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Frank Byrne

Host, From the Archives

Frank Byrne has spent his life in music administration, first as the senior administrator of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band in Washington, DC, and later as Executive Director of the Kansas City Symphony. In addition to his administrative work, Byrne was also a professional tuba player and student of legendary Chicago Symphony tubist Arnold Jacobs. He has lived the music business on stage and in the office, and has retained his passion for great music and the people who make it.

His passion is fueled by intense curiosity and a desire to understand what makes some performances extraordinary. As a picture is worth a thousand words, some special recordings convey qualities that go beyond words, with their own power and compelling message. Finding and sharing those special performances remains a lifelong hobby and obsession. He also believes that Classical KC provides a wonderful opportunity to share great music with an entirely new audience and hopes to help make that a reality.

  • Otto Klemperer was a giant among conductors in both stature and musical insight. He overcame enormous personal challenges, escaped the Nazi regime, endured crippling injuries and still made music that inspired millions. His signature work was Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony and we’ll hear his legendary 1955 recording with the Philharmonia Orchestra – judged by many to be the best ever recorded.
  • Five of the world’s greatest conductors came together in Berlin, 1929. In the third of five shows paying tribute to these extraordinary musicians we profile Erich Kleiber. He was a master interpreter and superlative musician. He left a prominent post in Germany in protest of Nazi racial policies and lived in Buenos Aires for years while conducting opera and symphonic concerts wherever he could. After World War II he was embraced and revered as one of the world’s great conductors. We’ll hear his legendary recording of Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony which still inspires many decades later.
  • Five of the world’s greatest conductors came together in Berlin, 1929. In the second of five shows paying tribute to these extraordinary musicians we profile Arturo Toscanini, second from the left in the photo. Toscanini was a genius conductor and musician, and also perhaps the first superstar in the mass media of his day. His drive for perfection and his intensely committed performances captivated audiences then and now. In this program, we’ll hear some of his most compelling recordings.
  • Five of the world’s greatest conductors came together in Berlin, 1929. In the first of five shows paying tribute to these extraordinary musicians we profile Bruno Walter, far left in the photo. Walter was one of the most respected and beloved conductors of the 20th century. A master in both the opera house and the concert stage, we’ll hear music by Brahms, Mozart, and Wagner as only he could conduct it.
  • This show features four great overtures – two French and two Italian – composed between 1823 and 1855. We’ll hear music by Adolph Adam, Gioacchino Rossini, Hector Berlioz, and Giuseppe Verdi in thrilling performances that capture the spirit and majesty of grand opera.
  • Another show of themes and variations – this time with music by Anton Arensky, Cesar Franck, and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, an Anglo-African composer whose work deserves to be heard more often.
  • The favorite composers for Sir Thomas Beecham were Haydn and Mozart. While he could lead enormous Wagner operas with skill and flair, Sir Thomas was fascinated by these great musicians and their perfectly crafted masterpieces. In today’s show we will hear Haydn’s Symphony No. 100, the “Military Symphony,” and Mozart’s Symphony No. 38, the “Prague” Symphony. We’ll also hear an excerpt from an historic opera recording that Beecham made in Berlin.
  • British conductor and impresario Sir Thomas Beecham (1879-1961) was one of the world’s greatest conductors. He brought music to life in ways that very few conductors could. Adored by the musicians who played for him and by his audiences, he pretended in interviews that he was very casual but, in fact, he was intensely devoted to music. In this first program, we’ll hear some of his specialties with music by Berlioz, Delius, Gounod, Massenet and Handel.
  • German composer Richard Strauss wrote a wide range of music, some charming and some shocking. We’ll hear examples of both in this week’s show with a showpiece for organ and orchestra, two diverse works for winds, an homage to his hometown of Munich, and finally a dramatic scene that’s been described as the most appalling moment in all of opera. It’s one peek into the world of music Strauss composed in his long career.
  • Richard Strauss was one of the most influential composers of the late 19th and early 20th century with incredible tone poems that eclipsed those of the great Franz Liszt. Also a major conductor of operas, Strauss knew how to tell a story, and in 1915 he completed his most epic tone poem, his Alpine Symphony. It’s a glorious and cinematic work that doesn’t often get radio airplay, so we will enjoy it in one of the finest recordings ever.