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Mornings with Carl Grapentine
Weekdays from 6:00 am-10:00 am
Keeping up with Carl Grapentine is a little like “Where’s Waldo.” Some people know him as a church musician. Others catch his pre-performance lectures at Symphony Center and Lyric Opera. Still others hear him calling plays for 100,000 football fans at Michigan Stadium. Each day, it’s Carl’s joie de vivre that lights up The Morning Program on WFMT. He’ll report the headlines, what the weather’s doing, and who won the big game (including the winning team’s fight song), and – of course – he’ll play Bach. In short, The Morning Program with Carl Grapentine is as essential to Chicago as that first cup of coffee.
Carl's Morning Program Quiz
Tuesday, June 30
Who am I? I’m an American composer born in Mississippi in 1895. I was the first African-American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have a symphony played by a leading orchestra, and the first to have an opera performed by a major company. I attended the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where I studied with George Whitefield Chadwick. I was a music arranger for W.C. Handy’s band and later arranged for radio and films. I am often referred to as the Dean of African-American composers. Who am I?
Answer:William Grant Still.
Monday, June 29
American composer Bernard Herrmann was born in NY on this date in 1911. Earlier this morning we heard Bernard Herrmann’s score for Orson Welles’ classic film, Citizen Kane. But he wrote many film scores for another prominent director, including Psycho, North by Northwest, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Vertigo. Name the director.
Answer: Alfred Hitchcock.
Friday, June 26
In 1822, Ludwig van Beethoven wrote a concert overture. It was commissioned by Carl Friedrich Hensler, the Director of Vienna’s new Josefstadt Theater. The overture was first performed at the opening of the theater on October 3, 1822. What is the name of the overture?
Answer: The Consecration of the House.
Thursday, June 25
Another edition of Name the Ballet! This ballet had its premiere on this date in 1910 in Paris. Again, it was commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev for his Ballets Russes. Originally the commission was offered to Anatoly Liadov, but eventually it went to an unknown 28-year-old Russian composer. It was the first of several highly successful collaborations between Diaghilev and the young Russian. Name the ballet and the composer.
Answer: The Firebird by Stravinsky.
Wednesday, June 24
Name the ballet. It is in one act and was described by its composer as a choreographic symphony. It was adapted by Michel Fokine from a romance by the Greek writer Longus who lived in the 2nd century. The music for the ballet was commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev and was premiered at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris in 1912. One of the two title roles was danced by Nijinsky and the orchestra was conducted by Pierre Monteux. It is the composer’s longest work. Name the ballet and the composer.
Answer: Daphnis & Chloe by Maurice Ravel.
Tuesday, June 23
James Levine was born on this date in 1943—he’s 72 today. He is best-known for his long tenure as Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera. He has also been the Music Director of the Ravinia Festival, the Munich Philharmonic, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He made his debut with the Met in 1971; was named Principal Conductor in 1972; and became Music Director in 1976. Where was James Levine born 72 years ago today?
Answer: Cincinnati, Ohio
Monday, June 22
The summer solstice occurred yesterday morning at 11:39. We’re celebrating the first full day of summer today. Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” is part of a larger set of 12 concerti published in 1725. What is the name of this set of concertos?
Answer: The Contest Between Harmony and Invention
Friday, June 19
Hector Berlioz composed his Requiem to honor the fallen of the Revolution of July 1830. The premiere took place in a church in Paris which is part of a complex of buildings first built to house wounded service men. Today that complex contains military museums and monuments as well as a retirement home for veterans. It also contains the tomb of Napoleon. What is the name of this complex in Paris?
Answer: Les Invalides…or Hotel des Invalides
Thursday, June 18
Three people—from different walks in life—all three with something in common. They are musician and former Beatle Paul McCartney, the former conductor of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the late Hans Vonk, and the former film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times and film authority the late Roger Ebert. What do they have in common?
Answer: They were all born on this date in 1942.
Wednesday, June 17
Igor Stravinsky was born on this date in 1882. One of the most important and influential composers of the 20th century, he first came to prominence for his three ballets commissioned by the impresario Sergei Diaghilev between 1910 and 1913. Name all three ballets.
