Alex James's Date Night - Saturday 11 April 2015, 7pm

Join Alex as he celebrates all the important dates in the classical music world over the week ahead.

Among Alex's highlights this week is the 70th anniversary of the premiere of the film The Gadfly, with a score by Shostakovich that has far outlived the fame of the movie itself. The film is a proudly boisterous affair: a swashbuckling costume drama depicting the life of a Russian hero in 1830s Italy. The setting of the film gave Shostakovich the excuse to borrow musical ideas from Italian Romantic composers such as Verdi and Bellini, but it’s the six-minute Romance for violin and orchestra that explains the score’s continued popularity today. Unashamedly inspired by French composer Jules Massenet’s soulful Méditation from the opera Thaïs, it’s an elegant, heart-on-your-sleeve melody, which leans and yearns with grace and poise. The Romance is best remembered by millions for its use in the 1980s TV series Reilly, Ace of Spies

There's also music tonight to mark the 65th anniversary of the legendary soprano Maria Callas’s debut at La Scala, Milan.  

Plus – Alex gives a nod to the 170th anniversary of Wagner’s completion of his score to the opera Tannhäuser, explains why Mozart was granted an audience at the Vatican in April 1770, and marks the 120th anniversary of Dvorak’s journey home to Europe from New York.