Classical KUSC



Alan Chapman's 10 Pieces of Classical Music Everyone Should Know

Posted By: Alan Chapman · 10/2/2015 12:12:00 PM

Here at KUSC we’ve been coming up with our personal lists of “ten pieces of classical music everyone should know.” I can’t come close to covering all the music I love in so short a list, so I offer you the first ten pieces that came to mind (arranged in chronological order).

Johann Sebastian Bach: The Art of Fugue (1740s)

There are complex and fascinating musical procedures that underlie these fugues, these fabrics skillfully woven from melodic strands. But you don’t hear the wheels turning; you hear music. And that is part of the genius of Bach. Another part is that he achieves, as no one else can, a perfect balance between the melodic dimension and the harmonies that support the structure.

Mozart: Symphony No. 40 in G minor (1788)

So many great Mozart symphonies to pick from. Why this one? It’s incredibly unified from beginning to end, with much ...

5 Questions for Michael Giacchino

Posted By: Brian Lauritzen · 9/23/2015 3:38:00 PM


This weekend, the American Youth Symphony will present a screening of Star Trek Into Darkness with the film score played live to picture. David Newman will conduct Michael Giacchino's exhilarating score and Giacchino will be on hand for a pre-concert/screening Q&A with film music journalist (and frequent KUSC contributor) Jon Burlingame.

Details here.


In advance of this weekend's performance, I had a chance to catch up with the very busy Oscar-winning composer, Michael Giacchino, for a few questions.

BL: Live movie concerts are all the rage at major orchestras from Europe to the United States and beyond. They are extremely popular with audiences and a boon financially for the orchestras which present them. What do you make of the popularity these types of events?

MG: A large number of people are only exposed to orchestral music through film scores. It only makes sense that this material would find it’s way into the hands ...

Brian Lauritzen's 10 Pieces of Classical Music Everyone Should Know

Posted By: Brian Lauritzen · 9/21/2015 1:58:00 PM

Welcome to a new series on the KUSC blog. Over the next several weeks, each of the KUSC on-air hosts will unveil a list of 10 essential pieces of classical music that we think everyone should know. These aren’t the “10 Best” pieces, or even our “10 Favorite” pieces--just 10 that we absolutely love and want to share with you.

First up, Brian Lauritzen’s 10.

1. J.S. Bach: Chaconne, from Partita No. 2 in d minor for Solo Violin - This is breathtakingly epic music and, at times, it’s difficult to believe you’re only hearing a single instrument. The architecture is of the Chaconne is spectacular and a performance of it requires the highest level of virtuosity and artistry. I love both modern and period instrument performances and highly recommend the latter here, with Rachel Podger doing the honors. Also check out: Passacaglia and Fugue in c minor (solo organ) ...

The Sounds of Sunrise

Posted By: Brian Lauritzen · 8/16/2015 2:31:00 PM


Sunrise. It's beautiful. Or so I'm told. I am *not* a morning person and can count the number of sunrises I've actually seen on my two hands and still have a finger left over to tap the snooze button on my alarm clock. Many composers have also been inspired by sunrises. In fact, some of the most beautiful and exciting music out there depicts sunrise. Here are a few of my favorites.

1. Haydn - He took a couple of different cracks at sunrise, including the first-ever sunrise--that is, the creation of light in his oratorio The Creation. Haydn also gave us a symphony and a string quartet called "Sunrise."

2. Richard Strauss - There's the very famous one from Also Sprach Zarathustra (aka that music from 2001: A Space Odyssey), but Strauss also gave us a stunning musical depiction of sunrise in his Alpine Symphony.

3. Grofé: Grand Canyon Suite ...

Ojai Music Festival 2015 Preview

Posted By: KUSC · 6/1/2015 7:52:00 PM

This year marks the 69th annual Ojai Music Festival. The venerable gathering of contemporary musicians and new music enthusiasts has boasted such music directors as Pierre Boulez, Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland, and many others. This year, marks the first time in 69 years that the festival will be helmed by a percussionist. That's Steven Schick. KUSC's Gail Eichenthal gets a detailed preview of the full festival from Ojai's artistic director, and the man who picked Schick to be in charge this year, Tom Morris.

Dido & Aeneas on KUSC's LA Opera On Air this Saturday: Hear our Interview with the Sorceress, Countertenor John Holiday

Posted By: Arts Alive · 5/18/2015 8:31:00 AM

Los Angeles opera fans met countertenor John Holiday just recently, but he made a big impression. He was a 2014 winner of Operalia and performed as the Sorceress in Barrie Kosky's production of Dido & Aeneas at the LA Opera, which you can hear Saturday at 10AM on KUSC's LA Opera On Air.

Writing in the LA Times, critic Mark Swed said:

The cross-dressing sorceress and witches, who connive to send Aeneas on his way, are scene-stealers. John Holiday, G. Thomas Allen and Darryl Taylor are advertised as the first trio of African American countertenors to appear together in an opera production ... this is a trio of vibrant, flexible, funny Baroque singers who might have a road show of their own in their future.

Shortly after the LA Opera production closed, Holiday talked to Brian Lauritzen from the road in Texas. They chatted about how he discovered he was ...

The KUSC Classical Top 100 Analyzed

Posted By: Brian Lauritzen · 5/4/2015 11:49:00 AM


Well, the KUSC Classical Top 100 has been fully revealed and with it, some predictable results...and more than a few surprises as well.

To recap, we asked KUSC listeners to vote on their favorite pieces of classical music and then we counted down the top 100 vote-getters on the air. You can view the entire list here. Before I get to what surprised me the most about the results, here are a few things that did not shock me at all.

Predictable result #1: Beethoven dominated. Of the 100 pieces listeners voted as their favorites, 10 were by Beethoven. His music also represented four of the Top 10 works. (You do the math.) In fact, 39.4% of all votes cast in the Top 100 were for pieces by Beethoven. (I did the math.)

Predictable result #2: Bach and Mozart also fared very well. Beethoven had 10 pieces in the Top ...

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