Answer: The Firebird, Petrushka, and The Rite of Spring
Tuesday, June 16
Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos feature a different instrumentation for each of the concertos. They include brilliant solos for violin, flute, oboe, trumpet, horns, and harpsichord among other instruments. Which Brandenburg Concerto has no violins?
Answer: Brandenburg #6—scheduled during the 9am hour.
Monday, June 15
The Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg was born on this date in 1843. The town in which he was born—and where he is buried—displays several statues of Grieg. The city’s largest building is Grieg Hall; the music school is the Grieg Academy; and its choral group is the Grieg Choir. What city was the birthplace of Edvard Grieg?
Answer: Bergen, Norway
Thursday, June 11
This coming Sunday, June 14th, is Flag Day. Who wrote a cantata based on texts of Joseph Rodman Drake, scored for soloists, chorus, and orchestra titled “The American Flag?”
Answer: Antonin Dvorak. It was composed for the 400th anniversary of Columbus arriving in the Americas in 1892.
Thursday, June 11
Today is the 100th birthday of the legendary tuba player of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Arnold Jacobs. He was born in Philadelphia, raised in California, and entered the Curtis Institute at the age of 15. He was the tubist of the CSO from 1944 until his retirement in 1988. In 2001, the CSO’s tuba chair was dedicated as the “Arnold Jacobs Principal Tuba Chair.” Who currently occupies that chair in the Chicago Symphony?
Answer: Gene Pokorny who succeeded Jacobs in 1988
Wednesday, June 10
Today is the 150th anniversary of the premiere of Richard Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde. It took place in Munich, June 10, 1865, with Hans von Bulow conducting. The beginning and the ending of the opera are often linked together and played as an orchestral presentation. What is this orchestral version usually called when played in concert?
Answer: Prelude and Love-Death
Tuesday, June 9
Today is the 150th birthday of the Danish composer Carl Nielsen. Widely recognized as Denmark’s greatest composer, he demonstrated musical abilities at an early age and played in a military band before entering the Royal Conservatory in Copenhagen. He also played violin in the Royal Danish Orchestra for 16 years. In 1916 he became a teacher at the Royal Danish Academy of Music where he remained until his death. Four of his six symphonies have nicknames. What is the nickname of #4?
Answer: The Inextinguishable
Monday, June 8
During the 9am hour today we will hear a song from Gustav Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn, a song by Stephen Foster, and the Symphony #3 by Robert Schumann. All of those selections contain a reference to a certain river. What is the river?
Answer: The Rhine
Friday, June 5
Who am I? I was born on tomorrow’s date—100 years ago. I was born in Philadelphia and officially remained a resident of that city my whole life. At the age of 20 I was simultaneously the head of the theory and composition department at Combs College, a conducting student of Fritz Reiner, and a piano student of Olga Samaroff. I became a professor at Juilliard in 1947 where my students included Philip Glass, Richard Danielpour, Peter Schickele, and Lowell Liebermann. I wrote 9 symphonies, a concerto and 12 sonatas for piano, and I was one of the major composers of music for the concert band. Who am I?
Answer: Vincent Persichetti
Thursday, June 4
Who am I? I was born in Rome, Italy on this date in 1966—I’m 49 years old today. My parents were both professional singers who gave me my first music lessons. My career began at an early age for an opera singer; I made my professional debut at age 21. I made my debut at La Scala at age 25. I’m usually referred to as a mezzo, but I have the range to sing soprano roles as well. I have won 5 Grammy Awards, and in recent years have researched and recorded unusual repertoire. In 2012 I became Artistic Director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival. Who am I?
Answer: Cecilia Bartoli
Wednesday, June 3
Later in this hour we’re going to hear a duet from Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute followed by a set of variations on that tune for cello and piano by Beethoven. The duet is known as “Bei Männern.” Who sings that duet in The Magic Flute?
Answer: Pamina and Papageno
Tuesday, June 2
Queen Elizabeth II of England was crowned on this date in 1953 at Westminster Abbey. Several pieces of music were composed for the occasion. A new feature of the 1953 was a congregational hymn. Who wrote an arrangement of a familiar hymn for the Coronation and what was the name of the hymn?
