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A Minute with Miles

How did the piano get its name? Why can’t you “reach” a crescendo? Who invented opera—and why—and how do you pronounce “Handel”? These and countless other classical music questions are answered on South Carolina Public Radio’s A Minute with Miles. Hosted by longtime NPR commentator Miles Hoffman, the segments inform and entertain as they provide illuminating 60-second flights through the world of classical music. 

You can enjoy an archive of these segments below.

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  • “C” is for Charleston Library Society. The Charleston Library Society is the third-oldest institutional library in the United States.
  • “B” is for Billings, John Shaw (1898-1975). When he retired in 1954, Billings was the editorial director of all Time Inc. publications.
  • One of the wonderful aspects of life as a musician: age differences among players don’t mean anything. What counts is what kind of person you are, and how you make music.
  • Like it or not, performers can’t help evaluating performance, especially in the cases of pieces we know or instruments we play.
  • It’s often easier to say what classical music is not, than to say what it is.
  • Most of what brass players do is done with the lips, and it’s invisible to us.
  • Chairs that are too low, too high, too hard, too slippery, or with seats tilted backward… they’re the bane of musicians’ existence.
  • Why should somebody else—anybody else, whether it’s a program annotator or a radio announcer—tell me that a piece of music is “sad,” or happy, or light, or charming, or profound, when no two people ever have precisely the same reaction to the same piece? One person’s “sad” may be another’s “noble,” and one person’s intense and penetrating may be another’s pretentious and annoying.
  • In the bad old days of symphony orchestras in this country, music directors were absolute dictators, and orchestra musicians had few protections. If a music director woke up in a bad mood and decided to fire an orchestra musician on the spot, he could… never mind that it might instantly deprive that musician of his livelihood.
  • Do you agree with the judgment that the two greatest composers of the late Baroque were Bach and Handel? Well, that means, unavoidably, that the rest of the late Baroque composers weren’t as good.