Graham Abbott’s New Series ‘Classics Unlocked’

Graham Abbott
Graham Abbott

There was much regret and dismay when broadcaster Graham Abbott’s iconic Saturday morning series ‘Keys to Music’ folded after a 15 year run from 2003 – 2018. The series, which Abbott wrote, produced and presented was an engaging look at the historical and musicological stories behind the development of western classical music.

Stepping into this void, Graham Abbott presents a brand new educational audio series dedicated to classical music, produced in collaboration with Universal Music Australia. Drawing on Universal Music Group’s catalogue of two of the world’s most prestigious classical record labels, Decca and Deutsche Grammophon, each episode of the new series will document a particular period of music or body of work.

Produced by Universal Music’s Tom Ford, the first episode focuses on the six cello suites of Johann Sebastian Bach, performed by the French cellist Pierre Fournier. The second episode surveys the enormous symphonic legacy created by Gustav Mahler, performed by Bernard Haitink and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. The programmes will be available in Australia and internationally, hosted first on the Classics Direct website, and then as podcasts and on selected classical music radio stations.

Sydney-born Graham Abbott is a graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium and in 1985 won the ABC /Willem van Otterloo Conducting Scholarship when he studied with Myer Fredman at the Sydney Conservatorium and also taught there.  In 1986 Graham was appointed Conductor-in-Residence at the Elder Conservatorium of Music at the University of Adelaide. He was Musical Director of Adelaide Chorus (now Adelaide Philharmonia Chorus) from 1986 to 1992 and made his professional orchestral debut with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in 1987. He has since been a frequent guest conductor with the major Australian orchestras, the Hunter Orchestra, the State Orchestra of Victoria (now Orchestra Victoria), the Adelaide Chamber Orchestra, the Queensland Philharmonic, the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, The Australian Classical Players and many new music and early music ensembles. He was Associate Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra from 1993 to 1997 and Musical Director of Melbourne Chorale from 1994 to 1997.

Graham Abbott’s repertoire embraces a range of styles from sacred and secular works to opera, symphonic and chamber music formats. He says “It’s a real privilege for me to join forces with Universal Music Australia to make Classics Unlocked. These programs will not only focus on some of the amazing recordings in the catalogues of Decca and Deutsche Grammophon, but they’ll also enable you to delve into the stories behind some of the greatest music ever written. We’re aiming to help you love the music you love even more, as well as making new discoveries along the way.”

The first six series will comprise: • Bach’s Six Cello Suites – Pierre Fournier (out now)/ • Mahler’s Symphonies – Bernard Haitink  (out now)
• Tchaikovsky’s Symphonies – Mikhail Pletnev (June)/ • Wagner’s Ring Cycle – Sir Georg Solti (July)/ • Berlioz The Rule Breaker – Various Artists (August)/ • Beethoven’s Early Piano Sonatas – Maurizio Pollini (September)



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