Answer: Vaughan Williams. “All People That on Earth Do Dwell” or “Old Hundredth”
Monday, June 1
American mezzo-soprano Frederic von Stade was born in Somerville, New Jersey, 70 years ago today. One of the most recorded of operatic artists, she has made more than 60 recordings, garnering 6 Grammy nominations and 2 Grand Prix du Disque awards. She sang for inaugural ceremonies for two American Presidents and the 2002 Olympics. And several composers have written operatic roles and song cycles for her. In what role did she make her Met debut, Santa Fe debut, and European debut?
Answer: Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro
Friday, May 29
Igor Stravinsky’s ballet Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) had its infamous premiere on this date in 1913—102 years ago today. The performance took place in a concert hall that had just opened a few weeks before. What is the hall and in what city is it located?
Answer: Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris
Thursday, May 28
Today we are featuring music related to to the German capital, Berlin. In 1747, JS Bach visited his son CPE Bach in Potsdam, near Berlin, where CPE was a court musician for Frederick II. JS was given a very difficult musical theme by Frederick and asked to improvise upon it. Bach later wrote an entire collection of canons and fugues based on that theme. What is the name of that work by JS Bach?
Answer: The Music Offering
Wednesday, May 27
Today we’re featuring French music and other music about Paris. This ballet was first performed by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1938. It was choreographed by Massine—and it is based on music of Jacques Offenbach as arranged by Manuel Rosenthal. What is the name of the ballet?
Answer: Gaite Parisienne
Tuesday, May 26
American composer William Bolcom was born on this date, May 26, 1938 in Seattle, Washington. He first became known to music audiences as a pianist, recording several albums of rags, parlor songs, and Gershwin for Nonesuch Records. He taught theory and composition at the University of Michigan for 35 years, and eventually became a Pulitzer Prize-winning classical composer. He has composed three major operas, all commissioned and premiered by Lyric Opera of Chicago. Name any one of the three.
Answer: McTeague, A View from the Bridge, A Wedding
Friday, May 22
Today is the 202nd anniversary of the birth of Richard Wagner, one of the most important figures in music, especially opera. Wagner’s love-life was always interesting. One of his infatuations was with a poet and writer whom he met in Zurich. He wrote a set of songs based on her poetry. What was her name?
Answer: Mathilde Wesendonck
Thursday, May 21
Who am I? There are many clues that could be given about my life and my music, but we’ll keep it to these: I was born in Australia…much of my music is associated with England…but I became an American citizen. Who am I?
Answer: Percy Grainger
Wednesday, May 20
Later this morning we’ll find out the next in our Top Ten Symphonies which were determined by your vote. Speaking of symphonies, we asked a few weeks ago which Tchaikovsky symphonies did not have nicknames. This morning the question is: what is the nickname of Tchaikovsky’s 1st symphony?
Answer: Winter Dreams
Tuesday, May 19
Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes made its premiere in Paris on this date in 1909. A composition by Maurice Ravel was to have been performed at the company but Diaghilev decided not to stage it. Ravel published it as a concert piece to great success. But he never forgave Diaghilev. When they met in 1925, Ravel refused to shake Diaghilev’s hand. Diaghilev challenged Ravel to a duel (!) and they never met again. Ravel called his work a “choreographic poem for orchestra” depicting an Imperial Ball in Vienna. What is this work?
Answer: La Valse
Monday, May 18
Who am I? I was born on this date in in 1902. My wide-ranging musical career began as a student at the forerunner of the Juilliard School. Then I played in the Sousa Band. Then I played in the NY Philharmonic under Toscanini. I then became music director for the NBC Radio network in Hollywood. I composed the score for Charlie Chaplin’s film The Great Dictator. I also wrote the songs "May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You" and "It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas." But my greatest fame comes from my 1957 Broadway musical set in my home state of Iowa. Who am I…and what is the musical?
Answer: Meredith Willson…The Music Man
Friday, May 15
Tomorrow is the 103rd birthday of the American author, historian, actor,—and longtime WFMT free spirit—Studs Terkel. Louis Terkel was born in NY City but moved to Chicago at the age of 8 with his family. Studs won the 1985 Pultizer Prize for General Non-Fiction for which one of his books?
Answer: The Good War—An Oral History of World War II
Thursday, May 14
This piece of music was composed on Christmas Day 1896. The first performance took place on this date—May 14, 1897—in Philadelphia. By a 1987 Act of Congress, it is now the official national march of the United States of America. What is the march and who composed it?
