Great Performances

S49 E8 | FULL EPISODE

Great Performances: A John Williams Premiere at Tanglewood

Experience a concert of works by legendary composer John Williams from Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer home at Tanglewood including Williams’ new violin concerto performed by virtuoso Anne-Sophie Mutter and other works conducted by Andris Nelsons.

AIRED: November 12, 2021 | 1:24:55
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TRANSCRIPT

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-Next, on "Great Performances"...

Live music returns to the Boston Symphony's

summer home at Tanglewood,

when John Williams conducts the world premiere

of his "Violin Concerto no. 2," written specifically for

world-renowned virtuoso Anne-Sophie Mutter.

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Joining Williams at the podium is conductor Andris Nelsons

for performances of Copland and Stravinsky.

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And a concert with John Williams is sure to include

music from a galaxy far, far away.

[ Playing "Across the Stars" ]

Music lights up an evening of

triumphant returns and new beginnings,

with a John Williams premiere at Tanglewood.

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Major funding for "Great Performances"

is provided by...

...and by contributions to your PBS station

from viewers like you. Thank you.

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[ Applause ]

-We are actually speaking now in Tanglewood,

which is where Anne-Sophie and I met some years ago.

She asked me for a little piece of music, a few bars,

and so I sent a piece, with a little few more bars,

and the relationship grew,

and somehow, the "little few bars"

seemed to suggest the middle movement of a concerto.

-I couldn't be happier, because it's a gigantic piece,

the scope is gigantic, the idea behind it, this --

this wonderful stem cell of jazz as a --

I think a starting point, yeah. -Somewhat, yes.

-Is totally in violin repertoire.

Inventing music in the instant.

-For me as a composer, great opportunity

to have one of the world's greatest artists

to ask a composer to do something.

That's a great challenge, and I thought to myself,

"Oh, my God, so many great violin concertos

already in the world, how can I produce another one

that would have some value?"

I don't know -- I still don't know.

But I will try.

So I gave it to her, and it thought

it would be, you know, very formal

and exactly perfect, you know,

as a great concert artist --

and it was exactly perfect in idiom,

and what she's doing with the bow --

so it becomes almost vocal from --

instead of "note, note, note,"

but it's word, word, syllable, syllable --

some kind of illision, connection between

note to the next note,

which is -- which is a particular jazz thing

that note -- one note is here, another note's there,

but there's something in the middle,

you know, always, in all music, but particularly in jazz.

Sometimes it's exaggerated that way.

And this lady from Germany plays

everything from Bach to Schoenberg and back again,

will be doing this.

And -- and for me, that was --

once I discovered that, I said, "Well, ah."

-I was overwhelmed by the piece,

also by its technical difficulties --

there are passages which I personally find

extremely challenging.

Extremely new.

Runs which -- which are not obviously following

the classical cluster and logic of development.

A collaboration couldn't be happier and more inspiring,

more fruitful, more uplifting, more challenging as well.

I personally need the challenge,

because maybe the sky is the limit.

And the more you challenge me, you know,

the better or the more interesting

as a violinist I might become.

-She's been inspirational -- -Thank you very much.

-...as I listen to her play, and it's enough that I go

quickly to grab a pencil.

[ Applause ]

[ Cheering and applause continue ]

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[ Cheering and applause ]

-Thank you all so very much.

Here is Anne-Sophie playing "Across the Stars,"

which is a theme from one of the "Star Wars" films,

and I haven't the vaguest memory which one it was from.

One -- one of the nine -- "Across the Stars."

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[ Cheering and applause ]

-To find out more about this and other

"Great Performances" programs, visit pbs.org/greatperformances.

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[ Cheering and applause ]

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