JPR Classics

JPR Classics is a place to come for all things classical in the State of Jefferson.  We'll honor our rich classical heritage while looking to the future, showcasing inspired performances by the next generation of classical musicians. The classics live on JPR!

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JPR Classics
10:09 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Musicians' Brains Really Do Work Differently — In A Good Way

Brains have a "full-body" workout when their owners play music.
TED-Ed

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 9:20 am

"Did you know that every time musicians pick up their instruments, there are fireworks going off all over their brain?"

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JPR Classics
7:40 am
Thu November 20, 2014

A Flurry Of Premieres For American Orchestras

This weekend Leonard Slatkin leads the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in several premieres, webcast live.
Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 5:03 am

How about some good — even great — news from American orchestras? Today and tomorrow, four of the country's biggest ensembles are playing world premieres by prominent composers.

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JPR Classics
3:42 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Joyful Opera Performed In Nazi Concentration Camp Revived In Chicago

Ela Stein Weissberger joins the cast of Brundibár for a final song.
Cheryl Corley

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 4:53 pm

Brundibár, a children's opera that premiered during World War II, became both a symbol of hope and resistance and a Nazi propaganda tool. Now, Petite Opera, a small company in suburban Chicago, is reprising the opera, originally performed by Jewish children held in a concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia.

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JPR Classics
2:41 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Uncovering The Heart Of Chopin — Literally

Composer and pianist Frederic Chopin, who died in 1849.
General Photographic Agency Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 1:47 pm

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JPR Classics
11:53 am
Sat November 15, 2014

'The Black Horn': Blowing Past Classical Music's Color Barriers

Robert Lee Watt fell in love with the French horn at an early age. He met a lot of resistance from people who thought his background and his race made a career with the instrument unlikely — but he went on to become the first African-American French hornist hired by a major symphony in the United States.

He became the assistant first French horn for the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1970, and stayed with the orchestra for 37 years. His memoir, The Black Horn, tells how he got there.

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JPR Classics
7:19 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Power And Struggle In A Soviet Symphony

Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich's once brilliant career took a dive after the official party paper criticized one of his operas in 1936. Shostakovich responded with his powerful Fifth Symphony.
Central Press Getty Images

Originally published on Sat November 8, 2014 9:33 am

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JPR Classics
7:13 am
Mon November 10, 2014

This Is An Orchestra Under The Influence Of Chili Peppers

Danish concertmaster Erik Heide plays "Jalousie" after downing an vividly hot pepper.
Chili Klaus YouTube

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 5:11 pm

It's not unusual for musicians to play through pain. But instead of blisters or cramps, members of the Danish National Chamber Orchestra recently endured the searing throb of hot peppers. And it was on purpose: Each musician ate one of "the world's hottest chili peppers" whole, as they played a tango.

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JPR Classics
1:03 pm
Sun November 9, 2014

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Reaches Labor Deal With Musicians

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra bassist Michael Kurth stands on the picket line for a silent protest during the lockout in September. The orchestra announced this weekend that it had reached a new four-year contract with musicians.
David Goldman AP

Musicians and management at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra have reached agreement on a new labor contract after months of negotiations and a lockout, setting the stage for the ensemble's 70th anniversary season to start on Thursday. Appropriately enough, the first concert will feature Beethoven's "Ode to Joy."

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JPR Classics
3:02 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mr. Sax

Adolphe Sax, a Belgian musician and the inventor of the saxophone, was born 200 years ago Thursday.
The LIFE Picture Collection Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 10:23 am

It's rare to be able to celebrate a person who invented a popular musical instrument. Mostly, from the guitar to the violin to the flute, musical instruments have evolved over time: There is no Mr. Flute or Ms. Trumpet. But there is a Mr. Sax — or, rather, a Monsieur Sax.

Adolphe Sax was born in Belgium 200 years ago Thursday. As a young man, Sax worked for his father, also an instrument maker. The younger Sax made improvements to the bass clarinet and invented a family of instruments called saxhorns before creating his eponymous "phone" in the early 1840s.

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JPR Classics
12:36 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Celebrating John Philip Sousa's 160th Birthday

Legendary marching band composer John Philip Sousa was born in Washington, D.C. back in 1854. (AP)

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 12:59 pm

On this day in 1854, legendary marching band composer John Philip Sousa was born in Washington, D.C.

Today also happens to be the birthday of Here & Nows Robin Young, so to celebrate the dual occasion we listened to some Sousa favorites with longtime Sousa lover Keith Brion, founder and director of the New Sousa Band. He also happens to live next door to Robin Young in Cambridge, Mass.