Answer: The Stars and Stripes Forever by John Philip Sousa
Wednesday, May 13
The English composer Sir Arthur Sullivan was born on this date in 1842. His greatest fame came from his 14 collaborations with Sir William Gilbert. But he also composed 23 operas, 13 orchestral works, two ballets, and other choral works and chamber pieces. He composed the music for the hymn “Onward, Christian Soldiers.” He also wrote the music for a song with a text by Adelaide Proctor which begins, “Seated one day at the organ, I was weary and ill at ease.” What is the name of that song?
Answer: The Lost Chord
Tuesday, May 12
The coronation of King George VI of England took place on this date in 1937 in Westminster Abbey in London. The 35-year old William Walton wrote the official coronation march for the occasion. What was the name of the march?
Answer: Crown Imperial
Monday, May 11
Who am I? I was born on this date in 1895 in Woodville, Mississippi. My stepfather nurtured my love of music by taking me to operettas and buying classical recordings. I began my career as an arranger for W.C. Handy and worked with Eubie Blake. After receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship, I began composing my first opera. Later I moved to Los Angeles and arranged film music. I was the first African-American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra and the first to have a symphony played by a major orchestra. I am often referred to as the “Dean of African-American composers.” Who am I?
Answer: William Grant Still
Friday, May 8
This German city has been the home of three different concert halls, all bearing the same name. Only the first of these halls was aptly named because it was located inside a textile or cloth factory. Still, the title remains on today’s modern version. What is the city…and what is the name of the hall?
Thursday, May 7
Today we’re featuring music by Brahms and Tchaikovsky, both born on this date. Of Tchaikovsky’s six completed symphonies, four of them have nicknames. Which two Tchaikovsky symphonies do not have nicknames?
Answer: #’s 4 and 5
Wednesday, May 6
Actor, director, writer, and producer Orson Welles was born 100 years ago today—May 6, 1915 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. As a boy he lived many places including Chicago. But asked years later “where is home,” he said “Woodstock, IL.” His very first film was Citizen Kane which he co-wrote, produced, directed, and starred in—a film that tops many lists as the greatest ever made. Who wrote the musical score for Citizen Kane?
Answer: Bernard Herrmann
Tuesday, May 5
It’s the 5th of May. And in honor of Cinco de Mayo we will hear some Mexican music by Carloz Chavez and a Mexican-themed composition by an American composer. The composition if La Fiesta Mexicana. Who is the composer?
Answer: H. Owen Reed
Monday, May 4
The Viennese composer Emil von Reznicek was born on this date in 1860—155 years ago today. His compositions include 5 symphonies, a violin concerto, chamber music, and operas. Today he is best remembered for the overture to his opera Donna Diana. The overture served as the theme music for an American radio, and later, television series. What was the name of either series?
Answer: Sergeant Preston of the Yukon or Challenge of the Yukon. “Sgt. Preston” will do.
Friday, May 1
Composer and church musician Leo Sowerby was born on this date in 1895—120 years ago today—in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He studied at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago. His Violin Concerto was premiered in 1913 by the CSO. He later won the 1946 Pulitzer Prize for Music. He served briefly as the associate organist at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago. But from 1927 until 1962 (!) he served as organist of what Chicago church?
Answer: St. James Cathedral (on Huron in Chicago)
Thursday, April 30
Today is the birthday of Franz Lehar, born on this date in 1870. We’re about to hear the Vilja from The Merry Widow sung by Elizabeth Schwarzkopf. Who will be singing the role of Hanna Glawari, the merry widow, when Lyric Opera opens its production this coming November?
Answer: Renee Fleming
Wednesday, April 29
Three prominent conductors were all born on this date, April 29. They are Zubin Mehta, Sir Thomas Beecham, and Sir Malcom Sargent. Put them in order of birth, oldest first.
Answer: Beecham--1879, Sargent--1895, Mehta—1936
Tuesday, April 28
We’ve been playing music about trees and forests for the last few moments. Which opera in the Ring Cycle by Richard Wagner has a passage usually referred to as Forest Murmurs?
Monday, April 27
Handel’s “Music for the Royal Fireworks” was first performed on this date in 1749. It was composed for a celebration of the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle which ended the War of the Austrian Succession. In what location in London was the music was first performed?
