fabulous guides to classical music
We’re going to see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra play Tchaikovsky’s fourth symphony tonight, and I’ve been having a splendid hour or so exploring the symphony through the San Francisco Symphony’s interactive guide to the work, part of their Keeping Score: MTT on Music series. I played violin and viola for many years (until my friends went pro and started practicing six hours a day – I was never that disciplined about it), and the works I played in the youth symphony orchestra are still the works I appreciate the most. No wonder: I’ve not only heard them many many times, I’ve been part of an orchestra practicing and performing them – surely the best way to get to know music.
We never played Tchaikovsky’s fourth, but the MTT on Music guide is a good second best to having performed the piece myself. You can follow themes from each movement while reading parts of letters Tchaikovsky wrote to his patron, describing the programme of the music. Or you can read the score while listening to the music and having helpful markings show where you’re up to, in case you lost track. You can click on notes by the composer and have him explain bits, or listen to the ways in which themes are repeated and varied throughout the work.
I can’t wait to hear the symphony performed – my computer speakers are way too tinny for classical music!