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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.

  • We have two very different symphonies this week: an Italian gem from 1800 by cello prodigy Luigi Boccherini and a powerful 21st century portrait by American composer Jonathan Leshnoff of the chaos and homesickness of American soldiers in World War I. Leshnoff’s Symphony No. 3 incorporates texts from solders’ letters to tell the story of the great war’s impact on their lives.
  • Three contrasting works by Beethoven make up this week’s show: a Romance for violin and orchestra arranged for cello, a stunning recording of his Fourth Piano Concerto with legendary pianist Robert Casadesus and the Concertgebouw Orchestra, then a world-shaking fugue that shocked listeners at its premiere. We’ll hear Beethoven at his most intimate, his most virtuostic, and – being the innovator he was – his most thundering and brilliant.
  • This week we feature two of the greatest compositional prodigies and piano virtuosi the world has ever known. While both Mendelssohn and Mozart died in their 30s, they each created a lifetime of incredible music. We’ll hear a stunning concerto by Mendelssohn, and a chamber version of a Mozart concerto that was a particular favorite of Beethoven, and one he frequently performed.
  • Bedřich Smetana’s “Ma Vlast” is one of the most ravishing orchestral works ever written. One writer observed that “Ma Vlast” has “history imbedded in every detail” and that the music is “Liszt’s tone poems at their most glorious.” No wonder that this music made Smetana a national hero of the Czech people. We’ll hear it realized in a magnificent recording by the Czech Philharmonic conducted by Václav Talich.
  • In the first of a new periodic series, we explore great music inspired by the immortal bard. The works of Shakespeare have inspired composers for centuries, and there’s a wealth of great music as a result. In this show we’ll feature music by Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Raff, and Walton. We will hear how these great literary works were imagined in sound.
  • This week we have two marvelous works by Johannes Brahms not originally composed for orchestra. But when reimagined for a full symphony orchestra, they are even more glorious. One was transformed by Brahms himself, and the other by composer Bright Sheng. With the resources and colors of a full symphony orchestra, we hear Brahms at his most magnificent.
  • In an episode called “Surprise Symphonies” we have a Haydn symphony, but not the one you might expect, plus the one and only symphony by French composer Ernest Chausson. These works are two symphonies in B-flat, by two composers who were both 35 years old at the time.
  • Wilhelm Furtwängler was a brilliant conductor, but a controversial genius, whose legacy still inspires debate. His remarkable musicianship is on display in three recordings of music by Weber, Schumann, and Beethoven – all central to the German musical canon to which he was so dedicated. This series of five programs of these great conductors ends with perhaps the most enigmatic and most interesting interpreter of the group.
  • 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.