Episodes:

Katherine Chi sitting at the piano.

Camille Saint-Saëns’s gorgeously romantic Fifth Piano Concert, written while the composer lived in Luxor, forms the heart of this recital of piano music inspired by Egypt. This performance was presented at the Freer Gallery in 2017 in conjunction with the exhibition Divine Felines: Cats in Ancient Egypt.

Inspired by Egypt:
Katherine Chi and Dina Vainshtein, pianos

Camille Saint-Saëns’s gorgeously romantic Fifth Piano Concert, written while the composer lived in Luxor, forms the heart of this recital of music inspired by Egypt. Hear it performed in the composer’s own rapturous arrangement for two pianos. Also enjoy the atmospheric Canope, Claude Debussy’s musical response to funerary urns from the ancient Nile, and Anton Arensky’s charming Egyptian Nights, written for Russia’s Imperial Ballet. The concert concludes with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s spectacular Études-tableaux. This performance was presented at the Freer Gallery in 2017 in conjunction with the exhibition Divine Felines: Cats in Ancient Egypt.

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The Traveler’s Ear: Scenes from Music

Take an enchanting, musical journey through the great outdoors. Award-winning French pianist David Kadouch performs travel-inspired works by Bach, Schumann, Liszt, and Bartók. Kadouch made his New York debut at the Metropolitan Museum of Art after winning top prizes at the Beethoven Bonn Competition and Leeds International Piano Competition. This concert was presented in conjunction with The Traveler’s Eye: Scenes from Asia.

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Calefax Reed Quintet: Bonus Track

Experience the painterly palette of sounds created by composers Claude Debussy and Enrique Granados in this concert celebrating the 150th anniversary of Debussy’s birth. The virtuosic Calefax Reed Quintet, from the Netherlands, performs its own lush arrangements of Debussy’s works, which were deeply influenced by the American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler. This concert was presented as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series on March 2, 2012, and made possible in part through support from the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts.

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This concert podcast explores relationships between visual arts and music, specifically the work of American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), his influence on French composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918), and their mutual connection to Japan. During the 1870s and 80s, Whistler created a series of dark, atmospheric paintings of nighttime landscapes that he called "nocturnes," such as this one depicting the south bank of the Thames River. His inspiration for these works came, in part, from Japanese woodblock prints, while the term "nocturne" was suggested to Whistler by one of his patrons, Frederick Leyland, an amateur pianist. Leyland, in turn, borrowed the label from Frédéric Chopin's piano works of the same name, written in the 1830s. Some years later, Debussy was inspired by Whistler (rather than Chopin) when he composed orchestral works that he in turn titled "nocturnes" in the 1890s. Nocturne: Blue and Silver—Battersea Reach; by James McNeill Whistler (American, 1834-1903); 1870-1875; oil on canvas; gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1902.97a-b

Calefax Reed Quintet: Debussy and Whistler

Experience the painterly palette of sounds created by composers Claude Debussy and Enrique Granados in this concert celebrating the 150th anniversary of Debussy’s birth. The virtuosic Calefax Reed Quintet, from the Netherlands, performs its own lush arrangements of Debussy’s works, which were deeply influenced by the American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler. This concert was presented as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series on March 2, 2012, and made possible in part through support from the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts.

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This is one of Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, by Katsushika Hokusai (1760—1849), a series that was so popular in Japan that it eventually ran to forty-six images. Whistler was introduced to the work of Hokusai in the 1850s through a copy of Hokusai's Manga, a collection of informal prints that later gave rise to the current rage in the West for Japanese comic-novels (also called manga) and animation (anime). Manga was also Debussy's introduction to Japanese prints, first shown to him in the 1880s by sculptor Camille Claudel. He later became familiar with Hokusai's Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji and Hiroshige's Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido. The Sazaido Hall of the Temple, Gohyakurakanji, from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji; by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849); Japan, Edo period, ca. 1823-1831; woodblock print; ink and color on paper; gift of the family of Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer, F1974.63

Whistler and Music: Ieva Jokubaviciute, piano

This piano performance explores the influence of American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler on the music of French composer Claude Debussy, as well as their mutual connections to Japan. Whistler borrowed the title of Frédéric Chopin’s piano nocturnes of the 1830s for his nighttime landscapes of the 1870s, which in turn inspired Debussy’s orchestral nocturnes of the 1890s. In addition, both Whistler and Debussy admired Japanese woodblock prints and incorporated them into their work.

This concert, by the young Lithuanian-born pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute, was recorded as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series at the Freer Gallery of Art on March 4, 2004.

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