First Night of the Proms - Part 1 BBC Proms


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First Night of the Proms - Part 1

BBC Proms 2017 kicks off at the Royal Albert Hall with Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto performed by Igor Levit. The concert also includes a new work by Tom Coult.


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It's the world's biggest classical music festival.

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We'll be feasting on scintillating music and sensational performers

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for the next two months, so you might do well

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Welcome to the First Night of the BBC Proms 2017!

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Hello and a very warm welcome from me, Katie Derham,

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and the whole BBC Proms team here at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

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It's the launch of what promises to be another cracking Proms season.

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We've even got new titles, complete with jellyfish.

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We'll be with you tonight on BBC Four for the next hour,

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where we'll be enjoying Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto,

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with coverage continuing on BBC Two at 9pm for a performance

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Over the coming two months we'll be showcasing the very best music

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Much-loved masterworks will sit alongside world premieres specially

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commissioned for the season, all performed by exceptional musicians.

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And on that stage right now, those exceptional musicians

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from the BBC Symphony Orchestra are getting in the zone,

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the Prommers in the arena are settling in to their spots,

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and we're all bursting with anticipation.

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In just a few moments conductor Edward Gardner

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will take to the stage, so the first of 75 Proms concerts can launch.

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And we're kicking off the season with one of those world premieres -

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an exhilarating five minute piece by Tom Coult.

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It's called St John's Dance, named after a bizarre social

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phenomenon in medieval Europe, also known as Dancing Mania.

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Groups of peasants would start dancing for no obvious reason.

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They'd carry on in a trance-like state for hours, days, weeks

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and even months on end, often until they collapsed from exhaustion.

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Thankfully we're not expecting that to happen to the audience

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But we are expecting an appearance from the composer Tom Coult,

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who says, "My piece is a relentless series of dances - often

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spiralling out of control, often with two or more heard

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That ripple of applause suggests the leader is coming onto stage, there

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he is, Stephen Bryant. It is an exciting moment, this is the First

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Night of the Proms. And any minute now, we should be seeing our

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conductor tonight, Edward Gardner. Here he comes. It is the first time

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he has conducted Tom Coult's music that he describes it as incredibly

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vibrant and vivid with a unique fingerprint. Can't wait. So, let's

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get going with the First Night of the Proms.

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MUSIC: St John's Dance by Tom Coult

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The BBC Symphony Orchestra. And there is Tom Coult coming to the

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stage to take his bowl. -- bow. Great excitement.

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29-year-old Tom Coult is surely one of the outstanding

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He studied with leading British composer George Benjamin

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and was recently nominated for a South Bank Sky Arts Award.

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One of Tom's biggest fans is from very close to home.

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He says, "My Mum's been wanting me to be in the Proms for ages,

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I'm looking forward to hearing more from Tom in the future.

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Now then, let's turn our attention to the titan of classical music -

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Beethoven, and his magnificent but tumultuous Third Piano Concerto.

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It was first performed in Vienna by Beethoven himself in 1803.

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It's one of his most angst-ridden works.

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The first and third movements are brim-full of high drama

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and tension, offset by the dreamy, tender reflection

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The emotion of the piece is certainly not lost

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on our soloist, Igor Levit, who calls the Third Piano Concerto

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At 30, he's the same age as Beethoven was when he wrote this

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piece, and Levit has said that not a single day goes by without him

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Well, we spoke to him in rehearsals about this deep

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All these questions got about myself, who I am, what my role as an

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artist is, what musically matters to me, I always felt that Beethoven was

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the one-to-one to these questions. It is the most humane,

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unpredictable, chaotic, beautiful, sane, insane, funny, sad, whatever

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you want music imaginable. And therefore, as I feel it, the closest

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to who we are. If you ask me why is it my favourite Concerto, I would

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probably answer, why not? There is so much in it, so much to say. It is

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incredibly funny. At the same time, it can be unbelievably dark. Playing

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a Concerto is so exciting, because you can sit at home and practice.

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Then you walk on stage for the first rehearsal. You share the stage with

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80 plus colleagues and they start playing. They make a statement and

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you have to accept maybe all your ideas could be overthrown in this

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moment. Which is great. The same thing happens with the audience. We

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obviously go on a journey together, the audience, myself, there is not

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so much difference here. The only difference is I am the guy who

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presses down the keys. We hear this music and we experience it together.

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So what the journey will be about, what the emotions are, I cannot

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possibly tell you. To play the First Night of the Proms is really

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exciting and emotional, it means a lot.

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APPLAUSE And here he comes, Igor Levit, for

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what will be a special performance of Beethoven's's piano Concerto.

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Shaking hands with Stephen Bryant and Edward Gardner standing by to

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conduct. MUSIC: Piano Concerto No 3

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in C Minor by Beethoven Fabulous, life affirming performance

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of Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto bike Igor Levit, with the BBC

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Symphony Orchestra led by Stephen Bryant and conducted by Edward Alain

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Webber gardener. Listen to the jeers in the hall. -- conducted by Edward

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Gardner. He calls that work at whole miracle, written by the most human

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of composers, and I think we heard a most heartfelt performance. He was

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visibly moved in the second movement, I'm sure you noticed that,

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as well. As indeed were we all. He's recorded Beethoven on disk to

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great acclaim. He won the prestigious gramophone recording of

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the year last year for his account of Diabelli Variations.

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He's no stranger to the BBC, as in 2011 he was chosen as a BBC

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Radio Three New Generation Artist - widely respected as a platform

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for the hottest young talent in classical music.

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They certainly spotted a good one there.

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Coming back out to take another bow. Banking the BBC Symphony Orchestra

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warmly. -- thanking the BBC sympathy Orchestra warmly.

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What a very lovely man Igor Levit seems to be.

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He was born in Russia. He lived there for eight years, before moving

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to Germany. Nowadays he based in Berlin but as can imagine regularly

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performs in concert houses the world over. Now, I rather think that

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everyone who would like to hear some more from Igor Levit. Here he comes.

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And whilst he is bowing again I'm rather hoping he's going to give us

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an encore. MUSIC: Transcription

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of Ode To Joy from Beethoven's Ninth

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Symphony by Liszt. Igor Levit improvising on one

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of the most famous tunes of Beethoven - the Ode to Joy

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from his Ninth Symphony. And if that whetted your appetite,

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then you can hear the whole of that glorious ninth symphony,

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his "Choral" symphony, on 30 July - right here on BBC Four,

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with the BBC National Orchestra Igor Levit coming back on to take

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another bow. For that wonderful encore. And absolutely breathtaking

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performance of Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto.

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Don't forget, you can listen to every Prom live on Radio Three and

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we'll be bringing you all sorts of great performances every Friday and

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Sunday here on BBC Four, and I'll be having my guests on Proms Extra on

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BBC Two, every Saturday night from 6:50pm, starting a week tomorrow.

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That has got me in the mood for the 20 17th season. There's so much to

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look forward to. Join us now on BBC Two as the coverage of the First

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Night of the Proms continues. The BBC Proms celebrates

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the extraordinary film music of John Williams in a concert

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to mark his 85th birthday. ..would you dare find out

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what you were? ..would you dare find out

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what you were?

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BBC Proms 2017 kicks off in style tonight at the Royal Albert Hall. Beethoven's dramatic Third Piano Concerto is performed by star soloist Igor Levit with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and conductor Edward Gardner. This opening concert of the world's biggest music festival also includes a raucous new work by Tom Coult, St John's Dance, the first of 13 world premieres at Proms 2017. Presented by Katie Derham.