Great Performances Explores the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Historic 1973 Tour and China’s Contribution to Classical Music in Beethoven in Beijing, Premiering Friday, April 16
Featuring interviews with Academy Award-winning composer Tan Dun, famed classical pianist Lang Lang, Philadelphia Orchestra music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and more
Great Performances: Beethoven in Beijing spotlights the resurgence of classical music in China through the legacy of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the first American orchestra to perform in China in 1973. Following the end of China’s Cultural Revolution, when Western classical music was banned in favor of politically themed works, the onset of “Beethoven fever” began. Narrated by American and Chinese musicians and historians, the film explores the impact of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s historic tour on China both then and now. Renowned musicians, including Academy Award-winning composer Tan Dun, Philadelphia-trained famed classical pianist Lang Lang, Philadelphia Orchestra and Metropolitan Opera music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and more share their stories of how Beethoven’s music shaped their careers as China’s classical music scene boomed. Featuring archival footage and first-person recollections from American and Chinese musicians, the documentary brings the 1973 visit to life alongside a behind-the-scenes look at present-day tours capturing the dynamism of China, from its new concert halls to its tens of thousands of young musicians. Great Performances: Beethoven in Beijing premieres Friday, April 16 at 9 p.m. on PBS, pbs.org/gperf and the PBS Video app.
- Tan Dun, Academy Award-winning composer
- Lang Lang, GRAMMY Award-nominated pianist
- Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Metropolitan Opera
- Gary Graffman, classical pianist, author, and Curtis Institute professor
- Jennifer Lin, Producer, co-director, author and award-winning reporter
- Sharon Mullally, co-director
- Sam Katz, Producer and founder of History Making Productions
- David Horn, Executive Producer of Great Performances
- The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 1973 tour of China was at the behest of President Richard Nixon. It was the first American orchestra to visit the nation.
- After moving from China to study at the Curtis Institute, Lang Lang’s first return to China was to perform as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Experience the international impact of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s historic 1973 trip to China.
Experience the international impact of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s historic 1973 trip to China, offering a story of cultural reversals and a glimpse into the worldwide future of classical music.
Throughout its more than 40-year history on PBS, Great Performances has provided viewers across the country with an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural programming. The series is available for streaming simultaneously on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video app, which is available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast. PBS station members can view episodes via Passport (contact your local PBS station for details).
Great Performances: Beethoven in Beijing is a production of History Making Productions, produced by Sam Katz, Jennifer Lin, Jindong Cai and Sharon Pinkenson. Directed by Jennifer Lin and Sharon Mullally. Executive producers are Audrey and Martin Silverstein. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is series producer and David Horn is executive producer.
Major funding for Beethoven in Beijing is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Lisa Kabnick & John McFadden, Marie and Joseph Field, the Leslie Miller and Richard Worley Foundation, the CHG Charitable Trust, The Morningside Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, Lozenge and Osagie Imasogie, the Hess Foundation, the 25th Century Foundation, The Better Angels Society, the Zisman Family Foundation, and The Philadelphia Foundation. Major funding for Great Performances is provided by The Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, Rosalind P. Walter, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, the Seton Melvin Charitable Trust, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, Jody and John Arnhold, The Starr Foundation, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, the Thea Petschek Iervolino Foundation, Ellen and James S. Marcus, and PBS.