French TV to show 52-part Barenboim cartoon

French TV to show 52-part Barenboim cartoon


norman lebrecht

March 27, 2018

The animation series Max & Maestro, conceived by Daniel Barenboim, has been taken up by France 4.


Here’s an early English trailer.

Et en francais…


  • Steven van Staden says:

    Though they think they are listening, sadly, most ‘listeners’ have never learnt to listen.

  • Michael says:

    This is already available on tv5 monde…its great! My daughter loves it.

    • John Dalkas says:

      I live in France but can’t watch it on that site — it says I don’t have access rights in my geography. So I’ve only seen the two episodes currently available on the France 4 site and won’t resort to using a VPN to see the others.

      Meantime, definitely being older than the target audience, I’d be fascinated to know what your daughter likes and possibly doesn’t like, how many episodes she’s watched so far, and how old she is. That would give me (and perhaps others) the perspective of someone for whom the series is likely intended.

      While admiring the likely goals of the series, I consider my views irrelevant compared to those of someone like your daughter, which would give me an idea of how effective the series is or has been so far.

      Many thanks!

      • Michael says:

        Great reply!!! I will endeavour to answer your questions when I have time!

        • John Dalkas says:

          Look forward to it. Many thanks!

          • Michael says:

            Well, it’s harder than I thought to give you a precise answer. We watched an episode last night, and when I asked her what she liked about the programme, she replied ‘I don’t know…I just like it!’ That’s to be expected for her age (nearly 7) but with more careful questioning she said she liked the characters, and the storylines, but that also doesn’t tell you much!

            My impression of the programme is that despite music being central to the stories, it doesn’t try to ‘educate’ as such, but it does encourage the patience to listen, and also not to be ashamed to admit to liking classical music, which in the episodes I’ve seen is an issue for Max. A specific work is introduced in passing during each episode (last nights was Saint-Saens Clarinet Sonata…new to me!) and it would appear that it is always central to the resolution of the episode. Other works featured in episodes that I’ve seen include a Brahms Piano Quartet, a Mozart Piano Concerto and a Schubert Impromptu. The children are very similar to characters that you find in other French (european) cartoons, though there seems to be more attention paid to their emotions than in other shows I know.

            My daughter is used to listening to classical music as we are both musicians, and she learns the piano and sings in a choir, but like most of her friends her preferred music is pop, as it’s ”cool!’ (She describes classical music as romantic and lovely, jazz as a little romantic and a bit cool, and pop is simply cool!). I was surprised that she liked it as much as she does, but for now it has replaced an Italian adventure show called Winx Club as her favourite, for which I am very grateful! One thing I’ve noticed is she seems to practice the piano more willingly since she has been watching it.

            Considering the astonishing arrogance and negativity in the other comments on this post I feel almost uncomfortable saying that I think it is a worthwhile programme. I certainly don’t understand how anyone can judge it without having watched a few episodes, ideally with a child in the target age range, to see how they react. Compared to a lot of the television that it is out there for children, it’s a godsend.

          • John Dalkas says:


            No reply button to your message, so hope you see this.

            Thanks for your daughter’s enlightening reaction and behavior. It gives an idea of how the audience concerned responds to the series, and validates it being “a worthwhile programme,” as you say.

            For me your comment hits the nail on the head: “I certainly don’t understand how anyone can judge it without having watched a few episodes, ideally with a child in the target age range, to see how they react.”

            I had asked about her reaction because, when solving problems for clients, as a business strategist I ask first what my clients’ customers think of their offerings, and not what my clients think, reflecting your comment.

            Thanks, too, for your views on the episodes I’m unable to watch so far here. Your positive impressions echo mine from what I’ve seen. I agree the program is a valuable undertaking that deserves encouragement, not the self-serving criticism you flag here. It’s your daughter’s perspective that counts.

  • John Borstlap says:

    One does not know what to loath more: the narcissistic snobbery or the extremely bad drawing quality.

  • David R Osborne says:

    52 Episodes? Looks like Mr Barenboim is going to need some help here. Fortunately I am more than willing to step up to the plate.

    EPISODE 2..
    Filled with the joy of the beautiful music he has just heard, Max is riding his bicycle home in the late afternoon sunshine when all of a sudden, as if by magic, a little melody pops into his head. As soon as he gets home he rushes to his keyboard and quickly works out how to play it. Through some trial and error he even works out a harmony. What a wonderful time he is having, he can hardly wait to play his composition to the Maestro.

    The next day the Maestro listens with furrowed brow. For just a moment he hesitates, perhaps recalling a similar moment in his own childhood but no, his loyalty must be, as it always has been, to the established order.

    “Max”, says the Maestro kindly, “you have much to learn before you can consider yourself a composer, so many rules and equations. What you have just played me is the music of the past. Compose this way and you will be of no use whatsoever to your epoch”.

    An overwhelming sense of shame engulfs Max, he feels he has let the Maestro down. He vows never again to allow those little magic voices in his head to lead him astray. An important lesson has been learnt.


    Max tells the Maestro where he can stick his rules and instead turns to street crime

  • Doug says:

    What a waste of resources.

    But it’s not the first time and it won’t be the last.

  • Sixtus Beckmesser says:

    Does anyone else have a problem with “Maestro?” Why not just “the musician?”

    • David R Osborne says:

      Perhaps we could try ‘your grace’ or even ‘your holiness’. Both provide a similar level of fawning obsequiousness!

    • David R Osborne says:

      If you haven’t seen them already, the episodes of Seinfeld featuring a character known as ‘the Maestro’ are loads of fun. He insists on being addressed as Maestro, even though the orchestra he conducts is the Policeman’s Benevolent Association Orchestra.

    • Antonia says:

      Without having viewed any more of this series than the trailer presented here, the series could have a focus upon Barenboim’s conducting, which would justify “maestro”. “Max and the Musician” contains 6 syllables – a too-long title for a TV series. How many other TV series can you think of which have such long titles? “Max and the Maestro” is briefer and catchy – it has “flavor”. “Max and the Musician” is an unappealing title, rather laborious. Even though I, like you, am in favor of more unassuming titles and humility on the part of leaders.

      • David R Osborne says:

        Max and Dan?

      • Michael says:

        Perhaps it comes over as ‘uncomfortable’ (whatever that means) in English, but I don’t think it is an issue in France where it was produced. Maestro is a very accepted term in the European musical world. I had much more of a problem with the UK reality tv show called ‘Maestro’!

  • Sue says:

    Oh, the “richness”, the “diversity”. Truly awe-inspiring.

  • Gurugoldberg says:

    Dreadfu English accents. Looks nothing like D B!

  • John Borstlap says:

    My grandchild of 3 commented that he did not like the tempi of most pieces, and the drawing style.