Smetana: Vltava – Symphonic Poem

Bedrich Smetana was born in 1824 in Bohemia, which was then a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His family was reasonably prosperous, and he was one of numerous siblings. His father, who was a gifted amateur musician, managed the brewery on the estate of Count Waldstein (to whom Beethoven dedicated his 21st Piano Sonata). From … Read more

Bach arr. Stokowski: Toccata and Fugue in D minor

Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977) was born in St. Marylebone, London, of Polish/Irish parentage. He received his musical education at the Royal College of Music and Oxford University. His first professional appointment was as organist at St. James’ Piccadilly, then St. Bartholomew’s, New York. Following a brief return to London he returned to the U.S.A. with his … Read more

Delius: On hearing the first cuckoo in Spring

Many of Delius’s orchestral works are scored for very large ensembles and this made performances difficult to organise. Friends managed to persuade him to write for small orchestral groups, thus making his work more accessible to both performers and concert promoters. The Two Pieces for Small Orchestra, On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring and Summer Night … Read more