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Music — 17th Century — History and Criticism
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Giuseppe Verdi [electronic resource]

The life of Giuseppe Verdi contained almost as much tragedy and joy as his timeless operas. This beautifully filmed program traces the long and eventful career of a giant in musical composition who vowed to never write an opera again after the fiasco of his first production. Dramatic reenactments, photos, archival footage, and rare recordings from the National Institute of Verdi Studies and La Scala Opera Theatre chronicle his prolific creativity as well as his political involvements. Excerpts from Nabucco, La Traviata, Rigoletto, Aida, Macbeth, Otello, and Falstaff, Verdi's final triumph composed when he was nearly 80 years of age, provide an engaging sampling of his oeuvre.
2006; 2000

Chinese Cracker [electronic resource]: Making of Peony Pavilion

Written by 16th-century Chinese playwright Tang Xianzu, The Peony Pavilion is a 19-hour epic opera in 57 episodes that tells a story of youth and love literally triumphing over death. This program follows director Chen Shi-Zheng and the Shanghai Kunju Opera Troupe in their monumental effort of staging the entire production, an event that had not occurred in nearly four centuries. Despite resistance by the Chinese government and the project's inherent difficulties, the debut at the Lincoln Center was an overwhelming success. Coverage of rehearsals, set construction, and costume preparation is combined with interviews with Chen Shi-Zheng and his musical director Zhou Ming, who place this masterpiece in its historical and cultural context.
2005; 2000

Philippe Herreweghe [electronic resource]: And the Word Became Song

Flemish conductor Philippe Herreweghe is credited with restoring the freshness and purity of Baroque choral music. His ensembles, which embrace a wide variety of musical periods, have included Collegium Vocale Ghent, La Chapelle Royale, the Orchestre des Champs Elysees, the Jeune Orchestre Atlantique, and RIAS Kammerchor, and his artistry is a model for choral music worldwide. But above all he is the man who, thanks to his incredible energy, kindles a sacred flame that warms audiences and performers alike. This program attempts to capture the many facets of the esteemed maestro through interviews, concert clips, and rehearsal footage. The music of J. S. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Schoenberg, and Pascal Dusapin is featured.
2006; 2000

The Abduction From the Seraglio [electronic resource]: Mozart in Turkey

This captivating program combines key scenes from Mozart's singspiel The Abduction from the Seraglio as performed at the spectacular Topkapi Palace with a documentary about the intricate process of rehearsing the production. A winner of the International Broadcasting Convention's Golden Rembrandt, the program also provides fresh insights into the personal life of Mozart, the history of the Enlightenment, and life in the harem through commentary by opera director Elijah Moshinsky and Alev Lytle Croutier, author of Harem: The World Behind the Veil. Paul Groves, Yelda Kodalli, Desiree Rancatore, Lynton Atkinson, Peter Rose, and Oliver Tobias star.
2006; 1999

For a Thousand Tongues to Sing! [electronic resource]: Life and Hymns of Charles Wesley

Between 1738 and 1788, Charles Wesley wrote more than 9,000 hymns and sacred poems, work which earned him the title "The Sweet Bard of Methodism." This program recounts Wesley's life and life's work, with special attention to his better-known songs, such as "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." Scholars of music and theology speak about Wesley's childhood, education, and missionary work; explore the roots of his passion for hymn-writing; and demonstrate how Wesley's impressive body of work consistently embraced astute references to Scripture, poetic language, and personal experience.
2010; 2007

Bach to the Future [electronic resource]: Interactive Music Experience

J. S. Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 takes on new life in this Emmy-nominated Discovery Concert(tm) Conductor George Marriner Maull and the Philharmonic Orchestra of New Jersey create an interactive experience through which spectators become intimate with the concerto's third movement and the structure of a fugue. Engaging the live audience in spirited conversation, Maull cajoles them into listening carefully to excerpts played by the orchestra and offering candid responses. A listening guide accompanies the program-providing a visual means with which to follow the music-as well as a study guide with helpful exercises and a vocabulary list for teachers. Both guides are available online.
2005; 2002

