Tuesday, March 30, 2021


No. 354 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages is this week's Tuesday Blog and  can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast354


We may have skipped the last quarter of 2020, but we are back with a new quarterly Tuesday installment of our ongoing series of podcasts – number 354 and closing in on our 365th later this year.

The common thread between the two works featured today is Lord Byron’s dramatic poem Manfred. The title character is a Faustian noble living in the Bernese Alps. Internally tortured by some mysterious guilt, which has to do with the death of his most beloved, Astarte, he uses his mastery of language and spell-casting to summon seven spirits, from whom he seeks forgetfulness. The spirits, who rule the various components of the corporeal world, are unable to control past events and thus cannot grant Manfred's plea. For some time, fate prevents him from escaping his guilt through suicide.

At the end, Manfred dies, defying religious temptations of redemption from sin. Throughout the poem he succeeds in challenging all of the authoritative powers he faces, and chooses death over submitting to the powerful spirits. Manfred directs his final words to the Abbot, remarking, "Old man! 'tis not so difficult to die". "The unconquerable individual to the end, Manfred gives his soul to neither heaven nor hell, only to death."

Manfred was not originally intended for stage performance; it was written to be a dramatic poem or, as Byron called it, a "metaphysical" drama. Schumann’s rendering of Manfred is a work of incidental music consisting of an overture, an entracte, melodramas, and several solos and choruses. Music historian Peter Ostwald wrote that the Overture was written during a time when Schumann was facing "exquisite suffering" from "inner voices," or auditory hallucinations. The performance retained was filler to the Schumann symphony cycle I shared earlier this mnth by Rafael Kubelik and the Berlin Philharmonic.

The idea for a symphony based on Manfred originated from Vladimir Stasov, who suggested the idea to Mily Balakirev and Hector Berlioz in 1867, although both composers declined to write the music. However, in 1882 Mily Balakirev returned to the idea and suggested the subject to Tchaikovsky. The work chronologically sits between his fourth and fifth symphonies. The version retained is an old vinyl performance by Michael Tilson Thomas and the London Symphony.

I think you will live this music too.

Friday, March 26, 2021

The Symphonic Organ – Orchestra Edition

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from March 31, 2020. It can be found in our archives at 


Today’s Friday share is the second of three in a row featuring works for organ and orchestra, following yesterday’s trio of twentieth century works, today’s selections are also fairly modern, with Widor;s symphony no. 3 for organ and orchestra acting as the lone 19th century work on the docket.

The montage and commentary are barely a year old, so I will defer to that post for details on the three works featured today and instead spend a paragraph on the filler – a Handel organ concerto from a broadcast performance featuring Karl Richter as both soloist and conductor.

As I once discussed, Handel more or less invented the organ concerto as program filler for his many operas and oratorios. As such, it is not uncommon for the works to provide opportunities for organ “ad libium”. Richter viewed Baroque music as fundamentally impromptu, and believed that no work from that era should be performed the same way twice. His performances were known for their soul-searching, intense, and festive manner. While his interpretations may have been overshadowed by the historically informed performance practice movement, there is still much to be said about them. He recorded most of the Handel concertos for Decca with his own Chamber Orchestra in the late 1950’s; the videos available on YouTube date from the early 1970s. The work I kept for today is a complete performance of the Organ Concerto-Op.7, No.1.


I think you will (still) love this music too.


Friday, March 19, 2021


This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from March 16, 2012. It can be found in our archives at 


This week’s throwback montage dates back to our first Spring on the blog and is a set of works inspired by birds: larks, magpies, swallows, swans, nightingales, hens, seagulls and a piano suite dedicated to song birds by composer and amateur ornithologist, Olivier Messiaen.

As I often point out when we revisit old montages, I’m always pleasantly surprised how the original post does a good job setting up the montage, and I’ll simply refer you to the above link to read it. The post also included a filler – a complete performance of the entire Respighi suite Gli Ucelli in a vintage performance by the Chicago Symphony.

