Classical For Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Musical storytelling with Gabriel Kahane

Composer Gabriel Kahane addresses the Helzberg Hall audience before the premiere of his piano concerto "Heirloom."
Eric T Williams
Composer Gabriel Kahane addresses the Helzberg Hall audience before the premiere of his piano concerto "Heirloom."


Michael Stern
Dan Margolies


Gabriel Kahane


Part 1 - Beethoven and Leshnoff
Ludwig van Beethoven and Jonathan Leshnoff

Overture to Coriolan, Op. 62
by Ludwig van Beethoven
Yoav Talmi, guest conductor
Live performance, November 2015

The German play on which it's based is forgotten, but Beethoven's overture lives on. Even for Beethoven, it's trailblazing music, with shocking dissonances and, as one Beethoven scholar says, an ending that doesn't so much close as expire. It has "all of the drama and all of the heroic tumult of the story" Michael Stern says, adding that "It's one of the most dramatic pieces that Beethoven wrote."

Symphony No. 3
by Jonathan Leshnoff
Stephen Powell, baritone
Live performance, May 2016

Commissioned by the Kansas City Symphony to commemorate the 100th anniversary of America's entry into World War I, Leshnoff's work is a sublime and powerful statement about the horrors of war. Leshnoff "went directly to the human impact of this terrible time" Michael Stern says and "translated that into an experience which actually transcended the description of the war itself."

The Kansas City Symphony's 2020 Reference Recordings release of Jonathan Leshnoff's Symphony No. 3 can be heard below along with accompanying images and highlighted text from the original correspondence that inspired the work. Courtesy of the National WWI Museum and Memorial.

Part 2 - Debussy and Kahane
Claude Debussy and Gabriel Kahane

Iberia No. 2 from "Images"
by Claude Debussy
Live performance, April 2016

This is the central part of a triptych of pieces written by Debussy and unquestionably the best known of the three. Interesting factoid: Gustav Mahler conducted the U.S. premiere of "Images" in 1911, leading the New York Philharmonic.

Heirloom: Piano Concerto
by Gabriel Kahane
Jeffrey Kahane, piano
Live performance, September 2021

Gabriel Kahane describes Heirloom as a series of inheritances. "The first is my [musical] inheritance from my parents. The second is really about the intergenerational inheritance of memory transmitted from my grandmother, to my father and to me, and that thorny relationship between the German tradition and the present and the emotion that lives in that, both of joy and of trauma. The third movement is an exploration of that which we pass down to our children." In his program notes for "Heirloom," Gabriel Kahane notes that for his grandmother Hannelore, who escaped Germany in 1939, "there was an unspeakable tension between her love of German music and the horror of the Holocaust." With this concerto, Kahane asks: "How does that complex set of emotions get transmitted across generations?"

Stay Connected
Dan Margolies has been a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star, and KCUR Public Radio. He retired as a reporter in December 2022 after a 37-year journalism career.
Sam Wisman is a Senior Producer for 91.9 Classical KC and a backup announcer for KCUR 89.3. Email him at