Classical Classroom

From Houston Public Media Classical 91.7

Classical 91.7 Music Librarian Dacia Clay has a secret: she doesn't know anything about classical music! But, she's willing to learn, and the music experts at Classical 91.7 are here to help.More from Classical Classroom »

Most Recent Episodes

Classical Classroom, Ep 118: Alisa Weilerstein On The Romance Of Rachmaninov

Start your Valentine's Day week with cellist Alisa Weilerstein's introduction to the music of Sergey Rachmaninov. Who was this romantic man, and what makes him different from all the other guys - I mean, composers? Weilerstein walks us through Rachmaninov's Sonata in G Minor for Cello and Piano. Plus, she talks about her musical relationship with performing partner, pianist Inon Barnatan, and what it's like to be part of a long-term creative duo. Music in this episode is all from Weilerstein and Barnatan's CD, Chopin and Rachmaninov Cello Sonatas: Sonata in G Minor for Cello and Piano, Opus 19. Sergey Rachmaninov. Audio production by Todd "Toight like a toiger" Hulslander with grrrr aargh's from Dacia Clay and editing by Mark DiClaudio. Check out Alisa's other podcasts with Classical Classroom: For more about Alisa Weilerstein: For more about Inon Barnatan: For more Classroom: If you liked this episode with Alisa Weilerstein, check her out in Episode 98, too!

Listen to the Episode

Ep 117: How Alban Berg "motif-ates" The Dover String Quartet

The Dover String Quartet teaches Dacia about Alban Berg's String Quartet, Opus 3. They introduce her to 12-tone composition and she lives to talk about it! Also, serialism, overprotective fathers, and much more atonal fun!

Listen to the Episode

Classical Classroom, Episode 116: John Luther Adams Swims Through "Become Ocean"

In December of last year, pop singer Taylor Swift donated $50,000 to the Seattle Symphony because she loved their recording of John Luther Adams' 42-minute work, Become Ocean. In this episode, Adams reveals his own pop culture roots, and credits Frank Zappa for getting him into classical music. He talks about his work as an environmentalist, what led him to write Ocean, and swims us through a piece so awesome that critic Alex Ross called it, "the loveliest apocalypse in musical history." Music in this episode: - Dark Waves. John Luther Adams - Ecuatorial. Edgard Varèse. - Songbirds: Woodthrush. John Luther Adams. - Become Ocean. John Luther Adams. Performed by the Seattle Symphony. Audio production by Todd "Swifty" Hulslander with "Blank Space" by Dacia Clay and editing by Mark DiClaudio. For more John Luther Adams: For more Classroom:

Listen to the Episode

Ep 115: Awakening John Williams' "Force" With Brett Mitchell

This episode is full of spoilers - not just spoilers about The Force Awakens, but about future Star Wars episodes. Okay - they could be future spoilers. Right now, they're just our attempts at trying to find the Easter eggs hidden in John Williams' new score. This may be the nerdiest and most epic episode of Classical Classroom to date. Brett Mitchell, Associate Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra and Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, is your guide through the music of the latest Star Wars episode. He teaches about John Williams as a composer and about important tools of the compositional trade, and reveals how this new music is tied to Williams' score for the original films. Mitchell takes no prisoners, and does not care for Ewoks. Prepare for hyperdrive. Music for the episode: - "Ride of the Valkyries." From The Ring Cycle, by Richard Wagner. - Music from the original motion picture scores for — Star Wars: Episode 1, The Phantom Menace — Star Wars: Episode 4, A New Hope — Star Wars: Episode 7, The Force Awakens Audio production by X-Wing pilot Todd "Dameron" Hulslander with lightsaber sounds by Dacia Clay and editing by Mark DiClaudio. Many thanks to Angela "Organa" Mitchell, Randy Davis, and Al Dahlhausen at WCLV for their help with this episode! Like this episode? Check out Classical Classroom, Episode 4: Leitmotif In Star Wars, also featuring Brett Mitchell!

Listen to the Episode

MusicWorks, Ep 114: Mozart In The Jungle Author Blair Tindall

When oboist, journalist, and author Blair Tindall wrote her memoir, Mozart in the Jungle, she tells us, she didn't necessarily not think it would become a TV show. But she did stop to marvel at the fact that playing the oboe could lead to buying a dress for the Golden Globes. Last night, the Amazon series based on her book won two Golden Globes: One for Best TV Comedy or Musical, and one Best Actor in a TV Comedy or Musical for Gael García Bernal's performance as conductor Rodrigo de Souza. (The lesson here being that becoming a classical musician will surely lead to fame and fortune.) In this Classical Classroom, MusicWorks episode, Tindall talks about life as a classical musician, what led her to write Mozart in the Jungle, and the importance of debunking classical music stereotypes and myths. We also discuss Jason Schwartzman's impressive facial hair, hanging out with Coppolas, and how an oboe rolls when you drop it on the floor. Music in this episode: -Symphony No. 1 "Low" (aka, the "Low" Symphony). Philip Glass (based on David Bowie's album, Low) -The Planets: Mars, the Bringer of War. Gustav Holst. Played by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, James Levine conducting. -"Lisztomania," from the album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Phoenix. Arranged for orchestra by Roger Neill and Suzie Katayama. Audio production by Todd "BB-Todd" Hulslander with fluency in over six million languages by Dacia Clay and editing by Mark DiClaudio. For more Blair Tindall: For more Classroom:

Listen to the Episode

Ep 113: Rufus Wainwright On Composing Traditional Opera For A Modern World

Happy New Year, everybody! Get ready for an astonishing onslaught of awesome, a veritable juggernaut of wow, from Classical Classroom in 2016 (John Luther Adams! The Force Awakens! Alisa Weilerstein!), starting with this episode featuring Rufus Wainwright. You may know Rufus Wainwright as a singer-songwriter, a piano man, a dude who hangs out with Elton John and Joni Mitchell. But as it turns out, he also writes classical music and opera. In this episode, he talks about his new opera, Prima Donna, and writing a traditional romantic opera today. Audio production by Todd "Toddwright" Hulslander with polite claps from Dacia Clay and editing by Mark DiClaudio. All music in this episode from the opera Prima Donna, available on Deutsche Grammophon.