Answer: Green Park
Tuesday, April 7
Sixty-six years ago tonight, April 7, 1949, a new musical opened on Broadway. It starred a veteran of the Broadway stage paired with a recently-retired star of the Metropolitan Opera. It won 10 Tony Awards and ran for more than 1,900 performances. What was the musical and who were the two stars?
Answer: South Pacific—starring Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza.
Monday, April 6
A famous American composer was the captain of his grammar school baseball team and played varsity football at Yale. About his famous set of variations for organ, he once said the work was “…as much fun as playing baseball.” Who was the composer?
Answer: Charles Ives--speaking about his “Variations on America.”
Friday, April 3
Johann Sebastian Bach became the Cantor of Leipzig in 1723 but didn’t take up the post until that summer. For his first Holy Week services in Leipzig in 1724, he wrote a major work which was first performed on Good Friday 1724 at the Nikolaikirche. What was that composition?
Answer: The St. John Passion.
Thursday, April 2
The Danish author Hans Christian Andersen was born on this date in 1805. Among his well-known fairy tales are The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Match Girl, The Little Mermaid, The Nightingale, The Princess and the Pea, The Red Shoes, Thumbelina, and the Ugly Duckling. Igor Stravinsky wrote an opera and a symphonic poem which was later turned into a ballet, all based on one of Hans Christian Anderson’s tales. What are the slightly different titles of the opera and the orchestral piece?
Answer: The Nightingale and The Song of the Nightingale
Wednesday, April 1
It’s April Fool’s Day—the morning to play recordings by PDQ Bach, Flanders & Swann, the Portsmouth Sinfonia, and Spike Jones. What was Spike Jones’s real name? (And we need his full name)
Answer: Lindley Armstrong Jones
Tuesday, March 31
Today is the birthday of Franz Josef Haydn, born March 31, 1732, the same year that a famous American president was born. Haydn died in 1809, the same year another American president was born. Name the two American presidents that coincide with Haydn’s dates.
Answer: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln
Monday, March 30
Tomorrow is the birthday of Franz Josef Haydn and we will have an appropriate celebration. But tomorrow is also an interesting birthday/anniversary. It’s the anniversary of the opening of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s first big Broadway hit, Oklahoma! And it’s the birthday of the woman who starred in the 1955 film version of that musical. She was born March 31, 1934. Who is she?
Answer: Shirley Jones
Friday, March 27
Today is the birthday of the Russian cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich, born in 1927. He died in 2007. When he became music director of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington D.C. in 1977, his friend Leonard Bernstein wrote an overture for the occasion. What is the name of that composition by Bernstein?
Thursday, March 26
Today is the 90th birthday of composer, conductor, pianist, and writer, Pierre Boulez. As a conductor he served as musical advisor to the Cleveland Orchestra, chief conductor of the BBC Philharmonic, music director of the New York Philharmonic and, later, as principal guest conductor of the CSO where he is now conductor emeritus. In 1976 he founded a chamber orchestra in Paris devoted to new music. What is the name of this group?
Answer: Ensemble InterContemporain
Wednesday, March 25
Conductor Arturo Toscanini was born on this date in 1867 in Parma, Italy. One of the most acclaimed conductors of the 20th century, his conducting career began unexpectedly in 1886 in Rio de Janeiro. The 19-year old Toscanini was a member of the cello section of a touring opera company. When the local conductor walked out and a substitute conductor proved unworthy, the young Toscanini was persuaded to leave his chair in the cello section and lead the rest of the performance. What was the opera he conducted on that occasion?
Answer: Verdi’s Aida
Tuesday, March 24
Claude Debussy’s early orchestral masterpiece Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun was composed between 1891 and 1894. A lyrical and atmospheric poem was the inspiration for this work. What French poet wrote a poem with the same title?
Answer: Stephane Mallarme
Monday, March 23
Last week we celebrated the birthday of the Russian composer Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, including a classic CSO recording of his Scheherazade, The Tales of a 1001 Nights. There is also a song cycle with the title Scheherazade. Who composed that song cycle?
Answer: Maurice Ravel
Friday, March 20
Spring arrives this afternoon! The vernal equinox will occur at 5:45 PM, Central Time. Botticelli’s painting La Primavera [The Springtime] is depicted in what 20th century composition?
