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29 October 2014
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The Story Of The American Folk Revival
The Story Of The American Folk Revival

BBC Four puts science at the heart of its Autumn/Winter schedule


Prog Rock Britannia – An Observation In Three Movements


Prog Rock Britannia is a comprehensive, feature-length documentary about progressive music and the generation of bands that made it - from the international success stories of Yes, Genesis, ELP, King Crimson and Jethro Tull, to the trials and tribulations of the lesser-known bands such as Caravan and Egg.


The film is structured in three parts, charting the birth, rise and decline of a movement famed for complex musical structures, weird time signatures, technical virtuosity and strange – quintessentially English – literary influences.


It looks at the psychedelic pop scene that gave birth to progressive rock in the late Sixties, the golden age of progressive music in the early Seventies – complete with drum solos and gatefold record sleeves – and the over-ambition, commercialisation and eventual fall from grace of this rarefied musical experiment at the hands of punk in 1977.


The documentary is a provocative, humorous but affectionate re-appraisal of a music that was the value system of an all-too-brief period in British popular music.


Contributors include Robert Wyatt, Mike Oldfield, Pete Sinfield, Rick Wakeman, Phil Collins, Arthur Brown, Carl Palmer and Ian Anderson.




The Story Of The American Folk Revival


A three-part series that tells one of the key stories of 20th century America.


The opening film features the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Mississippi John Hurt and other blues and hillbilly singers who were discovered by record companies and folklorists in the Twenties and Thirties.


The second film enters the "dream life of the American left" with "hobo" Woody Guthrie and "jailbird" Leadbelly.


In the final film, the earlier singers are rediscovered and celebrated by a new generation of Americans, who tell their own stories about how they used the idea of a purer, simpler past to create something quite new – the exciting sounds of Sixties folk.


Featuring a stunning soundtrack, the series also includes rare archive and contributions from Joan Baez, Judy Collins, The Band, The Byrds, Odetta, Harry Belafonte, The Kingston Trio and The Weavers, as well as survivors and their families from the first wave of recorded folk.


To accompany the films there will be a screening of a concert from London's Barbican celebrating music from the series.




The Swing Thing


The Swing Thing is a 90-minute film tracing the story of swing music, from the jazz clubs of the Twenties, through the heady days of the Rat Pack and Sinatra to modern stars such as Harry Connick Jr and Michael Buble.


Swing sparked a youthful cultural revolution in Thirties America and went on to produce some of the most iconic stars of the 20th century: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.


Today, it is still topping the charts and remains one of the longest-lived and most successful forms of popular music.


Narrated by Kenneth Cranham, The Swing Thing features archive footage of some of the finest swing performers and performances of all time, and examines the impact swing music has had on American society: as a youth movement, a force for sexual liberation and a challenge to the country's racial divide.




Gergiev Conducts Mahler


Valery Gergiev's cycle of Mahler symphonies with the London Symphony Orchestra has been packing concert halls in London in recent months.


Two of these much talked about performances will be broadcast this autumn.


Mahler's Second Symphony, about death and resurrection, calls for a gigantic orchestra requiring "the largest possible string contingent", 20 horns and trumpets, seven percussionists and organ, as well as soloists and chorus.


It opens with a monumental funeral march, and culminates in a blazing affirmation of poet Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock's words: "Rise again!"


When Mahler wrote his Sixth Symphony, things were going well for him. Yet the work’s implacable undercurrent of tragedy climaxes devastatingly in the famous hammer blows of the finale, soon to be echoed by real events in his life.


"Not one of his works came so directly from his inmost heart," his wife later recalled.


The performances are introduced by Sarah Mohr-Pietsch.




Classical Legends


Christopher Nupen's intimate and pioneering portraits of such legendary musicians as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Jacqueline du Pré, Evgeny Kissin, Nathan Milstein, Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman are among the most celebrated classical music films ever made.


Eight of these films are to be shown this autumn.


Each of the films presents a different young musician, full of youth and exuberant talent, before the weight of worldwide fame descended on their shoulders.


Starting with the brilliant and tragic British cellist Jacqueline du Pré, the series culminates in the debut screening of Nupen’s most recent film, Karim's Journey, which follows the extraordinary story of an Amman-born pianist and conductor, Karim Said (a protégé of Daniel Barenboim), from the age of 11, for seven years, to the brink of his public career.




Neil Young - Don't Be Denied
Neil Young

Neil Young – Don't Be Denied


A resolutely private artist who rarely looks back, Neil Young has never discussed his career on camera before.


Gaining unprecedented access to one of the world's great artists, this BBC film is Neil Young's musical journey in his own words.


For five decades, Young's unbending dedication to the muse has created an awe-inspiring body of work – and bloodied a few noses along the way.


The film forms the centrepiece of a weekend of Neil Young programming, including the recent CSNY – Déjà Vu and a classic BBC In Concert from 1971.







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