WFIT Features


Antonio Vivaldi set the Gloria -- the second section of the traditional Roman Catholic Mass -- to music in 1715. We aren't sure why he did it. Was it part of a larger Mass that never got finished, or was it a stand-alone piece? 244 years later, Francis Poulenc, on commission from the Koussevitzky Foundation, decided to try his hand at a stand-alone Gloria, and as you might expect, it was a vastly different work from that of his predecessor. We look at the two Glorias this week. Did they both arrive at the same place? See what you think.


George Frideric Handel moved to London in 1712, and his music was to prove so influential that nothing would ever be quite the same again. The Italian-inspired operas, the royal commissions, and, of course, the oratorios brought a new, continental sea-change to the island. Yet there had been a lively musical scene in England beforehand, and we'll look at English music before Handel with this week's program, featuring music by Henry Purcell, William Byrd, John Dowland, and a host of others.

Siegfried Lauterwasser/DG

As a young composer and piano virtuoso, Beethoven had established himself in his new home, Vienna, the cultural capitol of central Europe. Here he would seek his fortune in a more liberal society. But things were going wrong. His hopes for political reforms were turning into disappointments...... And then there was something strange going on with his hearing, and it wasn't getting better. We begin to see his hopes, his disappointments, and his rage in his third symphony, the "Eroica" -- or "Heroic" -- Symphony.

Near the denouement of the Cold War, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev announced a cultural thaw, allowing some degree of freedom of expression among artists and writers. Yevgeny Yevtushenko responded with his poem, Babi Yar, lambasting the regime's distortion of the story of the  World War II massacre in Ukraine, as well as a continuing and pervasive Russian anti-Semitism thereafter. Dmitri Shostakovich then set Babi Yar to music, along with four other scathing Yevtushenko poems, and premiered the work as his Symphony No. 13 in 1962.

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