Answer: Respighi’s Botticelli Triptych
Thursday, March 19
On this last day of winter (!) we recall a piece of music from three months ago. The aria Must the winter come so soon? is from an opera by American composer Samuel Barber. Name the opera.
Wednesday, March 18
James Conlon, music director of the Ravinia Festival, turns 65 today. He was born in New York, March 18, 1950. In this coming season at Ravinia, his last as music director, what complete opera is he conducting in concert format?
Answer: Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman on August 15
Tuesday, March 17
It’s the day for the wearin’ of the green—St. Patrick’s Day. And we’re celebrating with Irish music and musicians. In the 1970s, a first-chair player in the Berlin Philharmonic was an Irishman. Who was he?
Answer: James Galway, flute
Monday, March 16
Lerner and Loewe’s most popular musical, My Fair Lady, opened on yesterday’s date, March 15, 1956. The original production ran for more than six years—setting what was then a record for the longest-running Broadway show. The original cast starred Rex Harrison, Julie Andrews, and Stanley Holloway. Name the play and the author on which My Fair Lady is based.
Answer: Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
Friday, March 13
Tomorrow is the 130th anniversary of the first performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, March 14, 1885 at the Savoy Theatre in London. It has become the most performed of all the G&S operettas. The Mikado, Nanki-Poo, Ko-Ko, Poo-bah, and Yum-Yum all live in what fictitious town?
Thursday, March 12
Who am I? I was born 125 years ago today—March 12, 1890 in what is now Ukraine. At the age of 9, I was accepted at the Imperial Ballet School and I became one of the great ballet dancers in history. I joined Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes in 1909 and also began to choreograph. Some of my more famous creations include: The Afternoon of a Faun, Jeux, and Le Sacre du Printemps. Who am I?
Answer: Vaslav Nijinsky
Wednesday, March 11
In a letter to his patron, Nadejda von Meck, Tchaikovsky wrote the following: “To hear [his] music is to feel one has accomplished some good deed. It is difficult to say precisely wherein this good influence lies, but undoubtedly it is beneficial. The long I live and the better I know him, the more I love his music.” Of whom was he speaking?
Tuesday, March 10
Who am I? I was born 100 years ago today in London. After conducting various orchestras and working for the BBC, I spent a decade as conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. My best known post was as music director of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic beginning in 1963. From 1967 until my death I was associate conductor of the Royal Philharmonic and I was one of the regular conductor for the Last Night of the Proms. Who am I?
Answer: Sir Charls Groves
Monday, March 9
Name the piece of music. It was composed in 1936. Originally a piece of chamber music, it is also well-known in a version for a larger orchestra. It was first performed in 1938 conducted by Arturo Toscanini. Thirty years later the composer made a choral version of the same music, setting the text Agnus Dei. Name the composer and the composition.
Answer: Samuel Barber Adagio for Strings—or String Quartet
Friday, March 6
Who am I? I was born on this date in 1930 in France but grew up in the U.S. I was a child prodigy as a conductor, guest-conducting the NBC Symphony at the age of 11. I made my violin debut at 15. I held many positions during my lifetime including Music Director of three American orchestras, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the NY Philharmonic. I died last July at the age of 84. Who am I?
Answer: Lorin Maazel
Thursday, March 5
In Bizet’s opera The Pearl Fishers, two fishermen sing a famous duet expressing their love for a Brahmin princess, Leila. The opera takes place in what was then known as Ceylon. What is the current name of this country?
Answer: Sri Lanka
Wednesday, March 4
Today is the birthday of the City of Chicago, incorporated on March 4, 1837. A former mayor of Chicago, Anton Cermak, was fatally wounded in Miami, Florida in 1933 during a failed assassination attempt on whom?
Answer: President Franklin Roosevelt
Tuesday, March 3
The opera Carmen by Georges Bizet had its first performance on this date, March 3, 1875 in Paris. The premiere at the Opera-Comique was not a success. And Bizet died suddenly three months later, never knowing of its world-wide success. In 1954, a film was made—based on a Broadway play—updating the story of Carmen to 1940s Chicago. What is the name of this adaptation?
Answer: Carmen Jones—starring Harry Belafonte, Dorothy Dandridge, and Pearl Bailey
Monday, March 2
Composer Kurt Weill was born on this date in 1900 and died at the age of 50. After studying with Ferrucio Busoni in Berlin, he taught theory and composition to Claudio Arrau and Maurice Abravanel. Turning to more popular music, his stage productions included The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny and The Seven Deadly Sins. His best known work, The Threepenny Opera, written with Bertolt Brecht, was a re-working of what work by the English author John Gay?
