Music as a Mirror of History

Show More

24 episodes in this series

Episode 1 Music and History, Madrigals and Maps
Begin to contemplate the connections between composers and specific historical events. Grasp how Thomas Morley's madrigals in praise of Queen Elizabeth I engaged with English national self-perception and myth, and…
Episode 2 Handel: Water Music - 1714
Discover how music and history intersected in the remarkable career of George Frederick Handel. Trace the extraordinary circumstances in which the German prince George Ludwig of Brunswick-Luneberg became King George…
Episode 3 Mozart: The Abduction from the Harem - 1782
Here, learn how political events in Europe directly shaped Mozart's music and personal circumstances. Investigate the long-term threat posed to Europe by the Ottoman Empire, and observe the paradoxical Turkish…
Episode 4 Haydn: Mass in the Time of War - 1797
Take stock of how events that began in revolutionary Paris inspired the expressive content of Haydn's Mass in the Time of War. Delve into the dramatic unfolding of the French…
Episode 5 Beethoven: The Farewell Sonata - 1810
In the first of two lectures on Beethoven, learn how the composer identified, almost mystically, with the figure of Napoleon. Study the events of the continuing clashes after the French…
Episode 6 Beethoven: Wellington’s Victory - 1813
The Napoleonic Wars--and Beethoven's conflicted feelings toward Napoleon--were elemental in another important episode in the composer's life. Trace Beethoven's increasing animosity toward the French, and observe the unfolding debacle of…
Episode 7 Berlioz/de L’Isle: “La Marseillaise” - 1830
In this lecture, envision the evolution of Paris from the 17th century to the 19th, and grasp how the city became a magnet for artists and intellectuals, and the spawning…
Episode 8 Chopin: Étude in C Minor, Op. 10, No. 12 - 1831
In 1831, a failed political insurrection in Warsaw left a permanent mark on the music and spirit of Frederic Chopin. Beginning in the 17th century, explore the history of invasions,…
Episode 9 Glinka: A Life for the Tsar - 1836
Glinka's A Life for the Tsar was a landmark in the creation of Russian language opera. Learn about the origins of the opera's storyline in Russia's "Time of Troubles," an…
Episode 10 Strauss Sr.: Radetzky March - 1848
Uncover the story behind Vienna's beloved Radetzky March, which reflects the last glory of the Austrian Empire. As background, track the historical triumphs and tribulations of the Habsburg dynasty, leading…
Episode 11 Brahms: Piano Quartet in G Minor, Op. 25 - 1861
As the prelude to a fateful episode in the life of Johannes Brahms, explore the 19th-century Hungarian nationalist movement, highlighting the revolutionary initiatives of Lajos Kossuth, icon of the 1848…
Episode 12 Gottschalk: The Union - 1862
Louis Moreau Gottschalk was the first truly American composer. Delve into his early life in New Orleans, and observe the richly diverse cultures that shaped his music, encompassing European, Caribbean,…
Episode 13 Verdi: Nabucco - 1842
In the creation of his opera Nabucco, Giuseppe Verdi played a key role in the movement for Italian unification. Study the series of 19th-century rebellions against Austrian rule that culminated…
Episode 14 Wagner: The Ring - 1876
Wagner's operatic cycle The Ring functions metaphorically as a caustic critique of 19th-century European society. Learn about Wagner's embrace of anti-capitalist rhetoric in 1848 and 1849, a time when revolutions…
Episode 15 Dvorák: From the New World Symphony - 1893
Explore the extraordinary industrial and economic rise of the United States in the 19th century, a phenomenon celebrated in the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893, one of the most spectacular…
Episode 16 Balakirev: Symphony No. 1 - 1898
Delve into the 19th-century movement within Russia to create a distinctively Russian national art. With his Symphony No. 1 as a point of reference, learn how Mily Balakirev personified the…
Episode 17 Janácek: Piano Sonata I.X.1905 - 1906
The life and music of composer Leos Janacek were profoundly shaped by the longtime enmity in Czech lands between the Germans and the Czechs. Study the history of German/Czech relations…
Episode 18 Rimsky-Korsakov: The Golden Cockerel - 1907
This lecture reveals Rimsky-Korsakov's classic opera, The Golden Cockerel, as daring political commentary, directly reflecting the events surrounding the first Russian Revolution. Study the opera's fairy-tale plot, in parallel with…
Episode 19 Holst: Ode to Death - 1919
Gustav Holst's luminous Ode to Death responded to the immeasurable suffering of World War I. Learn about the underlying causes of the conflict, and grasp how the horrific human cost…
Episode 20 Berg: Wozzeck - 1922
In assessing Berg's operatic masterwork, investigate the aftermath of World War I in Germany and its imprint on the opera--a psychological climate of rage, disillusion, and alienation in the wake…
Episode 21 Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13 - 1962
Take the measure of the terrors of the Stalinist regime in Soviet Russia, and uncover how many people, including Dimitri Shostakovich, were forced to lead double lives. Learn about the…
Episode 22 Copland: Symphony No. 3 - 1946
Trace the Depression-era movement of populism in American art, based in the notion that high art should speak to the broad, general population, and learn how Copland's Symphony No. 3…
Episode 23 Górecki: Symphony No. 3 - 1976
As context for this modern symphonic masterpiece, investigate the nearly inconceivable atrocities committed against Poland during World War II by Hitler's and Stalin's regimes, encompassing efforts by both aggressors to…
Episode 24 Crumb: Black Angels - 1970
Conclude with George Crumb's passionate anti-war string quartet. Trace the backdrop of its writing in the political climate and policy decisions that led the U.S. into the quagmire of the…

