and Rome, as well as Jacopo Perri’s Euridice, written a generation before Monteverdi.
April 10, 2011
April 22, 1723: The Town Council of Leipzig Appoints Bach as Cantor
An exploration of the Baroque and the never-ending legacy of Bach, through Mendelssohn, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Steve Reich, and The Doors’ Light My Fire.
April 17 , 2011
October 29, 1787: The Premiere of Don Giovanni in Prague.
With this work Mozart attains his maturity and writes a masterpiece that dominates opera forever afterwards, echoing in Wagner and beyond.
April 24, 2011
August 8, 1803: Parisian Piano Maker Sebastien Erard Gives One of His Sturdy New Creations to Beethoven
With this instrument the composer was able to set aside his fortepiano and write more expressive and emotional music, beginning with the Waldstein Sonata. New instruments and new technologies have unalterably changed music many times, but the pace quickened in the 20th century, with the record player, the computer, and the Internet.
May 1, 2011
April 7, 1805: The First Public Performance of Beethoven’s Eroica
Beethoven’s Symphony No 3 changed our idea of what music could express. Instead of classical form and rarified beauty, this symphony lays out the full range of human feelings, from joy and love to hopelessness and pathos.
May 8, 2011
August 13, 1876: The Launch of the First “Ring” Cycle at Bayreuth
A program about the danger and appeal of Wagner’s full-immersion mythology and why the composer was so important, even to those who hated him.
May 15, 2011
May 6, 1889: The Opening Day of the Exposition Universelle in Paris
The Exposition Universelle was where Debussy first heard gamelan music, and world music became a part of Western European classical language. Composers before and after Debussy frequently turned to vernacular sources for inspiration, whether Brahms, Mahler, and Bartók incorporating folk melodies, Copland and Gershwin using the rhythms of Latin dance, or Steve Reich quoting West African drumming.
May 22, 2011
January 5, 1909: The Premiere of Elektra
Elektra is Richard Strauss’s farthest-out work, and perhaps the only piece from the days of early modernism that retains its ability to shock today.
May 29, 2011
May 29, 1913: The Premiere of the Ballet The Rite of Spring
Stravinsky’s completely original instrumentation and rhythms, and his use of dissonance, have made this work one of the most important of the 20th century, not to mention the riot and ensuing scandal that caused this Paris premiere – 98 years ago today – to be of the most shocking in all of performance history.
June 5, 2011
December 26, 1926: The Premiere of Tapiola
This tone poem by Sibelius was his last major work before thirty years of silence, during which the world waited for an eighth symphony that never came. Sibelius in his time was seen as a nationalist along the lines of Grieg, but we now hear his music as radical and astonishingly prescient.
June 12, 2011
January 10, 1931: The Debut of Charles Ives’s Three Places in New England
This work is performed for the first time to mild applause at a concert funded by the composer himself. Mild applause, but Ives’s music was revolutionary. Before him, American concert music was almost entirely based on European models. After him, through Copland, Cage, and beyond, American classical music found its own voice.
June 19, 2011
January 28, 1936: The Publication in Pravda of the Article Chaos Instead of Music
This article signaled Stalin’s displeasure with Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and led to the composer’s “redemption” in his Symphony No 5. This program will explore Shostakovich and the sometimes mutually beneficial, sometimes terrifying, relationship between music and the totalitarian state.
June 26, 2011
November 4, 1964: The Premiere of Terry Riley’s In C
This piece, which debuted at the San Francisco Tape Music Center, and the minimalist outpouring that it sparked, were a reaction to the rigid strictures of serialism and the stranglehold of the academic composers of the time.