Sunday, July 08, 2007

Simon Schama's Power of Art


I do not follow the television listings and am dependent on Bonnie to find us interesting programs to watch. She is highly selective, and I have full confidence in her choices. Her latest great find is Simon Schama's Power of Art, which is running this summer on PBS stations.

At this point, we have seen four of the eight episodes, each of which focuses on a different artist and a masterpiece that transformed the world of art. Episode One tells how Vincent Van Gogh came to paint Wheatfield with Crows (1890), which Schama claims is the first work of modern art. When the British host is not on screen, Van Gogh's career is dramatized by actors. The artist walks the streets, drinks with friends, writes to his brother Theo, visits prostitutes, and, of course, paints in the French countryside. The result is an art documentary that could draw viewers away from lurid reality shows on MTV.

In the second episode, the historian tells about how Pablo Picasso became political and painted Guernica (1937) after the slaughter of the Spanish Civil War. The self portrait within the painting David with the Head of Goliath (1610) by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio and the passion within the sculpture The Ecstasy of St. Theresa by Gian Lorenzo Bernini followed in Episodes Three and Four. Both Caravaggio and Bernini attack people with knives. These lives of artists are not for elementary school art appreciation show-and-tell.

Is that blood on the DVD box?

We are awaiting episodes about Rembrandt, David, Turner, and Rothko.

The Power of Art is available in a three discs DVD set. As a librarian trying to build a nonfiction collection, I wish each episode were on a separate discs, so eight students could borrow the episodes for their assignments at the same time. Still, it looks like a great set for public and academic libraries.

******

The Power of Art also has a website, which includes background on each episode, lesson plans for teachers, and a Google Map mashup to show where to find works by the artists in American museums. Unfortunately the map identifies only one of the works by Van Gogh in the Art Institute of Chicago. Still, it is interesting to see what PBS web developers are doing.

48 comments:

Carleen said...

You may enjoy BBC's How Art Made the World. :-)

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Anonymous said...

I saw the Guernica episode, which was fascinating. What made it most interesting was the painting's recent brush with history, when broadcasters asked that it not be the backdrop to Colin Powell's announcement at the UN about the (then) possible invasion of Iraq - it was, apparently, too disturbing. Oh, the irony - as they say.

Lorraine@ discount magazines said...

I am from the UK so have seen all the episodes and enjoy them as they do not disappoint. I have also got the book of the series which is a great read.

Simon Scharma somehow always manages to make his subjects cool, hip and sexy!

David said...

If you haven't already, make sure you pick up Schama's "A History of Britain" for that library collection. It's not too dense for high school students and features the same kind of smooth, flowing narration you hear in "Power of Art."

David Wagner said...

Does anyone know the background music played in the "David" episode of The Power of Art. It was sublime.
Thanks

ricklibrarian said...

The PBS website for the series does not have any information on the music, though the box for the DVD might. Another idea is contact the series producers using the query form at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/powerofart/view.php?page=feedback

Anonymous said...

Hi,
It is great, isn't it! The name of the background peice in the David is Nisi Dominus in G Minor, RV 608: IV. Cum Dederit. I got my copy from iTunes. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

"Nisi Dominus in G Minor, RV 608: IV"

Thanks! I had the same question.

Can anybody identify the music in the other episodes?

Anonymous said...

What was the other music in the David episode? Marriage of Figaro is obvious, and we already got the Nisi. There was some other vocal music, clearly from the classical period, but I am not able to place it.

Bruce said...

I'm also curious about the music in the Turner episode.

Barbara said...

Does anyone know what the music is in the Bernini episode?

bjerwin99 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bjerwin99 said...

Some of the music in the Bernini episode is from Vivaldi's Stabat Mater, RV 621.

Sam said...

After ending up here after also looking for the music info; at least some of the music must be original compositions/scoring. If you go to the pbs website>about the series>credits for each episode there is listings there for different composers/orchestration/music for each episode. :)

Sam said...

p.s. did anyone else notice that Van Gogh is Andy Serkis (a.k.a. 'gollum')

nicolas said...

can anybody tell me what the opening music theme was for the "picasso" episode (and perhaps every episode)... I know it's a really well known piece of music but I just can't place it.

Anonymous said...

I really miss this series. I'd love the powers that be to rerun the series, if they are not wise enough to continue it. There are hundreds of pieces of art that I'd like to see explored so well. I have an art degree, if only Schama was one of my instructors. Lament lament. Mags

Anonymous said...

This is a GREAT series! I have the DVDs and I cannot find the musical credits either! I have been searching high and low on the internets (sic) for this info and I am coming up short. $5 to the first person to ID all the music in this series. Why is this not included in the credits!

Anonymous said...

The opening song for every episode is Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.

Beth said...

