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The Brahms Requiem may not have done much for the salvation of souls, but it provided the salvation for the composer's career. Brahms's star was in serious decline in the 1860s, with his publishers dropping him following a disastrous debut of his first piano concerto -- an early attempt at a large-scale work.

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Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf presents to children a young fellow who becomes the hero of the day by disobeying the grown-ups.

Sounds like Prokofiev was asking for trouble, doesn't it?

Not so fast. Remember, Peter and the Wolf was written in the USSR in 1936, and there was a difference between disobeying Grandpa and disobeying Papa Joe. Nowadays, Peter and the Wolf is all innocence, but this wasn't always the case.

Schubert's Unfinished Symphony is a legendary work in many senses of the word. It's long been a concert-hall musical favorite, associated with plenty of mystery and romance. We'll begin a short Celebration of Schubert with his Eighth Symphony this week, and then look at some of the other music that he produced in his too-short life.

NPR

Robert Schumann was on his way toward becoming one of Europe's most pre-eminent pianists until a hand injury ended that quest. He then turned to composition and he became one of the most influential composers of the Romantic period, until -- again -- his career was thwarted, this time by mental illness. Schumann left us one piano concerto: a taste of both his vocations, as it were, and it's our featured work this Thursday .

Georges Bizet didn't live long enough to capitalize on his breakthrough operatic success, Carmen, nor did he leave a large legacy of other works. He did write one symphony as a conservatory student, studying under Charles Gounod, no less. It wasn't written with performance or publication in mind, and it got lost in a pile somewhere for decades, only to resurface for a premiere performance some  eighty years later. We'll hear the Symphony in C major as our featured work this Thursday.

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