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A Minute with Miles
Posted weekdays at 5:30 a.m.

Illuminating 60-second flights through the world of classical music with host and longtime NPR commentator Miles Hoffman. Produced by South Carolina Public Radio.

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  • In 1838, ten years after the death of Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann traveled to Vienna, and while he was there he paid a visit to the graves of Schubert and Beethoven. On a whim, Schumann decided to call on Schubert’s brother, Ferdinand, who was living in Vienna, and this turned out to be perhaps the most fortuitous social call in the history of music.
  • A scientist I know was talking about great works of literature the other day, and she said that what characterized them was the “density of brilliance.” What a wonderful phrase. And how perfect, too, for great works of music.
  • Claude Debussy was a great composer, but like many other famous composers, he was also a wonderful writer.
  • Everyone makes progress at his or her own pace, and what’s crucial is where you eventually arrive, not how fast you get there.
  • Some years ago I had the privilege of appearing as viola soloist with the United States Marine Band, “the Presidents Own,” and I can tell you it was a great experience. Like the members of the other premier service bands, the bands of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, the Marine Band players are graduates of some of the nation’s top conservatories, and they’re terrific musicians.
  • And what about those musicians—Beethoven being only the most famous of many—who can hear combinations of pitches in their heads—chords, harmonies—and can invent, just in their heads, sequences of harmonies that have never been heard before?