Sticky Notes: The Classical Music Podcast

By Joshua Weilerstein

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 Oct 8, 2019

 Aug 10, 2019


Sticky Notes is a classical music podcast for everyone, whether you are just getting interested in classical music for the first time, or if you've been listening to it and loving it all your life. Interviews with great artists, in depth looks at pieces in the repertoire, and both basic and deep dives into every era of music. Classical music is absolutely for everyone, so let's start listening! Note - Seasons 1-5 will be returning over the next year. They have been taken down in order to be re-recorded in improved sound quality!

Episode Date
The Music of Heinrich Schutz (and Brahms!)

There are composers whose influence outstrips their popularity. The Baroque composer Heinrich Schutz falls into this group, due to his total focus on writing sacred vocal music. But for those who know his music, he is essential. He was the most important German composer before Bach and was vital to the development of music. Today I’m going to take you through some of Schutz’s greatest musical achievements, including his Muskalische Exequien, the piece that very likely inspired the Brahms Requiem. Join us!

Nov 24, 2021
Bartok Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celeste

Bartok’s Music for Strings Percussion and Celeste is a perfect encapsulation of Bartok’s musical output. Each movement provides us with a magnifying glass into some of the qualities that made Bartok one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. But for how spectacular a piece it is, it isn’t played as often as it should be, partly because of its extreme difficulty. Today, I’m going to talk you through what is perhaps Bartok's greatest piece, the unforgettable Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celeste.

Nov 18, 2021
Bach Transformed

Arrangements of Bach's music have been happening essentially since his music was “rediscovered” by Mendelssohn in the 19th century. But Mozart and Beethoven arranged Bach's music too, and Bach himself would recycle works for different groupings of instruments. Today, I'm going to take a look at some of those arrangements, and what kind of insights we can gain into Bach's music, the styles of the times in which these arrangements were done, and even(!) whether we might prefer these new flavors. Join us!

Nov 11, 2021
Mendelssohn Symphony No. 3, "Scottish"

Mendelssohn was only 20 years old when he wrote to his friend Karl Klingemann: "...I am going to Scotland, with a rake for folk songs, an ear for the lovely, fragrant countryside, and a heart for the bare legs of the natives.” Over two months in 1829, Mendelssohn traveled through much of the Scottish Highlands, and it was on this trip that he found the inspiration for his beloved Scottish Symphony. But is this symphony all about Scotland? And how should we interpret this symphony in 2021? Join us this week!

Nov 04, 2021
Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances

Rachmaninoff’s music is often described as many different kinds of chocolate cake, but this piece, if it's chocolatey at all, would be that 85% dark chocolate - more bitter than sweet. It might be Rachmaninoff’s greatest orchestral work, and one that is inextricably linked to his tumultuous life. Throughout the Dances we hear references to war, to nostalgia, to Rachmaninoff's past failures, and so much more. This is one of the underrated masterpieces of the 20th century - join us to learn all about it!

Oct 28, 2021
Shostakovich Symphony No. 11, "The Year 1905"

In 1956, Dmitri Shostakovich wrote: “I am now writing my 11th symphony, dedicated to the First Russian Revolution...I would like in this work to reflect the soul of the people who first paved the way to socialism.” Soviet loyalists were thrilled with the piece, but his friends were disappointed at this seemingly blatant act of propaganda. But quickly, a new and more subversive narrative emerged about this sprawling, cinematic, and elementally powerful symphony. Find out all about this masterpiece this week!

Oct 21, 2021
Sticky Notes Vs. Wagner w/ Rafael Payare

Wagner is probably the most admired AND the most reviled composer in Western Classical Music history. I've always been uncomfortable with Wagner's music, so I decided to sit down with the wonderful conductor(and my brother-in-law), Rafael Payare to try and understand how to embrace Wagner. We talk about emotional manipulation, the length of his operas, and of course, his almost pathological anti-Semitism. We also talk about Richard Strauss in this light-hearted and, I hope, illuminating conversation!

Oct 14, 2021
Elgar: Enigma Variations

Elgar told us all about how the inspiration for his first great success: “I began to play, and suddenly my wife interrupted by saying: “Edward, that’s a good tune!... ‘What is that?’ I answered, ‘Nothing – but something might be made of it."
This little improvisation turned into one of Elgar’s greatest pieces, a piece that made him a legend. This week we'll explore this hymn to good humor, joy, and profound friendship. We'll also explore why this piece is called "Enigma." Join us to dive right in!

Oct 08, 2021
Fantasia 2021: 7 Pieces to Get You Started with Classical Music

Almost everyone classical music fan has a memory of the first time they saw Fantasia. The brilliant combination of music and visuals made lifelong classical music fans out of millions of people. There's no audio only version of Fantasia, so this week I chose 7 brand new pieces that are a perfect entry point into classical music. These pieces represent composers from 6 countries and span 300 years of music. You'll hear from composers both familiar and brand new and I can't wait for you to dive right in!

Sep 30, 2021
Debussy La Mer

It's 1905 and you've just come to the premiere of Debussy's La Mer. The orchestra begins playing, and a magical and completely unique journey begins. Gone are the peaceful and placid portrayals of water in music of the past. Instead, you hear strange harmonies and a diffuse language that seems to revel in ambiguity. In fact, it sounds more like an impression of the sea than anything. This is the story of Debussy’s La Mer, one of the most beautiful, strange, and compelling pieces of music ever written.

Sep 23, 2021
Mozart Symphony No. 41, "Jupiter"

Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony is a piece that can practically define the classical era symphony. Mozart pulls out every trick in the compositional book and practically sums up everything written before him. It is a symphony full of musical cliches, self-references, and in some cases, flat out thefts from other composers. But as always with Mozart, the thrill of his originality shines through at every moment. Today we’ll explore just how Mozart created this masterpiece of art and musical architecture. Join us!

Sep 16, 2021
Schumann Symphony No. 2

Schumann’s life was marked with severe mental health issues. In 1844, Schumann suffered one of his worst breakdowns yet. He was dizzy, weak, had vision problems, couldn’t sleep, and couldn't listen to music. By 1845 Schumann slowly began to recover and the first wholly new work he produced was a symphony in C Major. As Schumann said, “I began to feel more myself when I wrote the last movement, and was assuredly better....still, it reminds me of dark days.” Today, we'll talk all about this huge symphony!

Sep 09, 2021
Brahms Symphony No. 2

Brahms spent much of his life battling with his ambition to write great symphonies and his terror at the spectre of Beethoven looming over him. His first symphony was a success, and with immense relief, Brahms quickly turned out a second symphony in just 4 months, a bit less than the 14 tortured years it took him to craft the first. At first glance this symphony sounds pastoral and idyllic, but there are plenty of clouds in this seminal masterpiece, something we'll discuss throughout the show. Join us!

Sep 03, 2021
How to Understand(and Enjoy!) Atonal Music, Part 2: The Wars of the 1950s

The 1950s featured a musical battle, pitting composers like Boulez, Carter, and Babbit against Bernstein, Copland, and Messaien. But how did the Post World War II movement towards total serialism and the avant-garde came about? And how did even the most forward thinking of artists become caught between the two camps of the tonalists and the serialists? We'll talk all about this today, as the battles between these two camps have ensnared almost every composer and continue to this day. Join us to learn more!

Aug 26, 2021
How to Listen to (and Enjoy!) Atonal Music, Part 1

This week we're talking all about atonal music! I'm going to tell you all about the history of this controversial development in classical music, its development, and perhaps most importantly, I’ll try to find a way to help you enjoy this music in all of its complexity, intensity, and yes, beauty. Part 1 is focused on 12 tone music and the beginnings of this powerful movement that transformed 20th century music, and according to some, ruined it. If you're ready to give atonal music a shot, join us!

Aug 19, 2021
The Degenerates: Music Suppressed by the Nazis

From the end of WWI until 1933, classical music in Germany, Austria, and Eastern Europe was flourishing, with composers such as Zemlinsky, Weill, Krenek, Korngold, Schreker, Schulhoff, Haas, Krasa, and Ullmann writing spectacularly innovative and thrilling music. The Nazis exiled or murdered many of these musicians while in power, but their music lives on. I've never found researching an episode so moving, enraging, and inspiring. Join us this week in this journey of rediscovery - you won't regret it!