OK, I've got more. The beautiful piece that plays in the final sequence of the Bernini episode is "Introduzione al Miserere "Filiae Maestae Jerusalem" in C Minor, RV 638: II. "Sileant Zephyri"".

I love this piece. Andreas Scholl has to be the best conter-tenor in the world.

bjerwin99 said...

Here is another. In the Bernini episode when Mr. Shama is talking about Bernini's assistants quitting the Apollo and Daphne project, the music in the background is

Cantate "Cessate, omai cessate", RV 684: A voi dunque ricorro

It would appear that in the Bernini episode most of the music is from Vivaldi.

bjerwin99 said...

The ending credits of the Bernini episode are also from Cantate "Cessate, omai cessate", RV 684

bjerwin99 said...

And yet another.. the music played when talking about the Ecstasy is Sonata a quatro "Al Santo Sepolcro", RV 130.

Basically, go out and buy this CD and you'll have most of the Bernini episode music:

http://www.amazon.com/Vivaldi-Stabat-Scholl-Ensemble-Banchini/dp/B0000007AM/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1221930017&sr=1-5

Anonymous said...

Many thanks to bjerwin99 for the detective work! I went and bought the CD off Amazon. You should get a commission.

jt said...

I echo much of what was written here. Anyone know the music featured in the Caravaggio episode?

Anonymous said...

I still can't find the piece played for Costanza. Not the energetic one where her bust is first introduced but the softer one after that. Anyone have a clue?

n2ks said...

In the David episode, what was the operatic piece (duet)playing while discussing Charlotte Korde?
thanx,
nks

SweetiePieOnToast said...

Ah, fellow Schama/art lovers!

In my desperate search to track down the music, I must say that this is the best site so far!

Thanks to those that have already shared their info... although I would possibly cry tears of joy if someone discovered the music from the Turner episode!

But meanwhile, keep up the appreciation of this wonderful series!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know the name of the piece played in the caravaggio episode? I'm especially curious about the beautiful aria... well there are multiple voices so w/e that would be... played right after the intro sequence.
( on minute 2:25)

heres a link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChoqyIamyco

Anonymous said...

In the "Turner" episode one of the tracks, albeit not arranged in the same way is "Redemption" composed by Niraj Chang.

Anonymous said...

The "Turner" episode is driving me crazy, been searching google for track names but no luck.

The piece im looking for is about 30minutes in, it's really beautiful and brooding. Just before they talk about the people drowning.

It anyone can help!!!

Douglas Walls said...

I don't know if anyone still follows this thread, but the during the Turner montoge at the end they are playing, "The Sun (Electronica Remix) by visioninmusic.
That's what Shazam says anyway.

emeln002 said...

There is one more piece in the Bernini episode that nobody here has mentioned; I have been trying to identify it for ages! It starts around 6:30 in the following video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ki1eoNOj5RA

Anonymous said...

I have also been searching for the music from this! If anybody could make a list of the pieces in the order they are played in each, it would be amazing.

Anonymous said...

I am desperate to find out music from the very beginning of this part of Rembrandt episode:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYIQ0IoMDn0
any ideas?

Anonymous said...

All of the music from the beginning of the Rembrandt episode was originally composed by Dave Gale. It is not commercially available but you can find out more about Dave via his site.

www.davegalemusic.com

The generic opening title sequence uses a rearrangement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.

Anonymous said...

this site is the best source for schama's power of art soundtrack. endless thanks to Rick

Anonymous said...

What is the first music used in Simon Schama's power of Art David episode?
Help me please :)

Jason Ross said...

First main song in the Bernini episode. I wanted this sooo bad.

Monteverdi - Lamento della ninfa (Alessandrini)

Kiwiartist said...

i wish i new the music in the turner one its driving me crazy ....

Mc Shane ret FBI Art Agent said...

I wrote to Simon Schama but did not receive an ans. If he has a website perhaps he will list all for everyone .

Daniel Vephar said...

HELPPPPPPPPPP


What's the song/soundtrack that starts at 4:40 in the Turner episode?????????????????????????????????????????????

I'm desperate

Anonymous said...

^^^^^ really anyone?

Anonymous said...

please!! Help me I would like to know the name of the piece in DAVID...it starts at the moment of the duel. IT IS NOT part of nisi dominus by Vivaldi. I downloaded that and it's not...Please. I've tried to find it a lot...

Richard said...

I've collected some of the works mentioned on this thread into a Spotify playlist. You can find it at http://open.spotify.com/user/trinkner/playlist/4QVmcsTPyCTgAvbDUL9VE8

Anonymous said...

for the turner episode .... niraj chag.... he is the author of the music

Anonymous said...

I really want to thank Beth for helping me find some of the music from the Bernini episode. Thank you!