The Music Lovers, 1970

Director

Ken Russell

Cast

visit the film locations

London: Flights: Heathrow Airport; Gatwick Airport

Visit: the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich (rail: Greenwich, from London Charing Cross)

Buckinghamshire:

Visit: West Wycombe Park, south of the Oxford Road (A40), two and a half miles west of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. The park is open April to August, the house from June (admission charge; tel: 01494.513569)

Wiltshire:

Visit: Wilton House, in the town of Wilton, two and a half miles west of Salisbury on the A30, Wiltshire (rail: Salisbury, from London Waterloo). The house and grounds are open in summer (admission charge, tel: 01722. 746720)


Trivia

The imposing interior of Wilton House is the site of Bligh’s court martial in Roger Donaldson's version of the Mutiny on the Bounty story, The Bounty, with Anthony Hopkins as Captain Bligh and Mel Gibson as Fletcher Christian. Wilton stood in for Windsor Castle again in Mrs Brown (aka Her Majesty Mrs Brown), with Judi Dench as Queen Victoria

The Music Lovers filming location: West Wycombe House, West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

The Music Lovers location: Madame von Meck’s ‘Brailov’ estate: West Wycombe House, West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

Purists looking for a dryly factual biopic of composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky were – and still are – outraged by Ken Russell’s magnificently overheated and overpowering fantasia. Anyone who loves cinema or music will be blown away by Russell’s passion and inventiveness.

The production was based at Bray Studios (yes, the home of Hammer Films), near Windsor, where a huge section of 19th century ‘Moscow’, including the opening fairground and the glittering golden domes of the Kremlin, was built on the backlot.

The deliberately kitschy country idylls around the Davidov house, the Moscow Public Gardens and the fields and forests for the First Piano Concerto sequence, were filmed in Milford-on-Sea, just east of Christchurch on the Hampshire coast, as well as in Salisbury and in Russell’ s native Southampton.

The lavish interior of ’Brailov’, the house of Tchaikovsky’s patron, Madame von Meck, is Wilton House, in the town of Wilton, two and a half miles west of Salisbury on the A30, Wiltshire

A veteran of many movies, including Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon; The Madness of King George; two Jane Austen adaptations – the 2005 film of Pride And Prejudice and Ang Lee’s Sense And Sensibility; and The Young Victoria, it was originally a Tudor manor house, remodelled in the 17th century by Inigo Jones. The lavish interior includes the famous Single Cube and Double Cube rooms.

The Music Lovers filming location: West Wycombe House, West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

The Music Lovers location: Madame von Meck’s ‘Brailov’ estate: Temple of Music, West Wycombe House, West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

The exterior of the estate, however, is West Wycombe House. Madame von Meck sits writing, appropriately, in the gardens’ faux-classical Temple of Music. The entrance, to which Tchaikovsky delivers his scores, and the scene of the disastrous fireworks party at which he is outed by the spiteful Count Chiluvsky (Christopher Gable), is the house’s two-storey colonnaded south front.

The alfresco performance of Swan Lake is performed on the lawns in front the north front, with the park’s great lake as backdrop.

The house stands in West Wycombe Park, south of the Oxford Road (A40), two and a half miles west of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. The park is open April to August, the house itself, now a National Trust property, from June.

You can see the house as a ‘Russian’ estate again in Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class, and in many other films, including Agatha Christie’s Dead Man’s Folly; Clint Eastwood’s White Hunter, Black Heart; and Oliver Parker’s adaptation of The Importance Of Being Earnest. The Temple of Music crops up again in 2008’s The Duchess, with Keira Knightley.

The Music Lovers filming location: St Sofia, Moscow Road, Bayswater, London W2

The Music Lovers location: Tchaikovsky marries the romantic Nina: St Sofia, Moscow Road, Bayswater, London W2

Tchaikovsky and the unrealistically romantic Nina (Glenda Jackson) are married in St Sofia’s Cathedral, a Greek orthodox church, appropriately enough in Moscow Road, Bayswater (it’s also the ‘Russian’ church seen in GoldenEye).

Their honeymoon finds them lounging in the Colonnade at the restored Queen’s House, Greenwich, London SE10.

The marriage soon sours, and the composer’s tragi-comic suicide attempt was staged on the Grand Union Canal, where the composer jumps into the murky water beneath the Euston railway line alongside Gloucester Avenue Bridge between Camden Lock and Regent’s Park, London NW1.

The asylum, in which Nina is ultimately confined, is the disused Royal Artillery Barracks, Artillery Place, Woolwich, London SE18.

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