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Performing Arts

San Francisco Symphony Podcasts

Updated 2 months ago

Arts
Music
Performing Arts
Read more

Podcasts from the San Francisco Symphony and Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas.

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Podcasts from the San Francisco Symphony and Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas.

iTunes Ratings

113 Ratings
Average Ratings
88
14
3
4
4

Upload MISTAKE

By Larry in Contra Costa County - Feb 25 2020
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you sent saint-saens twice, labeling one of them ravel please fix - need ma mer loye !😃

Educational and Enjoyable

By Cinderalice125 - Oct 21 2019
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So educational and concise, there’s nothing like it.

iTunes Ratings

113 Ratings
Average Ratings
88
14
3
4
4

Upload MISTAKE

By Larry in Contra Costa County - Feb 25 2020
Read more
you sent saint-saens twice, labeling one of them ravel please fix - need ma mer loye !😃

Educational and Enjoyable

By Cinderalice125 - Oct 21 2019
Read more
So educational and concise, there’s nothing like it.
Cover image of San Francisco Symphony Podcasts

San Francisco Symphony Podcasts

Latest release on Mar 10, 2020

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Podcasts from the San Francisco Symphony and Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas.

Rank #1: Vivaldi's "Four Seasons"

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Barking dogs, wind and rain, buzzing bees and slippery ice; they're all part of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, a work that—believe it or not—was almost unknown for 200 years.

May 16 2017

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Rank #2: Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring"

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Listen to a podcast of audio program notes about the The Rite of Spring, specially prepared for the San Francisco Symphony’s Stravinsky Festival in June 2013.

Jun 06 2017

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Rank #3: Handel's Messiah

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However you like your Messiah - big or intimate, modern or period, authentic or interpreted—when you listen you become part of an almost 300-year tradition of what may be classical music's most beloved masterpiece.

Dec 01 2016

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Rank #4: Bernstein's "West Side Story"

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Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story received its first Broadway performances in 1957. The musical tells the story of an impossible romance between two star-crossed lovers, Tony and Maria, the Romeo and Juliet of 1950s New York City.

Sep 18 2017

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Rank #5: Brahms' Symphony No. 1

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Beethoven’s first symphony premiered when he was 30. Schubert wrote his first at 16, and Mozart’s was composed when he was only 8. But Johannes Brahms, at 43, had yet to finish his Symphony No. 1, which he’d begun writing more than twenty years previously. A notorious perfectionist, he burned many of his early works and sketches; it was not easy living in the shadow of the giants before him. His many years of preparation were worth it—upon the work’s premiere in 1876, the Vienna press called it “Beethoven’s Tenth.”

Feb 14 2018

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Rank #6: Beethoven's Symphony No. 8

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Much like his fifth and sixth symphonies, Ludwig van Beethoven composed his seventh and eighth symphonies in quick succession. Compared with Symphony No. 7 and Symphony No. 9 (which would not be completed for twelve more years), Symphony No. 8 seems like a look back to Classical times, with nods to Beethoven’s teacher, Josef Haydn. However, the Eighth is more a study in compactness: there is just as much music packed into fewer notes, a sentiment that Beethoven himself echoed—when asked why the Seventh was so much more popular, he responded, “. . . because the Eighth is so much better.”

Apr 29 2016

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Rank #7: Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue"

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On his conceptualization of Rhapsody in Blue, Gershwin recalled: “It was on the train, with its steely rhythms, its rattlety-bang that is often so stimulating to a composer . . . and there I suddenly heard—and even saw on paper—the complete construction of the rhapsody . . . I heard it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America—of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our metropolitan madness.”

Feb 24 2018

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Rank #8: Beethoven's - Symphony No. 9

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Beethoven's Symphony No. 9
Often called the greatest piece of music ever written, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 was the last he would ever write.  The first symphony to feature a chorus and vocal soloists, Symphony No. 9 also includes the famous “Ode to Joy.” 

click here to enjoy a recording 

May 15 2019

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Rank #9: Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1

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Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1
Franz Liszt may have been one of the nineteenth century’s most exasperating underachievers, to say nothing of committing the unforgivable sin of success on a staggering scale, but he was a genius. This concerto can remind us. Begun in 1835 at the ripe old age of 24, Liszt did not complete his first piano concerto until nearly twenty years later.  A final draft appeared in 1849, which was revised before the 1855 premiere (conducted by Hector Berlioz), and then revised yet again before its publication in 1856.  BĂ©la BartĂłk called the concerto “the first perfect realization of cyclic sonata form, with common themes being treated on the variation principle.”

Feb 13 2019

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Rank #10: Bruckner Symphony No. 4

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Bruckner's Symphony No. 4 "The Romantic" was a departure from his usual symphonic testaments of faith. It's a journey into the Age of Chivalry, of knights, quests, and - above all - the hunt.