Aug 12, 2021
Sibelius Symphony No. 2

In 1901, in the throes of the Finnish Independence movement, Jean Sibelius composed his legendary 2nd Symphony. Sibelius’ close colleague, the conductor Robert Kajanus, said that the symphony "strikes one as the most broken-hearted protest against all the injustice that threatens at the present time to deprive the sun of its light and our flowers of their scent." But is the symphony actually about Finnish Independence? Or was it simply, as Sibelius said, “a confession of the soul”? Join us for a deep dive!

Aug 05, 2021
Dvorak Symphony No. 9, "From the New World"

Within three months of his arrival in New York, Antonin Dvorak was enamored with the sound of American music. Quickly he put forth what was at the time a controversial idea: "In the Negro melodies of America I discover all that is needed for a great and noble school of music..." This inspiration is threaded through almost every note of the New World Symphony, with a healthy dose of Dvorak's Bohemian roots and Germanic tradition as well! Join us as we explore this legendary masterpiece from every angle.

Jul 29, 2021
Havergal Brian, "Gothic Symphony"

Havergal Brian’s ambitious Gothic Symphony has been called many things - massive, ambitious, barbaric, incompetent, insane, moving, brilliant, awful, torture, and much more. It is almost never performed due to the forces it requires and its two hour duration. Today on the show I’ll tell you about the background to this monumental work, and then I’ll try to walk you through the structure of this symphony. Like a Gothic cathedral, there are lots of corners to get lost in, but I'll try to keep you on the path!

Jul 22, 2021
Bruckner Symphony No. 7

With the rise of Wagner, the symphony seemed to be left for dead. But one composer in particular, Anton Bruckner, decided to take the plunge back into the symphonic genre, though he did it with a markedly Wagnerian touch. His most popular symphony? The 7th. We’ll talk about the connection between Wagner and Bruckner throughout the show, but we’ll also explore Bruckner’s distinctive orchestral sound, and how his music seems destined to be performed in a cathedral, always looking up into the sky in wonder.

Jul 16, 2021
A Conversation with Gabriela Lena Frank, Composer

Gabriela Lena Frank is currently serving as Composer-in-Residence with the storied Philadelphia Orchestra and was included in the Washington Post's list of the 35 most significant women composers in history, I've always been a huge fan of Lena Frank's music, and I was so thrilled to talk with her about how she approaches writing, the sense of fantasy that is so present in her work, the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy, and her fascinating NY Times article about Beethoven's deafness. This is a fun one!

Jul 08, 2021
Shostakovich Symphony #13: "Babi Yar"

In 1961, a poem appeared by the young poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, entitled Babi Yar. The first line of this poem is: “There are no monuments over Babi Yar.” In September of 1941 at least 33,771 Jews were murdered at the Babi Yar ravine in Ukraine; the largest single massacre of Jews to that point in WWII. Shostakovich, moved by the bravery of Yevtushenko's poem, set it and 4 other Yevtushenko poems and created his 13th symphony. This is one of those unforgettable pieces - join me to learn all about it.

Jul 01, 2021
The Story of "Blind" Tom Wiggins, w/ Deirdre O'Connell

Never heard of Tom Wiggins? You're in for a treat with this episode! Tom Wiggins was a fantastic 19th century pianist and composer who was ruthlessly exploited by his owner/guardian on account of his race and his mental condition. He was known as one of the greatest performers of his era and yet was never paid for his work. I sat down with Deirdre O'Connell (The Ballad of Blind Tom) to talk with her about Wiggins' life and work. Also included are clips of his music, performed by the pianist John Davis.

Jun 24, 2021
Bach Chaconne for Solo Violin

The Bach Chaconne is one of the great masterpieces of Western Classical Music, and today we're going to be diving straight into this monumental work. We'll talk about the legends behind its composition, the work itself, different interpretations of the piece, and its many many arrangements. As Brahms wrote about the piece: “On one stave, for a small instrument, the man writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings." Join us to discuss this towering artistic achievement!

Jun 17, 2021
Wynton Marsalis and the "Blues Symphony"

I had the chance to sit down with virtually with the legendary Wynton Marsalis for a conversation about Jazz, comparing jazz and classical pieces, why so many classical composers writing jazz fail and vice versa, and about his massively ambitious Blues Symphony. About halfway through the show Wynton takes you straight through the first movement of his symphony and I got the sense that I was living the dream of every artist hearing with perfect clarity how a composer conceived of their ideas. Don’t miss it!

Jun 10, 2021
Beethoven Symphony No. 9, Part 2

The cycle is complete! Would it surprise you to find out that Beethoven’s 9th Symphony wasn’t his last piece? Would it surprise you that he was actually considering an all instrumental movement for the last movement? Or how about that the second performance of the piece was given to a half full hall and it took decades for the piece to become popular? Or how about the famous words “All men will become brothers?” What did that phrase mean to Beethoven? We'll talk about all this and more in Part 2!

Jun 04, 2021
Beethoven Symphony No. 9, Part 1

More has been written about the meaning of Beethoven’s 9th than any other symphony. There are more recordings of it, more performances of it, and more uses of its most famous theme, the Ode to Joy, than any other piece. But what is often talked about less than the political and social ramifications of the piece, is the music itself - this shocking, roiling, and inspired music that seems to inject itself right into our bloodstream. This week we talk about the first two movements of this massive symphony.

Jun 01, 2021
Beethoven Symphony No. 8

In 1812, Beethoven's life was in ruins. He was embroiled in court battles, pining away for his "Immortal Beloved," and profoundly depressed. His musical response is one of his funniest, most charming, and most "classical" symphonies - the 8th. This is an underappreciated work that confused audiences of the time because it sounded almost experimental. So in the same vein, I'm going to reprise my live commentary experiment from my Marriage of Figaro episode and talk you through the entire symphony! Enjoy!

May 27, 2021
Beethoven Symphony No. 7

The composer Carl Maria Von Weber called it the work of a madman. Clara Schumann’s father, Friedrich Wieck, called it the work of a drunk. Beethoven’s 7th has been popular ever since its premiere, but as you can see, not everyone loved it. It is a piece that has defied explanations about its meaning ever since its premiere. Today, we’ll discuss this overwhelmingly joyous, raucous, even wild piece, its obsessive rhythms, its repetitiveness, and of course, that very nearly indescribable second movement.

May 20, 2021
Beethoven Symphony No. 6, "Pastoral"

Beethoven once said: “No one can love the country as much as I do. For surely woods, trees, and rocks produce the echo which man desires to hear.” There's no better example of Beethoven's love of nature than in his 6th symphony, where he takes simplicity to new heights, transforming the motivic cells that relentlessly drove his 5th symphony into motifs of bucolic joy. It still astounds me that the 5th and 6th symphonies were written simultaneously. Join us to learn about this most beautiful symphony..

May 17, 2021
Beethoven Symphony No. 5

They are the most famous 8 notes in all of Western Classical Music. If you walk down the street and ask someone to name a piece of classical music, they will surely say Beethoven 5. But why? What's the deal with the 5th? Well, today we’re going to take a deep look at this ubiquitous piece, exploring lots of different facets of this symphony. It is a monumentally important work because in many ways Beethoven 5 serves as the fulcrum between the classical and romantic eras. Join us to find out all about it..

May 13, 2021
Beethoven Symphony No. 4

Beethoven often gets the reputation of being a composer of extreme seriousness, shaking his fist at the heavens while dealing with a litany of medical ailments and heartbreak, and there is some truth to that as well. But the 4th symphony, a very strange and mysterious introduction aside, is a piece of almost unadulterated joy. It is another side of Beethoven: bouncy, funny, silly, and quite simply, happy. How and why did he write such a happy symphony? How does music become “happy?” Join us to find out..

