Music TV - December 2 - 8
More musical highlights this week, including an Arena documentary on Dave Brubeck and and Imagine special on Thom Zimny's documentary of Bruce Springsteen's Darkness On The Edge Of Town.
Friday 3 December - BBC Four
1930 - 2030: Opera Italia
Three-part series tracing the history of Italian opera presented by Antonio Pappano, conductor and music director at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. The series features sumptuous music, stunning Italian locations and some of the biggest names in opera as contributors. The final episode is devoted to Puccini, the worthy successor to Verdi. Puccini's operas are cinematic in their scale with ravishing, passionate and clever music, as he took Italian opera into the 20th century.
2030 - 2100: The Highland Sessions
Six-part series celebrating the historical and contemporary links between Scottish and Irish Gaelic song by bringing together top exponents of both traditions to sing and play together with no audience except themselves, using a house band of their peers. This edition features Liam O'Maonlai of the rock band Hothouse Flowers, Scots Gaelic diva Margaret Stewart and James Graham.
2100 - 2230: Arena - Dave Brubeck - In His Own Sweet Way
This Clint Eastwood co-produced documentary tells Dave Brubeck's personal story, tracing his career from his first musical experiences to the overwhelming success of the Dave Brubeck Quartet and the iconic status he and his varied forms of musical expression have achieved.
2230 - 2330: Krautrock - The Re-Birth Of Germany
Documentary which looks at how a radical generation of musicians created a new German musical identity out of the cultural ruins of war.
Between 1968 and 1977 bands like Neu!, Can, Faust and Kraftwerk would look beyond western rock and roll to create some of the most original and uncompromising music ever heard. They shared one common goal - a forward-looking desire to transcend Germany's gruesome past - but that didn't stop the music press in war-obsessed Britain from calling them Krautrock.
2330 - 2430: Quincy Jones - The Many Lives Of Q - part one
In a career spanning six decades, American jazz musician, composer, arranger, record producer and entrepreneur Quincy Jones has won more Grammy awards than any other artist. His list of other honours includes an Emmy for his work on the seminal American television series Roots and an Oscar for his humanitarian work. This two-part documentary celebrates the life and career of the man who helped make Michael Jackson the king of pop, arranged Frank Sinatra's Fly Me To The Moon, wrote the score for The Italian Job, produced the world's top selling album and single and helped launch the careers of Oprah Winfrey and Will Smith.
This first part, From the Jazz Age to Hollywood: 1933-1974, spans Quincy's childhood in Chicago, reveals how he discovered music almost by chance and features his first professional engagement at the age of 18, playing trumpet in the Lionel Hampton band. It also charts his Hollywood career writing music for some of the most iconic films of the 1970s and concludes with his life-threatening brain aneurysm.
2430 - 2530: Quincy Jones - The Many Lives Of Q - part two
Charting Quincy's recovery from a brain anyeurism and looks at how he went on to produce the biggest selling album of all time, Michael Jackson's Thriller. He also produced and conducted 1985's We Are the World - the American music industry's response to the Ethiopian famine - which is still the biggest selling single of all time. That same year he ventured into new territory, turning Hollywood producer for The Color Purple.
2530 - 2630: Originals - Dinah Washington - Evil Gal Blues
Dinah Washington was perhaps the best American blues singer of the 1940s, jazz singer of the 50s and pop singer of the early 60s, and has been called the female Ray Charles. Raised on gospel and blues in black Chicago, she had just crossed over into the white mainstream with songs like What a Difference a Day Makes and Mad About the Boy when she died at just 39. It was a life of excess - too many pills, parties, mink coats and husbands. In this film, her life and music are assessed by people who knew her well and singers who love her, such as Amy Winehouse.
Saturday 4 December - BBC Four
2000 - 2130: Choir Of The Year
The best of British choirs battle it out for the ultimate accolade of Choir of the Year 2010. Just six choirs have made it through to the grand final at London's Royal Festival Hall after months of tough qualifying rounds. Aled Jones and Josie d'Arby present all the excitement and thrills of Britain's best-loved choral competition.
Sunday 5 December - BBC Four
2100 - 2230: Stephen Fry on Wagner
Repeated: BBC Four - Monday 2400
Stephen Fry explores his passion for history's most controversial composer in an extended feature-length version of a film first broadcast in Spring 2010. Stephen is Jewish and lost family in the Holocaust - can he salvage Richard Wagner's music from its dark associations with Hitler and anti-semitism? Stephen's quest takes him behind the scenes at the legendary Bayreuth Festival Theatre, where he eavesdrops on rehearsals and discovers its backstage secrets. He also travels to the other landmarks of Wagner's extraordinary life and career in Germany, Switzerland and Russia. Finally, he confronts the composer's dark side, investigating how Hitler appropriated Wagner's music and meeting a cellist who played in the prisoners' orchestra at Auschwitz, where some of Stephen's relatives died. What does she think of Stephen's passion for Hitler's favourite artist?
Tuesday 7 December - BBC One
2235 - 2340: Imagine - Bruce Springsteen - Darkness Revisited
Alan Yentob presents this special edition of Thom Zimny's documentary in which Bruce Springsteen describes his attempts to create a sequel to one of the most popular albums of all time, sealing his legendary status in the tortured, but ultimately triumphant, process. Darkness on the Edge of Town was Springsteen's make-or-break follow-up to the classic 1975 album Born To Run - the recording that made him a superstar. In the period before the album was made, Springsteen was mired in a protracted legal battle that thwarted his desire to produce an album that would surpass his previous achievements. Zimny's film shows the young Springsteen driving himself, his band and his manager almost to distraction in his search for perfection, as he writes and records new compositions and produces ground-breaking work in song after song. Zimny's film features reflections from Springsteen, manager Jon Landau and members of the all-important E-Street Band on the extraordinary process of making this crucial rock 'n' roll album. It includes visceral, previously-unseen black-and-white footage shot between 1976 and 1978 from the rehearsals that took place both at Springsteen's home and at the Record Plant recording studio in New York.
Wednesday 8 December - BBC Four
2200 - 2325: Lennon Naked
Christopher Eccleston is John Lennon in a drama which charts his transition from Beatle John to enduring and enigmatic icon.
Writer Robert Jones articulates the burden of genius, as well as issues of fatherhood and fame, covering a period of wildly fluctuating fortunes for Lennon from 1967-71. When the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein died unexpectedly in 1967 it was a turning point in Lennon's life and the film focuses on the turbulent and intense period of change that followed, and how John was haunted by his troubled childhood.
2325 - 2355: TOTP2 - John Lennon Special
Yoko Ono introduces a special edition originally screened to mark what would have been John Lennon's 60th birthday. With anecdotes and reminiscences, Yoko introduces classics such as Give Peace a Chance, Power to the People, Instant Karma and Imagine.
Next week; The Christmas Session and Folk at the BBC.
Take care of yourselves.