Nov 18 2019

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Rank #11: Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5

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By the summer of 1809, Napoleon’s French forces, at war with Austria for the fourth time in eighteen years, reached the suburbs of Vienna. “Nothing but drums, cannons, human misery of every sort!” wrote Beethoven to his publisher in Leipzig. But by year’s end, he had completed his Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor, a magnificent affirmation made in terrible times.

Jan 25 2018

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Rank #12: Elgar's "Enigma" Variations

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Improvised at the piano after a strenuous day of teaching, Enigma Variations established Elgar as the pre-eminent British composer of his time. Shrouded in mystery is the “enigma” intended by Elgar, a secret he took with him to the grave. Variation IX, “Nimrod (Adagio),” has become a cherished piece in the popular classical lexicon.

Apr 18 2018

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Rank #13: Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6

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Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony was not his farewell statement, although at the time of its first performances it may have seemed like one. What it did do was explore new depths of emotion, even for a composer used to wearing his heart on his musical sleeve.

Feb 15 2017

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Rank #14: Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”

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The Eroica opened the floodgates for the symphonic outpouring of the nineteenth century—for Beethoven himself, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Bruckner, and the rest. The Eroica was the longest symphony ever written when it was unveiled, and listeners and critics commented widely on that fact, to the composer’s frustration. By 1807 nearly all reactions to the piece were favorable, or at least respectful, and critics were starting to make sense of its more radical elements.

Jan 25 2018

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Rank #15: Dvoƙák's Symphony No. 7

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Considered at first to be a composer of popular music and not a great symphonist, it was Brahms who believed in Dvoƙák enough to set him up with an important publisher. Written for the London Symphony, Dvoƙák’s Symphony No. 7 is a personal catharsis and a masterpiece in tragedy.

Oct 13 2016

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Rank #16: Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 2

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Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 2 bridged the divide between East and West in Russian music; that may have been the reason it was the only one of his works that he was really satisfied with.

May 15 2018

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Rank #17: Mahler's Symphony No. 5

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In this episode, special guest host Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas talks about a work Mahler called a “foaming, roaring, raging sea of sound,” his Symphony No. 5.

Mar 13 2018

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Rank #18: Shostakovich's Piano Concert No. 1

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After Shostakovich's first opera landed him in hot water with the Soviet authorities, the success of his first Piano Concerto gave him the confidence to keep composing, and put him back in the government's good graces—at least, temporarily.

Sep 28 2016

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Rank #19: Beethoven Symphony No. 6

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To escape the city of Vienna, Beethoven often spent his summers in the rural counties surrounding it—a love reflected in his Symphony No. 6, Pastoral. With movements titled Awakening of joyful sentiments upon arriving in the country and Scene by the brook, the work depicts life in the country.

Jul 03 2019

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Rank #20: Bernstein's "The Age of Anxiety," Symphony No. 2

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Leonard Bernstein based his Symphony No. 2 on W.H. Auden's Pulitzer Prize-winning poem The Age of Anxiety. Auden didn't think much of the work, but for Bernstein, it was very personal.

Oct 17 2017

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Stravinsky’s Firebird

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Serge Diaghilev was turned down by four composers before turning to Igor Stravinsky to write the music for a new production by the Ballet Russe.   Luckily, Stravinsky, eager to try his hand at a ballet, had already been working on the music for a month, and their artistic relationship went on to produce Petrushka and The Rite of Spring.

Mar 10 2020

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Saint Saëns Organ Symphony

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A child prodigy, Saint-SaĂ«ns was not only a gifted composer but an accomplished pianist who could perform all of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas from memory by the age of ten.  Composed for the Philharmonic Society of London, his Symphony No. 3, Organ, is dedicated to his friend Franz Liszt.

Feb 19 2020

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Beethoven No. 7

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The premiere of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 was perhaps his greatest rock-star moment. Buoyed by the excited troops in whose honor the concert was being performed, Beethoven “tore his arms with a great vehemence asunder ... at the entrance of a forte he jumped in the air” (according to orchestra violinist and composer Louis Spohr). The work’s explosive energy and Beethoven’s expansion of symphonic structures to emphasize certain key areas make Symphony No. 7 an important stepping stone on his path towards Romanticism.

Jan 17 2020

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Berg’s Three Pieces for Orchestra

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In his Three Pieces for Orchestra, Alban Berg finally "graduated" from his studies with Arnold Schoenberg, and took his first giant step towards fulfilling his musical destiny.

Jan 15 2020

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Ravel La Valse

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In 1906, Maurice Ravel made some sketches for a tribute to Johann Strauss, the Waltz King. By the time he got back to it, World War I had ravaged Europe, and Ravel's tribute had turned into something much darker.

Jan 07 2020

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Handel's Messiah

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However you like your Messiah - big or intimate, modern or period, authentic or interpreted - when you listen you become part of an almost 300-year tradition of what may be classical music's most beloved masterpiece.

Dec 12 2019

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Bruckner Symphony No. 4

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Bruckner's Symphony No. 4 "The Romantic" was a departure from his usual symphonic testaments of faith. It's a journey into the Age of Chivalry, of knights, quests, and - above all - the hunt.

