Join conductor and music educator Scott O’Neil every day for stories that reveal and demystify classical music.
Behind the Baton broadcast schedule: Mon. at 7 a.m., Tues. at 1 p.m., Wed. at 3 p.m, Thurs. at 8 a.m., Fri. at 11 a.m., Sat. at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., or you can play the story below.
Check back here each week for a new story from Behind the Baton with Scott O'Neil.
Music's most extraordinary stories often reveal something about ourselves. They surprise, awe or fascinate us. They can also demystify classical music, especially told from Behind the Baton by the conductor.
Colorado conductor Scott O’Neil uncovers the hidden stories of the great works, as the former longtime Resident Conductor of the Colorado Symphony. Scott shares his captivating insights every day on CPR Classical from our Steinway piano in the CPR Performance Studio. Discover the extraordinary stories of the most enduring and beloved melodies, from Behind the Baton. ~Monika Vischer, Program Director, CPR Classical
May 10 - May 16: Honoring Tradition
We tend to think of composers almost as "inventors of sound." But for all his musical creativity, Johannes Brahms was interested in honoring the past. Conductor Scott O'Neil lets us in on Brahms' perspective.
May 3 - May 9: Water Music
You might think Handel's Water Music was composed to depict rivers and seas. But it was actually composed to be performed ON the River Thames that flows through London! Conductor Scott O'Neil tells us about his favorite movement, called Alla Hornpipe.
April 26 - May 2: Going Home
Czech composer Antonin Dvorak encouraged American composers to incorporate uniquely American music, particularly African American Spirituals and Native American melodies. In the melting-pot symphony that is Dvorak's 9th, he shows the world just what he meant.
April 19 - April 25: Gymnopedies
French composer Erik Satie heard the bombastic symphonies of German and Austrian powerhouse composers and wanted to write the opposite. What we get are his Gymnopedies, minimalist, melancholy music explained here by conductor Scott O'Neil.
April 12 - April 18: Fate Knocks at the Door
The opening of Beethoven's 5th Symphony might be one of the most recognizable sets of notes in classical music. Conductor Scott O'Neil explains how that ominous beginning has come to represent fate itself.
April 5 - April 11: Pulling at the Heartstrings
Samuel Barber's most famous work, his "Adagio for Strings" speaks directly to the heart. Early reviewers said it "rarely leaves a dry eye." Scott O'Neil demonstrates exactly how Barber achieves the work's dramatic emotion.
Mar. 29 - April 4: Less is More
Some adjacent notes in a standard musical scale create friction when you play them together. Edvard Grieg simply removed those clashing notes, and left us with a quieting beauty aptly named: Morning Mood.
Mar. 22 - Mar. 28: A Musical Love Letter
Alma Schindler was a gifted composer before she gave it up to become the devoted wife of Gustav Mahler. How did he woo her? With messages of deep yearning that he placed in his famous adagietto of his Symphony No. 5. Scott decodes exactly how Gustav pulled on Alma's heartstrings in one of the most luscious works for orchestra ever conceived.
Mar. 15 - Mar. 21: Bernstein in Vienna
Forget that Leonard Bernstein was one of the world's greatest conductors. The Viennese had no problem telling the famous visitor from New York just how to properly conduct a Viennese Waltz. Scott O'Neil tells us the story.
Mar. 8 - Mar. 14: The Hymn Heard 'Round The Galaxy
The hymn section of Gustav Holst's famous Jupiter fills the soul with warmth. By strange serendipity, this music later found its mate - the words - an ocean away, and fell beautifully into orbit. Scott tells the story.
Mar. 1 - Mar. 7: A Musical Time-Off Request
How do you tell your boss, "Enough overtime. Let us go home!" Joseph Haydn found a clever, musical way to drop the hint. Scott O'Neil shares the story behind his "Farewell Symphony," a perennial favorite to this day.
Feb. 22 - Feb. 28: Fated To Be A One-Hit Wonder?
Scott O'Neil breaks down the allure and magic of the opening to Carl Orff's best known work. “O Fortuna,” the opening section of the cantata “Carmina Burana,” was written in 1935-1936 and features Latin text from early 13th century.
Feb. 15 - Feb. 21:
Dvořák's Tribute to a Lost Love
Antonín Dvořák's first love, Josefina Čermáková, never returned his affection and Dvořák married her sister instead. When Josefina became terminally ill, Dvořák adapted the melody of her favorite vocal piece and added it to his Cello Concerto.
Feb. 8 - Feb. 14: Painting A Portrait With Music
Composer Edward Elgar wrote 14 variations on a theme for his “Enigma Variations” and dedicated the work “to my friends pictured within.” Variation I is dedicated to his wife Alice and incorporates the tune he would whistle to announce his arrival home each evening.
Feb. 1 - Feb. 7: American Impressionist Charles Tomlinson Griffes
Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Erik Satie are all well known French impressionist composers, creating distinctly lush and exquisite music. But impressionist music wasn't just created in France; learn about American composer Charles Tomlinson Griffes.
Jan. 25 - Jan. 31:
Mozart, Mannheim & Motown
Much like Detroit is known for its “Motown” sound, in the mid-1700's the German town of Mannheim in had its own distinctive sound which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart built on for some of his most famous pieces.
Jan. 18 - Jan. 24:
Classical Drinking Songs
When Johannes Brahms was asked to compose for a formal academic ceremony, he cleverly arranged college drinking songs for orchestra, to the shock of college establishment. O'Neil helps us identify the rousing melodies in the “Academic Festival Overture” by Brahms.
Jan. 11 - Jan. 17:
America's Piano Concerto
George Gershwin's “Rhapsody in Blue” is the most famous American piano concerto. Written in 1924, it’s been used to represent the United States in everything from the olympics to airline commercials. Learn how Gershwin synthesized the input of musicians and the world around him to create a truly American sound.
Jan. 4 - Jan. 10:
What Does A Sunrise Sound Like?
Hear a morning sunrise from Maurice Ravel's magical ballet “Daphnis et Chloé”. The piece premiered in Paris, summer of 1912 by the company “Ballets Russes”. It tells the love story of the goat herder Daphnis and the shepherdess Chloé.
Behind The Baton On CPR Classical
- Monday at 7 a.m.
- Tuesday at 1 p.m.
- Wednesday at 3 p.m
- Thursday at 8 a.m.
- Friday at 11 a.m.
- Saturday at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Sunday at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Listen to CPR Classical by clicking “Listen Live” on this website. You can also hear CPR Classical at 88.1 FM in Denver, at radio signals around Colorado, or ask your smart speaker to “Play CPR Classical.”
More Musical Insights from Scott O'Neil
The Great Composers Podcast
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 feel you know Mozart, Rachmaninov and others as friends.