May 10, 2021
Beethoven Symphony No. 3, "Eroica"

Two of the most famous chords in classical music propel us into this revolutionary, wild, and remarkable symphony. At the time, the Eroica symphony was the longest symphony ever written. At the time it was definitely the loudest symphony ever written! It delved into emotions that symphonies had studiously avoided in the past. Simply put, it changed the musical world forever. So how and why did Beethoven conceive of such a huge work? Is the piece really all about Napoleon? Join us to learn the story...

May 06, 2021
Beethoven Symphony No. 2

We continue the Beethoven cycle this week with his underrated 2nd symphony. Written at the height of Beethoven's despair over his increasing deafness, you might think that the symphony would be a dark and stormy one, but instead Beethoven writes one of his most relentlessly cheerful pieces. He even invented a whole new type of movement called a scherzo (joke) to heighten the mood. How do we account for this incongruity between life and art? We'll talk about all this and more as the journey continues..

May 03, 2021
Beethoven Symphony No. 1

Today begins a pretty massive project for Sticky Notes - a complete Beethoven cycle over the next few weeks! We start of course with Beethoven's 1st symphony. Some people tend to think of Beethoven’s 1st as a cautious foray into the symphonic world, but I couldn’t disagree more. It is a bold, confident leap into the genre, a genre that Beethoven would end up changing for good. All of the elements that make Beethoven's symphonies so fantastic are already present in this symphony, so let's begin the journey!

Apr 29, 2021
Overtures, Overtures, Overtures!

Imagine compressing a 3 or 4 hour opera into 8 minutes of music. You’ve just imagined an overture! Overtures are an integral and beloved part of the opera and concert experience, and the best overtures live on as separate pieces from the work they are attached to. These overtures feature music so wonderful that they become immortal miniature masterpieces. So today I'll take you through 10 of my favorite overtures, from William Tell, to Don Giovanni, to Candide, to Romeo and Juliet, and many more. Enjoy!

Apr 22, 2021
Bach Cello Suites

Bach's Cello Suites are now an indispensable part of the cello repertoire, but this wasn't always the case. After Bach's death, they were forgotten. But starting in the 1890s, a cellist named Pablo Casals began playing the Suites, and the rest is history. Bach left very few clues on how to play these suites, and so many cellists interpret the Suites extraordinarily differently. Today we're going to take a look at 6 cellists and talk about how they interpret these enigmatic, sacred, and inspiring pieces.

Apr 15, 2021
Haydn & Henle w/ Stephen Hough and Norbert Müllemann

Have you ever wondered how music gets from the manuscript to the printed page? Today we’re talking about Haydn, and a project by Henle Publishers to reissue all 55 of Haydn’s piano sonatas with fingerings from 55 different pianists! I talked with the editor in chief at Henle, Norbert Müllemann, and also the brilliant pianist Stephen Hough, one of the 55 pianists chosen for this project. We talked about editing, putting fingerings in, and how interpretation is affected by these decisions. This is a fun one!

Apr 08, 2021
Baroque Music in 60 Minutes

Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Purcell, Monteverdi. These are some of the biggest names in the history of Western Classical Music, and they were all writing in one of the most innovative periods in musical history - the Baroque Era. Spanning from ca.1600 to ca. 1750, Baroque music is truly the bedrock of the Western Classical Music tradition all the way through the Romantic Era. We'll discuss the earth-shattering impact of this, along with all of the composers who led the way to a new way of thinking about music.

Apr 01, 2021
Mozart, "The Marriage of Figaro," Part 2

Acts III and IV of the Marriage of Figaro are complicated in many ways. They are difficult for the singers, for the conductor, and especially for the director. So in honour of the many experiments that have been made with the second half of this opera, I’m going to try an experiment as well. I’m going to take a performance of the opera, and play you the entire 3rd and 4th acts while doing live, unscripted commentary on it. Think of it as opera meets ESPN. Make sure to check out Part 1 first and enjoy!

Mar 25, 2021
A Conversation with Frederica Von Stade

Frederica Von Stade needs no introduction. She is one of the legends of our time, and one of the most beloved singers in the world. She has made over 60 recordings and has appeared with all of the world's great opera companies. She is also spearheading a new project called The People's Choir of Oakland, focusing specifically on the homeless population. We talked about the People's Choir, and also touched on her career, including her experiences with Bernstein, Karajan, Abbado, and more. This was a blast.

Mar 18, 2021
Introduction to Opera + Mozart, Marriage of Figaro (Part 1)

In the late 16th century, a new art form emerged, borne out of a desire to re-engage with Greek dramas of the past. This art form was incredibly ambitious; it would involve music, words, and dance, all written to entertain court patrons and their subjects. Soon, this new idea had a name: Opera. Today, we’ll do a brief overview of how opera developed all the way up until Mozart’s time. Then, I’m going to take you through Acts I and II of Mozart’s opera The Marriage of Figaro, my desert island piece. Enjoy!

Mar 11, 2021
Renaissance Music in 60 Minutes

There are indelible images associated with the musical Renaissance period. This 200 year era saw an astonishing growth in productivity, an expansion of education, both musical and otherwise, and repeated religious upheavals. The music of this period existed both as a catalyst and as a reaction to all of these momentous events in history. We’ll talk all about this fascinating 200 years of musical history in the 2nd of this ongoing series of each of the periods of Western Classical Music in 60 Minutes.

Mar 04, 2021
William Levi Dawson, "Negro Folk Symphony"

William Dawson is not a household name to classical music lovers. But for one week in 1934, he was the talk of the classical music world. The legendary Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra had chosen to program a new symphony by Dawson entitled "Negro Folk Symphony." It was broadcast nationwide and the audience reaction was ecstatic. But the piece soon disappeared and it is only in the past few years that it is performed more often. Today, I'll take you through this absolutely amazing symphony.

Feb 25, 2021
Nathan Milstein, Django Reinhardt, Playing with Only Two Fingers, and More, w/ Clayton Haslop

Clayton Haslop might not be a name that is familiar to all of you, but I bet you anything that you've heard his playing. He has appeared as concertmaster on over 1000 TV Shows and Movies, such as Titanic, A Beautiful Mind, The Matrix, Ratatouille, Star Trek, The incredibles, UP, and others. His story took on an extra resonance when he began suffering from Focal Dystonia. Taking a cue from the guitarist Django Reinhardt, Haslop relearned the violin with just two fingers. In this conversation, we talk about studying with Nathan Milstein, Neville Marriner, and Haslop's journey back to playing.

Feb 19, 2021
Bartok Divertimento for String Orchestra

It might surprise, or even shock you, to learn that a piece that crackles with joy and excitement like Bartok's Divertimento was written in November of 1939. But the circumstances of the Divertimento are among the most unusual in the history of 20th century music. Bartok's Divertimento is a perfect amalgam of his style; a wholehearted embrace of folk music, old forms, and in the slow movement, a large dose of terror. This is a truly underrated piece that allows us to explore Bartok from every angle. Enjoy!

Feb 11, 2021
Medieval Music in 60 Minutes

When we hear Medieval music performed live, it speaks to us in a different way than almost any other music. It seems to have just appeared, as is, from the earth itself. Medieval music was originally passed down by oral tradition but soon a desire for standardization led to musical notation, rhythmic notation, and the seeds of so much music to come. Medieval music might be the most mysterious of all the eras of classical music, so let's dive right in, with Medieval Music in (almost) 60 minutes.

Feb 04, 2021
Beethoven Violin Concerto

December 23rd, 1806 should have been one of those dates etched into musical history; it was the premier of a new violin concerto by Beethoven, performed by one of the great soloists of the day. But the performance was a relative failure, and the concerto languished in obscurity for decades. Why did it fail? How did it get re-discovered, and how did it slowly become one of the most beloved pieces ever written? We'll explore all that today as well as every nook and cranny of this remarkable concerto!

Jan 28, 2021
Berlioz, "Symphonie Fantastique"

Symphonie Fantastique, which was written just 3 years after Beethoven’s death, redefined what music could portray. Its color, fire, narrative arc, vulgarity, descriptiveness, and drug-induced hysteria put it in a class of its own in the classical music world. As Leonard Bernstein said: "Berlioz tells it like it is. You take a trip, you wind up screaming at your own funeral.” Today we’ll get to know the story behind Symphonie Fantastique, and also talk about this piece and all of its brilliant innovations.

