The Fairytale Castles of King Ludwing II
Ludwig II of Bavaria, more commonly known by his nicknames the Swan King or the Dream King, is a legendary figure - the handsome boy-king, loved by his people, betrayed by his cabinet and found dead in tragic and mysterious circumstances. He spent his life in pursuit of the ideal of beauty, an ideal that found expression in three of the most extraordinary, ornate architectural schemes imaginable - the castle of Neuschwanstein and the palaces of Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee. Today, these three buildings are among Germany’s biggest tourist attractions.
In this documentary Dan Cruickshank explores the rich aesthetic of Ludwig II - from the mock-medievalism of Neuschwanstein the iconic fairytale castle, which became the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle, to the rich Baroque splendour of Herrenchiemsee, Ludwig’s answer to Versailles. Dan argues that Ludwig’s castles are more than flamboyant kitsch and are, in fact, the key to unravelling the eternal enigma of Ludwig II.
Our tour rolls into Liverpool today and I’m thrilled to announce that Liverpudlian legend and former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney has added his support to Let’s Stay Together by signing our letter to Scotland.Sir Paul’s love for Scotland is well known and it’s no surprise as…
Music and Monarchy - Reinventions
Dr David Starkey’s exploration of how the monarchy shaped Britain’s music concludes with the 19th and 20th centuries, when the crown rediscovered the power of pageantry and ceremony and when native music experienced a renaissance.
David discovers the royal origins of such classics as Edward Elgar’s ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, Hubert Parry’s ‘I Was Glad’ and William Walton’s ‘Crown Imperial’, as well as finding out how the twentieth century’s coronations - culminating in the crowning of Elizabeth II - cemented the repertory of royal classics in the hearts of the British people. He hears music written by Queen Victoria’s beloved Albert, Prince Consort, played for him in Buckingham Palace on a lavish golden piano which was bought by Victoria and Albert themselves. There are also specially recorded performances from St Paul’s Cathedral Choir and Westminster Abbey and of works by Felix Mendelssohn, Arthur Sullivan, Charles Villiers Stanford, and Ralph Vaughan Williams, as well as Hubert Parry’s classic ‘Jerusalem’.
David uncovers a rarely seen, diamond-encrusted conductor’s baton that was a gift from Queen Victoria to her private organist, Sir Walter Parratt. He also recounts the duets sung by Italian opera composer Gioacchino Rossini with George IV in his decadent pleasure palace, the Brighton Pavilion; and visits the Royal College of Music in London, and St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, both of which played a crucial role in the revival of British music.
August 30, 2014
The sinister side of the Yes Campaign
Jim Murphy has had to suspend his 100 Days Tour. Here’s why.
Music and Monarchy - Great British Music
Dr David Starkey’s exploration of how the monarchy shaped Britain’s music reaches the 18th century, when Great Britain became a dominant military and economic power, and the century which brought us patriotic classics such as God Save the King - the world’s first national anthem - and Rule Britannia. Yet this was a time when the monarchy had never been more fragile, having lost much of its political and religious power and imported its ruling house from abroad. The supreme irony was that it was a musician from Germany, George Frideric Handel, who gave Great Britain and its new royal dynasty its distinctive musical voice.
Featuring specially recorded performances from Westminster Abbey Choir and a full baroque orchestra of Handel’s Hallejulah Chorus and Zadok The Priest. Plus the Academy of Ancient Music performs extracts from Handel’s operas and other works. Soloists joining the performances include Elin Manahan Thomas, singing ‘Eternal Source of Light Divine’ which was written for Queen Anne’s birthday in 1714 and was performed by Elin to a global audience at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Also featuring what is believed to be the first public performance for 300 years of the music written for the Act of Union between England and Scotland in 1707 - sung by the choir of St Paul’s Cathedral just as it was back then.
David also discovers the true stories behind Handel’s Water Music, written to accompany George I on a trip along the Thames, as well as his Music for Royal Fireworks, full of military instruments at the insistence of the soldier-king George II. He also visits the country estate of Cliveden in Buckinghamshire, where Thomas Arne’s Rule Britannia was first performed as an act of defiance by an heir to the throne.
Music and Monarchy - Revolutions
Dr David Starkey’s exploration of how the monarchy shaped Britain’s music reaches the 17th century, when religious conflict threatened not only the lives of musicians and monarchs, but the future of the monarchy and the glorious tradition of British music itself. And yet, in the midst of this upheaval, royalty presided over a series of musical breakthroughs - from the first chamber concerts and proto-operas, to the triumphant debut of the baroque orchestra.
Westminster Abbey choir sing some of the earliest surviving music to be heard at British coronations; the Band of the Life Guards play pieces which Charles I used in battle, which marched James II out of his kingdom, and which mourned Mary II; and the Academy of Ancient Music perform some of the glorious works of arguably the greatest English composer - Henry Purcell. Also featured are works by Orlando Gibbons, Thomas Tomkins and the little-known William Lawes - a composer who had the potential to be truly great, had he not died fighting for the king in the English Civil War.
David also visits the Whitehall Banqueting House, home of the extravagant form which was the forerunner of opera in England - the court masque. And he explores how music was fought over by Puritans and Royalists - with the church organ proving a surprisingly bitter source of conflict.
Music and Monarchy - Crown and Choir
Dr David Starkey reveals how the story of British music was shaped by its monarchy. In this first episode he begins with kings who were also composers - Henry V and Henry VIII - and the golden age of English music they presided over. He discovers how the military and religious ambitions of England’s monarchy made its music the envy of Europe - and then brought it to the brink of destruction - and why British music still owes a huge debt to Queen Elizabeth I.
Featuring specially recorded music performances from King’s College Cambridge, Canterbury Cathedral and Eton College, and early music ensemble Alamire; and the music of Thomas Tallis, William Byrd, John Dunstable and John Dowland.
Dr Starkey reveals why Henry V took a choir with him to the Battle of Agincourt, and hears the music the king wrote to keep God on-side in his crusade against the French - rarely performed in the centuries since, and now sung by the choir at Canterbury Cathedral. He visits Eton College, founded by Henry VI, where today’s choristers sing from a hand-illuminated choir-book which would have been used by their 16th-century predecessors; King’s College, Cambridge, built by successive generations of monarchs and still world-famous for its choir; and the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace, where Henry VIII and Elizabeth I heard works created especially for their worship by some of the greatest composers in British history.