A new multi-year project, presented across the broadcaster’s networks, will explore 1000 years of classical music.

In the words of the great American conductor, Michael Tilson Thomas, “Classical music is an unbroken and living tradition.” From the monastic medievalism of Gregorian chant to the even-tempered filigree of the Baroque masters, onwards through the crisp perfection of the Classical period before luxuriating in the lush, emotive heroism of the Romantics, and then through the scattershot of bold, innovative aesthetic movements that coalesce into the music of the 20th and 21st centuries. Despite the stark stylistic differences between each defined epoch of classical music, every piece ever penned is part of one historical legacy, building upon (or pushing against) the foundations laid by all that preceded it. However, the music most likely to grace the ears of the concert-going public focuses on a rather limited percentage of this long lineage.

The ABC, on the other hand, is now preparing to bring the full family tree of classical music out of the shadows, with a major new multi-year project celebrating the rich history of the art form via radio broadcasts, album release and supporting online content. 1000 Years of Classical Music will be aimed at both classical aficionados and new listeners, providing useful cultural contexts and potted histories to illuminate the shifting social mentalities that sculpted the direction of classical music through the ages.

Four separate eras of music will be explored through this exciting new project: Baroque and Before, charting the age of the church and the court; Classical, celebrating the era of innovation; Romantic, investigating the revolution and ambition of the age; and The Modern Era, revelling in the flourishing diversity and experimentalism of the past century.

The ambitious series begins over the Easter long weekend, March 25 – 28, with a four-day radio marathon of the full 1000-year history of classical music on ABC Classic FM. A range of other programmes will also be presented across the ABC’s networks, including online, interactive content. In tandem with this, ABC Classics will be releasing 100 albums over the next 18 months that comprehensively examine the full millennium of classical music, as well as an 8-CD box set with a more condensed selection, due for release on March 11.

Full details of ABC’s 1000 Years of Classical Music can be found on its dedicated website.