Jan 21, 2021
History of Classical Music in 60 Minutes

Welcome to Season 7 of Sticky Notes! I'm often asked: “I want to get into classical music, but where do I start?” Today is my attempt to answer that question! Western Classical Music is an umbrella term that stretches over 1500 years of music, and there is an infinite variety to choose from. Today, we'll take a quick look at all 6 "periods" of classical music, from the Medieval, to the Renaissance, to the Baroque, to the Classical, to the Romantic, and the Contemporary. This episode is meant for beginners as well as lovers of classical music!

Jan 14, 2021
Schubert Symphony No. 9, "The Great"

The pianist Andras Schiff on Schubert: “There is a folk song like simplicity in Schubert’s Music; his music is never crowded. He does not want to impress you or overwhelm you. He tells you a very simple story and invites you by very simple means to come and join him and share his thoughts.” It's hard to describe an hour long piece as simple, but Schiff's description applies to this massive, majestic, and yes, simple(in the best way) symphony. This week, we'll talk all about this mesmerizing symphony.

Jan 07, 2021
Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring, Part 2

A few years ago, I was at a performance of the Rite of Spring. Sitting behind me were some rather conservative audience members. As one particularly violent section of the piece blasted away, I heard one of them say, “If they keep playing this modern music I’m cancelling my subscription.” How does a piece remain modern for so long? In Part 2 of the Rite this week, we explore this question, as well as dig into how Stravinsky builds a narrative that results in the sacrifice and the beginning of Spring.

Dec 30, 2020
Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker

It's possible that the Nutcracker is the most recognizable Western Classical Music in the world, so what could one say about this ubiquitous piece? Well, from the adaptations of the original story, to the composition process, to the premiere, to the music itself, and to what the Nutcracker means to classical institutions, there’s a lot here! At the end of the show, I also make a plea on behalf of ballet companies worldwide, and look forward to next year, when we can all enjoy this wonderful classic again.

Dec 24, 2020
Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring, Part 1

You might be surprised to know that the famous riot at the premiere of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring was by no means the only disturbance at a classical concert in history. But it is the most famous. This week, we'll explore the who, what, when, where, and WHY of this riot, and go through Part 1 of the Rite of Spring. We'll talk about folk music and Stravinsky's use of it, rhythm, orchestration, color, and much more as we grapple with a piece that sounds just as revolutionary in 2020 as it did in 1913.

Dec 17, 2020
Mahler Symphony No. 3, Part 3 (Season 6 Finale)

Welcome to the Season 6 Finale of Sticky Notes! Mahler titled the last movement of his 3rd symphony "What Love Tells Me." This movement is my favorite movement of any Mahler symphony. It is a profoundly heartfelt chorale that traverses peaks and valleys of ecstasy and despair in equal measure. We'll talk all about this emotionally complex movement and how it relates to the other 5 movements in the symphony. At the end of the show, I took a moment to reflect on the previous year of shows. Please join me!

Dec 10, 2020
Mahler Symphony No. 3, Part 2

The middle four movements of Mahler's 3rd symphony were central to his mission - that is, to portray the entire world in one symphony. And when I say entire world I really mean it. In these movements, Mahler musically portrays what the flowers, nature, man, and angels tell him. These are some of the most colorful, kaleidoscopic, fascinating, and difficult movements in all of Mahler, and we'll talk all about them. We'll also try a new experiment where I take you through how I study a piece like this - enjoy!

Dec 03, 2020
Copland "Appalachian Spring" (Re-Upload)

For this Thanksgiving week we’re doing another re-upload from the archive! Today we’ll look at Copland’s Appalachian Spring, a ballet that has captured the imagination of listeners worldwide and seems to be the marker of the “American” sound in Western Classical Music. We’ll look at some of the differences between the two versions of the piece, talk about why it sounds so American, and listen to some fascinating rehearsal footage with Copland himself! This is one of my favorite past episodes - please enjoy!

Nov 25, 2020
A Conversation with Harry Christophers, Founder and Director of The Sixteen

This week I spoke with Harry Christophers, who wears many different hats in his jobs as Artistic Director of the Handel and Haydn Society, and as the Founder and Director of The Sixteen, one of the world's most renowned choirs. I spoke with Harry about A Choral Odyssey, a new program debuting TONIGHT on The show explores great choral repertoire while exploring the venues in which it was first created. We also talked about choral conducting vs. orchestral conducting, and much much more.

Nov 19, 2020
Mahler Symphony No. 3, Part 1

Mahler on his third symphony: “Just imagine a work of such magnitude that it actually mirrors the whole world—one is, so to speak, only an instrument, played on by the universe. . . . My symphony will be something the like of which the world has never yet heard! . . . In it the whole of nature finds a voice.” As one of the grandest symphonies ever written, Mahler’s 3rd symphony truly does embrace the world of nature in every possible way. This week we discuss the first movement, a 36 minute long colossus!

Nov 12, 2020
A Conversation with Composer and Violinist Jesse Montgomery

Jessie Montgomery is an acclaimed composer, violinist, and educator. Her works are performed frequently around the world by leading musicians and ensembles. Her music interweaves classical music with elements of vernacular music, improvisation, language, and social justice, placing her squarely as one of the most relevant interpreters of 21st-century American sound and experience. We had a great conversation touching on her upbringing, improv in classical music, her wide range of works, and much more!

Nov 05, 2020
Politics in Classical Music

First of all, if you’re American, I hope you’re listening to this while standing in line to vote!  Western Classical Music does not have the reputation for political activism that other kinds of music have, but that doesn’t mean composers haven’t made political statements all throughout history with their music. Today we’ll go through some of the most politically charged pieces in Western Classical Music History, all the way from the music of Joseph Haydn to the music of today. Don't forget to vote!!

Oct 29, 2020
Mozart Symphony No. 40

This week continues my project of reuploading seasons 1-5 in new and improved sound quality! The opening of Mozart's 40th symphony is one of the most recognizable tunes in the whole repertoire, but to this day we don't know what it is about or even why Mozart wrote it. But even though it can be frustrating to not know these answers, it's also exciting and potentially rewarding to go searching for answers on our own! Today we'll talk all about this dramatic piece, and all of its many twists and turns.

Oct 22, 2020
"Wagnerism" with Alex Ross

This week I got to cross off a Sticky Notes bucket list item by interviewing the best-selling author and critic Alex Ross. We talked about his incredible new book Wagnerism, discussing Wagner’s influence on just about every artist/thinker of his time and into the future, his anti-semitism, and more. We also talked about how people understood Wagner, and how they understand him today. Talking to Alex Ross allowed me to understand how one composer's music could create so much beauty, and so much destruction.

Oct 15, 2020
Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann: A Love Story

Today is the beginning of a new project to re-upload older episodes in new and improved sound quality! First up is a story I can't believe Hollywood hasn't told in decades - the story of Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann. Perhaps it’s because of its complex, ambiguous, and unsettled ending, but for whatever reason, it has been a story somewhat lost to history. So today we'll look back at the lives of Johannes and Clara, accompanied by pieces they both wrote during the time that they knew one another.

Oct 08, 2020
Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto

In one of the most famous reviews in this history of Western Classical Music, Eduard Hanslick torched the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, saying that the violin was "beaten black and blue." This review wounded Tchaikovsky to his core, and he wasn't sure if his concerto would ever see the light of day again. Luckily for him, and for us, the piece continued to get performed, and it is now one of THE most beloved pieces in the whole repertoire. Today we'll talk through this extraordinary concerto - join us!

Oct 01, 2020
Bruckner Symphony No. 4

Bruckner's symphonies are a world unto their own. They are epic works that are also full of a trademark humility that is present in the work of no other composer. Bruckner's 4th Symphony, the "Romantic," has remained one of his most popular and beloved works. We'll talk through the "Bruckner Problem" that has plagued this symphony since it's premiere, but mostly we'll talk through this majestic symphony, from the solo Horn that begins it, to an ending that “rises in solemn quiet above all earthly desiring.”