Answer: The Beggar's Opera
Friday, February 27
Soprano Mirella Freni was born in Modena, Italy on this date in 1935—she is 80 years old today. Another great opera star was born in that same town a little more than seven months later. Their mothers were friends and worked together. Who was the other great operatic star born in Modena in 1935?
Answer: Luciano Pavarotti
Thursday, February 26
The French poet, playwright and novelist, Victor Hugo, was born on this date in 1802. Hugo admired the music of Gluck, Weber, and Beethoven and was a personal friend of both Franz Liszt and Hector Berlioz. More than a thousand musical compositions were inspired by his writing including the operas Rigoletto, Ernani, and La Gioconda. One of the longest-running musical theater shows on Broadway and in London’s West End was based on a novel by Victor Hugo. Name it.
Answer: Les Miserables
Wednesday, February 25
The English writer Anthony Burgess was born on this date in 1917. In his novel A Clockwork Orange, the main character Alex undergoes an experimental behavior modification treatment to cure him of his tendency toward violence. But as an unintended consequence, he also develops an aversion to the music of his favorite composer. Who was Alex’s favorite composer?
Answer: Ludwig van Beethoven
Tuesday, February 24
A famous composition by Claudio Monteverdi had its premiere on this date, February 24, 1607 at the palace in Mantua. It is sometime referred to as being the first true opera. What is the name of this work?
Monday, February 23
George Frideric Handel was born on this date 330 years ago—February 23, 1685 in Halle, Germany. One of his most famous compositions is the Water Music—composed to serenade the King of England, traveling up and down the Thames in July of 1717. Which British monarch was serenaded with Handel’s Water Music?
Answer: George I, the former Elector of Hanover
Friday, February 20
Pianist and conductor Christoph Eschenbach was born on this date in 1940—he’s 75 today. A former music director of the Ravinia Festival, Maestro Eschenbach currently leads the Orchestre de Paris and one major American orchestra. Of what American orchestra is he the music director?
Answer: The National Symphony of Washington D.C. He is also music director of the Kennedy Center for the Arts.
Thursday, February 19
Violinist Gil Shaham was born on this date in 1971 in Urbana, Illinois when his parents were on academic fellowships at the University of Illinois. Mr. Shaham will be playing a recital at Orchestra Hall on Sunday March 1. The program consists entirely of music by one composer. Whose music will Gil Shaham be playing in Chicago?
Answer: J.S. Bach—the complete sonatas and partitas for unaccompanied violin
Wednesday, February 18
The wonderful American mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard was born on this date in 1982—she’s 33 years old today. In what opera will she be singing the title role in next year’s Lyric Opera Season?
Answer: Cinderella or Cenerentola in Rossini’s opera of that name
Tuesday, February 17
Puccini's Madama Butterfly had its premiere on this date, February 17, 1904 at La Scala, Milan. It was a flop, initially, but went on to become one of the most beloved of operas. Puccini once said that it was his personal favorite among his operas. What is Madama Butterfly's name?
Answer: Cio-Cio San
Monday, February 16
The Rakoczy March is named after an 18th century Hungarian hero. Several composers have made arrangements of that melody. Hector Berlioz made an orchestral arrangement of the march which he then included in one of his compositions. What is the name of the Berlioz composition which includes that march?
Answer: The Damnation of Faust
Friday, February 13
Yesterday was the anniversary of the first performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, February 12, 1924 at Aeolian Hall in NY. At the premiere, Gershwin hadn’t totally finished annotating the work. He improvised parts of the performance from the keyboard and cued the instrumentalists when it was time to come in. What ensemble accompanied that first performance?
Answer: The Paul Whiteman Band
Thursday, February 12
Who said this? “If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once a week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would thus have been kept active through use.” Hint: He was born on this date in 1809.
Answer: Charles Darwin
Wednesday, February 11
Might as well indulge myself on my birthday! I was born on this date in 1949 in Little Company of Mary Hospital—which is located in what village in Illinois?
