Six great composers, six landmark symphonies, a top orchestra and its star conductor Kent Nagano – these are the components of an extraordinary classical-music television event. Shot in High Definition, it takes a bold and innovative approach to the recording of classical music. Boom and tracking shots, quick cuts, remote-controlled cameras – stylistic means previously used chiefly for pop music recordings give the programs an up-to-the-minute look and feel. A team of more than 30 specialists makes sure that viewers enjoy a truly cinematic experience. The programs also go new ways by featuring entertaining, historically founded animated sequences illustrating episodes from the lives of the composers. Backstage interviews with the musicians and excerpts from their rehearsals let us share in the spirit of their music-making. Conductor Kent Nagano also relates what is of special importance to him in each work, and offers fascinating insights on the origin and context of the work in question. The main element of each episode is the live recording of a concert from the Berlin Philharmonie. Kent Nagano is one of the most successful and high-profile conductors of today. He has led all the major orchestras of New York, London, Berlin, Vienna, Paris... In 2000 he was named artistic director of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. In fall 2006 he succeeded Zubin Mehta as General Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera.
Bruckner considered this work as the artistic crowning point of his career. He began working on it in 1884 in a mood of optimism and self-confidence such as he had never known before and which was no doubt colored by the triumph obtained by his Seventh Symphony. The influence of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony clearly emerges in the soft string tremolo and the rhythm of the principal theme in the opening bars of the work. Bruckner himself regarded the Adagio of the Eighth as the greatest movement in any of his symphonies. The work was first performed by the Vienna Philharmonic on 18 December 1892 under the direction of Hans Richter. Hugo Wolf, who attended the concert, wrote: "This Symphony is the creation of a giant."