Listen to the Episode

Classical Classroom, Episode 8: Wesley Horner On Bach's B Minor Mass and the Sound Of Heaven

Team Classroom is taking a little holiday break this week, so we present one of our favorite episodes from the wayback machine. Hope your holiday season is full of the good stuff. We'll be back next week with new episodes! --------------------- In this episode, independent producer, author, documentary filmmaker, Peabody Award-winner (et cetera, et cetera...), Wesley Horner chats with Dacia about Bach's B Minor Mass and bringing classical music to people who hate wearing tuxedos. Audio production by Todd Hulslander with occasional grunts of approval from Dacia Clay.

Listen to the Episode

Ep 112: The Ugly Christmas Sweaters Of Classical Music, With Alecia Lawyer

It's four days until Christmas. Chances are, you've heard a lot of beautiful music. If you're looking for more of that, you've come to the wrong place. Welcome to Jingle Hell, where bad songs are born, and good songs come to die. Alecia Lawyer, founder, artistic director, and principal oboist of River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO) talks about the worst musical offerings of the season, and what makes them so bad. Songs that include entire scales? Check. Songs with completely bizarre lyrics that we sing along with anyway? Check. Wookiees? Yeah. This episode has all of that and oh so much more. Listen if you dare! And, uh, merry Christmas. You're welcome. Audio production by Todd "Good King Wencelastodd" Hulslander with two eyes made out of coal by Dacia Clay and editing by Mark DiClaudio. Music in this episode: "Dominick the Donkey." Ray Allen, Sam Saltzberg and Wandra Merrell. "I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas." John Rox. Performed by Gayla Peevey. "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer." Randy Brooks. Performed by Elmo and Patsy. "White Winter Hymnal." Written and performed by Fleet Foxes. From their self-titled album. "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town." By John Frederick Coots. Performed by the Cheeky Monkeys. "Ding​-​a​-​ling​-​a​-​ring​-​a​-​ling." Written and performed by Sufjan Stevens. From Silver and Gold. "Baby It's Cold Outside." Frank Loesser. Performed by Zooey Deschanel & Leon Redbone. From the Elf movie soundtrack. "Vader Did You Know?" Vic Mignogna. "What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb?)." From Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk. "Mary, Did You Know?" Lyrics written by Mark Lowry and music written by Buddy Greene. Performed by Pentatonix. Greensleeves. London Festival Orchestra. "Joy to the World." Isaac Watts. "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen." Performed by the Bach Choir. "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." Performed by Celtic Woman. "Good King Wenceslas." John Mason Neale. "Angels We Have Heard on High." Performed by Sandi Patty. "The Cherry-Tree Carol." Performed by King's College Choir. If you enjoyed this episode, you can also hear Alecia talk all about the oboe in Episode 10! For more about ROCO and Alecia: For more Classroom:

Listen to the Episode

Ep 31: The Music of Hanukkah (Chanuka? Hanuka?)With Cantor Benjamin Matis

2013 was - I think we can all agree - a magical year. It was the year of the arthouse film "Sharknado," the year of the Harlem Shake, and the year that Justin Bieber was separated from his pet monkey. But more important than any of those moments? Thanksgivukkah happened. Learn all about this phenomenon, about the history of Hanukkah, and about the music of the holiday in this Classical Classroom episode from the vault. ------------------------------------------------- Happy Thanksgivukkah everyone! That's right: the Julian and the Hebrew calendars have aligned this year to create a day even more amazing than Hanukkah and more delicious than Thanksgiving. There won't be another until the year 79811! To honor this rare occasion, Cantor Benjamin Matis of the Shelter Rock Jewish Center in Roslyn, NY in Long Island schools us on the history and music of Hanukkah. Audio production by Todd "Toddfurky" Hulslander with a side of help and gravy from Dacia Clay. Music in this episode includes: – John Williams' Star Wars (Main Theme) – Ma'oz Tzur (Ashkenazi and Sephardic versions) – George Frideric Handel's Judas Maccabaeus (HWV 63) – Richard Tucker singing "Sound an Alarm" (Judas Maccabaeus) – David Paskin, The Ballad of Thanksgivukkah Aaaand, of course, this gem: For more about Cantor Benjamin Matis: For more Classical Classroom:

Listen to the Episode

Ep 111: The Franchomme Episode, With Louise Dubin

Chances are, unless you happen to be a cellist, you've probably never heard of Auguste Franchomme. But back in the day, he was one of the most celebrated musicians in Paris, he was besties with Chopin, and he hung out with people like Franz Liszt, Felix Mendelssohn, and the Rothschilds. He was a teenager when he won the Premier Prix at the Paris Conservatoire, and he was solo cellist in King Louis-Philippe's Musique du Roi. So, why is it that most of his work hasn't been recorded and is, in fact, out of print? Why do we remember the name "Chopin" and not "Franchomme"? Cellist and Franchomme scholar Louise Dubin, who just put out a CD called The Franchomme Project, discusses this and much more in this episode. All music in this episode from Louise Dubin's The Franchomme Project. Audio production by Todd "Terr-ee-bleh" Hulslander with eating of palmiere by Dacia Clay and editing by Mark DiClaudio. For more about Louise Dubin: For more Classroom:

Listen to the Episode

Back To Top

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from