If you dare venture into the original “bilingual” section (in French), I inserted a concert performance of this week’s bonus track, Messiaen’s Oiseaux Exotiques, a work from the mid-1950’s originally commissioned by Pierre Boulez and meant to feature Messiaen’s wife, Yvonne Loriod, as soloist.

The birds that inspired Messiaen in this piece are: the gracula of India, the golden-fronted verdin, the Baltimore Trouble, the greater prairie chicken, the prairie northern mockingbird, the cat bird, the Indian shama, the white-crested laughingthrush, the migratory blackbird, entrusted to the two clarinets, the swainson, the thrush hermit, the red-whiskered bulbul and the wood thrush.

The YouTube clip features Philippe Entremont as soloist, and the Cleveland Orchestra under Boulez’s direction.

I think you will (still) love this music too.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

PTB Classic: Victor Herbert (1859 – 1924)

This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.

This week's musing, another installment in our "Classic" series leveraging mash-up playlists as we did in the early days of the Tuesday Blog, was intended as an early St-Patrick's day present, featuring a composer of Irish descendance.

As it turns out, I was wrong - and so was the composer for the longest time, apparently.

According to my research, Victor Herbert's mother told him that he had been born in Dublin, and he believed this all his life, listing Ireland as his birthplace on his 1902 American naturalization petition and on his 1914 American passport application. It turns out that his mother's romantic life was, well, very complicated and that was born on the English channel island of Guernsey and baptized Freiburg, Baden, Germany. From 1853, Fanny was separated from her first husband, Frederic Muspratt, who divorced her in 1861 when he found out that she had conceived Herbert by another man.

Whether Herbert was Irish, English, French or German he certainly was a man of the world. Herbert and his mother lived with his maternal grandfather, the Irish novelist, playwright, poet and composer, Samuel Lover, from 1862 to 1866 in Sevenoaks, Kent, England. Herbert joined his mother in Stuttgart, Germany in 1867, a year after she had married a German physician, Carl Theodor Schmid of Langenargen. In Stuttgart he received a strong liberal education at the Eberhard-Ludwigs-Gymnasium, which included musical training. He studied the piano, flute and piccolo but ultimately settled on the cello. He then attended the Stuttgart Conservatory, studying cello, music theory and composition under Max Seifritz, Herbert graduated with a diploma in 1879.

Upon graduation, he worked steadily, joining the court orchestra in Stuttgart and in 1885 Herbert became romantically involved with Therese Förster (1861–1927), a soprano who had recently joined the court opera. After a year of courtship, the couple married on August 14, 1886. On October 24, 1886, they moved to the United States, as they both had been hired by Walter Damrosch and Anton Seidl to join the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Herbert was engaged as the opera orchestra's principal cellist, and Förster was engaged to sing principal roles with the Met.

Herbert had a long and successful career in the US as a cellist, composer for the stage and concert hall, and conductor, notably with the Pittsburgh Symphony.

The works featured to day span his orchestral and chamber repertoire, with a prominent place to the cello, his instrument of predilection.

Happy Listening!

Victor August HERBERT (1859 – 1924)

Serenade for string orchestra, Op.12
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Gerard Schwarz, conducting

Arrangement from Sam Dennison and Orchestrations by Lynn Harrell:
  • Yesterthoughts, Op.37
  • Puchinello, Op.38
  • La Ghazel: Improvisation (1900)
  • The Mountainbrook: Imitative (1900)

Lynn Harrell, cello
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Sir Neville Marriner, conducting

Three pieces (1900–1906)
Légende (1893)
The Little Red Lark (an arrangement of an old Irish melody)
Jerry Grossman, cello
William Hicks, piano

Three pieces for string orchestra (1912–1922)
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Gerard Schwarz, conducting

YouTube https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL...3OsAps05bCOtNx

Friday, March 12, 2021

Alicia de Larrocha (1923-2009)

No. 353 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast353


I have two new montages planned for March – today’s and a “fifth Tuesday” montage in tandem with the Tuesday Blog. The late great Spanish pianist Alicia De Larrocha is our featured artist this week. She is a favourite of mine and as such has been featured in many of our past montages and Tuesday playlists.

