Classical Potpourri

Presented to the
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UTEP
October-December 2015


Course Description
Classical music can feed the soul and calm a cluttered mind. It can cause people to shed tears of joy without even knowing why a piece of music moves them. This class explores a potpourri of classical masterworks selected for their ability to create goose bumps and cause a tingling feeling in the spine, pieces of music that rank among the most beautiful ever composed.

Week One – Form in Classical Music, Part 1
"Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union." – Frank Lloyd Wright

Riley, In C
Performed by Terry Riley with Stargaze.

Arvo Pärt, Spiegel im Spiegel
Performed by
Leonhard Roczek (cello) and Herbert Schuch (piano).

Mascagni, Cavalleria Rusticana, Intermezzo
Performed by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.
  • 0:40 – Part A
  • 2:10 – Part B
Chopin, Nocturne No. 1 in B-flat Minor
Performed by Yundi Li.
  • 0:00 – Section A
  • 1:12 – Section B
  • 3:53 – Section A
Schubert, Notturno in E-Flat Major
Performed by the Eggner Trio.
  • 0:00 – Section A
  • 2:25 – Section B
  • 4:50 – Section A1
  • 6:10 – Section B1
  • 7:48 – Section A2

Week Two – Form in Classical Music, Part 2
You don't need someone to explain a piece of music to understand how it affects you.

Schubert, Piano Quintet in A Major, Fourth Movement, "The Trout"
Performed by the Schubert Ensemble.
  • 0:09 – Main Theme
  • 1:11 – Variation 1
  • 2:06 – Variation 2
  • 3:07 – Variation 3
  • 4:00 – Variation 4
  • 5:03 – Variation 5
  • 6:37 – Variation 6
Ives, The Unanswered Question
Performed by the No Borders Orchestra, conducted by Premil Petrovic.
  • 1:44 – Question 1 (solo trumpet with woodwind response)
  • 2:28 – Question 2 (solo trumpet with woodwind response)
  • 3:07 – Question 3 (solo trumpet with woodwind response)
  • 3:43 – Question 4 (solo trumpet with woodwind response)
  • 4:16 – Question 5 (solo trumpet with woodwind response)
  • 4:45 – Question 6 (solo trumpet with woodwind response)
  • 5:28 – Question 7 (solo trumpet)
Bach, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
Performed by
Hans-André Stamm on the Trost-Organ of the Stadtkirche in Waltershausen, Germany.
  • 0:00 – Toccata
  • 2:30 – Fugue
Beethoven, Violin Concerto in D Major, Third Movement, Rondo
Performed by Arabella Steinbacher with the German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Fabrice Bollon.
  • 0:00 – Rondo Theme
  • 1:37 – First Departure
  • 2:44 – Rondo Theme
  • 3:36 – Second Departure
  • 4:51 – Rondo Theme
  • 6:00 – Third Departure
  • 7:22 – Cadenza
  • 8:51 – Rondo Theme

Week Three – From Bach to Rock (Fantasies, Tone Poems, and Chaconnes)
"When the chacona first surfaced, at the end of the sixteenth century, it promissed an upending of the social order, a liberation of the body.The same outlaw spirit animates modern rock and pop: the swirl of a repeating bass line allows a crowd of dancing fans to forget for a little while, the linear routines of daily life." – Alex Ross, Listen to This

Bach, Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, Second Movement
Performed by the early music ensemble Voices of Music.

Bach, Partita No. 2 in D Minor for Solo Violin
Performed by Bella Hristova (violin).

Brahms, Symphony No. 4, Fourth Movement
Performed by National Radio Orchestra Bucharest, conducted by Cristian Orosanu.

Mozart, Fantasia in D Minor
Performed by
Friedrich Gulda (1930-1200), an Austrian pianist and composer of both classical and jazz music.

Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, "Emperor"
Performed by
Daniel Barenboim (pianist and conductor) with the Staatskapelle Berlin.
  • 00:00 – First Movement
  • 21:00 – Second Movement (don't miss the transition to the third movement beginning at 28:20)
  • 29:17 – Third Movement
Ravel, La Valse
Performed by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, conducted by Myung-Whun Chung.