Sep 24, 2020
Stravinsky Pulcinella

In 1919, the impresario Sergei Diaghilev came up with the idea of having Stravinsky write a ballet inspired by 18th century music by composers like Pergolesi. The result, Pulcinella, began a transformation of Stravinsky’s music. Stravinsky would later say: “Pulcinella was my discovery of the past, the epiphany through which the whole of my late work became possible." Today we'll talk through Pulcinella - a brilliant and funny piece that shows Stravinsky in a totally new light. Get ready for a fun ride!

Sep 17, 2020
The Music of William Grant Still

William Grant Still was a man of firsts. He was the first African American to to conduct a major symphony orchestra in the United States. In 1931, his first symphony became the first complete symphony ever performed by a major orchestra, and until 1950, that symphony was the most performed American symphony by ANY composer. Still’s music reflects a remarkable breadth of styles, structures, and orchestral colors, and it’s a great pleasure to take you through some of his most emblematic works today.

Sep 03, 2020
Mozart Symphony No. 36, "Linz"

In 1783, Mozart wrote a letter to his father. He wrote, in part: "On Tuesday, November 4th, I am doing a concert in the theatre here and, as I have not a single symphony with me, I am writing a new one at break-neck speed, which must be finished by that time.” The date of that letter was October 31st. In 4 days, Mozart completed one of his most beloved symphonies, the "Linz." We'll talk all about this brilliant work and how Mozart was able to write such a coherent and beautiful piece in such a short time.

Aug 27, 2020
Caroline Shaw on Composing, Performing, and Letting Go

This week I had the huge honour to speak with the composer, vocalist, violinist, and producer Caroline Shaw about her music and her performing career. Caroline is one of the most exciting composers around these days, and it was a special thrill for me to try to get inside of her compositional head in this conversation. We talked about her meteoric rise as a composer, her beginnings as a musician, how it feels for her to have her work performed, and the fascinating connection between speech and song.

Aug 20, 2020
Goldberg Variations Mini-Episode + Announcement

I’m sharing today’s mini episode for two reasons - the first is that I wanted to show all of you who are not subscribed on Patreon what I put up there every week. Every Thursday, I do a sort of deep dive on a specific passage that I didn’t have time to get to in the main show. Sometimes its a specific passage or orchestration that I particularly love, or sometimes it’s looking at a specific movement, like today’s episode on the 25th Variation of the Goldberg Variations.  I really enjoy doing these episodes, as they really allow me to get right into the nuts and bolts of how a passage is put together. The second reason I’m sharing this episode today is that I need to make the announcement, the happy announcement, that I am very likely to be beginning to conduct again after a period of 5 months.  In September the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra and I are planning a Beethoven Cycle where we play all 9 symphonies in 11 days, the perfect way to shake the rust off!  But the partial resumption of my conducting schedule means that I will no longer have time to make two episodes a week. SO we’re going to return to the pre-pandemic schedule of a new show every Thursday BUT I’m also going to continue making these mini-episodes, so if you would like to check those out, do check out the Patreon page at

Aug 17, 2020
Bach, The Goldberg Variations

In 1741, Bach published a piece called “Aria with diverse variations.” Little did he know that the piece would become one of the most beloved and nearly mythical works in all of Western Classical Music. The piece I’m talking about is now referred to exclusively as “The Goldberg Variations.” Today we'll talk through these remarkable variations, and as a special bonus, I was joined by Jeremy Denk, Mahan Esfahani, Inon Barnatan, and Vivian Hornik Weilerstein for a virtual panel discussion about the Goldbergs.

Aug 13, 2020
"Chasing Chopin," with Annik LaFarge

This week I had the pleasure of speaking with Annik Lafarge, author of “Chasing Chopin,” a book being released Tomorrow, August 11th, wherever books are sold. This is really a wonderful book and you’ll hear in this interview all of Annik’s abiding enthusiasm about Chopin which comes through so beautifully in the book. We talk about Chopin’s pianos, Chopin as a symbol of Poland, the famous Funeral March, Georges Sand, and traveling to places that Chopin lived and worked. In essence, this is an immersion into Chopin and his music, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy this fascinating interview - Chopin’s debut on Sticky Notes!


Aug 10, 2020
Brahms Requiem

In February of 1865, Johannes Brahms received a letter from his brother saying: “If you want to see our Mother again come at once.” Brahms rushed off to Hamburg but was two days too late. He had long thought about composing a requiem but this seemed to be the catalyst for him to finally write one. And it is a requiem like no other. Selecting biblical but secular texts himself, Brahms created what he called a "Human Requiem," a piece that is a balm and a comfort to the living as they mourn the dead.

Aug 06, 2020
Talking Conducting, Studying, and Loneliness w/ Dalia Stasevska

Dalia Stasevska is a wonderful conductor whose career has skyrocketed in the past few years. She is the Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Symphony and is the incoming Chief Conductor of the Lahti Symphony in Finland. We had a really great talk about getting into music, learning conducting from two legends in the field, Jorma Panula and Leif Segerstram, and about the sometimes lonely life of a conductor. Dalia is one of my favorite people to talk to in the music world and I’m sure you’ll enjoy this!

Aug 03, 2020
The Connection Between Language and Music w/ Yundu Wang

I had the great pleasure of speaking with my friend Yundu Wang about her doctoral thesis exploring the connections between language and music. This research gets into thorny questions about the relationship between national origin and the way we interpret music, and also into questions of identity, stereotyping, and prejudice. I find this research particularly compelling and fascinating, and I hope you will too! Yundu's wonderful blog can be found here:

Jul 27, 2020
A Decidedly Undogmatic Conversation w/ Mahan Esfahani

Mahan Esfahani is a world-renowned harpsichordist who has said that it is his mission to rehabilitate the harpsichord as an instrument for modern audiences. In this conversation, we talked about Beethoven, playing modern music on the harpsichord, and nearly starting a riot over the music of Steve Reich! We also discussed the battles WITHIN the early music movement over performance practice. Mahan is one of the most fearless and outspoken voices in classical music so I think you'll really enjoy this one!

Jul 20, 2020
Mahler Symphony No. 6, Part 3

Albert Camus once wrote: “when I describe what the catastrophe of man looks like, music comes into my mind—the music of Gustav Mahler.” The last movement of Mahler 6 is a symphony within a symphony. It is a difficult movement to understand, and even the way it ends is full of the emotional complexity that marks Mahler’s music. I'll take you through this movement today, through its peaks and valleys of ecstasy and despair all the way to the hammer blows that cut our hero down as he strives ever upward.

Jul 16, 2020
Understanding Schoenberg, Shostakovich, Varese, and Berio w/ John Heiss

It was such a pleasure to welcome back the great John Heiss to discuss more encounters with some of the greatest composers of the 20th century. We started off with a survey of Schoenberg’s music and how best to approach each period of his life. John is one of the premiere experts on Schoenberg so don't miss this! We then talked about his personal experiences with Shostakovich, Varese, and Berio. Talking with John was like going back to class again - a class I’m so thrilled to share with you here today.

Jul 13, 2020
Mahler Symphony No. 6, Part 2

There are few controversies like the ones surrounding the order of the inner movements of Mahler 6. Musicologists and conductors battle with each other about what Mahler meant and what his wife knew, and they also are at each other's throats about which order WORKS better logically in the symphony, regardless of Mahler's intentions. There's an answer to the first part, but not to the second, and that's just one of the things we'll explore today as we look at the inner workings of these remarkable movements.

Jul 09, 2020
Programming Post-Covid, Competitions, and the Negro Folk Symphony, w/ Ryan Bancroft

Ryan Bancroft is a conductor who has seen a meteoric rise ever since winning the Malko Competition for Conductors in 2018. In this conversation, we talked about programming post-pandemic, and also about our common entry into the conducting world, and all of the pressures and joys of that kind of rocket boost to your career. At the end of the show, we discussed the absolutely amazing and underrated Negro Folk Symphony of William Levi Dawson. This was a such a fun conversation and I hope you enjoy it!

