WFIT Features

Vermont Public Radio

We've been exploring some of the less-well-known works of Antonin Dvorak and Edvard Grieg on Mozart's Attic recently: something akin to a summer reading project, looking at  a few of the other works by composers who are best known for just a couple of concert hall blockbusters. This week, we'll hear one of those blockbusters, Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor, performed by one of the great Romantic interpreters of the 20th century, Artur Rubinstein. Our cycle of the twelve Mendelssohn String Symphonies continues with the eleventh, and we'll listen to some Middle-Ages-inspired  music written


We begin with two musical tribute pieces this week that could hardly be more different in tone, but are nonetheless related through the use of old Baroque forms, Maurice Ravel’s Tombeau de Couperin is ostensibly an homage to the great 17th and 18th century organist, Francois Couperin – but not so fast; each of the dances is individually dedicated to a friend fallen in the Great War of 1914. Edvard Grieg’s Holberg Suite is a bicentennial celebration of Norwegian playwright and humanist Ludwig Holberg, born in 1684 and nowadays hardly remembered other than as the subject of Grieg’s admiration

Antonín Dvořák

In between his two academic years serving as director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York, Antonin Dvorak spent the summer in Spillville, Iowa, a farming community of about 350 people, many of whom were Czechs or Bohemian Germans. It was a restful place for him, and while there he composed a string quartet -- one of a small number of  "Pieces from America," a category that also includes, of course, the New World Symphony. We'll get to that symphony in a few weeks, but this Thursday we'll listen to the quartet that put Spillville on the map!

Back in the 1500s and 1600s, you couldn't just use your Eurailpass to hop on a train from one country in Europe to another. Yet a surprising number of the composers of the time managed to get around, bringing Italian styles to Germany, Flemish music to Venice, and so forth, and the resulting cross fertilization is one of the hallmarks of the Renaissance and early Baroque. We'll look at some of this  mixture this week with music of the continent in the mid-millennium.


In 1892, Antonin Dvorak, rapidly becoming the toast of Europe, accepted the director’s post at a New York conservatory. The school – totally integrated racially and by gender – wanted a “name,” and Dvorak wanted an opportunity to study American music. Could there have been a better match? The conservatory didn’t last, but Dvorak’s music “From the New World” did. We’ll feature one of those works, the Cello Concerto, this week.