The Beatles, "Hey Jude"
Performed live by Paul McCarney in Red Square, 2008 (Coda begins at 3:05)


Week Four – British Classical Music
"The English are the only cultured nation without its own music." – Oskar Schmitz
(Mr. Schmitz was proven wrong, of course, as should be obvious after this week's class.)

Tallis, Spem in Alium (animated graphical score)
Performed by the
Tavener Choir.

Tallis, Spem in Alium
Performed by
The Sixteen, conducted by Harry Christophers.

Elgar, Enigma Variations
Performed by the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Yuri Temirkanov.
  • 00:00 – Main Theme
  • 01:36 – Variation 1 (C.A.E.)
  • 03:42 – Variation 2 (H.D.S.-P.)
  • 04:33 – Variation 3 (R.B.T.)
  • 06:05 – Variation 4 (W.M.B.)
  • 06:40 – Variation 5 (R.P.A.)
  • 08:35 – Variation 6 (Ysobel)
  • 09:54 – Variation 7 (Troyte)
  • 11:03 – Variation 8 (W.N.)
  • 12:50 – Variation 9 (Nimrod)
  • 17:05 – Variation 10 (Intermezzo: Dorabella)
  • 19:59 – Variation 11 (G.R.S.)
  • 21:03 – Variation 12 (B.G.N.)
  • 23:48 – Variation 13 (Romanza ***)
  • 26:47 – Variation 14 (E.D.U.)
Holst, The Planets, Mars, Bringer of War
Performed by the BBC Philharmonic orchestra, conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras.

Holst, The Planets, Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity
Performed by the BBC Philharmonic orchestra, conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras.

Vaughn Williams, The Lark Ascending
Performed by Janine Jansen (violin) with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Barry Wordsworth.

Vaughn Williams, Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Performed by BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andrew Davis at Gloucester Cathedral, which was the site of this composition's first performance in 1910 when it was conducted by Ralph Vaughn Williams.) Click here for a Music Map of this recording (password protected).
  • 00:00 – Introduction (The Tallis Theme is first heard at 1:27)
  • 04:09 – First Episode
  • 06:17 – Second Episode
  • 08:30 – Third Episode
  • 13:36 – Fourth Episode
  • 15:50 – Coda

Week Five – Classical Music, 1985 to the Present
"With an orchestra you are building citizens, better citizens for the community." – Gustavo Dudamel

Davies, An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise (1985)
From the North York Moors Festival, conducted by Adam Johnson (bagpipes appear at 12:40).

Adams, Short Ride in a Fast Machine (1986)
Performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marin Alsop.

Pärt, Magnificat (1989)
Performed by the Erebus Ensemble, conducted by Tom Williams.

Jenkins, The Armed Man, "Benedictus" (1999)
Performed by the Kammerchor Vocale Neuburg.

Whitacre, Sleep (2000)
Performed by a Virtual Choir, conducted by Eric Whitacre.

Richter, Vivaldi, The Four Seasons Recomposed (2012)
Performed by Daniel Hope (violin) and Max Richter (keyboard/electronics) with the Ensemble LPR, conducted by Tito Muñoz (music begins at 1:30).

Classical Music in China
Classical music is exploding in China. Chen Qigang, a Chinese composer, told Alex Ross, author of Listen to This (2010), that classical music has been “very à la mode in China.” As many as 100 million children are learning piano or violin, and concert halls are usually packed. The Sichuan Conservatory in Chengdu has more than 10,000 students. Juillard has 800. According to Alex Ross, “An American high school student who practices piano several hours a day is apt to be pegged something of a freak; in China, such a routine is commonplace.”

Article from The New York Times (April 2007): "Classical Music Looks Toward China with Hope"

Classical Music in Venezuela – El Sistema
The Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra is the crown jewel of Venezuela’s system of music education, a system that, according to Alex Ross in Listen to This, is “unmatched by any in the world.” The National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela, known as El Sistema, has been growing since it was founded in 1975 by the conductor and composer José Antonio Abreu. El Sistema is based on the premise that music is the primary means of social and intellectual improvement for Venezuela’s children and can be defined as a free classical music education that promotes human opportunity and development for impoverished children. In 2015, El Sistema was educating over 700,000 young musicians. Gustavo Dudamel, the conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is a product of El Sistema.

