Classical Breakdown

John Banther takes classical music fans behind the scenes with interviews, deep dives, and analysis. Episodes released bi-weekly on Tuesdays. Produced by Classical WETA in Washington, D.C.


  • The Life of Leonard Bernstein

    The Life of Leonard Bernstein

    Episode 1 September 7, 2021

    How much do you really know about one of America's most treasured artists? There is a lot to explore in his early life in Massachusetts, his meteoric rise to fame in New York, and the unique characteristics we find all over his music.
  • Season 3 starts September 7!

    Season 3 starts September 7!

    August 31, 2021

    It's been a nice summer break, but we are excited to be back with your favorite classical music podcast! We kick things off on September 7 as Matthew Dayton joins John Banther to explore the life and music of Leonard Bernstein. The following episode, September 21, is all about one of the most popular symphonies, the No. 5 by Tchaikovsky. Bill Bukowski and John Banther explore the symphonies insecure origins and what to listen for in the music.
  • New classical albums to listen to this summer!

    New classical albums to listen to this summer!

    Episode 22 June 29, 2021

    We wrap up Season 2 of Classical Breakdown with some recommended recordings for you to explore this summer. These recently released albums feature a diverse range of composers, styles, ensembles, and even world premiere recordings. 
  • The Life of Johannes Brahms

    The Life of Johannes Brahms

    Episode 19 May 18, 2021

    He's considered one of the greatest composers of the 19th century. But can you hum a tune by Brahms? We dive into the life and music of Brahms to better understand what set him apart from others, how his personality affected his music, and how he still appears in popular music and commercials today. 
  • What is a Concerto?

    What is a Concerto?

    Episode 18 May 4, 2021

    Where did the concerto come from and how did it evolve? We explore its origins, development through Haydn and Mozart, some of the most challenging concertos of the 19th century, and a couple of "hidden gems."
  • The Life of Bach

    The Life of Bach

    Episode 14 March 9, 2021

    Today we know him as one of the greatest and most influential composers, but that wasn’t always the case. Learn how a teenager became responsible for Bach’s revival, how is music changed from job to job, and even how he wound up in jail for nearly a month!
  • The life of Florence Price

    The life of Florence Price

    Episode 13 February 23, 2021

    Dr. Karen Walwyn discusses the life and music of Florence Price, the first woman African American composer to have a symphony played by a major orchestra in the United States.