Answer: Evergreen Park
Tuesday, February 10
Jacques Offenbach’s fantastic series of operatic stories, The Tales of Hoffmann, had its premiere on this date in Paris in 1881, four months after the composer’s death. What is the name of the character who sings herself to death, urged on by the apparition of her dead mother?
Monday, February 9
Giuseppe Verdi’s final opera, Falstaff, had its premiere on this date in 1893 at La Scala, Milan. It was the third and final opera of his Shakespeare-inspired works. What were the first two?
Answer: Macbeth and Othello (Note: The Chicago Symphony and Riccardo Muti will present concert performances of Falstaff on next year's concert schedule.)
Thursday, February 5
Ruth Craford Seeger was the stepmother of what famous folk singer?
Answer: Pete Seeger
Wednesday, February 4
Through the Looking Glass was the sequel to what famous book by Lewis Carroll?
Answer: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Tuesday, February 3
While in Scotland, Mendelssohn went on a boat trip to some islands and described that trip in a famous concert overture. What is its name?
Answer: The "Fingal's Cave" or "Hebrides" Overture
Monday, February 2
Carl Czemy was a pupil of what great, great composer? (Hint: he gave the Vienna premiere of that composer's 5th piano concerto)
Friday, January 30
Besides the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Riccardo Muti was the music director for another great American orchestra. Which one?
Answer: The Philadelphia Orchestra
Thursday, January 29
In what city is Covent Garden?
Wednesday, January 28
Wagner specified that Parsifal should only be performed in one location. Where?
Tuesday, January 27
What is the title of Mozart's 41st symphony?
Answer: The "Jupiter"
Monday, January 26
From whom did Ravel write his famous Boléro?
Answer: Ida Rubinstein
Friday, January 23
What was Bizet doing in Rome?
Answer: Studying as a winner of the Prix de Rome (Prize of Rome)
Thursday, January 22
Who wrote the theme on which Bach’s A Musical Offering is based?
Answer: King Frederick the Great of Prussia
Wednesday, January 21
Although Franz Liszt grew up speaking German and later lived many years in Italy, his language of choice was French. He never learn to speak a word of the language spoken in his native country. In which country was he born?
Tuesday, January 20
Sigmund Romberg wrote an operetta called Blossom Time in 1917 based on the melodies of what great composer? (Hint: His birthday is coming up on January 31 and is celebrated yearly by WFMT)
Answer: Franz Schubert
Monday, January 19
The Symphony #3, “Organ”, was dedicated to another great pianist and composer of the day who once called Saint-Saens the greatest organist in the world. This dedicatee was from Hungary and is credited with being the inventor of the symphonic poem and the piano recital. To whom did Saint-Saens dedicate his Organ Symphony?
Answer: Franz Liszt
Friday, January 16
How were Josef Suk and Antonin Dvorak related?
Answer: Suk was Dvorak’s son-in-law
Thursday, January 15
ETA Hoffmann wrote the story for which Tchaikovsky ballet?
Answer: The Nutcracker
Wednesday, January 14
The treaty of Aix-la Chappelle in 1748 ended what war?
Answer: The War of Austrian Succession
Tuesday, January 13
Felix Mendelssohn had a very talented sister to whom he was very close. What is her name?
Answer: Fanny Mendelssohn (or Fanny Mendelssohn Henselt)
Monday, January 12
In Italian, what does “andante” literally mean?
Friday, January 9
We're hearing all 4 Scherzos by Chopin this hour. How many piano sonatas did he write?
Thursday, January 8
Sir Charles Villiers Stanford was known as one of history’s greatest teachers of composers, counting Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams, John Ireland, Frank Bridge and many others among his pupils. Where did he teach?
Answer: University of Cambridge
Wednesday, January 7
Where is tenor Juan Diego FLorez from?
Answer: Lima, Peru
Tuesday, January 6
Turkish music has inspired many composers. Mozart wrote two Turkish-inspired operas (one incomplete). Name one of them.
Answer: The Abduction from the Seraglio or Zaide
Monday, January 5
In Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice there are only three characters: Orpheus, Euridice, and ...what is the third character?
Answer: Amor (or Cupid)
Friday, January 2
Rachmaninoff wrote a set of variations on this same tune and attributed the tune to the wrong composer. To whom did he attribute the tune “La Follia di Espagna” (who did use it in a set of variations)?
Answer: Arcangelo Corelli