Jul 06, 2020
Mahler Symphony No. 6, Part 1

Mahler's 6th Symphony is one of his most complex and ambitious pieces, though it retains a firmly classical structure throughout. It has notorious performance problems such as the order of the middle movements, and the symphony within a symphony final movement. It is also one of Mahler's most emotionally profound pieces, embracing life, death, and the struggles between these two forces. In the first movement, Mahler sets up the stakes for the battles to come and it's this movement we discuss today.

Jul 02, 2020
Founding an Orchestra, w/ Eric and Colin Jacobsen of The Knights

Eric and Colin Jacobsen are co-founders of the The Knights. The orchestra has claimed a spot over the last 10 years as one of the most dynamic and adventurous orchestras in the world. Colin and Eric are some of the most interesting people in classical music and so we talked about a lot of things, including founding an orchestra, what they felt was missing in the classical world, what it means to play chamber music in an orchestra, and of course, the current situation and what it means for the future.

Jun 29, 2020
Saint-Saens Symphony No. 3, "Organ"

Saint-Saens considered his 3rd symphony his greatest work: “I have given all that I had to give. What I have done I shall never do again.” Later in his life, Saint-Saens would be known as an arch-conservative, but at the time he was writing the Organ symphony, Saint-Saens was enamored with the formal and structural innovations of the music of Liszt. Today we’ll explore the dualism between the piece’s Romantic aspirations and Classical grounding, plus of course, the role of the organ in this Organ Symphony.

Jun 25, 2020
The Organ, Competitions, Filmmaking, and more w/ Alcee Chriss and Stacey Tenenbaum

I had a chance to sit down with the award winning duo of organist Alcee Chriss and filmmaker Stacey Tenenbaum for a fascinating interview about the organ, competitions and more. We talk about Chriss' experience at the Canadian International Organ Competition, the pressures of performing and whether Jazz works on the organ, and I got a chance to pepper Tenenbaum with some questions on filmmaking, and her process of understanding the organ from the point of view of a total outsider. This is a fun one!

Jun 22, 2020
Beethoven Triple Concerto

Beethoven’s Triple Concerto might be his most heavily criticized work. Musicians look down on it, critics always complain about it, conductors hate conducting it, orchestral musicians hate playing it, and yet it still gets performed fairly regularly. But I’m here today, thanks to Brooke who sponsored today’s show on Patreon, to say that I think all of this criticism of this much maligned piece is totally unfair. I love the Beethoven Triple Concerto, and I think I can convince you to as well.

Jun 18, 2020
Encounters with Milhaud, Messiaen, Stravinsky, Lutoslawski, and Ligeti, with John Heiss

John Heiss teaches composition, flute, and music history at the New England Conservatory. I first encountered Mr. Heiss in his legendary Schoenberg/Stravinsky class at NEC and have been an admirer of his ever since. Mr. Heiss spearheaded visits to NEC from composers such as Milhaud, Messiaen, Stravinsky, Lutoslawski, and Ligeti, the subjects of today's conversation. You'll notice I don’t say much - today is like coming to class with a master teacher, an experience I'm so glad to be able to share with you.

Jun 15, 2020
The Life and Music of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges

Just a glance at a biography of Le Chevalier should have every movie producer salivating. He was the son of a 17 year old slave and her white owner. He was an expert athlete, known as the greatest fencer in all of France. He led a legion of black troops to fight during the French Revolution. On the musical side, he was a virtuoso violinist and wrote some truly wonderful music that is only recently being rediscovered by mainstream institutions. Join Sticky Notes as we explore his remarkable life and music.

Jun 11, 2020
Stephen Hough on Practicing Through the Pandemic, Composing, and Classical Music as Entertainment.

First, I want to let my listeners know that Thursday will begin a new commitment to exploring the works of minority composers. It's long past time to begin doing that.

For today, please enjoy this thoughtful and deeply entertaining conversation with the great pianist, composer, and writer Stephen Hough. Hough is one of the great pianists of our time and is also a deep thinker about classical music of yesterday and today. I had so much fun with this conversation, recorded about three weeks ago. Enjoy!

Jun 08, 2020
Bartok Violin Duos and Social Duoing

1.Please consider donating to the ACLU or any other organization fighting systemic racism.
2.Bartok's 44 Violin Duos are a triumph of Bartok's devotion to the folk music of Eastern Europe. 42 of the 44 are based on field recordings Bartok collected in his travels, many of which you will hear today. The social duoing project, where I played all 44 duos with 44 violinists from around the world, was started as a result of the pandemic, but was also made possible by this forced pause in travel and work. Enjoy!

Jun 04, 2020
How Musical Revolutions Were Created, Part 2 - w/ Jan Swafford

Jan Swafford was such a fantastic guest last time that I thought we had to have him back on! During these past two weeks, we discussed how so much of the revolutionary music in the history of classical music was influenced by storytelling, whether it was Monteverdi, Beethoven, Berlioz, Wagner, Debussy, Ives, Stravinsky, or Schoenberg. This week, on Part 2, we discuss the final 4 composers, including one of the most beautiful descriptions of Ives I've ever heard. Don't miss this episode! You won't regret it.

Jun 01, 2020
Sibelius Symphony No. 7

Sibelius' 7th Symphony is a piece that is barely a symphony at all, and yet it carries symphonic logic throughout. It's only 20 minutes long, in one movement that never stops evolving, with a form that has sparked many debates, and with an ending that is as shocking as any in the Western Repertoire. Simply put, it is Sibelius at his best, and so today we’ll take apart this incredibly complex piece, talking about its form, its stunning metric modulations, its inspiration, and of course, its abiding emotion.

May 28, 2020
How Musical Revolutions Were Created, Part 1 - w/Jan Swafford

Jan Swafford was such a fantastic guest last time that I thought we had to have him back on. This week(and next week), we discussed how so much of the revolutionary music in the history of classical music was influenced by storytelling, whether it was Monteverdi, Beethoven, Berlioz, Wagner, Debussy, Ives, Stravinsky, or Schoenberg. This week, on Part 1, we discuss the first 4 composers on the list, trying to understand the chicken or the egg question of which came first? The story? Or the revolution?

May 25, 2020
Respighi, "The Pines of Rome"

Respighi occupies a strange place in musical history. He is almost never considered to be one of the “greats,” though his mastery of orchestral color is never doubted by anyone. Today on this Patreon sponsored episode, we’ll look at his Pines of Rome. We’ll talk about Respighi’s extremely detailed program notes, his Strauss like gifts at portraying real life in his music, and the fact that Respighi, for all his innate conservatism, was actually the first composer to use electronic music in one of his works.

May 21, 2020
Quarantine, Richter, Kleiber, Dvorak, Zander, Wearing Different Hats, and Schumann w/ Zsolt Bognar

Zsolt Bognar is a Renaissance Man. He is a pianist, a writer, a thinker, and the host of Living the Classical Life, an amazing show where Zsolt sits down with some of the leading lights of the classical music world. Today I turned the tables and interviewed him in a wide-ranging conversation that touched on some of our favorite musicians and composers, our experiences wearing many hats in the classical music world, and of course, how we’re dealing with quarantine life. This was a really fun conversation and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

May 18, 2020
Mahler Symphony No. 2, Part 3

At the end of 1893, Mahler could not find a way to end his 2nd Symphony. But the funeral of Hans Von Bulow, a conductor who Mahler worshipped even though Von Bulow hated Mahler’s music, gave Mahler what he called "the flash that all creative artists wait for." In one of the most sprawling, dramatic, and narratively based movements he would ever write, Mahler embraced a kind of universal humanism that is inspiring to this day. We'll talk about this movement and the radiant Urlicht movement that precedes it.

May 14, 2020
Classical Music During the Pandemic

Today I was thrilled to have with me Matthew Szymanski of the Phoenix Orchestra and Aram Demirjian of the Knoxville Symphony on the show to talk about what classical music as a whole is going to need to do to respond to the current situation with COVID-19. This is a weedsy conversation that digs into streaming, the future, and the sobering realities of audience-free concerts. If you want to hear 3 musicians grappling in real time with this crisis and how we will come out of it, this is the show for you.

