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1.

Frédéric Chopin [electronic resource]: A Concise Biography

This installment of the Famous Composers series offers an introduction to the biography and work of Polish composer and pianist Frederic Chopin. The film contextualizes Chopin's early life as a child of musical parents, a Polish mother and French father. Chopin was performing and composing at a young age and became an accepted part of the musical world in Warsaw by the time he finished school at the Lyceum. Polish folk music was a serious influence on the composer's work, but he eventually moved to and settled in Paris during Polish Great Emigration, where he lived out the rest of his life, gained much popular success, and enjoyed the major relationship of his life with the French writer George Sand.
Online
2010
2.

Franz Joseph Haydn [electronic resource]: A Concise Biography

This introduction to the life and music of Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn from the Famous Composers series begins by contextualizing life in the eighteenth century Austro-Hungarian empire. Born to a wheelright and community leader, Haydn grew up with the folk culture and song presented to him by his parents. His talented was recognized early, and the film follows young Haydn to St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, where he struggled as a choirboy. It took some time for the musical nobility to take notice of Haydn, but he eventually gained a reputation as a teacher and conductor, and was finally given a post at court by Prince Esterhazy. It was here that Haydn gained an international reputation and became a widely published composer. The film discusses Haydn's friendship with Moza [...]
Online
2005
3.

George Frideric Handel [electronic resource]: A Concise Biography

This program from the Famous Composers series introduces the life and music of George Frideric Handel, beginning with his childhood and early musical development in Halle, Germany. The film follows Handel to Italy, where he cultivated his serious interest in opera, and contextualizes the religious conditions that the Lutheran composer faced in the Roman Catholic country. Handel then moved to England where he enjoyed great success and the Royal Academy of Music was formed to support his work. The film demonstrates how Handel adapted to changing English tastes by turning from opera to oratorios and gained an important place in British culture.
Online
2006
4.

Gustav Mahler [electronic resource]: A Concise Biography

This overview of the life and work of Gustav Mahler from the Famous Composers series opens by introducing the composer's parents and the political and social landscape of nineteenth century Bohemia. The film follows the young Mahler's musical education at the Vienna Conservatory and his general education, both supported by his father, Bernard Mahler. By the age of 20, Mahler secured steady work as a conductor and gained great success conducting operas. It was some time before conducting gave way to his own composing, which consisted of symphonies instead of operas. The film traces Mahler's appointments in Vienna and New York and his often difficult personal life through his death in 1911.
Online
2009
5.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart [electronic resource]: A Concise Biography

In this introduction to the biography and work of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart from the Famous Composers series, viewers are offered a glimpse of court lifestyle in Salzburg, where Leopold Mozart, the composer's father, was a musician, and in other European capitals, where his young children toured and performed. Leopold was an accomplished musician himself, but dedicated himself to the development of his children. Mozart's genius was recognized early and he was performing for nobility by the age of five. At twelve the boy returned to Vienna and composed his first opera and then went on a tour of Italy. The film follows Mozart's European travels, eventually finding him back in Salzburg as court organist. He was treated as a servant, however, and soon resigned. While Mozart was gaining suc [...]
Online
2007
6.

Puccini [electronic resource]: A Concise Biography

This installment of the Famous Composers series offers an overview of the life and work of Italian composer Giacomo Puccini, born in Tuscany to a historically musical family. The film characterizes the young Puccini as a talented but disinterested student until he was inspired by a performance of Verdi's Aida to pursue opera. Following the composer to the Milan Conservatory, the program traces the dramas of his life, starting with the profitable Le Villi and moving on to his scandalous marriage and failed Edgar. Puccini finally settled at Torre del Lago, where he lived and wrote the rest of his operas, including La Boheme and Madam Butterfly. He left just a few times, taking trips to New York and conducting operas there and in Vienna.
Online
2006
7.

Joseph-Maurice Ravel [electronic resource]: A Concise Biography

This installment of the Famous Composers series introduces the life and work of French composer Joseph-Maurice Ravel. Opening with pictures and a description of the composer's birthplace, the seaport of Ciboure in Basque country, the film characterizes Ravel's childhood and family as modest but pleasant. He entered the Conservatoire de Paris at 14, and while he was a piano major, he was also greatly influenced by literature, and the film discusses how Poe, Baudelaire, and Mallarme touch his work. He struggled in the Conservatoire, and the conservative professors found him too radical. Along with one of his great influences, Debussy, Ravel became a leader of the French avant-garde. The film also discusses Ravel's involvement in WWI and how the experience and post-war world shaped his music.
Online
2005
8.

