Wednesday, November 05, 2008

My best playlist ever:

Most Tuesday mornings, I produce a classical music program on WPRB radio from 6 to 8:30 a.m. (Eastern time). You can hear me all over the world. We are on the air at 103.3 FM in much of central Jersey (etc.), but also: You can catch us online at, where we offer three easy to record (and even time-shift) audio streams.

I try to put together programs with a lot of variety, good music and good performances. Sometimes I feel that I have created an exceptional playlist. But election day was different: I'm sure I produced my best playlist ever, and now, I'm going to tell you all about it.

My great challenge, which I was unable to solve for days, was: what is classical election day music? I had no idea. But Tuesday morning at 5:20 a.m., I found a theme for my program. No matter who you wanted to win, you felt great pain at the thought of loss; you wanted revenge on the other guys; and you dreamed of unalloyed victory. So that's what it says right in my playlist: WHOEVER WINS: THE PAIN! THE VICTORY!! THE REVENGE!!! I selected music for pain, for pure vengefulness, and for the delight of victory. Here's what I played:

Overture: la forze del destino (Verdi): Fate and vengeance personified in music.

Dissonance quartet, k. 465 in C, 1st mvt (Mozart): Those dissonances were great for the theme of pain.

Ride of the Valkyries (Wagner): On to victory!

der Freischutz, overture (Weber): That free-shot, the bullet that will go wherever it is aimed; great for revenge.

Vallee d'Obermann (Liszt): This music personifies despair. Great for the pain theme.

A song: Ich grolle nicht, from dichterliebe (Schumann): Some of the words: I'm not complaining, even if my heart breaks.

Don Giovanni, overture (Mozart): Revenge!

Funeral march: 1st mvt of symphony #5 (Mahler): The pain.

Requiem, excerpts (Verdi): I played the 'Dies Irae' (day of wrath, day of anger!) and lacrymosa. I used an explosive performance, in which the vengeance of 'dies irae' jumps out of your speakers: The philharmonia orchestra and chorus, conducted by carlo maria giulini .

The Anfortas Wound, from Harmonielehre (John Adams): After a long period of agonizing writer's block, Adams wrote the first movement of his Harmonielehre. After that, he wanted to depict the pain of his writer's block, and he chose to illustrate in sound, the pain of being pierced in the testicles. Very appropriate for my program.

Don Giovanni, cenar teco m'invistasti'. D.G. descends into hell (Mozart):Revenge. I got a little carried away here. I told my listeners that near the end of this music, they would hear the wails of the election loser as he descended into hell. But of course, it was only Don Giovanni wailing. Sorry about that.

A song: Belsatzar, op. 57 (poem by Heine, music by Schumann): Belshazzar curses God, and he doesn't get away with it.

After all that, I felt it was time for a little healing, so I concluded the program with the last movement of Beethoven's 9th.

Please feel free to re-create his program whenever you need it.


Martin Langeland said...

Perhaps the Papageno/Papagena duet for victory celebrations?
And Sibelius' Keralia suite for triumphalism.
Wonderful theme. You ever hear Jurgen Gothe's Disc Drive on CBC Radio 2? Alas, this 20 some year mainstay of their list (Only the best radio in the world -- and not just my opinion!) got trashed by the Harper glugs who decided to dumb down the entire country.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention the delicious coincidence of having played John Adams on election day!

Perhaps it would have made sense to add "Zarathustra" in an attempt to ward off any future repititions of the alien and sedition acts?

Cheers! said...

PB sayd: I received a private comment with two great suggestions:
> I'd develop further the theme of "Destiny" (which you call "fate" in the Verdi selection) and I have 2 suggestions, both trite but good:

1. Haydn: either the "Surprise" symphony 2nd movement or the first movement of the "Miracle" Symphony

2. Beethoven's 5th, first movement. <

PB continues: I particularly like the first mvt of Beethoven's fifth. The old-fashioned way of playing this piece, with the first four notes rather slow and dramatic, is called the "fate knocks at the door" interpretation.
- PB