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JPR Classics
2:41 pm
Sun November 2, 2014

Amid Hunger And Cold, An Unforgettable Symphony Premiere

Citizens of Leningrad collect water from a broken main in the winter of 1942, during a blockade of the Russian city by Nazis.
AP

Originally published on Tue November 4, 2014 9:30 am

In early 1941, Dmitri Shostakovich was nervous. He was one of Soviet Russia's most brilliant composers, but he had fallen out of favor with the ruthless dictator Joseph Stalin.

He'd been forced to denounce several of his own pieces of music, and some of his friends and family had been imprisoned or killed. He knew the same thing could happen to him.

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JPR Classics
10:40 am
Fri October 31, 2014

A Violin Concerto Back From Beyond The Grave

Robert Schumann wrote his Violin Concerto in 1853.
Josef Kriehuber Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Thu October 30, 2014 11:40 am

Classical music meets Halloween and the paranormal Thursday night when the National Symphony Orchestra plays the Schumann Violin Concerto, a work buried for nearly a century and recovered — or so the story goes — by a message from the beyond.

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JPR Classics
3:05 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

Just Who Is This Opera Star Singing At The World Series Tonight?

Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who is singing the national anthem at Game 7 of the World Series tonight in Kansas City, Mo.
Simon Pauly Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 1:39 pm

Maybe this trajectory mirrors the Kansas City Royals' unlikely road to the pennant: An opera star beats out much more mainstream artists to sing the national anthem at the decisive World Series Game 7.

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JPR Classics
7:03 am
Tue October 28, 2014

Your Halloween Soundtrack, From A Candy Frenzy To The Dance Of Death

Composer Camille Saint-Saëns' piece Danse Macabre draws on the late-medieval allegory of "the Dance of Death" — pictured here in a painting of the same name by Frans Francken II.
Getty Images / The Bridgeman Art Library

Originally published on Mon October 27, 2014 10:03 am

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JPR Classics
7:55 am
Sat October 25, 2014

Danish String Quartet: Tiny Desk Concert

NPR Starff

Originally published on Sat October 25, 2014 5:03 am

An abundance of facial hair is not restricted to the sensitive male indie-rocker set. Three of the four players in the Danish String Quartet could easily pass for hipster Brooklyn beard farmers. "We are simply your friendly neighborhood string quartet with above average amounts of beard," the group's website says.

Yet what's really important about the ensemble is how they play — and judging from this performance behind Bob Boilen's desk, these Nordic lads possess warmth, wit, a beautiful tone and technical prowess second to none.

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JPR Classics
4:52 am
Sat October 25, 2014

Oratorio Tackles The Issue Of Leaks From 'The Source'

Originally published on Sat October 25, 2014 8:57 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

JPR Classics
12:31 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

Great Danes: Three Symphonic Albums By Danish Composers

A 1931 portrait of Danish composer Carl Nielsen by Sigurd Swane. Nielsen's symphonies are still undervalued.
Alfredo Dagli Orti The Art Arc

Originally published on Thu October 23, 2014 9:58 am

Denmark may be small — smaller than West Virginia — but its musical impact is disproportionately big. Since the late 19th century, some of the best symphonists have hailed from the Scandinavian country, and though they may not be household names in the U.S., their works have influence far beyond their homeland.

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JPR Classics
5:41 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Opera About 1985 Achille Lauro Hijacking Draws Protests At Met

Protesters rail outside the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center on opening night of the opera "The Death of Klinghoffer" on Monday in New York.
Bryan Thomas Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 8:29 am

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was among those who showed up at the Metropolitan Opera last night to denounce the production of The Death of Klinghoffer, which protesters say glorifies terrorism.

Chanting "Shame on the Met!" protesters, numbering about 400, said the performance of the 23-year-old opera was an affront to the memory of Leon Klinghoffer, a passenger on the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro that was hijacked by members of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1985. Klinghoffer, 69, was shot in his wheelchair and dumped overboard.

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JPR Classics
7:06 am
Mon October 20, 2014

After 200 Years, A Schubert Song Still Resonates

Scottish-American soprano Mary Garden (1874-1967) portrayed Goethe's character Gretchen, known as Marguerite in Charles Gounod's opera Faust.
Bettmann/CORBIS

Originally published on Mon November 3, 2014 4:32 pm

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JPR Classics
6:58 am
Mon October 20, 2014

Postlude To A Kiss: Scriabin's Raging 'Poem Of Ecstasy'

Alexander Scriabin originally set out to write a piece called "Orgiastic Poem," centered on physical ecstasy, but later decided to alter the title to something more ambiguous.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 8:03 am

I love composer anniversaries because they afford us opportunities to look at musicians anew, and 2015 will mark the centenary of the death of Russian composer Alexander Scriabin. It's quite possible that you've never heard of Scriabin, but take comfort in the fact that even his biographer said, "No one was more famous during their lifetime, and few were more quickly ignored after death."

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