The four-part series explores the most exalted and influential idea in Western Classical music and, for the first time, demonstrates the surprising way in which it has shaped us and our modern world. Presented by Simon Russell Beale, the academic consultant was Prof Trevor Herbert (Music).
The first episode, ‘Genesis and Genius’, begins amidst the turmoil of the French Revolution with the arrival in England of Joseph Haydn, dubbed the ‘Father of the Symphony’. It continues with Mozart, the genius who wrote his first symphony at the age of eight, and Beethoven, the revolutionary who created the idea of the artist as hero and whose Eroica Symphony changed music for ever.
The music is performed by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, conducted by Sir Mark Elder.
The second episode looks at the symphonies of Beethoven, Schubert, Berlioz and Liszt.
The programme is a co-production between the BBC and The Open University. To coincide with the BBC broadcast, OpenLearn has a dedicated page to the Symphony and Music at the OU here. For each of the four episodes, OpenLearn will feature an article from a member of the OU’s music department, extending the scope of the series and ultimately looking at the current state of the symphony.
More details on the BBC series may be found here.