Inauguration Concert (20.01.2017)

To celebrate the Inauguration of the new President of the United States, a special program has been prepared. In selecting the works, I was guided by various associations, both in the titles and in the contents of the works. The climax of the program is, of course, the 10th Symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich. Please enjoy the program, and the next 4 years, maybe it will be easier if one sees them as a kind of large-scale entertainment! The 4-hour program will replace the Modern Symphonies slot today (20.1.), starting at 18:00 CET, and will be repeated at 0:00 on Saturday night.

New Arrivals (27.11.2016)

After some delay, we have been able to complete the upload of a number of CDs obtained in the last 6 months. The additions contain string quartets by Frank Bridge and William Walton (the latter purchased personally in Waltons villa on Ischia, Italy, situated in a beautiful park!), symphonies by the American composers William Grant Still, Albert Hurwit and Bernard Herman, orchestral works by the French composers Vincent d'Indy and Alexandre Tansman. Thanks to Parma Recordings, fascinating works for choir ("Cadence" / Navona) and for orchestra ("Intersections" / Ansonica) by various American composers were added to the program. And we want to thank Albany Music for highly interesting CDs, e.g. with works for Marimba by Anders Koppel and others ("Zamiki"/Equilibrium) and with songs by Moondog ("Round the World of Sound" / New World Recordings). The selections above owe much to the efforts and suggestions of our staunch supporter R.M.!

The new arrivals have now been added to our regular program slots. We will also replace the Regions program for the coming week by a "New Arrivals" slot covering the above works plus a number of recordings added in spring.

Twentysound Advertising Postcard (1.11.2016)

twentysound postcard

twentysound now has their own advertising postcard! On the address side, you are being greeted by Shostakovich, Martinu and Ustvolskaya, while on the picture side our station logo is used as eye catcher and disc cover. Unluckily the texts on the address side are currently only in German, but if you wish, we will send you a number of postcards for free - please contact us!

Change of the program schedule (15.05.2016)

Starting on May 17th, we are introducing a slight change in our program schedule. The core programs "Musical Regions", "Afternoon Concerts" and "Modern Symphonies" are now starting one hour later, which allows us to extend the "Relaxed Morning" program to four hours. This program will be enriched in the next few weeks, mostly with relaxing jazz music from all over the world. The weekend program will now be scheduled the same way as the weekday program. I hope that the twentysound listeners will enjoy the new program schedule!

Sibelius and Koppel

You may know that on December 8th, we celebrate the 150th birthday of Jean Sibelius, surely the most important Finnish composer whose work bridged Romantic and Modern music. To honour him, all "Symphonies" programs will contain one of his symphonies from 7.12. - 13.12., and we will play a Finland program each Tuesday and Thursday for the next 3 weeks in the "Regions" slot, each of course containing at least 2 works from Sibelius.

But that is not all for Northern music. We have just added a number of Danish works to our portfolio. In this collection, we stumbled over an unique Danish family, the Koppel family, with 3 composers and a number of important musicians. Herman David Koppel, born to Polish-Jewish immigrants in 1908, was a versatile pianist and composer whose symphonies deserve rediscovery. His sons Thomas and Anders both became composers and instrumentalists, his daugthers Lone and Therese a Soprano and a pianist. In the new Danmark programs slated for Monday, December 7th, Wednesday 9th and Friday 11th, we will play symphonies by Herman D. Koppel and concertos by Thomas and Anders Koppel. By the way, Anders Koppels Saxophone concertos will be played by his son Benjamin Koppel. 3 generations of musicians, this is quite unique!

Jazz Goes Classic

On the next 3 Sundays, starting November 22th, our "Modern Symphonies" program at 5 p.m. CET will be replaced by "Classical Jazz", a Special Feature in 3 parts, looking at the interaction of classical music with Jazz.

A number of 20th century composers have written works in a Jazz-based style. Dimitri Shostakovich, George Antheil and Erwin Schulhoff are the most well-known coming from the "classical" side, but of course George Gershwin comes to mind here. He bridges the "classical" world to the "popular" world of musicals with composers like Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern or Cole Porter. Many of the works by Gershwin, Berlin, Kern and Porter featured in these broadcasts will be played by a violin duo consisting of Yehudi Menuhin and Stéphane Grappelli. Two African-American composers of this period, James P. Johnson and William Levi Dawson, offer another perspective on the combination of classical music with Jazz and Blues melodies.

After the war, composers sometimes combined Jazz and Classical styles in solo concertos, like the pianist-composer Friedrich Gulda, Bernhard Krol (father of my music teacher at school) or Rolf Liebermann. The Finnish composer Timo Alakotila combines jazz, folk music and classical styles in his works, and the Australian composer Michael Easton refers back to Gershwin with his "Australian in Paris".

Finally, the currently strongest jazz-classical voice comes from Leipzig, Germany - Stephan König, who has composed several "jazzy" piano concertos, 3 of which, together with a number of other works, will be featured in this series.

Addendum - as we forgot to exchange the program for December 6th, "Classical Jazz III" will be played on December 13th and repeated after midnight on December 14th. And good news - we added a "Classical Jazz IV" program, slated for December 20th, stretching our playlist to the utmost and finally including the two Jazz Suites by Shostakovich in the orchestral version.

Italy in the Musical Regions in October and November

In the last week of October and in November 2015, we will dedicate the "Musical Regions" program on Tuesday and Thursday to Italy! A country which is also not always sunny, as I found out during a short vacation end of September.

