About the Film
Beethoven in Beijing starts with a forgotten moment, when an American president wangled an invitation to have his favorite orchestra visit communist China. This award-winning documentary, produced by History Making Productions, vividly recounts the Philadelphia Orchestra’s breakthrough 1973 tour of China—the first American orchestra to visit the People’s Republic—and reveals the astounding resurgence of classical music there today. The film, a short musical performance by the Orchestra, several guest appearances and Q & A with the filmmakers will be part of birthday celebration of Beethoven's 250th.
Beethoven in Beijing is the tale of a cultural reversal of fortunes and a struggle for survival—as well as a glimpse of the very future of classical music worldwide.
Forgotten history. Thrilling music. Tense diplomacy. Mao, Nixon, Ormandy. Beijing, Philadelphia, Hollywood. Beethoven in Beijing brings this all together in a fascinating documentary that recounts the Philadelphia Orchestra’s 1973 tour of Communist China and the effects this diplomatic cultural gesture had, which resonate to this day.
Archival footage, exclusive backstage access of contemporary tours, and testimonials bring to life the vivid stories of those who lived it then–including Chinese musicians who nervously greeted Maestro Eugene Ormandy, and those who live it now–including Oscar-winning composer Tan Dun and renowned pianist Lang Lang, who credit the Philadelphia Orchestra for inspiring their careers.
“…archivally rich, ideologically balanced, and compelling American story.”
Ken BurnsThe Better Angels Society
“An extraordinary film with a deep impression of the powerful global potential of cross-cultural exchange.”
Robert LaFleur,Lecturer on China for The Great Courses
“Every classical music lover’s ‘must see’.”
Kiki Wilson, Executive Producer“Robert Shaw: Man of Many Voices.”
Producer and Executive Producer
Philadelphia-based civic leader and documentarian Sam Katz has produced several films and is the founder of History Making Productions which has dramatized Philadelphia history winning 18 Emmys for Philadelphia: The Great Experiment.
Co-Director, Producer and Writer
Living and working in China for four years as a correspondent for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Lin launched Beethoven in Beijing in 2015 after 31 years at the newspaper. She is an award winning reporter and author of two books.
An Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, Mullaly began her career in television in Philadelphia and Baltimore before shifting to independent film. Her 2015 film on Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia received the Gabriel Award.
Rachel Sophia Stewart
Stewart has edited several films and projects for HMP since 2012, including Philadelphia: The Great Experiment. Her intuitive approach to pacing and storytelling has earned her five Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards.
Paul Van Haute
Director of Photography
A cinematographer for 30 years, Van Haute ‘s recent work with HMP has been praised with six mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards for Philadelphia: The Great Experiment and Before Hollywood: Philadelphia and Birth of the Movies.
Producer and Script Consultant
The inaugural director of the U.S.-China Music Institute at the Bard College Conservatory of Music. Cai is also a composer and author, having co-written two books with his wife, Sheila Melvin.
Winner of three Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards for HMP’s Cecil’s People, Kohl shapes our documentaries through archival footage and photographs. He formerly worked at Temple University’s Samuel L. Paley Library.
This project was made possible with the support of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.