New Season of Great Performances: Now Hear This Features Haydn, Schubert, Mozart and Beethoven Beginning Friday, September 18 on PBS
Renowned violinist and conductor Scott Yoo travels through Europe and the U.S. to explore beloved works by the world’s greatest classical composers
From Vienna to Montreal, Berlin to Philadelphia, London to New York City and beyond, celebrated violinist and chief conductor of the Mexico City Philharmonic Scott Yoo discovers the secret stories behind some of the greatest classical music ever composed in the second season of Great Performances: Now Hear This. The critically acclaimed documentary miniseries that merges music, storytelling, travel and culture returns with four new episodes focusing on signature works by Classical period composers Haydn, Schubert, Mozart and Beethoven beginning Friday, September 18 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/nowhearthis and the PBS Video app. Each episode traces the creation of different masterworks and explores the composer’s profound, lasting cultural impact.
“We focused on baroque-era composers last season,” said Great Performances: Now Hear This Host and Executive Producer Scott Yoo. “This season, we uncover the fascinating histories and modern legacies of composers from the Classical era.”
Great Performances: Now Hear This “Haydn: King of Strings”
Premieres Friday, September 18 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/nowhearthis and the PBS Video app
When Joseph Haydn visited England, he was so taken with “God Save the King” that he wanted to write an anthem for Austria’s monarch. Host Scott Yoo discovers how Haydn borrowed folk music from Scotland, Hungary and Austria to create his “Emperor Quartet.” Along the way, he and guest violinist Geoff Nuttall reveal how Haydn created the string quartet format, providing an inside look and deeper appreciation for the genre. Haydn went on to write more great string quartets than any other composer.
Places visited: Eisenstadt, Rohrau and Vienna, Austria; Fertod, Hungary; London; Charleston, S.C.
Great Performances: Now Hear This “The Schubert Generation”
Premieres Friday, September 25 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/nowhearthis and the PBS Video app
Franz Schubert composed 1,500 works, but his genius wasn’t recognized until after his tragic death at 31. The Vienna native never found success in his hometown, then the world’s musical capital. Host Scott Yoo goes to today’s musical capitals to meet tomorrow’s most promising artists—all of them Schubert’s age during his career—to understand Schubert’s life through some of his greatest music and learn what it takes for a young classical artist to make it in the 21st century.
Places visited: New York City and rural New York; Montreal and rural Quebec; Philadelphia, P.A.
Great Performances: Now Hear This “Becoming Mozart”
Premieres Friday, October 2 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/nowhearthis and the PBS Video app
Host Scott Yoo invites piano phenomenon Stewart Goodyear to his Festival Mozaic to play Mozart’s titanic 20th piano concerto as Mozart himself would have done it: directing the orchestra from the piano while improvising the solos. To do that, Yoo must teach Goodyear to conduct. And Goodyear, one of the only classical concert pianists with this improvisational skill, will have to find his inspiration to become Mozart.
Places visited: San Luis Obispo and rural California
Great Performances: Now Hear This “Beethoven’s Ghost”
Premieres Friday, October 29, 2021 at 9 p.m. on PBS, pbs.org/nowhearthis and the PBS Video app
The Series 2 finale takes a dramatic approach to interpreting the complex musical mind of composer Ludwig van Beethoven, who wrote nearly 800 works in 45 years. Host and violinist Scott Yoo and his team of fellow musicians, including Anna Polonsky (piano), Bion Tsang (cello), Toby Appel (viola) and Emily Daggett Smith (second violin), visit a historic manor in the Berkshires to better understand Beethoven by performing and recording some of his most personal work, including his famous “Ghost Trio.” Unbeknownst to them, they’ve summoned the ghost of the composer, trailed by the spirit of Sigmund Freud who attempts to analyze him. Interweaving documentary, performance and theatrical storytelling, this haunting special episode explores the mind of the composer through dramatized conversations between the spirits of Beethoven and Freud.
Yoo is the Chief Conductor of the Mexico City Philharmonic, Music Director of Festival Mozaic, Conductor of the Colorado College Music Festival, and the Founder of the Medellín Festicámara, a chamber music and social program in Colombia. He has conducted the London Symphony, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, L’Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Yomiuri Nippon Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony and San Francisco Symphony, among many others.
Throughout its more than 40-year history on PBS, Great Performances has provided an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural programming. The series is available for streaming simultaneously on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video app, which is available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast. PBS station members can view episodes via Passport (contact your local PBS station for details).
Now Hear This was created by producer, writer and director Harry Lynch and is a production of Arcos Film + Music. Harry Lynch, Scott Yoo, and Richard Lim are executive producers. Great Performances is produced by THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET. Bill O’Donnell is series producer and David Horn is executive producer.
Major funding for Great Performances is provided by The Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, Rosalind P. Walter, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, Seton J. Melvin, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, Jody and John Arnhold, The Starr Foundation, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, the Thea Petschek Iervolino Foundation, Ellen and James S. Marcus, public television viewers and PBS.
WNET is America’s flagship PBS station: parent company of New York’s THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey. Through its new ALL ARTS multi-platform initiative, its broadcast channels, three cable services (THIRTEEN PBSKids, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each month. WNET produces and presents a wide range of acclaimed PBS series, including Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, and the nightly interview program Amanpour and Company. In addition, WNET produces numerous documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings, as well as multi-platform initiatives addressing poverty and climate. Through THIRTEEN Passport and WLIW Passport, station members can stream new and archival THIRTEEN, WLIW and PBS programming anytime, anywhere.