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Rob Kapilow Reveals the Origins of "What Makes It Great?"


Get a sneak preview of the 2019-20 What Makes It Great? Season!

Rob Kapilow reveals the origin of What Makes It Great?

During my freshman year at college, I was fortunate enough to take an inspiring Art History course with a wonderful professor named Robert Herbert. Before taking the class, I had enjoyed going to museums, liked certain paintings, didn’t like others, but overall hadn’t give much thought or attention to why. I knew what I liked, and that was enough.

In addition to classroom lectures, every Friday we would go to the Yale Art Gallery and spend an entire session on a single painting. These sessions were a revelation to me. I realized that I had never really looked closely at a painting. I was astonished week after week to realize how much I had completely missed in paintings that I thought I knew. Each week, prodded by the professor’s careful attention, a painting would materialize before my eyes as if for the first time. The course began to teach me the difference between looking and seeing.

The idea behind the Oct 22 program and my What Makes It Great? series began for me with that course. In some ways, music poses even more difficulties than art because it refuses to sit still for us. It happens in time. And in great music, so much goes by so quickly that it requires careful attention to hear it all.

That is what the Oct 22 program is all about—listening. Paying attention. Noticing all the fantastic things in great music that race by at lightning speed, note by note, and measure by measure. Listening to a piece of music from the composer’s point of view—from the inside out.

During the first half of the Oct 22 program, we'll look at selected passages from all four movements of Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, and I will do everything in my power to get you inside the piece to hear what makes it tick and what makes it great. Then on the second half of the program, we'll perform the piece in its entirety, and you will hopefully listen to it with a whole new pair of ears. If my art history class was about the difference between looking and seeing, Monday’s program is about the difference between hearing and listening. I look forward to sharing this great music with you Monday and throughout the series. All you have to do is listen.

All best,

Rob Kapilow
Host, What Makes It Great?