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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Saturday, November 23

Colorful music by Scriabin and Torke

Synopsis

A question: do you see colors when you hear music? No, we’re not going psychedelic on you and absolutely no controlled substances are involved in preparing today’s edition of COMPOSERS DATEBOOK.

It’s just that many composers do—see colors, that is.

The late Romantic Russian composer Alexander Scriabin would describe the key of F-sharp Major as very definitely being “bright blue.” His colleague Nicolai Rimsky Korsakov, however, thought F-sharp Major more a greyish-green hue. While many composers confess to seeing certain musical keys as certain colors, the fact is they don’t always agree on WHICH color matches which key.

Which brings us to the American composer Michael Torke, who gave the title “Bright Blue Music” to an orchestral piece that premiered on today’s date at Carnegie Hall at a concert of the New York Youth Symphony.

In 1985, when this music premiered, Torke was just 24 years old, but had already been composing music for most of his young life. In addition to a string of other “colorful” scores, with titles like “The Yellow Pages” and “Ecstatic Orange,” Torke has gone on to also write a number of ballet scores and vocal works, including a TV opera and, in 1999, a big choral symphony for the Disney Corporation to celebrate the Millennium.

Music Played in Today's Program

Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915) Etude in F#, Op. 42, no. 4 Piers Lane, piano Hyperion 66607

Michael Torke (b. 1961) Bright Blue Music Baltimore Symphony; David Zinman, cond.

Additional Information

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