Article from The New York Times: "Venerated High Priest and Humble Servant of Music Education" (March 2012)

BBC News Report on El Sistema, 2007 (YouTube Video)

Richard Biaggini, concertmaster for the El Paso Symphony Orchestra (YouTube Video)

Marquez, Danzón No. 2 (1994)
Performed by the Símon Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.

Mahler, Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (1894)
Performed by the Símon Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.
  • 07:25 – First Movement
  • 32:50 – Second Movement
  • 45:02 – Third Movement
  • 55:27 – Fourth Movement
  • 1:01:14 – Fifth Movement

Week Six – The Doctrine of Ethos
"Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without." – Confucius

I want to express many thanks to the wonderful lifelong learners at UTEP. You inspire me with your enthusiasm and curiosity, and what you give me is far more than I could ever hope to give you. I wish all of you the very best, and I'll see you next spring for a discussion of Beethoven's Ninth. – Jim

Encore: Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel
On April 18, 1906, an earthquake with a magnitude of almost 8.0 hit San Francisco, destroying most of the city and killing over 3000 people. Click on the "encore" link and see a film that was shot four days before that earthquake. The film was shot with a hand-cranked movie camera placed on the front of a streetcar traveling down Market Street. Watch the film, listen to Pärt's music, and think about the fate that awaited all those people only four days later. As explained in class, this film should serve as a good example of the doctrine of ethos.

Satie, Gymnopédie No. 1
Performed by Stephen Malinowski (Music Animation Machine).

Satie, Gnossienne No. 1
Performed by Alessio Nanni.

Debussy, Suite bergamasque, "Clair de Lune"
Performed by Jacopo Salvatori (Bebop Animation)

Sibelius, The Swan of Tuonela
Performed by the
BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Thomas Søndergård.

Canteloube, Bailero, Chants d' Auvergne (“The Shepherd’s Song")
Performed by Anna Caterina Antonacci (soprano) with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by François-Xavier Roth.

Fauré, Requiem in D Minor, "Libera me" and "In Paradisum"
Performed by the Radio Kamer Filharmonie Orchestra and Cappella Amsterdam Choir, conducted by Ed Spanjaard and Daniel Reuss.
  • 0:00 – Libera me
  • 4:59 – In Paradisum
Puccini, Tosca, "Vissi d'arte"
Performed by
Fiorenza Cedolins (soprano) with the Orchestra e Caro del Teatro La Fenice, conducted by Kurt Masur.

Strauss, Four Last Songs, "Beim Schlafengehen"
Performed by
Renee Fleming (soprano) with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, conducted by Claudio Abbado.

Schubert, String Quintet in C Major
Performed by The Afiara Quartet.
  • 00:00 – Introductory remarks by Joel Krosnick (cellist)
  • 08:20 – First Movement
  • 29:02 – Second Movement
  • 43:16 – Third Movement (Trio begins at 47:10)
  • 53:17 – Fourth Movement
Beethoven, String Quartet in A Minor, Third Movement
Performed by the
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
  • 00:00 – Hymn of Thanksgiving (World of the Spirit)
  • 03:10 – Interlude (Earthly Life)
  • 05:11 – Hymn of Thanksgiving (World of the Spirit)
  • 08:05 – Interlude (Earthly Life)
  • 10:05 – Hymn of Thanksgiving (World of the Spirit)

Time Did Not Allow for a Discussion of the Following Pieces
Elgar, Cello Concerto
Performed by
Yo-Yo Ma (cello) with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Zinman.
  • 00:00 – First Movement
  • 08:30 – Second Movement
  • 13:10 – Third Movement
Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor
Performed by
Anna Fedorova with the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, conducted by Martin Panteleev.
  • 00:00 – First Movement
  • 11:36 – Second Movement
  • 23:51 – Third Movement
Rimsky-Korsakov, Russian Easter Overture
Performed by the Mariinsky Orchestra, conducted by Valery Gergiev.

Mendelssohn, Hebrides Overture, "Fingal's Cave"
Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by John Eliot Gardiner.

Schubert, String Quartet No. 14 in D Minor, "Death and the Maiden"
Performed by the Meridian Ensemble String Quartet
  • 00:16 – First Movement
  • 12:02 – Second Movement
  • 27:02 – Third Movement
  • 31:40 – Fourth Movement