Music + Culture


A warm and cheery voice familiar to millions is going away. Bruce Bradberry is retiring. Bradberry, who has been a fixture on NWPR's Weekend Edition for 20 of the last 26 years (he retired a few times before), will turn off the mic for probably the last time on April 26 to take up the next chapter of the Book of Bradberry, whatever it may be.

It was 1964 when the young Philip Glass found himself in Paris. He was on a Fulbright scholarship to study with the revered pedagogue Nadia Boulanger. It was a career move carefully planned. Glass wanted to be a composer and he knew Boulanger's rigorous lessons in traditional Western harmony and counterpoint would sharpen his skills.

Mobeen Ansari /

Imagine your life if attending a concert were against the law. Now imagine trying to bring the music back to life, in a country where the skills to play it have been almost lost. A new documentary takes you to Pakistan, where it's more than just an imaginary scenario.

Peter Serling /

Northwest Public Radio's classical music programming staff has lately been making sure to include women composers on our playlists. Here's one you might not have heard of -- but now you will. Julia Wolfe has received the Pulitzer Prize for her oratorio about coal miners and their families.


Happy Birthday to the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare! As you heard all throughout April 23 on Northwest Public Radio, his theatrical genius has inspired countless composers over the centuries. Since music is "the food of love," play on!

Check the "Schedules and Playlist" tab for all the Shakespeare related music on the April 23 playlist. 

Matthew Hamm /

So you love your coffee, but do you know your beans? To help you get started on your way to becoming a coffee aficionado, here are some coffee basics.

Where The Beans Come From

Marty Sohl Metropolitan Opera

This month, the Northwest native Angela Meade will grace the stage of the Metropolitan Opera in New York in Verdi’s Ernani. The Centralia native is no newcomer to opera, and has maintained a buzz of international excitement from critics and opera fans alike, since the beginning of her car

Super Thursday brought you three musical montages of piano, choral and opera hits. If you missed them, you can listen below and find information on playlists! 

Piano Concerto Montage - Created by Jessie Jacobs

Sergei Rachmaninoff 

Concerto No. 2: I.

Van Cliburn, piano/ RCA Symphony Orchestra, Kiril Kondrashin

RCA 5912

Peter Tchaikovsky

Piano Concerto No. 1: I. 

Van Cliburn, piano/ Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Fritz Reiner

RCA 5912

When you become a first-time member of Northwest Public Radio we promise it will be the smoothest, easiest relationship you've ever had! And when you pledge today your new membership is worth and extra $11,000! If 400 first-time listeners join Northwest Public Radio, members of our Leadership Circle will donate $11,000 to help pay for the programs you use! Join now!

Sueann Ramella

When you become a first-time member of Northwest Public Radio during the 2015 spring pledge drive you will be raising even more money! How? If 400 listeners become new members, our Leadership Circle will donate $11,000 to the station. That means your pledge, in any amount, will be worth more! Become a new member today!

We're in radio, but that doesn't mean we don't love our movies. We took some of our favorite movie scenes and made in them into a message specially for our supporters and listeners. Can you tell what movies and characters these are from?

That's not it, though. To make sure you truly understand how much your support means to us...well, heeeeeere's Brett!

Ramsey Fendall / Risk Love LLC

When actor-director Ethan Hawke (star of Boyhood) found himself seated next to a classical pianist named Seymour Bernstein at a dinner party, stage fright was what they found they had in common. Bernstein had handled his decades ago, by walking away from the glitter and fame of a concert career in favor of a teaching career and a solitary life. Hawke, in his directorial debut, profiles his new friend in a labor of love, the tender documentary film Seymour: An Introduction.

One of our favorite NPR shows plus Beethoven's famous little piano piece adds up to a must-listen moment!

From Fresh Air with Terry Gross (weekdays at 2 on our News Service; Sundays at 5 on our Classical Music Service): the show's music critic delights in a 1932 performance of Fur Elise, revived by a company called Pristine Audio.


The host of your Sunday noontime show "From the Top," pianist Christopher O'Riley, and cellist Matt Haimovitz visit the cozy NPR home of Tiny Desk Concerts. Tucked into a casual office corner, backed by shelves of books and trinkets, reading the music off their tablets, they offer up some Beethoven and Philip Glass and Leo

Jazz bassist and composer Christian McBride recently finished a week-long West Coast tour in Seattle. It reminded him of how great a town it was for jazz, both historically and presently.

