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.


  • What is an Overture?

    What is an Overture?

    Episode 27 October 6, 2020

    Is an Overture defined by the kind of music it contains or simply where it appears in a concert? The answer can change throughout history, and with musical examples, John and Nicole get into the details of this "bite-size music."
  • Rimsky-Korsakov's enchanting Scheherazade

    Rimsky-Korsakov's enchanting Scheherazade

    Episode 26 September 22, 2020

    Discover the musical details and backstory of a work that's captivated listeners for over a century. John Banther and Linda Carducci discuss its origins and use their imagination to fill in the musical gaps.
  • The life of Beethoven

    The life of Beethoven

    Episode 25 September 8, 2020

    Discover the life and works of one classical music's greatest composers! His life was full of groundbreaking music, but it was also tragic as he dealt with family problems and hearing loss. We explore the details of his life and listen to samples of his music, from his first composition to his final Symphony No. 9.
  • Season 2 returns September 8!

    Season 2 returns September 8!

    Episode 25 September 1, 2020

    Did Beethoven do celebrity endorsements? How many beans were in his cup of coffee? Was he cruel, or just misunderstood? Learn all about the life of Beethoven with John Banther and Bill Bukowski when Classical Breakdown returns September 8. Then on September 22 Linda Carducci joins John Banther for a deep dive into Rimsky-Korsakov's enchanting Scheherazade.
  • Recommended summer listening

    Recommended summer listening

    Episode 24 June 30, 2020

    Expand your musical palate with music found in an attic in 2009, new interpretations of Beethoven and Franck, and an instrument you've probably never heard before.
  • Haydn's lost cello concerto and its rediscovery

    Haydn's lost cello concerto and its rediscovery

    Episode 22 June 2, 2020

    Haydn's 1st cello concerto was lost for 200 years and is now considered one of the greatest cello concertos of the 18th century. Dr. Greenwald tells us how music can go missing, we examine musical examples that set this concerto apart, and we enjoy a full performance!
  • Debussy's La Mer - Part 3

    Debussy's La Mer - Part 3

    Episode 20 May 5, 2020

    Debussy's La Mer is as imaginative and playful as it was in 1905, and while the original audience wasn't as receptive, it's become an orchestra staple over the last century. The final movement is called "Dialogue du vent et de la mer" (Dialogue of the Wind and the Sea) and features a theme originating in the oboe. We'll hear from Nicholas Stovall, Principal Oboe of the National Symphony Orchestra, on what this passage means to him and why he had to play it during Principal Flute auditions.
  • Debussy's La Mer - Part 2

    Debussy's La Mer - Part 2

    Episode 19 April 21, 2020

    The trumpet shines through in Jeux de Vagues, (Play of the Waves), the second movement of Debussy's La mer. This is part 2 of our 3 part series on Debussy's enchanting orchestral work, La Mer.
  • Debussy's La Mer - Part 1

    Debussy's La Mer - Part 1

    Episode 18 April 7, 2020

    An orchestral staple today, this work about "the sea" wasn't well received at it's premiere. Audiences may have expected a Strauss-esque symphonic poem to bring the sea to life, but Debussy was more interested in the abstract. This is part 1 of our 3 part series on Debussy's enchanting orchestral work, La Mer.