Become a Classical Music Buff With SF Symphony Docu-Series

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Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the San Francisco Symphony. (Kristen Loken)

Social distancing means it’s a good time to pick up new skills—like becoming an expert on classical music.

Because concerts are off for at least the next few weeks, the San Francisco Symphony has made all episodes of its Keeping Score docu-series free to watch on YouTube. Created in 2004 with musical director Michael Tilson Thomas, the show tells the stories of eight influential composers, including Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Ludwig van Beethoven, Gustav Mahler and Aaron Copland.

Delving into deeper narratives behind these household names, Keeping Score answers questions like, how did Copland combine influences from jazz, blues and the European orchestral tradition to create a uniquely American sound? And, how did political censorship during the Soviet Union’s Stalinist era change the style of Dmitri Shostakovich? In addition to fascinating stories from the composers’ lives, the series features world-class performances from the San Francisco Symphony.

New episodes come out every Wednesday through April 8 on the San Francisco Symphony’s YouTube channel.