Franz Peter Schubert [electronic resource]: A Concise Biography

In this installment of the Famous Composers series, viewers are offered an overview of the life and music of the Austrian composer Franz Peter Schubert. The film begins by introducing the overcrowded living conditions of the composer's childhood. Schubert received a strong education, however, his father being a school teacher, and eventually gained a choir scholarship at the royal seminary. The film discusses the political events overshadowing the musician's school days, mainly Napolean's attacks on Vienna. After seminary, Schubert worked as a schoolmaster with his father and composed prolifically. In 1815 he gave up teaching and moved into a room with his closest friend, Schober, who supported his work and introduced him to Johann Michael Vogl, a baritone who would sing many of Schu [...]
Online
2009
9.

Jan Sibelius [electronic resource]: A Concise Biography

This program from the Famous Composers series provides an overview of the life and work of Finnish composer Jan Sibelius. The video contextualizes the composer's childhood and his later musical production in light of Romantic Nationalism and political atmosphere in Finland. Following Sibelius to Helsinki and then Berlin, the film details both the building of his family and their home, the landscape of which provided inspiration, and then his scare with throat cancer. After the 1920s, Sibelius produced little new work, but his influence on contemporary music world wide and on Finnish culture continued to grow.
Online
2007
10.

Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky [electronic resource]: A Concise Biography

This program from the Famous Composers series introduces the life and work of Russian-born composer Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky. The film provides an overview of Stravinsky's childhood, which involved a sound musical education but pressure from his parents to pursue law, and the surrounding political turmoil in Russia. Not until Stravinsky's father died did he fully shift his concentration from law to music. He traveled to the Western world to see the premiere of his first ballet, The Firebird, in 1910, and settled in Switzerland with his family shortly thereafter. The film explores their experiences and struggles as a Russian Orthodox family living in Switzerland during WWI. The film follows Stravinsky to France, where he lost his wife and daughter, and then to the United States whe [...]
Online
2005
11.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky [electronic resource]: A Concise Biography

This program from the Famous Composers series provides an overview of the tumultuous life and influential work of Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, born to a large family with a history of military service. The film details Tchaikovsky's early loss of his mother, and how it influenced him greatly throughout his life. His musical education at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory distanced the composer from both his family, who wished him to pursue life as a civil servant, and his country and fellow Russian composers, who supported a more nationalistic style. The film also follows the composer's failed marriage and emotional breakdown, which gave way to some of his most successful works and an emotional charge in his compositions.
Online
2006
12.

Ludwig van Beethoven [electronic resource]: A Concise Biography

In this program from the Famous Composers series, viewers are introduced to the life and work of Ludwig van Beethoven beginning with an overview of his family's history and eighteenth century Germany. By the age of seven, under the tutelage of his father, Beethoven was playing concerts. At 17 Beethoven went to Vienna for the first time and met Mozart but returned home quickly to help support his family in the wake of his mother's death. He managed to develop successfully at Bonn, however, returning to Vienna years later to take lessons with Haydn and other established musicians. Here Beethoven became known as a major composer and a moody and eccentric character. By the age of 28 the composer began to go deaf, but continued to write and conduct masterpieces.
Online
2006
13.

Richard Strauss [electronic resource]: A Concise Biography

This program from the Famous Composers series introduces the life and work of German composer Richard Strauss, born to a horn player, Franz Strauss, in 1864. The film sheds light on Strauss' childhood in Munich, which revolved around the boy's musical education. His father's conservative tastes played a large role in shaping the composer, but also kept him away from the important influence of Wagner until later in life. By 1883 he left Munich for Berlin, where he began conducting and eventually met the soprano Paline de Ahna. They were married in 1894 and the relationship had a great influence on Strauss' work. The film explores Strauss' complex experience in Nazi Germany, as he opposed the Nazi mission but hoped to benefit from their support of German arts and culture, and his surge [...]
Online
2006
14.

Verdi [electronic resource]: A Concise Biography

This installment of the Famous Composers series introduces the life and work of Italian-born composer Giuseppe Verdi. The film begins by painting a portrait of the village Verdi was born in, then a part of the French Empire, and his childhood there as part of his Roman Catholic family. Following Verdi to Milan at the age of twenty, the film outlines the composers devlopment as a composer and as part of the artistic social circles. He soon returned to his childhood village, though, where he became music master and married, but quickly and tragically endured the deaths of his wife and two children. Verdi was devastated, but went on to remarry and compose a series of very successful operas.
Online
2006
15.

Wilhelm Richard Wagner [electronic resource]: A Concise Biography

This installment of the Famous Composers series offers an introduction to the life and work of German composer Wilhelm Richard Wagner. Wagner's musical interests were initiated by his stepfather's involvement in theater, an influence that remained important to the composer and his philosophy of "the total work of art." His adult life is characterized by a tumultuous marriage, troublesome debt, and political exile. The film explores his socialist politics and years of exile in Paris and Zurich - a time of personal struggle but great musical and written production. Wagner was finally offered financial and professional support under the new king of Bavaria, Ludwig II, in 1864. This cemented his musical success and influence, but this did not end the personal string of scandals in his life.
Online
2005