Mrs DeLarrocha has a vast repertoire and varied discography as she was the leading Spanish pianist of her time, and widely considered the pre-eminent interpreter of two Spanish composers of the early 20th century: Isaac Albéniz and Enrique Granados; she had a natural advantage in native repertoire, since both her mother and her aunt had been pupils of Granados. Today;s podcast includes a complete performance of Albéniz’s Suite Española, movements of which are more often heard played on the guitar. Another Spanish composer De Larracha recorded extensively is Manuel de Falla, with his four Spanish pieces making the montage this week.

Falla, like so e other Spanish musicians spent time in Paris so to close the montage, I retained a short work for piano and orchestra from an all-French disc. Fauré’s Fantaisie was dedicated to Alfred Cortot, who had asked Fauré as far back as 1902 to write a concertante work for him. The first performance in Paris was given by Cortot on 14 May 1919 at a concert of the Société Nationale de Musique.

I think you will love this music too

Friday, March 5, 2021

Mendelssohn & Mahler Symphonies no. 4

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from May 16, 2014. It can be found in our archives at 


All of this week on our podcasting channel, we surveyed Mendelssohn’s mature symphonies and today’s montage features his “Italian” Symphony (his #4), in a pairing with another fourth symphony from a composer/conductor, Gustav Mahler.

As the original post does a good job at introducing both, I thought I would spend some time discussing my “search” for another fourth symphony as my usual filler. I wanted to find anither symphony by a composer whose last name starts with “M”, avoiding Mozart’s fourth which (as many of his very early symphonies) is both short and of doubtful origin…

If you survey “fourth symphonies” you’ll hit all the usual suspects – Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Beethoven, Vaughan-Williams and even symphonies by less travelled composers like Lutosławski and the work I retained by American composer David Maslanka.

In the last two decades of the Twentieth Century, the wind band music of David Maslanka has become well known and widely performed. The roots of his Symphony No. 4 are many. The central driving force is the spontaneous rise of the impulse to shout for the joy of life. The hymn tune Old Hundred, several other hymn tunes (the Bach chorales Only Trust in God to Guide You and Christ Who Makes Us Holy), and original melodies which are hymn-like in nature, form the backbone of Symphony No. 4.

The performance I retained is by the Eastman Wind Ensemble

I think you will (still) love this music too.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Schumann - Berlin Philharmonic, Rafael Kubelik – Symphonies No.1 & 4


This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.

I plan three posts for this five-Tuesday month, the first of which launches a three-part monthly set that will share all four of Robert Schumann's symphonies, beginning with the "Spring" symphony, as an early harbinger of the spring equinox a mere three weeks away.

By age 30, Robert Schumann was already a successful composer of chamber music, including piano music and lieder. But in order to be able to make a living from composing he needed to achieve success in what was then regarded as the epitome of the composer's art: the symphony. As a pianist, Schumann had little experience in this area, nor had he received the appropriate training.

He composed his first symphony in January 1841 in Leipzig, sketching it out in just four days. The Symphony No. 4 was first completed in 1841 as well. Schumann heavily revised the symphony in 1851, and it was this version that reached publication.

Clara Schumann, Robert's widow, later claimed that the symphony had merely been sketched in 1841 but was only fully orchestrated ("vollständig instrumentiert") in 1851. However, this was untrue, and Johannes Brahms, who greatly preferred the earlier version of the symphony, published that version in 1891 despite Clara's strenuous objections.

Today's album is part of an early-1960's complete cycle of the Schumann symphonies by Rafael Kubelik and the Berlin Philharmonic. The YouTube playlist below has the complete set, though the album referenced below as the coupling of the first and fourth that I have in my vinyl collection.

Happy listening!

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Symphony No.1 In B Flat Major, Op. 38 "Spring Symphony"
Symphony No. 4 In D Minor, Op.120
Berliner Philharmoniker
Rafael Kubelik, conducting

Deutsche Grammophon Resonance 2535 116
Format – Vinyl LP
Year – 1974 (original issue 1963)

Discogs https://www.discogs.com/Robert-Schum...elease/4351230