PBS takes 3rd season of TV classical travelogue

PBS takes 3rd season of TV classical travelogue


norman lebrecht

November 10, 2019

We hear that PBS have recommissioned Scott Yoo’s TV series for a third season.

Next month it starts screening on Korea TV network EBS.



  • V. Lind says:

    Even on PBS, renewing things means they are finding an audience. I have not seen this programme, not getting PBS, though I will see if I can take a look online anywhere.

    But I am basically very supportive of the effort — it seems to me PBS has stepped up in an attempt to plug a gap in the education system. And the programmes sound entertaining, too.

    It is heartening to think that, even given the relative size of PBS’ audience, there are people out there newly responding to classical music, maybe seeking more, going to concerts, opened up to a world their schools never introduced them too. It can only be a good thing even if music snobs look down on it.

    Can it really be 50 years since there was classical music programming on American TV? My God, the 60s have a lot to answer for!

    • Bill says:

      The 50 year bit is simply not true unless you ignore PBS, which has been airing classical music performances for decades. I believe the actual claim is that this is the first prime-time programming about classical music in 50 years on American TV, but even that seems like a stretch unless shows like Great Performances are deemed out of bounds because they also occasionally show things other than classical music. But GP is what is airing this program, so…like most marketing claims, it is perhaps best taken with some pink Himalayan salt harvested by young maidens…

      I saw quite a bit of Beethoven-related content on television in the 1969-1971 timeframe. Lenny’s YPG ran well into the 60s. I don’t see how the decade is responsible for the lack of prime-time classical music programming in subsequent decades.

  • M. L. Liu says:

    I no longer watch television, but I am glad to hear that PBS is doing such a series. I wish it great success.

    But please allow me to point out that the idea of a music-themed travelogue is not new. In Japan, for over a decade now, Fuji-TV has aired an outstanding series of documentaries on pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii and his musical journeys, in Southeast Asia, Paris, Vienna, Iceland, Switzerland, Germany …

    • Jack says:

      I don’t think anyone’s saying it is new. Consider Leonard Bernstein’s Young Peoples’ Concerts in the 1950s and 1960s, the Omnibus series not long before that, and other efforts after that. And I’m not surprised to hear your report from Japan. I’d give anything to see support for classical music in my town that is anywhere near where it is in Japan.

      There is nothing ‘wrong’ with classical music. It’s accessible and if efforts like these succeed in bringing people to a better understanding of it, then I’m all for it.

  • Tom Rakewell says:

    For those of you who have never been involved in TV documentaries….

    … the presenter is simply that… a pleasant-looking front person who reads whatever is on the autocue or script. They are not responsible for the content, and only really care about their costume and make-up. Nor do they even care. They may have been shown a fuller/longer/better version of the script, but it will be lost on the editing-room floor.

    • Jack says:

      And your point?

    • Larry says:

      One assumes that Mr. Yoo is interested in more than just costume and make-up.

      • Tom Rakewell says:

        One assumes wrongly

        • Larry says:

          So the fact that he is a highly accomplished violinist and conductors and has great guest artists on the program is…accidental???

          One assumes it is not.

          • Tom Rakewell says:

            He reads what the network tell him to read.

            End of.

          • Bill says:

            Not what the network tells him, but the show’s producer and director. And if you would bother to read at all, you’d see he is in one of those roles for this program.

            It is good you are ending your contribution of misinformation.

        • Bill says:

          And you know this how? Just because many other shows have presenters who are merely pretty faces does not make that a job requirement. Yoo is after all a performing musician first and foremost.

          • Larry says:

            Bill, I assume your comment was directed at Tom Rakewell, not me, since we seem to be agreeing with one another. Thank you.

          • Bill says:

            You are correct. You can often tell by examining the indentation of the posts.

    • V. Lind says:

      I wonder. This is not a staff presenter. Where there are experts — I think particularly of history programmes — surely the presenters have some input? I would have thought the same with art and music and any other expert field too. In the end, the TV people may have the final say on script, on the basis (or theory) that they know best what makes good TV. They would be responsible for the dumbing down of a lot of television.

      I wonder why Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation found a much larger audience than its modern “updated” version? I wonder if the human wish to strive has been totally driven out of people in this dumbed-down generation raised on decreasingly challenging premises in schools and on TV and the movies.

  • Emma Suarez Pawlicki says:

    It’s wonderful. Glad to hear it’s coming back.

  • Dave Ferre says:

    In the USA, one method for users who have the Amazon Firestick, add the PBS application (free) and search for Great Performances. You can select the Now Hear This programs at $2.99 each or the season (four programs) for $9.99.

    • Shawn Duffy says:

      Or, make a $60 or more annual contribution to your local PBS station to get access to the “PBS Passport” and stream these and many other programs anytime you like.

  • drummerman says:

    Great to hear that it is returning but I thought this current year was the first?

  • NYMike says:

    We’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series and are happy it’s coming back. Some commenters here seem to have no knowledge of the actual program content. Scott Yoo is a 1st-class musician who corrals other fine musicians in his weekly travels.

    • John Kelly says:

      Quite right, it’s a very enjoyable show both musically interesting & historically interesting, and of course it’s always nice to see European locations filmed so well. Top class effort.