WFIT Features

It wasn't that long ago -- 1911 -- that the race to be first to the South Pole was underway by expedition parties under Raold Amundsen for Norway and Robert Falcon Scott for Great Britain. They both succeeded in reaching the pole, but Scott's party never made it back, dying of exposure en route. Ralph Vaughan Williams was commissioned to write some incidental music for a movie on the subject in 1948. He was taken by the story, and expanded his project into his Symphony No. 7, his Sinfonia Antartica, to depict the majesty of the seventh continent and the tragedy of the doomed expedition.

Antonín Dvořák

Antonin Dvorak's New World Symphony, his ninth, showed us how the common peoples' music of North America could form the basis of a new symphonic tradition. His eighth symphony  similarly showed us how the folk and peasant traditions of his native Bohemia could do the same thing. Dvorak was a man out to prove a point. He certainly succeeded on this side of the Atlantic. See what you think about his work on the other side of the ocean.

Was Beethoven's fourth the last gasp of the classical 18th century symphony? Maybe yes, maybe no, but certainly something was afoot, and there wasn't much more to be said after Beethoven finished his last of his "traditional" great works and went instead for drama and passion in his symphonies. One way or another, this week's featured work marked the close of one era.


Dvorak's ninth symphony is hailed as the breakthrough of American musical ideas into symphonic (i.e. European) music. What does that mean? And how does a Czech become a champion of Western Hemisphere music? We'll look into it this week. And then we'll see how a Lebanese composer finds inspiration in Norway, a proper Englishman looks to India for his muse, an American reaches out to Armenia, and a number of others seek ethnically diverse and geographically abstruse sources for their music.

We know it's hot in Florida in the summer. Vivaldi and Haydn thought it got hot in Venice and Vienna. Can you believe it?  This week we'll hear what these two thought about the seasons of the calendar. By the way,  It will come as no surprise that they both liked spring.