Music is the way it is now because, from time to time, revolutionary composers have rocked the world. Their work broke the old models and set a new course for the future. Featuring award-winning conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Keeping Score is a ground-breaking, high-definition documentary series that brings the stories of these musical geniuses to life.
From the more than forty-minute ovation that followed the premiere of Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 to the riot that erupted during the first performance of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, Keeping Score explores what made the music of these great artists so revolutionary and why their works are still considered so powerful today.
Episode One: MTT on Music - Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony (55:20) - Available in SD only.
Michael Tilson Thomas delves into the notes and symbols that make up Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony, and unlocks the drama, pathos, elation and despair within. He also takes viewers behind the scenes to experience the preparation behind every performance—the solitary practice sessions, the group rehearsals, the efforts of each musician to grasp the composer's ultimate message.
Episode Two: Beethoven’s Eroica (55:31) - Available in SD only
Not every revolution overthrows a government—some overturn artistic convention. Beethoven’s third Symphony, Eroica, defied accepted notions of music as decorative background for aristocratic amusement, and it forced the listener to confront the unconscious. In visits to refined Viennese drawing rooms and rustic Austro-Hungarian villages, Michael Tilson Thomas explores how Beethoven channeled his sorrow over the loss of his hearing, and his disappointment with Napoleon’s imperial politics, to change the very definition of what a symphony could be.
Episode Three: Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (55:21) - Available in SD only.
In 1913, with Europe on the brink of war, Igor Stravinsky produced a revolutionary event in music and dance at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. Known as The Rite of Spring, the ballet’s primitive score sparked a riot in the audience that evening, and became one of the most influential musical statements of the 20th century. In this program, Michael Tilson Thomas and the musicians of the San Francisco Symphony take you from the salons of St. Petersburg to the villages where Stravinsky found inspiration in the earthy power of Russian folk music and dance. Thomas then retraces Stravinsky’s journey to the cultural crossroads of pre-war Paris.
Episode Four: Copland and the American Sound (55:19) - Available in SD only.
Aaron Copland was born in Brooklyn in 1900. His artistic development spanned enormous transformation in the American experience—the fears of World War I and the Great Depression, the energy of the Jazz Age, the advent of modernism. And as the nation emerged as a world power, Copland wrote music that gave Americans a sense of their own identity and created a truly American sound.
Episode Five - Hector Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique (54:21) - Available in HD and SD.
Berlioz’s orchestral sonic spectacular, written to win the heart of a beautiful actress, demanded sacrifice from its author and his audience. From romantic daydreams to deadly displays of devotion, the symphony relates an “episode in the life of an artist.”
Episode Six - Charles Ives: Holidays Symphony (54:21) - Available in HD and SD.
Ranging from tender sentiment to savage chaos, the music of early 20th-century composer Charles Ives explores an essentially American riddle: how can we survive the relentless assault of our own success? Join Michael Tilson Thomas as he, the San Francisco Symphony, and Charles Ives belt it out over truth, beauty, and the American Way.
Episode Seven - Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5 (54:21) - Available in HD and SD.
Hidden beneath the surface of his life-saving Symphony No. 5, Shostakovich may have left a subversive cipher. In this episode of Keeping Score, investigate the arresting symphony that would either redeem Shostakovich or condemn him to the Gulag. What Shostakovich has to say might depend on what you’re brave enough to hear.
Episode Eight – Gustav Mahler: Origins (54:08) - Available in HD and SD.
The first of two episodes explores the roots of Gustav Mahler’s music. SFS Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas journeys to rural Bohemia to rediscover the inspirations of Mahler’s music, and traces Mahler’s life through the premiere of his first symphony in 1888. It shocked the contemporary audience, but as MTT and the San Francisco Symphony reveal, on location and in performance, this ground-breaking symphony contains elements of everything else that Mahler composed. Shot on location in the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, and in performance in San Francisco's Davies Symphony Hall.
Episode Nine - Gustav Mahler: Legacy (54:08) - Available in HD and SD.
In part two of Keeping Score: Mahler,MTT examines Mahler’s creative growth, from the 1890’s to his death at the age of 51 on May 18, 1911, including his symphonies, the Rückert songs and Das Lied von der Erde. The show charts Mahler’s mercurial career as a conductor, from the Vienna Opera to Carnegie Hall in New York, as well as his tempestuous relationship with his wife Alma. At Mahler’s simple grave in a Grinzing cemetery, MTT explains why Mahler has so profoundly affected his own life. Shot on location in the Czech Republic, Austria, New York, and in performance in San Francisco's Davies Symphony Hall.
Concerts by the San Francisco Symphony and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas:
- Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 in Concert (46:11). Available in HD and SD.
Full–length live performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 by the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas.
- Beethoven’s Eroica in Concert (56:46). Available in HD and SD.
Full–length live performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, Eroica, by the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas.
- Copland's Appalachian Spring in Concert (37:10). Available in HD and SD.
Full–length live performance of Copland’s Appalachian Springin its original 13–player version by the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas.
- Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring and music from The Firebird in Concert (51:24). Available in HD and SD.
Full–length live performance Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and music from The Firebird by the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas.
- Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique in Concert (55:43). Available in HD and SD.
Full–length live performance of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, by the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas.
- Ives’s Holidays Symphony in Concert (50:56). Available in HD and SD.
Full–length live performance of Ives’s Holidays Symphony, by the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas.
- Mahler: Symphony No. 1, Titan in Concert (55:00). Available in HD and SD.
Full–length live performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 by the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas.
- A Mahler Journey (55:00). Available in HD and SD.
This concert includes the pivotal repertoire explored in Mahler: Legacy. World–renowned baritone Thomas Hampson, a noted interpreter of Mahler’s songs, is featured performing Songs of a Wayfarer. The program also includes Mahler’s famous and poignant love song, Adagietto from Symphony No. 5, the Scherzo from Symphony No. 7 in E minor and the Rondo Burleske from Symphony No. 9 in D major.
“[The Keeping Score programs] are, hands down, the best classical-music programs of their kind to be aired nationally in the U.S. since Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts. [Michael Tilson Thomas] is the finest American conductor of his generation, and the only one who learned the lessons of Leonard Bernstein, using them to turn the San Francisco Symphony into the most adventurous, audience-friendly orchestra in America.”
— Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal
Produced by the San Francisco Symphony.
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Keeping Score - Episode Descriptions.doc Michael Tilson Thomas - Biographical information.doc
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