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 WETA Classical in Washington, D.C.

Episodes

  • Ravel's Bolero with Joshua Weilerstein: A conductor's insight

    Ravel's Bolero with Joshua Weilerstein: A conductor's insight

    Episode 64 May 3, 2022

    It seems simple on the surface, but there is a lot to discover in Ravel's most famous work (much to his dismay!). Joshua Weilerstein, one of today's in-demand conductors, joins John Banther to offer his perspective on the music and all the details that need to be addressed to pull it off in performance.
  • Piano Transformed: The Life and Music of Frederic Chopin

    Piano Transformed: The Life and Music of Frederic Chopin

    Episode 63 April 19, 2022

    He was a different kind of composer than Mozart and Beethoven, and he transformed how we hear the piano. John Banther and Bill Bukowski talk about Chopin's early life, relationships, new styles of music he wrote, what set him apart, and more!
  • Louise Farrenc's Symphony No. 3: A hidden gem!

    Louise Farrenc's Symphony No. 3: A hidden gem!

    Episode 61 March 22, 2022

    Her final symphony is one that deserves your attention and is now performed more often. John Banther and James Jacobs discuss the challenges she faced with sexism and the French attitude towards symphonies at the time, what to listen for, influences, and her unique orchestration. 
  • Clara Schumann: A story of stardom, passion, and courage

    Clara Schumann: A story of stardom, passion, and courage

    Episode 60 March 8, 2022

    She was a composer, prodigy, and was considered one of the greatest pianists of the 19th century. Linda and John discuss various aspects of her compositions, education, and complicated career. Also, we share a heroic story of Clara you likely haven't heard before!
  • The life of Florence Price

    Florence Price Symphony No. 1: An American Symphony

    Episode 59 February 22, 2022

    It was the first symphony of an African-American woman to be performed by a major US orchestra. John Banther and Nicole Lacroix talk about how she found time to write, a hidden motif to listen for, Americana aspects of the symphony, and more. 
  • George Walker: He wants you to play his music

    George Walker: He wants you to play his music

    Episode 58 February 8, 2022

    DC native composer, George Walker, was one of the great American composers of the 20th and 21st centuries. His close friend and colleague, Dr. Mickey Terry, joins John Banther to discuss his life, challenges, and three works you need to listen to.
  • Dvorak's Cello Concerto, 5 things to listen for!

    Dvorak's Cello Concerto, 5 things to listen for!

    Episode 57 January 25, 2022

    There is always something new to discover, no matter how many times you've heard a piece. Our resident cello player, James Jacobs, joins John Banther to give you 5 things to listen for in this masterpiece that you've either missed or could experience differently. 
  • The life and music of Robert Schumann

    The life and music of Robert Schumann

    Episode 55 December 28, 2021

    His music helped define the sound and direction of the Romantic period of the 19th century across different forms; like music for piano, song, chamber music, and symphonies. John Banther and Linda Carducci talk about characteristics to listen for in his music, why he became a composer, and how literature played a part in his works. 
  • Bach's Christmas Oratorio, what to listen for and know!

    Bach's Christmas Oratorio, what to listen for and know!

    Episode 54 December 14, 2021

    It's a holiday classic that is becoming more popular, especially in the Washington area. Bill Bukowski joins John Banther to explain everything we need to know in this masterpiece. From how it was originally performed, expected audience participation, and how Bach reused old music. Plus, we have some listener mail and a special Classical Breakdown challenge. 
  • Bernstein's West Side Story

    Bernstein's West Side Story

    Episode 53 November 30, 2021

    Here is what to listen for, know, and appreciate when it comes to West Side Story before you watch the 2021 movie remake!