Comments (2)

Anonymous picture
Keith

24 episodes and not a single woman composer worth talking about? Shame.

Anonymous picture
David

This is .a wonderful addition to the library's offerings

Related videos

The Curse of the Gothic Symphony
The Curse of the Gothic Symphony follows the journey of a fanatical and eclectic group of music lovers who aspire to break the curse behind British composer Havergal Brian's notorious First Symphony. At over two hours long and requiring two orchestras, four brass bands and five full choirs it is…
Edvard Grieg - What Price Immortality
Concert pianist Staffan Scheja portrays Grieg in this fully-dramatised film, which has at its heart complete performances of the Ballade in G minor Op. 24 and String Quartet No. 1 in G minor Op. 27. Both works were composed during periods of crisis in Grieg's life and they provide a…
Mighty Uke - The Amazing Comeback of a Musical Underdog
From the Redwoods of California through the gritty streets of New York, from swinging London through Tokyo's highrise canyons to Hawaii, ukers tell the story of the people's instrument. In MIGHTY UKE, we discover why so many people of different nations, cultures, ages, and musical tastes are turning to the…
The Great Works of Sacred Music
Western classical music is one of humanity's most sublime artistic traditions. This musical language - encompassing genres from symphonic and instrumental music to choral works and opera - was created through the meeting of art and faith. The lineage of sacred works produced some of the greatest masterpieces in Western…
The First Silent Night
PBS
Join renowned actor Simon Callow as he uncovers the moving origins of the song Silent Night that has been two hundred years in the making. A story that begins in humble circumstances ends with the world's most popular carol. Simon journeys to the Austrian village of Oberndorf as well as…
The 23 Greatest Solo Piano Works Series
The piano has inspired many of the greatest compositional works in the Western concert repertoire: extraordinary pieces celebrated for their compositional mastery, emotional impact, and their creative use of the instrument. In addition to learning about these masterworks, watch as three dynamic concert pianists perform live in our studio. This…
All Things Must Pass - The Rise and Fall of Tower Records
Everyone thinks they know what killed Tower Records: The Internet. But that's not the story. ALL THINGS MUST PAST examines this iconic company's explosive trajectory, tragic demise, and legacy forged by its rebellious founder Russ Solomon. Featuring interviews from music legends: Chuck D, Chris Cornell, Dave Grohl, Elton John and…
Virtuoso: The Olga Samaroff Story
Stifled by anti-American sentiments towards Americans as musicians and Old World prejudices towards women, Lucy Hickenlooper would later reinvent herself as Olga Samaroff and become one of America's first and perhaps most famous international female concert artist and teacher of the early 20th Century. Virtuoso is the compelling story of…
Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band - An Unsung Hero of Jazz History
She was ahead of her time, a genius. During an era when Jazz was the nation's popular music, Mary Lou Williams was one of its greatest innovators. As both a pianist and composer, she was a font of daring and creativity who helped shape the sound of 20th century America.…
Fresh Dressed - The Evolution of Rap Fashion
A fascinating chronicle of hip-hop, urban fashion, and the hustle that brought oversized pants and graffiti-drenched jackets from Orchard Street to high fashion's catwalks and Middle America shopping malls. Director Sacha Jenkins' music-drenched history draws from a rich mix of archival materials and in-depth interviews with rappers, designers, and other…
Prince: Purple Reign - An in Depth Look at a Legendary Artist
The music world was stunned by the sudden and tragic news that Prince, the legendary musician, died at his home in Minneapolis at the age of just 57. He was one of the most naturally gifted artists of all time, and also one of the most mysterious. In the Eighties,…
Sound Tracks: Music Without Borders - Music Around the Globe
PBS
A musical adventure, SOUND TRACKS explores how music is transforming politics and culture around the globe. This one-hour pilot serves up a diverse menu of Russian pop, afrobeat, Portuguese fado, and symphonic music. Roaming across America and the world, SOUND TRACKS searches for the most compelling music, musicians and singers.…