Sir Trevor McDonald returns to tell the stories of more headline-making musicians and composers.
Tonight, Sir Trevor celebrates a 20th century musical legend; a composer and conductor who is credited for bringing classical music to the masses via television: Leonard Bernstein. The winner of 17 Grammy Awards, Bernstein conducts the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in the overture to Orpheus in the Underworld by Offenbach.
Trevor also features the violinist about whom it was said, “we might as well take our fiddles and break them across our knees”, Jascha Heifetz, and the first African-American composer to write a symphony – William Grant-Still. He plays Grant-Still’s Symphony No.1 which was, until 1950, the most widely performed symphony written by an American. Finally, Trevor explains how Franz Schubert was arrested for using “opprobrious language” towards the Viennese police.
Sunday 31 January
Sir Trevor McDonald continues the second series of his programme celebrating the musicians who made, or still make, headlines.
This week, Sir Trevor discovers that critics were originally not kind to one of the most iconic works of the 20th century; he explains why George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue made the headlines for the wrong reasons. He also plays a piece that was allegedly written in just six days, in a cave. Xian Xinghai’s Yellow River Piano Concerto started life as a cantata that used folk melodies as a protest against Japanese occupation.
Finally, Sir Trevor introduces us to a composer who bore the title “Chevalier” as a honorary champion fencer. Joseph Boulogne – known as Chevalier de Saint-Georges – is generally regarded at the first classical composer of African ancestry. We hear the second movement of his Violin Concerto in D.
Sunday 7 February
The TV presenter and newsreading icon features more of those superstar musicians who often made, or still make, headlines.
This week, Sir Trevor plays a performance by a pianist about whom the great Leonard Bernstein said “there’s nobody quite like him”; the eccentric Canadian Glenn Gould was known for his strange performance habits and retired from the stage at the age of just 31. We hear Gould perform Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in D minor.
There’s also a performance from an opera which had such a terrible premiere, the audience jeers drowned out the music, as Sir Trevor features Star soprano Renee Fleming singing ‘Un Bel di’ from Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. He also plays music by the first African-American to win a Pulitzer Prize for music, George Walker, and examines one of classical music’s biggest mysteries: what happened to Haydn’s skull, and why are there now two in his tomb?