Frank Franano played in the Kansas City Philharmonic from 1943 (at age 16) and its successor, the Kansas City Symphony, until 1993, the last 25 years as principal horn. He also taught at the Conservatory of Music in Kansas City and had a significant impact on horn playing in Kansas City. At one point, the entire orchestra section was Frank and his students.
Frank was born in 1926 and began his musical studies with three years of solfeggio study with his father, an Italian-trained pianist, clarinetist, and opera coach. He was a student at Interlochen the summer before joining the Kansas City Philharmonic. He studied horn with Karl Schinner, Merle Smith, and, briefly, Alfred Brain. While in Los Angeles, he won an audition for the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra but was immediately drafted into the armed forces.
Early in his career, he toured with the Claude Thornhill big band, the American Ballet Theater, the Virginia Symphony, and the Virtuoso Orchestra. Later he also played in the Filarmonica de las Americas in Mexico City and the World Symphony Orchestra, made up of musicians from 60 countries, which played Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and for the opening of Disney World in 1971. He also toured with Stan Kenton and Henry Mancini.
He was drafted near the end of World War II and played in the port of embarkation band stationed in Fort Kilmer NJ. A second draft in 1952 sent him to the 4th Infantry Division Band in Frankfurt, Germany, then into the 7th Army Symphony (1952-1954). This symphony was part of the Marshall Plan, an effort to improve the image of American GIs in Europe, at which it was successful.
Frank was instrumental in the formation of the Kansas City Symphony and served as its personnel manager from 1982-1995. He was the founding principal horn of the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, performed with the State Ballet of Missouri, and taught at Drake University in Des Moines IA and Stephens College in Columbia MO. He played at the Starlight Theater in Kansas City, an outdoor summer stock company; its first production was the Student Prince, at which Sigmund Romberg conducted the overture.
Frank received the Punto Award at the 1994 International Horn Symposium in Kansas City MO.