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Vladimir Ashkenazy on Ansel Adams: The Print and the Performance

Vladimir Ashkenazy travels to the California home of celebrated photographer Ansel Adams to reveal how classical music inspired and informed his friend's art.

The acclaimed conductor and musician Vladimir Ashkenazy travels to the California home of acclaimed photographer Ansel Adams to reveal how classical music inspired and informed his friend's art.

Meeting the photographer's friends, family and former colleagues, Ashkenazy hears how Adams effectively "composed" his images, drawing on his musical background when developing his prints.

One of the most highly regarded photographers of the 20th Century, Adams's iconic black-and-white images of the American West still fetch $60 000 at auction. But his first love was piano, not the camera.

A wayward child, Adams struggled to concentrate and was expelled from several schools but became captivated by his mother's piano, teaching himself to sight-read music at the age of twelve. Classical music became Adams's passion and, until his late twenties, he was an aspiring concert pianist deeply committed to the study of great composers including Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and Scriabin.

Adams often likened his negatives to a composer's score and his final print as the resulting musical performance. We gain an insight into Adams's creative processes and the extent to which his photography was driven by music. Instead of using a clock in his darkroom, he employed a metronome to precisely time his processing.

Previously unbroadcast recordings of Adams at the keyboard, playing work by his favourite composers, underscore the way his pictures fused his two creative passions.

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45 minutes

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