How to get your classical music fix on Netflix
27 April 2020, 18:14 | Updated: 27 April 2020, 18:16
Missing nights at the opera? Wish you could visit your favourite concert hall? Netflix has some music offerings that might curb your classical cravings...
While lots of us have been at home over the past few weeks, chances are most of us have become well acquainted with the Netflix binge.
And while we’re all missing our classical music fix in the form of concerts, operas, ballets and other wonderful classical events we used to take for granted (alas), online streaming has become our answer to our weekly classical music fix.
So, in doing our bit to help keep you entertained during the coronavirus pandemic (and feed your ongoing desire for beautiful music), we present the best shows and movies now available.
Directed by Roman Polanski and released in 2002, haunting Holocaust drama The Pianist follows radio station pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman (played by American actor Adrien Brody) as he embarks on a harrowing journey through the ‘Warsaw Ghetto’.
As well as featuring many of Chopin’s finest works – including his Ballade No. 2 in F Major and the spectacular Andante spianato et grand polonaise brillante – Polanski’s screen adaptation demanded a melancholy soundtrack to match its sombre themes, and Polish film composer Wojciech Kilar’s original score is truly stunning.
Inspired by Deborah Feldman’s heart-wrenching memoir, Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots, this recent offering from Netflix tells the story of young woman, Esty, who flees her marriage and Brooklyn’s Hasidic Jewish community in the hope of starting a new life. Upon reaching Berlin, she befriends a group of students at a music conservatory and makes it her mission to secure a scholarship.
With its frequent classical references, beautiful orchestral performances, Esty’s nail-biting piano solo and an original score from Australian composer Antonio Gambale, this four-part series is not to be missed.
Released in 2006, this British period drama stars Ed Harris in the leading role of musical genius, Ludwig van Beethoven, and gives us a fictional take on the late composer’s triumphs and heartaches. When a conservatory student (played by fashion model, Diane Kruger) serves as Beethoven’s copyist, she is not only exposed to his brilliance – but also his insults and cruelty.
With music arranged by American composer and conductor Cliff Eidelman (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Free Willy 3: The Rescue) and references to the working manuscript of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, this film is worth a watch for all classical fans.
Co-directed by Éric Summer and Éric Warin, animated musical adventure comedy film, Ballerina (2016), follows an orphan girl who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer and soon finds herself with an audition at the prestigious school of the Paris Opera Ballet.
Starring the voices of Elle Fanning, Dane DeHaan, Maddie Ziegler and Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen, the movie is an ideal choice for young families and translates realistic dance choreography. The original soundtrack is truly charming and was written by German composer, producer and arranger, Klaus Badelt, who is best known for teaming up with Hans Zimmer to pen the scores for The Prince of Egypt, Gladiator and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Released on Netflix in 2019 following four years of filming around the globe, this visionary eight-part nature series explores some of Earth’s most precious habitats. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, it takes viewers on a spectacular journey and inspires them to protect the world in which we live.
The moving soundtrack for the show – which includes over six hours of music – was written by British film composer Steven Price, and has been a hit with audiences. Price told Classic FM: “I wanted to write a score full of thematic ideas that were all entwined throughout. The orchestra is quite full and consistent, but at times I introduced instruments like guitars to give the music a lighter feel.”
Forest of Piano
Starring popular Japanese actors, Soma Saito, Junichi Suwabe and Natsuki Hanae, this anime series tells the story of Kai, who grows up playing an old piano discarded in the woods. After a chance meeting with Shuhei’s father, a famous pianist, their lives and music are completely transformed.
Created by screenwriter Peter Morgan, The Crown tells the fascinating story of Queen Elizabeth II's life, from a 25-year-old newlywed who has just inherited the crown to a powerful and influential world leader. It gives a frank and powerful portrayal of the Queen’s ongoing trials as she takes over the ancient role of British monarch – and of her relationships with Prime Ministers over the years, including Sir Winston Churchill.
The soundtrack for the series has been full of musical surprises. The opening titles’ majestic theme, written by German film composer Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, The Dark Night Rises), sets a regal tone for the action on-screen and is a fitting introduction to Elizabeth’s lavish world at the Palace. In the third season, we’re also treated to some piano music by Beethoven and Chopin, Welsh folk songs, as well as music by David Bowie and Frank Sinatra.
Coming soon: Bradley Cooper’s Leonard Bernstein biopic
Best known for his incredible work on West Side Story and Candide, Bernstein has become something of a musicals icon – and with the upcoming film set to be backed by Paramount (whose recent roster of award-winning films includes Two Popes, Marriage Story and Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman), it will surely be a welcome addition to Netflix.
Watch this space...