The Brothers Balliett

Streams Thursdays at 3 pm and Sundays at 8 pm on Q2 Music

Brad Balliett and Doug Balliett — identical twin composers and performers from Massachusetts — have been performing together and collaborating for nearly thirty years. As bassoonist and double bassist (respectively) they perform as a duo and with groups all around New York, including the new music ensembles Deviant Septet, Metropolis Ensemble, Argento, Signal, and Alarm Will Sound, with chamber ensembles The Declassified and Ensemble ACJW, with symphonies such as Handel & Haydn and the Hartford Symphony, and a host of other diverse ensembles.

Dedicated rappers, the brothers, along with Elliot Cole, make up The Oracle Hysterical and create pioneering hip-hoperas, rap cantatas, poperas, and so forth. Performances of these works have taken them around the world. 

The Balliett brothers are fiercely competitive and work tirelessly to one-up each other. This drive creates a self-fueling passion to write the best work, listen to the best music, and learn as much as possible. They are thrilled to be joining Q2 Music's roster of personalities.

The Brothers Balliett have a ten-point Manifesto which will guide this show:

1. We are the Brothers Balliett.

2. We believe that the best music is the music that excites the best curiosity, excitement, passion and conversation.

3. We believe in music that bears repeated listening and offers something new with each visitation.

4. We believe that stretching the ear is a way to stretch the mind.

5. We believe in the continually ceaseless creativity of composers everywhere.

6. We believe that music must reflect the time in which it was written, and that all eras deserve representation.

7. We believe that great nations should strive to attract and support great artists.

8. We believe in absolute artistic freedom, unfettered by trend or dogma.

9. We believe that the power of ideas, creativity, and personality can shape a city's character.

10. We believe in the groove.

Produced by

A Scoop of Schubert

Thursday, April 17, 2014

It's no secret the the Brothers Balliett love the music of Franz Schubert, whether it's tearing through the Trout Quintet or sobbing through Die Schoene Muellerin. Today at 3 pm, they take a look at Schubert's impact on today's music through works by Nick Didkovsky, Bruno Mantovani and Hans Zender.

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Could This Be the Grooviest Large Ensemble Piece of the Past Twenty Years?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What happens when a master composer spends over ten years on a piece of music, constantly reworking the motives, finding new and ever-more-fascinating transformations and contexts in which to work his ever-changing material? Join The Brothers Balliett Thursday at 3 for a listen to Wolfgang Rihm's mammoth Jagden und Formen.

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The Hyperion Show

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Myths have inspired works in all media for millenia; some might even say that the expression mythology was the BIRTH of the arts. Today at 3 pm, the Brothers Balliett take a listen to two stunningly different musical adaptations of the myth of the Greek deity Hyperion.

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The Double Concerto Show

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Today at 3 pm, the Brothers Balliett take a look at that oh-so-unselfish form, the double concerto – music for two soloists and orchestra. Featuring music of Peter Maxwell Davies and Philip Glass.

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The Improv Show

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Does contemporary music need to be exquisitely written out with Ferneyhough levels of expressive detail? Do scores need to reflect every nuance, every slight bending of time, every possible elaboration of the melody? Today at 3 pm, the Brothers Balliett consider a group of composers for whom improvisation is essential to the execution of their artistic vision

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What's in a Name?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Although self-professed symphonies, concertos, and suites are far from disappearing (new examples are created each year), many composers are feeling an impulse to give their pieces an utterly unique name. This week the Brothers Balliett look at four composers that lean towards the unique and imaginative side when titling their work.

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The Brothers Balliett Book of Preludes Vol. 1

Thursday, March 06, 2014

What is a prelude? There are many conceptions and definitions floating around out there, but the Brothers Balliett define it as a short instrumental work that explores one musical concept or idea. This week's show curates a brand new book of preludes in the tradition of Debussy and Scriabin.

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Those Italians Just Keep Getting Higher

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Did you ever notice just how high Italian composers write? From Puccini to Scelsi to Berio and everywhere in between, the Italians seem to love the highest range on each instrument, and as Oliver Knussen as pointed out, each generation seems to push the limits a little bit higher.

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Michael Nyman is Awesome

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Why is Michael Nyman so awesome? Is it because he writes whatever he wants, unfettered by trend or dogma? Is it because he chooses beautiful harmonies, but is always searching for that new chord? Or is it just that his music is so damn groovy? Whatever it is it all adds up to be just to the tastes of the Brothers Balliett.

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Happy President's Day – oh, and Valentine's as well

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ah, the sweet mid-February – a time when love blooms, greeting card companies experience a windfall, and congress is in full swing. Today at 3 pm, join the Brothers Balliett for presidential homages from Jennifer Higdon, Nico Muhly and Milton Babbitt as well an opera selection about a great first lady.

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The Beatles Interventions

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Leonard Bernstein wrote that the songs of the Beatles could easily stand next to those of Schumann and Schubert. The Brothers Balliett spend an hour with new-music Beatles homages.

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Jazz Interventions

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Classical composer have long incorporated elements from the world of jazz – it's been going on since Ravel and Stravinsky, with perennial additions from composers like Mark-Anthony Turnage and Michael Daugherty. This week, the Brothers Balliett listen to jazzy takes on Faure, Stravinksky and Rachmaninov.

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The Brothers Balliett Talk to Harold Meltzer

Thursday, January 23, 2014

This week, the Brothers Balliett are  joined in the studio by composer, Rome Prize-winner and  Guggenheim Fellow Harold Meltzer. Listen Thursday at 3 pm.

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Just Because It's Tonal Doesn't Mean It's Bad

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Listeners, there will come a time when you meet a composer or new music enthusiast with a little bit of attitude – an attitude that suggests that the spiky, abrasive, modernist language that we all know and love is the only true lingua franca of new music, and that those who write tonal music do so naively, without considering the weight of history that tonal music carries. (Consider Alex Temple's recent discussion of this topic on New Music Box)

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The Harpsichord Show

Thursday, January 09, 2014

This week, the Brothers Balliett take a listen to one an oft-misunderstood instrument: the harpischord. Listen at 3 pm for performances by 17th century composer Froberger, songstress Joanna Newsome and Czeck composer Viktor Kalabis.

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The Brothers Balliett Best of 2013 Rundown

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Today at 3 pm, The Brothers Balliett take a look at some of their favorite releases from 2013, including music from Bang on a Can, International Contemporary Ensemble's Rebekah Heller, David Fulmer and more.

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Music for Staring at the Fire

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Special for the holiday season, this week The Brothers Balliett offer music designed to accompany the obligatory fire-staring that is so much a part of this time of year. This music is designed to help you zone in, zone out, forget the world and focus on the fire.

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The Brothers Balliett Talk to Charles Wuorinen

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Charles Wuorinen befriended Edgard Varèse and Igor Stravinky in his youth and has collaborated with the likes of Salman Rushdie and Annie Proulx. Today at 3 pm he joins the Brothers Balliett for an interview and listening session.

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The Monochromatic Show

Thursday, December 12, 2013

If there's one thing that the Brothers Balliett have learned from Rothko, it's that monochromaticism, in art OR music, is not necessarily a bad or boring thing. This week we explore ensembles built entirely of one sound color. Listen Thursday at 3 pm.

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Mostly Imaginary Landscapes

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Does an aural representation of geography exist, or does "landscape" take on a new meaning when applied to music? Today at 3 pm, the Brothers Balliett explore landscape music by John Cage, Harrison Birtwistle and Brian Fernyhough.

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