Documentary

Leonard Bernstein in rehearsal: Elgar Enigma Variations

BBC Symphony Orchestra (1982)

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BBC Symphony Orchestra

Program notes

The enigma of genius.

Leonard Bernstein's only engagement with the BBC Symphony Orchestra took place in April 1982. It was a troubled time for Great Britain, with the long-running dispute over the Falkland Islands transformed into open war by the Argentinian invasion earlier in the month: the all-out military response ordered by Mrs Thatcher was still to come (a naval task force was on its way to the South Atlantic) when Bernstein conducted this concert at the Royal Festival Hall on 14 April. A few days later, he referred with withering sarcasm to the jingoist spirit of Elgar's patriotic music when (without preliminary rehearsal) he recorded two of the Pomp and Circumstance Marches as fillers to his CD recording of the 'Enigma' Variations, later issued on Deutsche Grammophon.

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Directed by:
Humphrey Burton
Venue: BBC Omnibus Studio (London, Great Britain)
Production date: 2013
Recording date: April 1982
Duration: 25 min
Production: © 2013 BBC, under licence to International Classical Artists Ltd. Licensed courtesy of BBC Worldwide
Resolution: SD