Classical Music Decoded

DEANO MADURAMUTHU  |  Podcast , ±21 min episodes every 2 weeks, 6 days  | 
If you like - or are curious about - classical music but find it a little perplexing, then this podcast is for you. It's an appreciative journey through popular works of classical music; explaining the context in which the music was composed, the main musical themes and the demands placed on the musicians who play them. Presented by Deano Maduramuthu.

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Grieg: Piano Concerto in A minor

Edvard Grieg's Piano Concerto has been popular ever since it's premier in 1868. Its combination of arresting melodies, warmth and dazzling piano parts has charmed audiences around the world.

In this episode Deano Maduramuthu gives background to Grieg's journey into Norwegian nationalism, the encouragement he received from Franz Liszt and the main themes of this gorgeous piano work.

Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue

A public performance of Rhapsody in Blue was advertised before Gershwin had even thought of composing it! This episode explains how the Rhapsody came into being and how Gershwin infused 'jazz vocabulary' into a piece of classical music.

Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra

South Africa once again has a national orchestra - the Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra. It's the first national orchestra since the NSO was disbanded. I attended the launch where orchestra CEO Bongani Tembe spoke about the purpose of the Mzansi NPO and dealt with some of the criticism levelled against it.

Beethoven - Symphony no. 3 in E flat major "Eroica"

Concert goers in Vienna in the early 1800s were unsure about Beethoven's Eroica symphony. It was unlike any other composed before and it broke the mould, eventually changing what they expected a symphony to be.

Acclaimed conductor Bernhard Gueller explains what made the Eroica a groundbreaking work, as well as its link to Napoleon and Beethoven's personal circumstances when he composed the symphony.

Tchaikovsky - Symphony no. 5 in E minor

Tchaikovsky composed his fifth symphony to prove to others, and to himself, that he wasn't "played out" as a composer. He needn't have worried. It's a fantastic symphony, containing gorgeous melodies and deeply felt emotion - traits that are typical of Tchaikovsky. Rather than the work of someone in decline, it's the work of a composer who was very much at the peak of his powers.

Dvorak - Symphony no.9 "From the New World"

Dvorak's Symphony no.9 in E minor was first performed in New York in 1893 and was an immediate hit. But despite Dvorak giving it the subtitle "From the New World", was there anything American about the symphony? That's a question musicologists continue to debate, but what is clear is that the New World captured the verve, optimism and growing influence of the United States of that time.

Dvorak masterfully repeats themes throughout to give the symphony a sense of continuity. It's work that is by turns rousing and spirited, as well as gentle and sensitive. Presented by Deano Maduramuthu.

Bruch - Violin Concerto no.1 in G minor

Zanta Hofmeyr is one of South Africa's most acclaimed violinists. In this episode she guides us through a work about which she is passionate - Max Bruch's Violin Concerto no.1 in G minor.

Zanta identifies some of the themes and key changes, gives insight into the difficulty of the soloist's part, and deeply feels the emotion that the concerto evokes in listeners.

Scheherazade Symphonic Suite

Scheherazade was composed by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov. It was inspired by One Thousand and One Nights (The Arabian Nights) and like many good stories, is full of colour, adventure and a bit of romance!

Miro Chakaryan is the concert master of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra. He takes us through each movement, explaining how Rimsky-Korsakov used the orchestra to depict different characters and create different effects. Miro also gives us an insight into the difficulty that the end of the work poses for violinists.

8 episodes