Classic music documentaries for BBC

BBC Four will broadcast a series of eight classic music films on consecutive Friday evenings over eight weeks this autumn.

The broadcaster will offer viewers a chance to see Christopher Nupen’s intimate and pioneering portraits of great musicians – these are among the most celebrated classical music films ever made.

The series begins with Jacqueline Du Pre: A Celebration of Her Unique Enduring Gifth the iconic film about the brilliant and tragic British cellist Jacqueline du Pré – and continues with portraits of Pinchas Zukerman, Itzhak Perlman, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Evgeny Kissin and Nathan Milstein (two films) – the BBC Four series culminates in the debut screening of Nupen’s latest film Karim’s Journey.

This new documentary follows the progress of Amman-born musician, Karim Said, a protégé of Daniel Barenboim’s, from the age of 11 to 17.

Nupen says that the pioneering work of his Allegro Films team was based on four things: “Television was new, enthusiastic and full of hope that it could do something of real importance for the arts in general and for music in particular.
“A new kind of camera was invented which made it possible to follow musicians into places where the camera had never been and to show intimate scenes not possible before.
“With those cameras film became capable of remembering performers in a new way and one not matched by other media.
“A new generation of musicians appeared young, full of bounce and different in kind from their predecessors, at least in their relationship with the camera.
“It was a matter of being in the right place at the right time and the fact that we were making films with my friends added another and very telling dimension.
“We were having fun and were able to make a kind of film that had never been possible before. We really were very lucky.”
The Oxford philosopher and historian of ideas, Sir Isaiah Berlin, described some of Christopher Nupen’s films as being “at just about the highest level which television is capable of reaching”.

The series begins on Friday 26 September.

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