Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Classical Music - Sunday 12 July 2015, 9pm

Catherine Bott looks at the powerful patrons who made some of the great classical music possible.

Ludwig II Bavaria

Money, so the famous song goes, makes the world go round, and it’s also played an essential role in making sure that some of the greatest music ever written sees the light of day.

So tonight Catherine Bott asks: “How important is a patron to classical music?”

Through her investigations Catherine has turned up such colourful characters as Baron Gottfried van Swieten, a diplomat, librarian, and government official who sponsored several great composers including Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.

Tchaikovsky’s patron, the Russian businesswoman Nadezhda von Meck, stipulated that she would fund the composer so long as he never attempted to meet her. King Ludwig II of Bavaria (pictured) was a devoted patron of Richard Wagner, and the Finnish government paid Sibelius an annual grant for life so that he could compose. Catherine concludes with the story of American heiress Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, who spent her considerable inheritance on promoting chamber music.

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