Composers Datebook for Saturday, April 18, 2009

April 18, 2009


Composers Datebook

John Zech

John Zech

The link, above, for Composers Datebook is to a podcast from American Public Media to a daily music program about composers of the past and present, hosted by John Zech.*

I subscribe to Composers Datebook by e-mail, and I receive both a recorded and a written version of it each day. It only takes at most a few minutes to enjoy the content of each one.

It occurred to me that especially for readers in China and other countries where English is a second language that this could be of interest beyond the musical pleasure; that is, having a both a written and spoken version is a help in adding to English vocabulary and cultural knowledge of western musical traditions.

So, the spoken version is linked for you, above, and here is a copy and paste of the written version. If you enjoy this post and would like to have more Composers Datebook posts here from time to time, please leave a comment for me to let me know. Also, if you have any questions about the names and other references in this Composers Datebook, below, I’d be delighted to answer them!

Leopold Stokowski

Leopold Stokowski

Of Mice and Maestros: Leopold Stokowski

On today’s date in 1882, a child was born in London to a Polish father and Irish mother—a baby christened Leopold Boleslawowicz Stanislaw Antoni Stokowski.

In 1882, Brahms completed his Second Piano Concerto and Wagner introduced his last opera, “Parsifal”; Gustav Mahler was a promising opera conductor aged 22; Richard Strauss was a young man of 18; Arnold Schoenberg a lad of seven; and Igor Stravinsky still a few months away from being born!

Leopold Stokowski would grow up to become a famous conductor of all those composers’ works. For 25 years, Stokowski led the Philadelphia Orchestra in an astonishing variety of music, ranging from his own dramatic symphonic arrangements of works by J.S. Bach to cutting-edge, avant-garde works of Edgard Varese and dozens of other contemporary composers.

Stokowski cut a glamorous figure on stage and off, hung out with movie stars, and played himself in a 1937 movie, “100 Men and a Girl.” He shook hands with Mickey Mouse in Disney ‘s animated classic Fantasia,” and Bugs Bunny did a devastating Stokowski imitation in a famous Warner Brothers cartoon.

For some, his flamboyance was hard to take, but the list of old and new music Stokowski performed before his death in 1977, at the age of 95, remains as impressive as his recorded legacy, which continues to live on via compact disc reissues.

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*John Zech | Host, Classical Music/Composers Datebook

Minnesota Public Radio

John Zech got started in broadcasting as a news anchor at his high school’s closed-circuit television station (KRUD). At St. Olaf College, his love of classical music earned him his first “real” radio experience at WCAL-FM. After a dozen years doing virtually everything there was to do at a small public radio station, John crossed over into the private sector, doing audio production and narration for a major educational publishing company, managing translation projects for an international communications company, and generally learning what it’s like to work for a living. Having seen the light, John returned to radio in 1992. After deciding his Zen garden was too much of a headache, John looks for enlightenment on the tennis court and the billiard table instead.

© 2009 American Public Media

480 Cedar Street, Saint Paul, MN USA 55101

Image of Leopold Stokowski from LIFE Magazine archives via the Web (Leopold Stokowski conducting the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in rehearsal at Carnegie Hall, New York, NY, USA. Taken in 1947. Photographer: Gijon Mili.)


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