The MTT/SFS series Keeping Score continues with three programs this coming October, 2009. Check your local PBS listings for times. (I'm half-expecting these to be on at 2 p.m. on Sundays or some other time when I'd rather be outdoors, given my local PBS station's lack of commitment to concert music.)
Episode One: With Symphonie fantastique, Hector Berlioz confessed his unique artistic vision. It was a symphonic love letter, part psychological self-portrait, part fantasy about the life of an artist, and it expressed his passion for a beautiful woman. Michael Tilson Thomas searches for the inspirations of Berlioz and his music, from his roots in the French Alps to the theater in Paris where the work was premiered, and reveals the musical secrets of this greatest of Romantic symphonies.
Episode Two: American composer Charles Ives created his Holidays Symphony as a haunting sonic portrait of New England at the turn of the 20th century, at turns sentimental and chaotic. Michael Tilson Thomas explores the riddle of Ives the loyal son and businessman versus Ives the musical maverick who made listeners confront their understanding of what music could be. Filmed on location in New England and New York City.
Episode Three: The Fifth Symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich is the story of a fall from grace and redemption. Shostakovich was the golden boy composer until, virtually overnight, his patriotism was questioned and condemned in the most public way possible. Written in 1937 in Stalinist Russia, the Fifth Symphony marked his triumphant return. But the question remains: what did the composer mean to say with this enigmatic music? In scenes filmed in St. Petersburg and Moscow, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony offer clues to unlocking Shostakovich’s musical secrets and make the case for how this symphony may have saved his life.
More at Keeping Score.