J. S. Bach [electronic resource]: A Concise Biography

This program for the Famous Composers series introduces the life and work of the famous German composer J.S. Bach, starting with an overview of his family and the political and religious landscape of the time. Bach learned the violin at a young age and grew up around organ music in churches. He was soon earning money singing and successfully developing his musical talents as well as his scholarly mind. By seventeen he had been well-educated and obtained an appointment as choir master, but he neglected his duties with the mediocre talent of the young boys. The Duke of Saxe Weimar eventually created a comfortable post for Bach conducive to composing and teaching, leading to his success.
2011; 2006

Johannes Brahms [electronic resource]: A Concise Biography

This program from the Famous Composers series offers an overview of the life and work of composer and pianist Johannes Brahms beginning with an introduction to Brahms' family and hometown, the nineteenth century seaport city of Hamburg. The film follows Brahms' musical education with teachers Otto Cossel and Eduard Marxsen, his days of playing in bars and teaching to earn money, and his eventual move to the musical capital of Vienna. The film characterizes the composer as a strict perfectionist and discusses Brahms' relationship with his closest friends and professional supporters, Robert and Clara Schumann. Brahms enjoyed much success in conducting and performing, and his art always took precedent over his personal relationships and even his professional posts.

The World of Claudio Monteverdi [electronic resource]

This program, devoted to the 17th century, explains how the St. Mark's sound was first rescued and then enhanced by Claudio Monteverdi, and covers the art of the madrigal, the rise of women composers, and why the world's first public opera house was built in Venice. Live performances in San Nicolo dei Mendicoli and the Ducal Palace.
2008; 1990

Venice and Vivaldi [electronic resource]

This program is devoted to the 18th century, the Age of Decadence. It covers the rise of Antonio Vivaldi and his famous all-women orchestras at the Pieta, the heyday of Venetian composition, Vivaldi's departure from Venice and the rise of a new breed of composer, and the decline-when the kissing had to stop. Live performances at the Conservatorio and the Church of the Redentore.
2008; 1990

Verdi and Venetian Theatre [electronic resource]

This program is devoted to the 19th century, the Age of Grand Opera. It covers the rise of Rossini, the triumphant premieres at La Fenice Theatre, the overthrow of the Austrian occupation as Verdi became a folk hero, and the death of Wagner in Venice. Live performances in the Salon of La Fenice.
2008; 1990

Vivaldi [electronic resource]

This program retraces the life and places, the glories and despairs of Antonio Vivaldi, the red(haired) priest whose working relationship with a diva set tongues wagging and whose love for opera led to his downfall. And throughout and above all, of course, his music. Exquisite performances of the range of his work, from the "Estro Armonico" and other string masterpieces, pieces from some operas, "Juditha Triumphans," and examples of the sacred vocal music, are set against contemporary paintings and still-standing monuments and artifacts to show us the brilliant violin virtuoso who was said to be able to play on all four strings at once, to explain the qualities of Stradivarius' violins, and to trace the rise and fall of the inimitable Antonio Vivaldi. Written and directed by Lina Wer [...]
2007; 1993

Genres in Music [electronic resource]: From Handel to Hip-Hop

Throughout history, musicians and musical works have reflected the fashion, culture, and social attitudes of their times. Music today is more diversified than ever, from the megahits of teen pop stars to the depth and emotionality of gospel choirs to the tones and textures produced by large-scale orchestras. Add to this the unstoppable forces of MySpace, YouTube, the iPod, and a rapidly expanding community of independent labels and producers, and the result is a kaleidoscope of styles, movements, and voices. This program gives students an overview of musical genres, including forms of classical music, rock and pop, musical theater, 20th- and 21st-century film music, heavy metal, and rap.
2009; 2008

Handel's Messiah [electronic resource]

This is a performance of the Messiah in the original scoring, performed as Handel intended it, with much smaller resources than we have become accustomed to and, therefore, a perfect balance between a small chorus and orchestra. Roger Norrington conducts the London Baroque Players (comprising leading specialists in 17th- and 18th-century instrumental practice), the Cardiff (Wales) Polyphonic Choir, and soloists Norma Burrowes, Helen Watts, Robert Tear, and Willard White.
2007; 1982

