Barrie Gavin, 10 June 2005, Cascob, UK. Photo by Dmitri N. Smirnov
10 June 1935 |
Barrie Gavin (born 10 June 1935) is a British film director.
He studied history at the University of Cambridge from 1954 to 1957.
In the early years of BBC2 there was regular coverage of chamber music and Gavin learnt his craft with many studio-based productions. His experience in the cutting room led inevitably to the making of film documentaries.
Collaboration with Pierre Boulez
In 1966 his fascination with contemporary music brought him into contact with the French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez. Over the next 40 years they collaborated on a series of analytical documentaries on the founding fathers of 20th-century music: Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, Bartók, Stravinsky, Ives, Varese, Messiaen and of course Boulez himself. They made twelve films together:
- Pierre Boulez: Portrait – Analysis – Performance, 1966
- The New Language of Music (Schönberg, Berg, Webern)
- The New Rhythm of Music (Bartók, Stravinsky)
- Telemarteau (Le marteau sans maître)
- The Outsiders (Ives, Varese)
- Olivier Messiaen: Vision and Revolution
- A Different Beauty (Webern) 1977
- The Doors are Open (conducting master classes in Lucerne)
- In Search of the Future (80th birthday portrait for German TV)
- Tomorrow Today (the Boulez years at the BBC) 2005
- Boulez Now (retrospective up to mid-1980s)
- Pierre Boulez: Living in the Present 2005
Portraits of contemporary composers
From the 1970s until the end of the 20th century Gavin specialised in portraits of contemporary composers: Roberto Gerhard, Luciano Berio, Luigi Nono, George Benjamin, Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Adams, Sofia Gubaidulina, Aribert Reimann, Toru Takemitsu, Isang Yun, Harrison Birtwistle, Peter Maxwell Davies, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Oliver Knussen, Hans Werner Henze and many others.
Films on folk music
In 1970 Barrie Gavin began to explore folk music with the writer and musician A. L. Lloyd. Together they travelled across the British Isles and visited Romania, Hungary, the United States. The death of A. L. Lloyd in 1984 brought this kind of work to an end.
Years in Germany
In 1977 Gavin had been invited to Germany to make a film about Kurt Weill. This marked the beginning of a long association with German television, resulting not only in many adventurous documentaries (mainly in Frankfurt for the producer Swantje Ehrentreich) but also in a new area of work, directing concerts for television. To date he has been responsible for some 250 relays of concerts and opera.
Collaboration with Sir Simon Rattle
In the 1980s Gavin began a collaboration with the conductor Sir Simon Rattle. They worked on a long series of productions with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. The list of films created together includes:
- 1911 (a trilogy on a crucial year in music)
- From East to West (a trilogy on the influence of the East on classical music)
- A Symphony in Time of War (Stravinsky – Symphony in three movements)
- Young Apollo (the early works of Britten)
- Carl Nielsen: A Life in six Symphonies
- Leaving Home (a seven part series on the music of the 2Oth century)
- Sinfonia (Luciano Berio)
- The Middle of Life (Hans Werner Henze)
- A Romantic Imagination (3-part series on Berlioz)
- Stockhausen: Gruppen (documentary and performance)
Collaboration with Gerard McBurney
In 1989 he worked for the first time with the composer and writer Gerard McBurney. They have produced some ten films, many of them on Russian music, including Think Today, Speak Tomorrow and Giving Voice (two films on dissident composers in the Soviet Union) 1990 The Fire and the Rose (Sofia Gubaidulina) 1990 The Face behind the Face (Shostakovich).
In 2006 he began a collaboration with Gerard McBurney and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on a series of music documentaries for the internet. They have completed productions on music by Bartók, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Holst Vivaldi, Mussorgsky, Sibelius, Dvořák and Debussy. There were created the following films:
- Bartók – The Miraculous Mandarin 2006
- Mozart – Piano Concerto No. 27, K.595 2007
- Tchaikovsky – Symphony No. 4 2008
- Shostakovich – Symphony No. 4 2008
- Holst – The Planets: suite 2008
- Vivaldi – The 4 Seasons 2008
- Mussorgsky/Ravel – Pictures from an Exhibition 2008
- Sibelius – Symphony No. 5 2010
- Dvořák – Symphony No. 9 (From the New World) 2010
- Debussy – La Mer 2010
Films on arts and literature
The vast majority of Gavin's work has concentrated on music, but he has also produced in 1967 a series on classic film directors. In addition there have been films on literature and the visual arts. Among them: Sir William in search of Xanadu (Award of Montreal Festival of Films on Art, 1984) and Images – A History of Early Photography (Award of New York Festival of Films on Art, 1989).
In 2007 he finished a film, Finding the Music in Croatia, on the composer Nigel Osborne. In 2008 he received an award from International Music Publisher' Association for Services to Contemporary Music. In 2009 he completed a film Towards and Beyond (Jonathan Harvey), a portrait of the composer. In 2010 he made two short films: A Mind of Winter (George Benjamin) and How Slow the Wind (Toru Takemitsu), using music by these composers. He also started work on a continuing series of archival, unedited interviews, mainly with contemporary composers.