The musical culture of Italy is overshadowed by its Opera composers and by its impressive history of Baroque music. During the 20th century, Italian music culture had seemingly fallen back in comparison to its past. The most well known composer is Ottorino Respighi - everybody knows his "Roman Trilogy", especially "Pini di Roma". A strikingly high number of Italian composers have avoided the "Neue Musik" style, e.g. Nino Rota, who got famous by writing film music but who also wrote orchestral and chamber works of highest quality. The second one to be mentioned here is Aldo Finzi, who was persecuted during the 2nd World War and whose excellent music has almost been forgotten. This composer was recommended to twentysound by an avid listener and supporter. Others are Goffredo Petrassi, who, although often using serial style, is fascinating to listen to, and Giorgio Federico Ghedini. Both are represented by selected orchestral and chamber works in the 9 Italy programs.

Italian composers have excelled in the area of Guitar music, too - the key composer here is Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, who had to go into exile to America. Other composers for Guitar are Angelo Gilardino, Carlo Domeniconi and Franco Cavallone.

Of course there are many other Italian composers which will be played in these programs, and surely many I forgot due to lack of knowledge. I am always happy to receive recommendations!

New - the Twentysound Blog

Starting today, 25.10.2015, I will use this space for a bit of blogging, containing program announcements, short notes about interesting composers and much more!

To understand the idea behind twentysound, we would like to give you a short introduction of the music history of the last century:

Before World War I, classical music was ruled by late romanticism, with various schools, both conservative and progressive, often focussed on national traditions of the composers' home countries. It was normal to present music of contemporary composers in concerts, and music critics discussed their works regularly in the art pages of newspapers.

Composers continued to develop their styles even after WW I, often bordering on atonality, and incorporating new music styles like jazz. There was a wide bandwith of composers, from conservative to progressive. A small group of Austrian composers centered on Arnold Schoenberg, the "Second Viennese School", went further and developed new musical techniques using twelve tone rows, based more on mathematics than on musical senses. In the musical world, though, they played only a minor role.

Then, World War II broke out. People had other things on their minds than the development of musical culture. After the war, the world was divided into two halves. The East began to follow the "Socialist Realism" doctrine already ruling the arts in the USSR even before the war. All arts, including music, were to serve the People, and had to be easily graspable and clear. Strangely, in a way this helped the classical composers in keeping contact with their audience. There was no race for modernity, and the audience listened carefully for any potentially regime-critical nuance in concerts. On the other hand, some composers were broken, imprisoned or even murdered.

In Western Europe, two things happened. On one side, the youth started to get interested in American popular music, like Jazz or Blues, later Rock and Pop. On the other side, intellectuals (and composers) turned away from the past and fully embraced the musical techniques of the Second Viennese School. The term "Neue Musik" ("New Music") was coined to describe it. Cultural politics and probably also American secret services (ref. Frances Stonor Saunders book "Who paid the piper") supported this trend, to make the contrast with the suppressed Eastern Europe more visible.

The pre-war generation of composers quickly faded into relative oblivion. In concerts, these composers were largely ignored. Instead, in concerts it became usual to "frame" works from the "Neue Musik" school with classical compositions, from Mozart, Beethoven or Brahms, to keep the concert audience from fleeing. In regards to recordings, it was easier for listeners to avoid "Neue Musik". At the same time, music critics influenced the culturally interested public to believe that only "Neue Musik" and its predecessors did really count in contemporary music, that all other musical styles were either kitsch or "movie soundtracks".

The musical portfolio of concerts and recordings also expanded far into the past, due to the rediscovery of Ancient Music, often played using original instruments. In these years, in the view of the general public, a classical composer was usually seen as a composer at least 100 years dead. The wide field of the history of music distracted both musicians and their audience from contemporary works of all directions.

The lost generation of composers also suffered through the lack of a proper name. Many composers of the early 20th century were labelled as "Late Romanticists". "Contemporary" does not really fit, as time moves on. The most fitting term is "Modern Music", which may also be misunderstood, though.

A certain turnaround started in the late 1980's, when the East started to open. Dmitri Shostakovich, the most important composer of the USSR, was played more and more often in the West - some of his works were even used as movie soundtrack. The conductor Herbert von Karajan, High King of Classical Music in Germany, recorded the 10th symphony of Shostakovich. At the same time, late romantic, or better early modern composers like Gustav Mahler were rediscovered by the wider musical public.

But the greatest damage was already done - the concert going public, a minority by now due to the dominance of popular music, was not any more used to the raw, rhythmic sounds of modern classical music. The youth, when introduced to classical music by the older generation, usually gets to know it in the form of Bach-Beethoven-Brahms classics, brilliant, but intellectually frozen in time.

In spite of this, musical culture continues its development. The evolution of classical music has not stopped, many composers continue to cultivate it. A growing number of music listeners are interested in unaccustomed, fresh musical sounds.

twentysound strives to contribute to the renaissance of this generation of composers ignored by the general musical public. We also want to help expanding the audience for composers of the current generation who follow the lines of those composers of Modern Music. Less important to twentysound is the comparison of different interpretations of a small "canon" of classical works by various conductors - we usually have only one version of a composition in our portfolio.

We would like to ask all musicologists for excuse for this shortened and maybe a bit polemic summary of 100 years of musical history!