Does the name Jan Antonín Koželuh mean anything to you? It doesn't register even to most classical music geeks. But Albrecht Mayer would like to change that.

Benjamin Morris / NPR

Seattle is known for its love of coffee but as Pacific Northwesterners know, it's a passion not unique to the West Side. So how did coffee become such a Northwest staple?

Starbucks may be the first entity people think of as an answer to this question. And although Starbucks did play a significant role in the eventual coffee craze, the Northwest’s history with the beverage goes deeper than that.

Tiny Desk Concerts / NPR

We know you love guitar music. From Classical Guitar Alive (Sunday mornings at 9), to Inland Folk (Saturdays, 11am-2pm), to the guitar solos and concertos our classical music hosts bring you throughout the days and evenings, Northwest Public Radio listeners warm to this ageless, genre-spanning instrument.

A Film From Mali: The Day Before The Music Died

Mar 4, 2015

Just its title has an ominous sense of finality: The Last Song Before the War.

The documentary by Kiley Kraskouskas presents the 2011 Festival in the Desert, a showcase for Mali's incredible musicians that had been held underneath the stars outside of Timbuktu for 12 years. Ten months after the joyous celebration depicted in the film, Islamic extremists took over that part of the country. Among the horrors inflicted by the occupiers was a total ban on music.

  Susan Pickett’s Marion and Emilie Frances Bauer: From the Wild West to American Musical Modernism delivers exactly what the title suggests: adventures of two women in an exciting era of classical music. It follows them from their beginnings in Walla Walla, through European adventures, lives as musicians, critics, composers - and, for Marion – a career as a music teacher in New York City.

The (Not So) Secret World Of Northwest Curling

Mar 3, 2015
Peter Miller / Flickr

Curling: it's that sport with the stones and the brooms. You might have seen it played at the Olympics. Canadians play it. For many Americans, that's the extent of our curling knowledge. So this video might help bring everyone up to speed:

So that's curling. It's a little bit hockey, a little bit bowling, a little bit shuffleboard.

Updated at 1:16 p.m.

Actor Leonard Nimoy, best known for his role as Mr. Spock, the logical half-Vulcan, half-human in the original Star Trek series and several movies, has died at his home in Los Angeles, his granddaughter, Madeleine, told NPR. Nimoy was 83.

The cause was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, she said.

NPR's Neda Ulaby, who is reporting on the story, tells our Newscast unit:

Mark Mullaney.

What stories do you tell? What stories could you be telling? On the occasion of National Public Radio's 45th birthday--celebrated this week--let's honor the power of storytelling. What stories could you tell about how music has affected your life?

P.A.D Studio/Courtesy of the artist

"Are you hearing me?" A conductor in China asks that question, and it will echo back across the ocean in 5 years of concerts. 40 new compositions. High profile performers. Yes, including that globe-spanning cello virtuoso Yo-Yo Ma, but not just.

Northwest Sinfonietta

Christophe Chagnard, founding director of the Northwest Sinfonietta, resigned after 24 years, reports the News Tribune. The chamber orchestra out of Tacoma is known regionally for its compositions and youth opportunities.

But more dramatic than Chagnard's exit is the Sinfonietta's new musician-driven model. According to the News Tribune, the Sinfonietta will move to:

Wikimedia Commons /

A little girl’s crush: you could say it all started like that, when she was a brilliant 9-year-old concert pianist, and he was her music-educator father’s brilliant 18 year old protégé. But little girls grow up. Right after her sixteenth birthday, he writes in his diary: “Clara’s eyes and her love…the first kiss…” and she writes in a letter to him: “When you gave me that first kiss, I thought I would faint; everything went blank and I could barely hold the lamp that was lighting your way out.”


The obvious real-life romance in the classical world is Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck, so for a change of pace I will talk about Harriet Smithson and Hector Berlioz.

Harriet was an Anglo-Irish actress. In one performance of Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet in 1827​, in which Harriet played the leading ladies, Berlioz happened to be in attendance. He immediately fell in love with the beautiful and talented actress. 

Patty Colmer from Citrus Heights, United States / WikiCommons

Nothing says love like silk ties, long-distance correspondence, divorce and murder-suicide. OK, maybe a hug and kiss would do, but for your Valentine’s Day entertainment here are some historical Northwest stories that have something to do with love.