May 11, 2020
Mahler Symphony No. 2, Part 2

Today we explore the two middle movements of Mahler's 2nd symphony. These movements were meant as intermezzi, and are both memories in their own way. The first is a nostalgic, wistful, and extraordinarily simple(for Mahler) Austrian Landler. The second is a bitterly cynical and ironic retelling of a story from Mahler's favorite collection of folk poetry, Des Knaben Wunderhorn(The Boy's Magic Horn). These are the movements listeners sometimes struggle with the most, so let's uncover their secrets together!

May 07, 2020
Debussy Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun

We're taking a brief detour from Mahler 2 today to discuss Debussy's legendary Afternoon of a Faun, a piece written in the same year as Mahler's 2nd symphony. It's easy to forget how revolutionary this piece was at the time, but composers from Stravinsky to Schoenberg to Boulez to Messiaen were galvanized by this 10 minute masterpiece which Boulez said "breathed new life into the art of music." This is a piece that changed musical history for good, and today we'll find out exactly why it had such an impact.

May 04, 2020
Mahler Symphony No. 2, Part 1

“What next? What is life and what is death? Will we live on eternally? Is it all an empty dream or do our life and death have a meaning? We must answer this question, if we are to go on living.” These words form the basis of Mahler's epic second symphony. This week, on Part 1, we'll talk about the first movement of the symphony. We'll explore Mahler's multiple programs for the piece, the structure of this huge movement, and of course, the powerful emotions underpinning every single note Mahler ever wrote.

Apr 30, 2020
A Conversation with Jan Swafford, Composer and Author

If you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall for a slightly nerdy conversation between a conductor and a composer who also happens to be a great writer and thinker about classical music, this week's show is for you! This is a wide-ranging, free-flowing conversation that covers the composition process, understanding Beethoven from a composer's perspective, the intimacy of Brahms, and the wackiness and earnestness of the music of Ives. I hope this hour will be as fun an escape for you as it was for me!

Apr 27, 2020
Opus 1s: The First Works of Great Composers, Part 2

Every great composer has an origin story. Every composer started somewhere. I'm fascinated with a composers first works because they tell us so much about who they are going to become. In some cases, composers were writing masterpieces before they turned 18! And some were late bloomers, giving some hope to the rest of us! Today we look at composers 5-10: Beethoven, Schubert, Bruckner, Shostakovich, and in my Patreon exclusive mini-episode, Prokofiev. You'll hear some truly astonishing music this week!

Apr 23, 2020
What is Historical Performance? w/Augusta McKay Lodge

Have you ever wondered what the real differences are between modern and historical performance? Why do historical performances sound so different from modern ones? This week, we take a deep dive into historical performance with the baroque violinist Augusta McKay Lodge. We talk the differences in the sound worlds between modern and historical performance, and also try to resolve the "Cold War" between modern and historical performers. This was a truly fascinating interview, so I hope you'll enjoy it!

Apr 20, 2020
Opus 1s: The First Works of Great Composers, Part 1

Every great composer has an origin story. Every composer started somewhere. I’m fascinated with a composers first works because they tell us so much about who they are going to become. We can see in so many of these works a germ, a seed of an idea that will blossom into masterpieces. In some cases, composers were writing masterpieces before they turned 18. And some were late bloomers, giving some hope to the rest of us! Today we look at composers 1-5: Mozart, Rameau, Haydn, Mendelssohn, and Korngold.

Apr 16, 2020
Conductor's Roundtable

This week I was proud to join the Phoenix Orchestra's livestream at for a quarantined conductor's roundtable featuring Matthew Szymanski, Aram Demirjian, and Gemma New. We discussed what it is that conductor's do, the art of rehearsing, batons, the psychology of working with large groups, our craziest stories from doing the job, and much much more. This was such a fun experience and we're going to be doing it again very soon. We hope you enjoy it and will join us for the next one!

Apr 13, 2020
Bartok Concerto for Orchestra, Part 2

Bartok did not have an easy life in the US, and he was constantly both homesick and horrorstruck by the news from across the ocean. The final three movements of his Concerto for Orchestra display some of that heartbreak, but also the life-affirming joy that Bartok found in his final creative resurgence. Today we’ll talk about the devastating 3rd movement, the odd fourth movement, a movement that is playful, heartbreaking, and satirical all at once, and finally we’ll explore the ecstatic final movement.

Apr 09, 2020
Bartok Concerto For Orchestra, Part 1

In 1944, Bartok, dying of Leukemia and weighing only 87 lbs, was commissioned to write a new orchestral piece. He had not written any music for years, and was barely clinging to life. The commission sparked a creative resurgence for Bartok, resulting in his most beloved piece, the Concerto For Orchestra. This week, on Part 1, we'll talk about the first two movements of the piece, from the alternately brooding and exhilarating first movement, to the second movement, a genuinely funny and charming diversion.

Apr 02, 2020
Shostakovich Symphony No. 7, "Leningrad"

I've been coming back to this symphony again and again over the past couple of weeks. The story of the composition and Leningrad performance of Shostakovich 7 is one of the most remarkable stories of human perseverance, symbolism, and collective action in history. This is a story I haven't told yet on the show, but it couldn't be more relevant today. It is a story about overcoming tragedy. It is a story about hope. It is a story that I think should inspire all of us as we go through this situation together.

Mar 26, 2020
The Overtures of Beethoven

Never fear everyone, the podcasts are still coming during this crazy time! This week I'll take you through 7 of Beethoven's greatest overtures, pieces that distill Beethoven's storytelling abilities, compositional mastery, and blazing fire all down into just a few minutes. We'll also get a chance to explore Beethoven's creative process, and the development of the Overture itself. Come check out the Coriolan, Egmont, and Leonore Overtures 1, 2, AND 3 plus the overtures to Fidelio and Prometheus. Stay safe!

Mar 19, 2020
Schumann Cello Concerto

On today's Patreon-sponsored episode, we'll explore the enigmatic masterpiece known as the Schumann Cello Concerto. This is a piece that has been relentlessly criticized ever since it was written, and yet it remains a part of every cellist's repertoire all over the world. What accounts for this contradiction? This week we'll attack these criticisms head on, and also marvel at the melodic inspiration and formal innovations that run through this underrated gem from a deeply underrated composer.

Mar 12, 2020
Brahms Symphony No. 3

Brahms' 3rd symphony is his most underrated symphony. It is a nearly perfect piece that transcends the traditional symphonic narrative over its 40 minute journey. So why doesn't it get performed as often as the other 3 symphonies? This week we dissect the symphonies' origins(hint: it has something to do with Clara Schumann), it's unique cyclical structure, and the motto that runs through the entire work. There are few symphonic hikes more satisfying than Brahms' 3rd symphony, so let's start up together!

Mar 05, 2020
How to Be A Film Composer, with Christopher Willis

This week I was joined by the wonderful composer Christopher Willis for a wide ranging and fascinating conversation.  Willis, who wrote the music for The Death Of Stalin, Mickey Mouse Shorts, Veep, and the new movie the Personal History of David Copperfield, divulged many secrets about the film composing world in this fascinating interview. How does music correspond to actions on screen? What is the process of how film music is created? All these questions and more are answered today!

Feb 06, 2020
Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3

Rachmaninoff remains extremely popular as a composer. But at the same time, a kind of condescending attitude continues to linger about Rachmaninoff’s music. People say it sounds like movie music, it's too sentimental, etc. etc. In fact, Rachmaninoff’s music is as well put together and as innovative as any composer of his time, just in a different way. And the third piano concerto is no exception. Today we'll debunk the myth of Rachmaninoff the mediocre composer, with one of his most brilliant works.

Jan 30, 2020
Classical Music Changemakers: Garrett McQueen

Garrett McQueen hosts the nationally syndicated radio show Music Through the Night, is a bassoonist, and also hosts his own podcast, called Trilloquy. If you’ve ever wondered how radio playlists are created, this is the episode for you. In this conversation we also discuss Garrett’s tireless advocacy on behalf of diversity in classical music. We also gently debated Garrett’s disdain for Brahms and Gershwin, two of my favorite composers. I hope you find this conversation as fulfilling and thought-provoking as I did.

