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.

Episodes

  • The Planets by Holst

    The Planets by Holst

    Episode 12 January 14, 2020

    Discover music by Holst that was inspired by the gods our planets are named after in our solar system. This seven-movement orchestral suite includes the terrifying sounds of war, the comfort of peace, jollity, and so much more.
  • Tchaikovsky's The Seasons

    Tchaikovsky's The Seasons

    Episode 11 December 31, 2019

    Get into the new year with a work that has music for every month! Tchaikovsky's The Seasons also includes poetry and gives us a glimpse into Russian life, month by month in 1876.
  • What does a conductor do?

    What does a conductor do?

    Episode 10 December 17, 2019

    Waving a baton is just a small part of being a conductor. Michelle Merrill tells what it's like to prepare a concert with an orchestra, from the year before to the downbeat of the concert.
  • What is a Symphonic Poem?

    What is a Symphonic Poem?

    Episode 8 November 19, 2019

    Discover one of the more colorful genres of classical music, the Symphonic Poem, which can depict animals, landscape, literature, and even football players!
  • The Abeo Quartet performs Moonshot

    The Abeo Quartet performs Moonshot

    Episode 6 October 22, 2019

    The Abeo Quartet performs Moonshot, a new work by Alistair Coleman. Alistair talks about the inspiration for this piece, and after the performance, we talk with the quartet about putting this piece together, new playing techniques, and space travel!
  • Kian Soltani, cellist, talks tempo, karate, and his debut album "Home"

    Kian Soltani, cellist, talks tempo, karate, and his debut album "Home"

    Episode 5 October 8, 2019

    Kian talks about bringing people together in music, changing tempos, karate, and more. He is one of today's most celebrated young cellists and has risen the ranks as one of today's great cello soloists. His collaboration with conductor Daniel Barenboim has taken him around the world, he's performed with some of the worlds greatest orchestras. and records for Deutsche Grammophon.
  • What is a Symphony? Part 1

    What is a Symphony? Part 1

    Episode 4 September 24, 2019

    The Symphony has been one of classical music's biggest genres. But, have you ever wondered what makes a symphony, a symphony? The origins take us back to the 17th century with symphonies that lasted only a few minutes, and we explore its development up to Beethoven's blockbuster Symphony No. 9.
  • Wu Han, pianist and cultural entrepreneur

    Wu Han, pianist and cultural entrepreneur

    Episode 2 September 10, 2019

    She might be the busiest chamber musician in the United States. Wu Han is in charge of several music festivals worldwide, has an intense performing schedule, and manages a record label. In this episode, she tells us about her early musical inspirations in Taiwan, how tragedy led her to another career path, where chamber music is headed, and even how to fix wardrobe malfunctions with a stapler.
  • The Four Seasons, how Vivaldi depicts the world in sound

    The Four Seasons, how Vivaldi depicts the world in sound

    Episode 3 September 10, 2019

    Poetry, falling on the ice, and a barking dog, there is so much to hear and discover in Antonio Vivaldi’s masterpiece, The Four Seasons. In this episode, we get into the details and musical examples with a recording that brings a fresh perspective to this work published nearly 300 years ago.
  • Alistair Coleman on writing music

    Alistair Coleman on writing music

    Episode 1 September 10, 2019

    Mozart and Beethoven were genius composers, but they wrote music very differently. Renowned young composer from Washington, Alistair Coleman, tells us what made Beethoven and Mozart different and describes his own music writing process.