Classical 91.5

Classical 91.5's 40 for 40

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of WXXI-FM Classical 91.5 (in 2014), we asked you to help us celebrate. Beginning Tuesday, April 15th, we played your top 40 favorite classical works on air throughout the day, and posted more information about your favorites right here on this page. Learn more about each work that you chose as your top 40 favorites on Classical 91.5.

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#17 Ludwig van Beethoven

Aug 28, 2016

Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73 Emperor

Written between 1809 and 1811, the fifth piano concerto is one of many pieces that Beethoven dedicated to his patron & student Archduke Rudolf. Due to Beethoven's hearing loss, this is the only piano concerto that Beethoven did not premiere with himself at the keyboard. His hearing loss did not in any way hinder his creativity in writing the piece. The 5th concerto is full of the heroic grandeur often associated with Beethoven in which he "blends brilliance with quiet, and throughout he tempers the virtuosic writing with the instruction dolce, literally “sweet.”  Like many nicknames of Beethoven's pieces, Emperor" was not given by Beethoven, but by the English publisher of the work who was picking up on the heroic nature of the concerto.

#18 Gustav Holst

Aug 28, 2016

The Planets, Op. 32

Written between 1914-16, English composer Gustav Holst based this seven movement work not on astronomy, but on astrology, a topic that he had become interested in when he was introduced to it by a friend in the spring of 1913. Each movement is intended to convey the emotional effect that the planet is said to have on the psyche according to astrology and it is these characters and colors created by Holst that have made the piece so popular with audiences. While this piece is undoubtedly a masterpiece and Holst's most widely known/performed work, Holst himself was unhappy with how it seemed to overshadow many of his other works. Despite this, he remained partial to his favorite movement: Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age.

#19 Ludwig van Beethoven

Aug 28, 2016

Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor "Quasi una fantasia", Op. 27, No. 2, Moonlight

Even though this famous work by Beethoven is widely known by its nickname, the Moonlight Sonata, Beethoven himself never heard or used this name. The origin of this famous nickname can be attributed to German music critic and poet, Ludwig Rellstab. In 1832, five years after Beethoven's death, Rellstab described the effect of the first movement as moonlight reflecting on Lake Lucerne. While some critics have disagreed with Rellstab's description of the piece, within ten years of his comments this nickname was being used in both English and German publications of the sonata and has stuck with the work ever since.

#20 Modest Mussorgsky

Aug 28, 2016

Pictures at an Exhibition

The ten movement suite for solo piano, Pictures at an Exhibition, by Modest Mussorgsky was written as a memorial to the composer's friend, artist Viktor Hartmann. Each of the suite's movements is meant to depict a different painting or sketch by Hartmann as viewed by Mussorgsky at an exhibition arranged in honor of his departed friend. The memorable Promenade that introduces the work and serves to link many of the movements, is intended to represent moving about the exhibit. Due to the virtuosity required to perform the work, it is often used by pianists as a showpiece. However, the work is probably more well known to audiences in one of its many orchestrated versions, with the most famous orchestration done by French composer Maurice Ravel.

#21 Ludwig van Beethoven

Aug 28, 2016

Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, Pastoral

#22 Johannes Brahms

Aug 28, 2016

A German Requiem, Op. 45

Unlike the typical Latin text of the Roman Catholic requiems, or masses for the dead, Johannes Brahms chose verses from the German Bible.  He sets scripture from both the Old and New Testaments that not only mourn the dead, but also provide comfort to those living.  Through his use of soloists, chorus and orchestra, Brahms highlights comfort, hope and the afterlife.

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#23 Joaquín Rodrigo

Aug 28, 2016

Concierto de Aranjuez