Join conductor and educator Scott O’Neil every day for insightful stories that reveal and demystify classical music.
Behind the Baton broadcast schedule: Mon. at 7 a.m. & 4 p.m.; Tues. at 1 p.m. & 8 p.m.; Wed. at 6 a.m. & 3 p.m.; Thurs. at 11 a.m. & 6 p.m.; Fri. at 8 a.m. & 2 p.m.; Sat. at 9 a.m., 1 p.m., & 4 p.m.; Sun. at 2 p.m. & 6 p.m., or you can play the audio below.
Check back here each week for the latest feature 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. Discover extraordinary tales of the most enduring and beloved melodies, from Behind the Baton. ~Monika Vischer, Program Director, CPR Classical
August 2 - August 8: Painting Portraits With Music
Edward Elgar wrote several versions of 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.
July 26 - August 1: A Song Without Words
The music appears improvised, still there is ingenious design that makes Rachmaninoff's Vocalise so beautiful and inspired. From the piano in the CPR Performance Studio, Scott O'Neil describes what makes this wordless song sound so "free."
July 19 - July 25: Bernstein's Candide Overture
"If there is a more quintessential overture, I don't know what it is--isn't it worthy to be the greatest overture?" Fanfares…waltzes…Leonard Bernstien's Candide Overture is a yes! Conductor Scott O'Neil shares more on Behind the Baton.
July 12 - July 18: Bolero Phantom Organ
Maurice Ravel's "Bolero" has several iconic solos, including one for an instrument that isn't even onstage! It's an example of the evocative colors Ravel was able to coax out of the orchestra. Scott O'Neil uses "Bolero" to tell us why he thinks Ravel is one of the best orchestrators ever.
July 5 - July 11: Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream Overture
"A Midsummer Night's Dream" by Shakespeare is a playful comedy filled with nonsensical mischief and wordplay. It's captured creative imaginations since its 1605 premiere and one of the most famous takes is Felix Mendelssohn's Overture. Conductor Scott O'Neil takes you Behind the Baton to explain the beautiful and imaginative score.
June 28 - July 4: When in Rome
When a young Mozart attended a Lenten Mass with his father at the Sistine Chapel, he broke the rules in a big way - but it made him even more famous! Scott O'Neil tells us the tale of "Miserere" from Behind the Baton.
June 21 - June 27: Telemann the World Record Holder
Georg Philipp Telemann is credited as the most prolific composer of all time, more so than Bach. And even though Telemann competed (successfully) with Bach for an important job, Scott O'Neil says you couldn't find a nicer guy!
June 14 - June 20: The Father of the Symphony
Joseph Haydn wrote over 100 Symphonies, earning him the title "Father of the Symphony." They set the standard for what a classical symphony is. But Scott O'Neil reminds us that, standard doesn't have to mean conventional in this week's Behind the Baton.
June 7 - June 13: What Was Old Is New Again
Composers are expected to make music that sounds new and totally original. But, as Scott O'Neil tells us, composers like Respighi had the genius (and good taste) to rework old Baroque melodies into powerful new works.
May 31 - June 6: Somewhere Over The Rainbow
What do Bach and Judy Garland have in common? Conductor Scott O'Neil lets us know from Behind the Baton!
May 24 - May 30: Rossini the Melodist
Some composers have a natural gift for tossing off great melodies - almost effortlessly. One of those composers was Gioachino Rossini, whose Barber of Seville and William Tell Overture include some of the most recognizable melodies in music. Scott O'Neil tells us more from Behind the Baton.
May 17 - May 23: Copland's Fanfare
May 17 - May 23: Aaron Copland wrote his "Fanfare For The Common Man" for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra - a patriotic World War Two-era overtures project. Conductor Scott O'Neil explains how Copland opens with the day that will "live in infamy", December 7th, 1941.
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. and 2 p.m.
- Tuesday at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.
- Wednesday at 6 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- Thursday at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.
- Friday at 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
- Saturday at 9 a.m., 1 p.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.