Benjamin Grosvenor at the First Night of the Proms BBC Proms


Benjamin Grosvenor at the First Night of the Proms

Benjamin Grosvenor is the soloist in Liszt's Piano Concerto No 2, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jirí Belohlàvek, followed by Brahms's Hungarian Dance No 5.


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Throughout the 2011 season,

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the Proms will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth

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of the virtuoso pianist and composer, Franz Liszt.

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Tonight, we have his second piano concerto,

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which runs as a single movement and has been described -

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rather sweetly, I think - as "the life and adventures of a melody".

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It's performed this evening by 19-year-old Benjamin Grosvenor,

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hailed as one of the most talented pianists to emerge in recent years.

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We spoke to Ben at home in Southend as he prepared for his Proms debut.

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'I'm from Westcliff-on-Sea, which is near Southend.

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'I'm very near - just two miles away I live from the town centre.

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'I've been here for going on 19 years,'

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and I haven't left.

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It's been my home for all that time.

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'My mother started my four older brothers all on an instrument,

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'all around the age of six.'

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I chose the piano because it was the one that was most familiar to me,

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because my mum is a piano teacher.

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'At first, I didn't... I wasn't particularly interested in it,

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'I kind of did it because she wanted me to.

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'I've always felt that the piano's not so much something

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'I wanted to do, more something that I had to do.'

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It feels more like a job.

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I get up and I practise and I finish,

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it's kind of like a working day. But I've always loved performing.

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I always thrived on it, which is the reasons why

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'my parents felt it was quite nice for me

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'to perform from quite an early age.'

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'It's slightly strange, looking back on it,'

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because I've changed so much. It's like looking at a different person!

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YOUNG BEN LISPING: 'I remember playing on the stage of the local pavilion in the concert hall.'

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And then, when I came off, I said to Mum,

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"I really, really want to be a concert pianist."

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I've lost a bit of weight.

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MIMICS LISP: And I don't shpeak like thish any more.

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'I started my degree at the Royal Academy of Music when I was 16.

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'It's great for me now to be doing my degree at the Academy

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'because I'm around so many people

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'who are interested in the same thing as me.'

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-Hi.

-Hi, Chris.

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'I study with Christopher Elton.

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'I've been studying with him since I was 11 now.'

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I think what makes Benjamin stand out,

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compared with most other young pianists,

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and even a lot of older ones,

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is the particular voice he's got, his style of playing.

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'He's someone who, I think,

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'goes back to a more bygone era of piano playing.

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'He's got an extraordinary vision,

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'he's got an extraordinary ear for delicacy, and for nuancing,

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'and for flexibility in the playing.'

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There are other people who run around the piano as fast as he does,

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but to do so with the delicacy,

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with the imagination, with the finesse,

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'with the creativity, that is very rare.'

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'I spend a lot of at the piano, and, I have to admit, sometimes you get'

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a bit fed up with it, but then you go and have a few days away from it,

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and you come back and you realise how much you love it.

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'I've been hoping to play at the Proms for a while,

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'but for your first Prom'

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to be the first night is quite incredible.

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APPLAUSE

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And here comes Benjamin Grosvenor now.

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What a night he's going to have,

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as he comes onto the stage for the very first time at the Proms

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to play Liszt's Second Piano Concerto,

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joined by conductor Jiri Belohlavek.

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WOODWIND OPENS CONCERTO SOFTLY

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PIANO JOINS

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GENTLE STRINGS JOIN

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MUSIC TAKES ON A MENACING TONE

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MUSIC TAKES ON A SENSE OF URGENCY

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BUILDING TO CRESCENDO THEN FADING

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GENTLE, SWEET PIANO

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ORCHESTRA JOINS IN SIMILAR TONE

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SOMBRE UNDERTONE

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LIGHTER, BRIGHTER TONE

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MUSIC BUILDS

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MUSIC SOFTENS

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MUSIC BUILDS

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BUILDING SENSE OF URGENCY

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BUILDING TO CRESCENDO

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MUSIC SOFTENS

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MUSIC BUILDS

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MUSIC SOFTENS

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MUSIC BUILDS

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SILENCE

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SOFT, SOMBRE PIANO

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ORCHESTRA JOINS IN SIMILAR TONE

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LIGHTER, BRIGHTER TONE

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BRIGHT, PLAYFUL TONE

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BUILDING TO CRESCENDO

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AND LEVELS OUT

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SLOWLY BUILDS

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MAJESTIC, BRASS-RICH THEME

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BUILDING TO CRESCENDO

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CRESCENDO

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APPLAUSE

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What a night for young Benjamin Grosvenor.

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The youngest-ever soloist at the First Night of the Proms.

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Just 19 a couple of weeks ago.

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Liszt's Second Piano Concerto,

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dispatched with confidence, with passion and delicacy.

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I really think he enjoyed that.

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No sign of nerves whatsoever,

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and how appropriate that he was playing Liszt as well,

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because Liszt, of course, himself a teenage sensation,

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one of the most celebrated pianists of all time.

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When he toured Europe during the 19th century,

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his piano playing sent his fans into a frenzy,

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coining the phrase Lisztomania - something like Beatlemania,

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but just 100 or so years earlier.

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Admirers would fight over clothing and locks of hair.

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A lesson, perhaps, for Benjamin Grosvenor,

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coming back to the stage now to take another very well-earned bow.

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE CONTINUES

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Well, an encore now from Benjamin Grosvenor.

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PLAYS: "Hungarian Dance No.5" by Johannes Brahms arr. Gyorgy Cziffra.

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APPLAUSE AND CHEERING

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The applause taking the roof off the Albert Hall

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for Benjamin Grosvenor's encore there.

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That was Brahms' Hungarian Dance No.5

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arranged in particularly flamboyant fashion

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by Hungarian pianist Gyorgy Cziffra.

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From me, Katie Derham, and all of us here at the Royal Albert Hall,

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good night.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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E-mail subtitling @bbc.co.uk

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The 19-year-old British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor makes his Proms debut at the opening of the 2011 season - the youngest soloist ever to appear at a Proms First Night. Benjamin is the soloist in Liszt's Piano Concerto No 2, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jirí Belohlàvek, followed by a brilliant encore for solo piano - Brahms's Hungarian Dance No 5.


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