Oct 24, 2019
Classical Music Changemakers Week: Aubrey Bergauer + Lorenzo Brewer

This week, I'm interviewing 3 people who are making real change in the classical music business. Today, I talk with Aubrey Bergauer, the former Executive Director of the California Symphony, and Lorenzo Brewer, the founder of Nkoda, the Spotify of sheet music. We'll talk about the simple yet radical changes Bergauer made during her tenure, and Brewer's belief in the accessibility of sheet music. I think these interviews will appeal to anyone interested in change, the future, and music itself.

Oct 22, 2019
Sticky Notes Mailbag!

At long last, it's the Sticky Notes mailbag!  I'm joined by a special guest to answer around 20 questions such as, "What is the best way to learn how to compose?" or "Is there a simple explanation in classical music itself for this love that I feel which makes me miss a beat when I listen to it and that can reduce me to tears?" I'll also be answering questions about conducting, programming, musical theory, and much more. I had such a great time doing this, and I hope you enjoy it!

Jun 27, 2019
Beethoven String Quartet, Op. 132 (Part 2)

This week we're diving into one of the great movements ever written in Western Music with the slow movement of Beethoven's Op. 132 quartet. This is a movement that explores Beethoven's contradictory religious beliefs, his core optimism despite all that happened to him during his life, and his fascination with religious music. We'll then look at how Beethoven concludes this epic piece, using sketches of music that started out as being part of his 9th symphony, but not in the way you might expect. Enjoy!

Jun 13, 2019
Beethoven String Quartet, Op. 132 (Part 1)

I’ve long hesitated to write a show about any of Beethoven’s late string quartets.  These are pieces that quartets spend the better part of their careers grappling with, struggling with, failing with, and much more rarely, succeeding with.  They are some of the most extraordinary pieces of art ever conceived of.  5 quartets, Opus 127, Opus 130, Opus 131, Opus 132, and Opus 135 - all written near or at the end of Beethoven’s life, these pieces represent the pinnacle of everything Beethoven achieved, yes, even far beyond his symphonies in this conductors opinion.  They explore not only every conceivable emotion, but they dig down into the core of those emotions, defiantly refusing to skim the surface and daring to ask and THEN ANSWER the fundamental questions of life and death.  Everyone has a favorite Late Beethoven Quartet, but mine has always been Opus 132, and so this week I’m taking the opportunity of getting a Patreon sponsor request from Maria for a piece of chamber music to take the leap myself into Late Beethoven.  We’ll discuss Beethoven’s situation as he recovered from a life-threatening illness which he was sure was going to be his end, the unusual 5 movement structure of the piece, and this week, the first two movements of the quartet, the first of which, to me, defines everything that Sonata Form can do to express emotion and a narrative in a piece of absolute music.

Jun 06, 2019
How to Build an Orchestra w/Joshua Roman

I was thrilled to be joined by Joshua Roman, cellist, composer, and curator. The core of our discussion centers on building an orchestra from the ground up. That is, not taking over an existing orchestra, but starting one completely from scratch. How would this look in 2019? Joshua has been thinking about this for years so it was fascinating to hear him discuss this and many other topics. Thanks again for all of our support and here's to another 100 episodes!

Jan 25, 2019
Deborah Borda, President of the New York Philharmonic

Of all the interviews I've done this year on Sticky Notes, this might be my favorite.  I sat down a few weeks ago with Deborah Borda, the new CEO and President of the New York Philharmonic, to talk about the future of not only the New York Philharmonic, but also classical music in general.  We also talked about the connections between the artistic and social imperative of a classical music organization, Gustavo Dudamel, and the importance of listening to our communities.  This was a truly inspiring conversation, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


Feb 21, 2018
42 Years on the New York Phil Front: A Conversation with Glenn Dicterow

This week on Sticky Notes, I'm really happy to welcome Glenn Dicterow, the former concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, to the show.  Glenn was a concertmaster for an incredible 42 years, giving him thousands of great stories, memories, insights, and thoughts about leading, conductors, violin-playing, and orchestral life.  Thanks so much for listening, and I hope you enjoy it!  

Dec 07, 2017
A Conversation w/ Bass-Baritone Eric Owens

Part 2 of The Week of the Voice is here with the incredible bass-baritone Eric Owens!  We talk about the joy of getting to play bad guys in opera, his professional-level oboe playing(!!), conducting, the future of classical music, and the art of getting into character.  If you've never heard Eric Owens sing before, you're missing out, but it's also a treat to hear him speak on any topic.  Thanks for listening!  

Oct 19, 2017
A Conversation w/ Mezzo Soprano Sasha Cooke

Welcome to the Week of the Voice!  Join conductor and host Joshua Weilerstein, back from a brief illness-inspired hiatus(!), as he welcomes in the amazing Mezzo-Soprano Sasha Cooke for a chat about Mahler, about singing opera versus recitals, preparation, text, traveling, contemporary music, and improv comedy!  This is the first of TWO interviews this week, so please stay tuned for an interview with the incredible bass-baritone Eric Owens, coming out on Thursday!  Thanks for listening!  

Oct 17, 2017
How to Change the World w/ Yo-Yo Ma

Join conductor and host Joshua Weilerstein as he welcomes the legendary cellist and humanitarian Yo-Yo Ma for a full-length interview!  In the interview, we discuss what it means to be a musical citizen, how to create change through music, why Yo-Yo went down this path, how he discovered so many different styles of music, and much much more.  I really hope you enjoy this interview of such an amazing artist - thanks for listening!  

Sep 20, 2017
Emanuel Ax Interview

Join conductor and host Joshua Weilerstein for a conversation with the world-renowned pianist Emanuel Ax!  We cover crossword puzzles, growing up in the Soviet Union, moving to Canada, and then to New York, selling baloney sandwiches, his first big break, the value and the drawbacks of competitions, his reputation as the nicest guy in classical music, the evolution of conductors, his timpani debut(!), and a lightning round!  I hope you enjoy it!  

Jun 20, 2017
Eun Lee, Founder of The Dream Unfinished

Concluding a week-long focus on Composers of Color, join host Joshua Weilerstein as he welcomes Eun Lee, the founder of The Dream Unfinished, an activist orchestra using classical music as a platform to address issues of racial and social justice.  We talk about how that works, and how and why the project started.   Their concert is this Sunday, June 11th at Cooper Union University, and it's an event you shouldn't miss!  

Jun 08, 2017
10 things to change about classical concerts

Join your host, conductor Joshua Weilerstein, as he welcomes Aram Demirjian, the Music Director of the Knoxville Symphony, and Matt Szymanski, the Founder and Music Director of Phoenix, to discuss an article that roiled the classical music scene just a few years ago: Baldur Bronnimann's "10 things to change about classical concerts."  The article caused a firestorm of criticism and comment when it was released, and we're here to discuss, mull over, turn inside out, and evaluate each idea, from whether the audience should be allowed to clap between movements, to whether you should be allowed to Tweet during performances.  This was a fascinating discussion and I hope you enjoy it!  Please consider going to Baldur's site to follow along as we discuss each idea:

May 23, 2017
A Conversation w/ Itzhak Perlman (w/special guest Toby Perlman!)

He needs no introduction - one of the greatest artists of our time, Itzhak Perlman joins Sticky Notes to talk about teaching, playing, conducting, keeping things fresh, vibrato, style, taste, food, childhood, and so much more.  Then, at around 42:00, Toby Perlman joins us to talk about the Perlman Music Program, my introduction to the Perlmans, and an incredible place for musicians to learn and feel safe and supported.  Thanks again for listening!  

May 09, 2017
An Interview with Donald Weilerstein and Vivian Hornik Weilerstein

Join conductor Joshua Weilerstein and his parents(!), the esteemed performers and teachers, Donald and Vivian Weilerstein, as they discuss how they met, their first time playing music together, teaching philosophies, parenting philosophies, and much much more!

Mar 14, 2017
Shostakovich Symphony No. 10

Join conductor Joshua Weilerstein as he takes a deep dive into Shostakovich's monumental 10th symphony.  We'll analyze the music, the history behind the music, and much more, all in an easily digestible and accessible way.  This podcast is for beginners all the way to experts.

Mar 14, 2017