What's on Now!
Renowned actor, writer and music specialist Simon Callow (Rome, Amadeus) leads this exploration of some of Europe's most beautiful destinations, revealed through the lives and music of several classical composers uniquely identified with the gorgeous cities of the Old World. This "armchair guide to classical music" features violinist Niki Vasilakis performing signature music for each destination, as dazzling high-definition photography takes viewers on a spectacular journey to the sights and scenery of each beautiful city.
Distributed by: BBC Worldwide, Presenting station: WLIW, New York
Salzburg: Birthplace of Amadeus
The hills around Salzburg were alive long before Julie Andrews started running up them! Simon, Niki and Matt introduce you to the birthplace of classical music's ultimate superstar, and tell of the infant Amadeus' most prodigious exploits. The city of the Salzburg Festival, the famous puppet shows, and the belated arrival there of the musical with which Hollywood took Salzburg to the world.
Across Austria to Vienna
Simon, Niki and Matt follow Mozart through magnificent Austrian countryside from Salzburg to imperial Vienna, the irresistible magnet for composers such as Brahms, Mahler, Schubert and Haydn. Their stories and their relationship with the magnificent Habsburg capital are described amid the city's great landmarks.
The Real Song of Norway
A journey through the spectacular mountains, ravines and fjords of Norway, ending in the capital of Oslo, as we follow the life of the country's most beloved composer - Edvard Grieg.
The elemental sights and sounds of Finland, from Helsinki to the snowy vistas of Lapland where Santa has his workshop, are captured in the music of Sibelius. We hear the story of the Finnish musical legend, visit the composer's home of Ainola, and hear his most famous musical work.
Former capital of Russia, with its canals earning it the description 'Venice of the North', St Petersburg was also home to the composers Borodin, Glinka, Mussorgsky, and the naval officer turned musical painter of the Arabian Nights, Rimsky-Korsakov.
Venice, Vivaldi and the Four Seasons
Antonio Vivaldi spent his most productive years in Venice in the early 18th century. Simon, Niki and Matt tour the canals, bridges and piazzas for which Vivaldi created the perfect soundtrack in his Four Seasons.
Smetana serenaded its river; Dvorak started out as a dance band fiddler; Mozart enjoyed his greatest successes here. We visit the Old Town, where Simon Callow reminisces about filming Amadeus in its beautifully preserved streets.
Germany 1 - Eisenach and the Towns of Bach's Travels
The young J.S. Bach's career path though eastern Germany from his birthplace in Eisenach to Arnstadt and Weimar. In the Wartburg castle we learn about Martin Luther and the birth of the Reformation.
Germany 2 - Leipzig and Mainz
The careers of Bach and Mendelssohn reached their height in Leipzig. Niki performs part of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, and we visit the publishers Schott in the city of Mainz to learn the craft of music engraving and look at the original manuscript of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
The last difficult years of Mozart's short life; Beethoven's tragic deafness; the glamorous but turbulent life of the great 'Waltz King', Johann Strauss the Younger - all these took place in Vienna. Niki exchanges her violin bow for a baton to conduct the Blue Danube with a virtual orchestra in the House of Music.
Tuscany: Verdi and Puccini
More than just one of Italy's most beautiful regions, Tuscany also produced two of the greatest operatic composers. We visit the cities and towns that shaped their lives: Lucca, Pisa, and Milan. Also, there is a tour of the Puccini Villa in the spectacular Torre del Lago.
Bonn and Berlin
We follow Beethoven's troubled early life in his birthplace of Bonn, near which descendents of his family still live and work as winemakers. Then to an indisputably modern city: Berlin, home to one of the world's greatest orchestras.
In the series finale we return to St Petersburg to meet review some significant figures in its history: Pushkin, Catherine the Great, and Rasputin. Our last tour to a Classical Destination features the music of the composers Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky.
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