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The Great Composers


The Great Composers dives deep into the lives behind some of the greatest music ever written. Host Karla Walker and conductor Scott O'Neil look at the world through the eyes of these gifted artists. Learn about obstacles they overcame, and their loves, losses, successes and failures. You'll feelRead more

Popular episodes

Sergei Rachmaninoff, Chapter 8: A Stunning Finale

Nov 3 • 33:34
When the urge to compose finally struck again, Rachmaninoff took a little theme by Nicolo Paganini and turned it into a tour de force for the piano and orchestra, called Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. In this final episode of the Great Composers series on Rachmaninoff, we also explore Rachmaninoff’s final masterpiece -- the Symphonic Dances. Rachmaninoff reaches back to ...

Sergei Rachmaninoff, Chapter 7: The Making Of A Sacred Masterwork

Oct 26 • 24:11
After four long years living outside of Russia due to political instability, Rachmaninoff was finally able to bring his family home. He returned with a determination to write a Russian sacred piece that would be a lasting contribution to the orthodox repertoire. The composer ultimately found success with his "All-Night Vigil," considered the crowning achievement in Russian...

Sergei Rachmaninoff, Chapter 6: Triumph And Revolution

Oct 19 • 24:32
Clickety clack. That’s all Sergei Rachmaninoff heard as he practiced his new Piano Concerto No. 3 in advance of his big American tour, during which he would debut the piece. That’s because he finished the piece just before departing for the U.S. and didn't leave himself time to practice. He had to make do with practicing on a silent keyboard on the ship. When you hear how ...

Sergei Rachmaninoff, Chapter 5: The Reluctant Hit Maker

Oct 2 • 22:51

Sergei Rachmaninoff, Chapter 4: It Takes A Village

Sep 29 • 20:29
Sergei Rachmaninoff finds himself in a funk. It’s been three years since the disastrous premiere of his Symphony No. 1 and the composer has barely written a note since then. His confidence is crushed. Self-doubt has crippled him. And it looks like his muse has left him. Enter the family intervention. In what becomes a persistent theme in Rachmaninoff’s life, his family ins...

Sergei Rachmaninoff, Chapter 3: A Bullseye On His Back

Sep 22 • 17:19
Crouched low. Hiding in a fire escape backstage with his fingers plugging his ears. This is how Sergei Rachmaninoff experienced the premiere of his Symphony No. 1. What should have been a triumphant night for Rachmaninoff turned into a nightmare which only worsened once the review appeared in the newspaper. "Diseased and perverted harmonizations." "Morbid atmosphere." Fit ...

Sergei Rachmaninoff, Chapter 2: Tchaikovsky And Rachmaninoff

Sep 15 • 19:03
We all need a little help from friends, and one of Sergei Rachmaninoff's most supportive friends was none other than the great Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky cheered for Rachmaninoff from his box seat at concerts and paired their works together in concert. But just as Rachmaninoff started to find his footing as a composer, Tchaikovsky died unexpectedly. Tc...

Sergei Rachmaninoff, Chapter 1: A Prelude To A Life Filled With Sorrow And Beauty

Sep 8 • 12:51

Leonard Bernstein: 100 Years Of A Great American Composer

Aug 15 • 38:04
An intimate look at the life and legacy of a singular musical figure, featuring insights from conductor Marin Alsop. Bernstein was born Aug. 25, 1918, and classical music lovers across the world are marking the 100th anniversary of his birth this year. It's a chance to rediscover his most indelible compositions, connect with his lesser-known pieces and appreciate what a si...

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Chapter 5: The People’s Composer

Oct 7 • 43:43
Mozart's "The Magic Flute" marries high art with catchy tunes, and makes us wonder what the composer would have written if he had lived longer. It's the final of five episodes on Mozart, kicking off our new podcast The Great Composers. The series, hosted by Karla Walker and Scott O'Neil, offers an intimate look at some of history's greatest musical minds. Subscribe so you ...

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