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Joan Tower, Edward Elgar and Mozart's 'eternal music'

Joan Tower, Edward Elgar and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Joan Tower, Edward Elgar and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Join hosts Michael Stern and Dan Margolies as they highlight Kansas City Symphony performances of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's final symphony, the "Jupiter," Joan Tower's rhythmic "Tambor" and Edward Elgar's noble Symphony No. 1.


Michael Stern
Dan Margolies


Part 1 - Tower and Mozart
Joan Tower and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Symphony No. 41 in C Major, "Jupiter," K. 551
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Live performance, March 2012

Another one of Mozart's musical miracles, his Symphony No. 41 in C major, the "Jupiter," is part of the great triptych of symphonies that marked the end of his symphonic output.

“It is other-worldly in terms of its accomplishment and yet it is extraordinarily human music," Michael Stern says. "The great tragedy is what would he have written next had he been allowed to live beyond 1791.”

by Joan Tower
Christian Reif, guest conductor
Live performance, April 2022

"Tambor," the Spanish word for drum, was given its premiere by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1998. Joan Tower grew up in South America, where her father was a mining engineer.

A long-time champion of Tower's work, Michael Stern considers her a "preeminent" musical voice and says she is "one of the first women composers to achieve the stature that she deserved."

Tambor is led here by guest conductor Christian Reif. "I love it when guest conductors can bring works that they feel so strongly about, especially works that we, as an orchestra or as an audience, don’t know, and we can discover this music guided by somebody who is a real advocate for it,” Stern says.

Part 2 - Elgar
Edward Elgar

Symphony No. 1
by Edward Elgar
Michael Francis, guest conductor
Live performance, March 2022

Following its Manchester premiere in December 1908, the conductor Hans Richter hailed this work as "the greatest symphony of modern times, and not only in this country."

Michael Stern sees it as both a throwback to the 19th century but also a modern statement. “Elgar was not a stranger to writing program music," he says, "but here he just wanted to make this symphonic case speak for itself, and that clearly comes out.”

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Dan Margolies has been a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star, and KCUR Public Radio. He retired as a reporter in December 2022 after a 37-year journalism career.
Sam Wisman is a Senior Producer for 91.9 Classical KC and a backup announcer for KCUR 89.3. Email him at