Program Note Podcasts

Get Concert Insights On the Go

The Symphony’s free Program Note Podcast Series highlights a great work being performed each week by the orchestra. Hosted by KDFC’s Rik Malone, the podcasts feature music from Symphony concerts and recordings, and commentary based on our award-winning program notes by James Keller and Michael Steinberg. You can hear them on the way to the concert, on your smart phone or computer. Listen here, and subscribe to get future episodes automatically.

Handel’s Messiah

George Frideric Handel
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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.

Schumann’s Symphony No. 1

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Schumann's Symphony No. 1—"born in a fiery hour"—is as personal, original, and fresh as the season that gave it its nickname: Spring.

Schumann's 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 Düsseldorf, 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.

Saint Saëns’ Symphony No. 3, Organ

Saint Saëns
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A child prodigy, Saint-Saëns 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.

Tchaikovsky's Orchestral Suite No. 3

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Tchaikovsky's Orchestral Suite No. 3 is a kind of symphony lite—he called it "a ballet without choreography”—but it's really a symphony, a ballet, an opera and a roller-coaster ride all rolled into one.

Sibelius’s Symphony No. 5

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Sibelius's 50th birthday present to himself and his homeland was his Symphony No. 5, music distilled to its essence. "While other composers were engaged in making cocktails," he said, "I offered the public pure cold water."

Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5

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Composed alongside fellow distinguished Russian composers at a House of Creative Work northeast of Moscow, Prokofiev’s renowned Fifth Symphony saw its premier in January 1945, as Soviet armies had begun their final push to victory over Germany. As Prokofiev raised his baton in the silent hall, the audience could hear the gunfire that celebrated the news, just arrived, that the army had crossed the Vistula and driven the German Wehrmacht back past the Oder river.

Tchaikovsky's Pathétique Symphony

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Tchaikovsky's Pathétique 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.

Haydn's Mass in D minor, Nelson

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The real title of Haydn's popular Lord Nelson Mass is "Missa in angustiis" or "Mass in Troubled Times." But those "troubled times" inspired Haydn to new heights of creativity, variety, surprise, and drama.

Respighi's Roman Festivals

Ottorino Respighi
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Ottorino Respighi was a master of orchestral color, and his Roman Festivals contains all the colors of the musical rainbow, and then some.

Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5

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Perpetually self-conscious, Tchaikovsky worried in spring 1888 that his imagination had dried up, and that he had nothing left to express through music.  Vacationing at his home in Frolovskoe provided all the inspiration he needed, and by August, his Symphony No. 5 was complete.

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