Our Classical Century on the BBC
What to watch and listen out for on TV and radio
From Nov 2018 to July 2019, Our Classical Century will chart the music of the last 100 years, divided into four parts. Each part will be headed by an introductory guide on BBC Four, while accompanying programmes on BBC Two and Radio 3 will explore the subject in greater detail. Here are the highlights…
Our Classical Century: Episode One (1918-36) In the first programme of the series, presenters Suzy Klein and Sir Lenny Henry (see p130) explore the profound impact of the First World War on classical music in Britain, from Holst’s The Planets onwards.
BBC Four, November 2018 Discovering… Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue In the first of ‘Discovery Concerts’, Josie D’arby delves into one of the 20th century’s most iconic works (see p28), brought to life by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. BBC Four, November 2018 Holst & Vaughan Williams – Making Music English Tom Service joins historian Amanda Vickery to look into the friendship of Vaughan Williams and Holst, retracing their trips across Britain in search of new influences. The BBC Concert Orchestra illustrates the narrative with excerpts from their works. BBC Two, November 2018 Top 100 Countdown in Essential Classics (1-25) Throughout the coming months, Radio 3’s Essential Classics will be identifying 100 great classical music moments from the last century, from groundbreaking premieres to performances that had a major impact.
Radio 3, Nov-dec 2018
Our Classical Century: Episode Two (1936-53) Suzy Klein and John Simpson examine the role of classical music during and after the Second World War. Key moments include the first performance of Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony at the BBC Proms and the wartime National Gallery concerts by pianist Myra Hess. BBC Four, February 2019 Discovering… Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra Katie Derham introduces Britten’s much loved work, which began life as a commission for a Ministry of Education film. It’s played here by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
BBC Four, Feb 2019 Britten’s War Requiem at English National Opera A documentary tracing ENO’S year-long journey towards a performance of Britten’s War Requiem, staged to mark the centenary of the WWI armistice. BBC Four, February 2019 Top 100 Countdown in Essential Classics (26-50) Radio 3, exact dates TBC
Our Classical Century: Episode Three (1953-71) Suzy Klein and Joan Bakewell explore the collision of classical music with popular culture during this era, with contributions from cellists Sheku Kanneh-mason and Julian Lloyd Webber.
BBC Four, April 2019 Discovering… Arnold’s The Bridge on the River Kwai Katie Derham and the BBC Concert Orchestra delve into the 1957 soundtrack composed by Malcolm Arnold in just ten days. BBC Four, April 2019 Brian Cox on Holst’s The Planets In the company of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Brian Cox (below) looks at what science has revealed to us about the planets in the last 100 years. BBC Two, April 2019 Top 100 Countdown in Essential Classics (51-75) Radio 3, exact dates TBC
Our Classical Century Episode Four: (1980s – present) With singer Alexandra Burke,
Suzy Klein explores how classical music has been redefined and made more accessible through technology. Featuring contributions from Nigel Kennedy, Steven Isserlis and Simon Rattle. BBC Four, June 2019 Discovering… Saariaho’s Graal Théâtre Tom Service investigates Saariaho’s electrifying violin concerto with the BBC Phil.
BBC Four. June 2019 Top 100 Countdown in Essential Classics (76-100) Radio 3, dates TBC First Night of the Proms 2019 Featuring a newly commissioned work Radio 3, 12 July
A classic explored:Alec Guinness and Sessue Hayakawa in The Bridge on the River Kwai