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The Great Composers

Five films to celebrate the 250th anniversary
of Beethoven's birth, in cinemas from December 2019


Back by popular demand and marking Beethoven Year 2020, Seventh Art Productions presents an exclusive worldwide cinema event bringing five films on the world's most influential composers to the big screen. The Great Composers sees the critically-acclaimed and award-winning In Search Of series return to cinemas with each film celebrating the lives of four exceptional musicians and individuals - Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin and Haydn. Each film will be shown on or near each composer's respective birthday as part of an extraordinary and unique year-long celebration not to be missed by music lovers worldwide. This event cinema spectacle will culminate with the critically-acclaimed Concerto - A Beethoven Journey - to coincide with the highpoint of Beethoven Year on 16 December 2020: Beethoven's 250th birthday.

Seventh Art Productions' The Great Composers Series
Seventh Art Productions' The Great Composers Series

Written and directed by multi award-winning film maker Phil Grabsky and narrated by Juliet Stevenson, the films explore each musician in phenomenal detail, including readings of their own letters and the insights of respected historians and musicologists. Each film is accompanied by breath-taking performances of the composers' own work brought to life by the world's leading orchestras and musicians such as Leif Ove Andsnes, Emanuel Ax, Daniel Barenboim, Janine Jansen, Lars Vogt, Jonathan Miller, Ronald Brautigam, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Orchestra of the 18th century.

In Search of Beethoven [to be re-released on the composer's birthday, 16 December 2019, in limited cinema screenings in Australia, Ireland, the UK and the USA] addresses the romantic myth that Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827 was a heroic, tormented figure battling to overcome his tragic fate of deafness and who searched for his 'immortal beloved' yet remained unmarried. It delves beyond the image of the tortured, bad-tempered personality to reveal someone quite different and far more interesting. The film brings together the world's leading performers and experts on Beethoven to reveal new insights into this legendary composer; these include Gianandrea Noseda, Roger Norrington, Riccardo Chailly, Claudio Abbado, Ronald Brautigam, Janine Jansen, Lars Vogt and Emanuel Ax, among others. In Search of Beethoven has been called the best film ever made on Beethoven - and is the choice of the Beethoven Haus (Beethoven's birthplace) as the 'go to' film on Beethoven.

An 1804–05 portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven by Joseph Willibrord Mähler
An 1804–05 portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven
by Joseph Willibrord Mähler

In Search of Mozart [to be re-released on Mozart's birthday, 27 January 2020] is told through a 25,000-mile journey along the very routes Mozart followed. This is a detective story that takes us to the heart of genius, tracing the composer's life through his music and extensive correspondence. From K1a to K626 (Requiem), over eighty works are featured in chronological order, revealing striking parallels between the music and Mozart's own experiences. With rigorous analysis from musicologists and experts such as Jonathan Miller, Cliff Eisen, Nicholas Till, Bayan Northcott and the late Stanley Sadie, a new, vivid impression of the composer emerges, dispelling the many common myths about Mozart's health, relationships, death and character. On its first release the film played in some cinemas for six months and remains many people's - including classical musicians' - favourite film on Mozart.

Chopin's grave in Paris remains a place of pilgrimage and his music continues to sell out concert halls worldwide - but who exactly was this man who was terrified of public performance, who fled his Polish homeland for Paris, never to return, and who wrote some of the deepest and most powerful music ever composed? How exactly did a young Polish boy rise to such heady heights? Some of the world's best musicians provide the music, including Leif Ove Andsnes, Daniel Barenboim, Ronald Brautigam and the Orchestra of the 18th Century. Funny, heart-breaking, inspirational - this film, In Search of Chopin [to be re-released on Chopin's birthday, 1 March 2020] has been called the first to really illustrate the true nature of this remarkable and still widely-loved composer.

In Search of Haydn [to be re-released on Haydn's birthday, 31 March 2020] - a biographical account of the composer both Mozart and Beethoven looked up to - is a visual and aural extravaganza, including breath-taking performances by some of the world's most celebrated musicians. By speaking to some of the greatest exponents of Haydn's music, this film sheds light on the master and his work. Haydn's life spanned from the end of the Baroque period to Napoleon's invasion of Vienna, outliving his younger friend Mozart. He was a highly prolific composer, producing more than 100 symphonies, 64 quartets, 16 operas, 51 piano sonatas and the oratorios The Creation and The Seasons. Through intimate and revealing interviews with experts and detailed extracts from Haydn's personal recollections, the audience gains tremendous insight not only into Haydn's music but the artist himself.

Concerto: A Beethoven Journey, to mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth on 16 December 2020, has been filmed over the course of four years. Award-winning director Phil Grabsky follows leading concert pianist Leif Ove Andsnes as he explores one of the greatest sets of works for piano ever written: Beethoven's five piano concertos. Considered one of the top pianists of our age, Leif Ove Andsnes offers rare insights into one of the composers who shaped the world of music as we know it.

Leif Ove Andsnes. Photo © Özgür Albayrak
Leif Ove Andsnes. Photo © Özgür Albayrak

Against the wonderful background of Andsnes playing these five pieces with the highly respected Mahler Chamber Orchestra, we uncover a new and fresh way of examining Beethoven's life and work. Leif Ove Andsnes' own life as a top pianist is also revealed and, despite knowing and performing all the great composers of history, he concludes after this major project and its world-wide sell-out tour - that the greatest composer in history truly is Ludwig van Beethoven.

Posted 15 November 2019 by Georgia Grace





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