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Revolution and Romance: Musical Masters of the 19th Century

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The significance of music in the early modern age

Broadcaster, writer and music aficionado Suzy Klein takes us on a thoughtful and melodious journey, exploring the transformation of music in the 19th century. Travelling to key centres in Europe, she shows how musicians and composers played their part in an era of industrial, political and technological revolution, and how music became the leading art form of the modern age, and an essential part of the lives of millions. We start by investigating the unrivalled creative outpouring at the start of the 19th century. Suzy shows how, capitalising on the decline of the aristocracy and the new wealth created by the industrial revolution, composers and performers such as Beethoven, Berlioz and Liszt became the superstars of their age, commanding fanatical followings and embarking on bold experimental work. In the second episode we look at how music became a revolutionary force that could – and did– change the world. Even opera became politically potent, fanning the flames of nationalism in Germany and in Italy, where the music of Verdi helped unify a newly formed nation. Finally we investigate the technological revolution – and how it allowed music to burst out of court, church and concert hall into the world, transcending language and borders. Suzy travels to the site of the great Paris Exposition of 1889 and visits factories where developments in manufacturing created new experimental instruments such as the saxophone. And in the spirit of the new age, she makes her first recording on a vintage phonograph, one of the earliest recording machines.

Episode 1 - WE CAN BE HEROES’

Episode 2 - TALKIN’ ‘BOUT A REVOLUTION

Episode 3 - PARTY LIKE IT’S 1899


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