George Frideric Handel [electronic resource]

Handel always knew how to succeed. His Italian operas took London by storm, but when the public rejected music in foreign languages he gave them the oratorio in English. And when the Royal Academy of Music folded, Handel revived it under a scheme of subscriptions and box-office receipts and modern theater was born. This program traces Handel's distinguished career, focusing on his great output of operas and oratorios, the most famous of which is his Messiah. Musical directors Christophe Rousset and William Christie discuss his innovations. A wide range of his music is sampled, including Dixit Dominus, Water Music, Rinaldo, Julius Caesar, Royal Fireworks Music, Solomon, and Concerto for Organ No. 5, Op. 4, as well as "Fammi Cambaterre" from Orlando, as sung by Felicity Palmer.
2005; 1998

Johann Sebastian Bach [electronic resource]

His playing too advanced for small-town churches, his cantatas far more complex than those of his contemporaries (and thus under-appreciated), Bach initially found his genius thwarted. This program surveys the amazing achievements of the man of whom Beethoven said: "Not brook but ocean should be his name." Interviews with cellist Pablo Casals and organist Pierre Cambourian complement an array of selections from Bach's music, such as Pascal Roge playing Prelude No. 16 of The Well-Tempered Clavier; Gustav Leonhardt playing Fugue No. 12 from The Art of Fugue; and Karl Richter conducting the St. Matthew Passion, Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, and Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor.
2007; 1998

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart [electronic resource]

With its real-life characters and earthly plot, The Marriage of Figaro is the first modern opera and an example of how Mozart took his inspiration from humanity and not God, as his predecessors had done. This program tracks the meteoric career of perhaps the greatest musical genius ever. Musicologist Andre Tubeuf and Mozart scholars Jean and Brigitte Massin discuss the interplay of composition and personal fortune in the artist's brief life. A varied sampling of his many works includes Wilhelm Furtwangler conducting Don Giovanni; Karl Bohm conducting The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute, and Requiem; Leonard Bernstein conducting Mozart's choral motet Ave Verum (K618); Misuko Uchida performing Piano Concerto No. 9 (K271); Francois-Joel Thiollier performing Piano Concerto No. 14 (K4 [...]
2007; 1998

Ludwig van Beethoven [electronic resource]

Beethoven transformed the sonata, taking it from drawing rooms to concert halls. His third symphony altered the very nature of the genre and launched the heroic style in music. And the fact that he wrote only nine symphonies-far fewer than his predecessors-forcefully demonstrated a fundamental change in composition. In this program, the life and legacy of a genius come alive through letters, paintings, scholarly commentary, and, of course, the music. Historic performances of Beethoven's works include Karl Bohm conducting Piano Concerto No. 4, Op. 58; Herbert von Karajan conducting Symphonies No. 3, 5, and 8; and Leonard Bernstein conducting Symphonies No. 3, 5, and 9.
2007; 1998

Richard Wagner [electronic resource]

In Lohengrin Wagner links arias with recitatives-unbroken musical continuity is born. In Tristan und Isolde he changes the very role of the orchestra. And in The Ring of the Niebelungen he invents the leitmotif. This program charts the fortunes and innovations of the composer who truly revolutionized opera. Beginning with The Flying Dutchman, the video explores the connections between Wagner's themes and the events in his life that inspired them. Excerpts from the Wagnerian canon include Bayreuth Festival productions of Lohengrin and Parsifal; Sir George Solti conducting Tannhauser; and Pierre Boulez conducting the Ring cycle.
2007; 1998

Trio Solisti Explores Beethoven [electronic resource]

In this program, the Trio Solisti practice, interpret, and perform two of Beethoven's piano trios, the "Archduke" Trio and the "Ghost" Trio. Pianist Jon Klibonoff, cellist Alexis Pia Gerlach, and violinist Maria Bachmann discuss the challenges of transforming the composer's score on paper into a vibrant performance. Footage of their work sessions in the studio is mixed with highlights of their concert before a live audience.
2006; 2002