Nov 18 2019

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Strauss: Metamorphosen

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"Richard Strauss' Metamorphosen for 23 Solo Strings was his musical response to a life, and a world, gone to pieces."

Nov 09 2019

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Charles Ives Symphony No. 3 & 4

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With 19th-century Americana spirit, MTT and the SF Symphony, pianist Peter Dugan, and the SFS Chorus’s musical candor and clarity add an evocative recording of Ives’s songful Symphonies Nos. 3 and 4 to the SFS Media label’s Grammy award-winning discography.

Nov 07 2019

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Bach Orchestral Suite No. 4

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Bach's Orchestral Suite #4 is a dazzling combination of rhythmic complexity and sonic brilliance; all the more amazing in that he wrote it (most likely) just for fun!

Oct 30 2019

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Shostakovich Symphony No.7 Leningrad

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Shostakovich's 7th Symphony became a symbol of the wartime alliance between the US and the USSR. But the road to victory is never easy, and it wasn't long before both the musical and the political symbols of that alliance disappeared

Oct 23 2019

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Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition

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Originally composed for solo piano (and later orchestrated by Ravel), Pictures at an Exhibition was written by Modest Mussorgsky after he visited a retrospective exhibit of the works of his friend Victor Hartmann.  The collection of pieces represents a promenade from painting to painting, pausing in front of works called The Gnome, Ancient Castle, and Great Gate of Kiev.  Mussorgsky was a member of a nationalistic, anti-conservatory group of young musicians, and he had an unusual ability to interpret visual art in musical expression.

Oct 15 2019

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Mozart’s Symphony No. 41, Jupiter

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Mozart's final symphony was nicknamed the "Jupiter," and - like the planet and the Roman god that share its name - it still stands out as one of the greatest of its kind.

Sep 27 2019

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Schumann Symphony No. 3

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Schumann’s Symphony No. 3, Rhenish, completed in 1850 after his much-celebrated appointment as Municipal Music Director in DĂŒsseldorf, reflects his optimism in the face of new challenges. Filled with spirited, glorious themes, Rhenish marks the high point in the life of a composer who struggled with mental illness.

Sep 16 2019

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Mahler Symphony No. 6

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Mahler Symphony No. 6
In summer 1903, Mahler was at his happiest time of life.  Married to the beautiful Alma and father to two healthy daughters, it doesn’t seem like the time when one would compose a symphony often called the Tragic.  However, in an eerily prescient stroke, this is exactly what Mahler does.  In the years that followed, Mahler suffered the death of a child, the loss of his position in Vienna, and learned of his debilitating heart disease—three blows of fate predicted by the blows of the drum that fell the Hero at the close of Symphony No. 6.

Sep 10 2019

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Mozart Symphony No. 31

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When Mozart went to Paris, he may not have found the job he was looking for, but he still found success, with his stylish Symphony No. 31.

Jul 03 2019

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Mahler Symphony No. 9

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Mahler’s last complete work, the Symphony No. 9, was composed following a whirlwind period of great loss and supreme achievement, including the composition of his “symphony without a number,” Das Lied von der Erde.  Symphony No. 9 reaches the greatest apex of Mahler’s compositional catalogue, exhibiting his characteristic subtle transition, expansion, and continuous variation at their fullest.

Jul 03 2019

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Mendelssohn Symphony No.4

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On an extended journey through Italy in 1830 and 1831, Felix Mendelssohn began work on his Fourth Symphony.  A wildly talented composer who wrote his famous Octet when he was only sixteen, Mendelssohn was prompted to finish the work when the London Philharmonic Society requested a symphony from him (and offered payment of a hundred guineas).  Mendelssohn called it the jolliest music he had ever composed. Although he remained dissatisfied with the symphony and planned numerous revisions, the Italian Symphony still stands as one of his most easily recognizable works.

Jul 03 2019

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Mahler Symphony No. 7

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Mahler's 7th is sometimes called "The Song of the Night," but it's really a journey from night into day, with some very interesting stops along the way.

Jul 03 2019

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Sibelius Symphony No. 2

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At the close of the nineteenth century, Finnish natives were enjoying a renaissance of their native culture, in opposition to their Russian occupiers.  Jean Sibelius was swept up in this nationalistic fervor, and composed several patriotic tone poems, including Finlandia.  Symphony No. 2, misinterpreted at its premiere as a commentary on the Finnish political conflict, was composed mostly in Italy, where Sibelius was renting a studio.  Working with fragments and sketches intended for four separate tone poems, Sibelius then assembled the pieces into this full-fledged symphony.

Jul 03 2019

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iTunes Ratings

113 Ratings
Average Ratings
88
14
3
4
4

Upload MISTAKE

By Larry in Contra Costa County - Feb 25 2020
Read more
you sent saint-saens twice, labeling one of them ravel please fix - need ma mer loye !😃

Educational and Enjoyable

By Cinderalice125 - Oct 21 2019
Read more
So educational and concise, there’s nothing like it.