San Francisco Symphony Podcasts
Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra08/29/14
In Also Sprach Zarathustra, Richard Strauss set Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy to a new kind of music. But was the world ready for either?
Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5
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...
Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1
Beethoven's first piano concerto took Vienna by storm, and set the stage for even more musical revolutions to come.
Ravel's Piano Concerto in G
Ravel’s American influences are easily heard in his Piano Concerto in G Major, which he modeled after the light, divertimento-like concertos of Mozart and Saint‑Saëns.
Britten's Peter Grimes
Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes is one of the great operatic psychodramas–an outcast in a closed society, is Grimes truly a villain, or a victim of circumstance?
Shostakovich's Symphony No. 15
Dmitri Shostakovich summed up his life and art in his 15th and final symphony. But, in the end, did it reveal who he really was, or was it just another mask for him to hide behind?
Britten's The Prince of the Pagodas
Britten's exotic fairy-tale ballet The Prince of the Pagodas fuses the sounds of East and West in a magical mix that sounds like nothing else he ever wrote.
Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10
Shostakovich's 10th Symphony is a vivid depiction of a life of not-so-quiet desperation in the old Soviet Union. It is as powerful a portrait of terror as has ever been composed.
Gabriel Fauré called his Requiem "a lullaby of death...as gentle as I am myself." Serene and hopeful, it's one of the great spiritual masterpieces of the 20th century.
Debussy's Images is music that "never looks back," and it still sounds new, more than a century later.
Brahms’s Symphony No. 4
Ever the brutal self-critic, Brahms did not write his first symphony until the age of 42.By the time he wrote his Symphony No. 4 in 1885, he had reached the pinnacle of his orchestral composition—the music he had always wanted to write.
Bach’s Missa brevis
Like many of Bach's works, much of his Missa brevis had been used before and all of it would be used again, in his epic Mass in B minor. But in its original form it was actually something quite different: a bribe.
Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 4
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!
Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6
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...
Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 “Romantic”
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.
Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 “The Great”
Schubert's "Great" C major symphony was the longest, most advanced and most intricately constructed symphony ever written by anyone not named Beethoven. With it, Schubert staked his claim as his idol's heir.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov traveled the world as a naval officer, but it was his musical journey into the world of the Arabian Nights that became one of his most colorful and enduring masterpieces.
Ravel’s La Valse
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.
Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4
The Fourth Symphony was a product of the most turbulent time of Tchaikovsky's life - 1877, when he met two women (Nadezhda von Meck, a music-loving widow of a wealthy Russian railroad baron, and Antonina Miliukov, an unnoticed student in one of his...
Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique
A man spots a woman across the room at a party and falls instantly in love with her. In a fit of despair over his unrequited love, he poisons himself and fantastic dreams and visions result. This is the story, inspired by his own love for the actress...
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