Mozart: the sex, the house party

Related Topics
"All that is needed to save the BBC is one good idea. It might be Around the World In Eighty Days. It might be Great Railway Journeys. It might be Pride and Prejudice. But that is all it takes. One great idea. At the moment we think that idea might be Mozart's Pupils."

The speaker is Eric Bosforth, Commissioner-General of the BBC. But what does a Commissioner-General do? And what is Mozart's Pupils all about?

"First things first," says Eric, with the smile of a man who has just seen a harmless long hop coming down the pitch towards him. "Yes, I am the Commissioner-General. But you're right, you can't tell from my title what exactly I do. You never can in the BBC. I have known people spend a lifetime in the BBC with their colleagues having no idea what their job was. Sometimes they had no idea themselves. Well, I am in charge of vetting all incoming proposals and suggestions from independents and outsiders, with a view to weeding out the good ones."

And commissioning them?

"Oh no," smiles Eric. "It would be terribly expensive to do that. When we find a good idea for a programme sent in from outside, we reject it. Then we make the programme."

I'm sorry, I don't quite understand.

"What happens is that if we get a cracking good idea, like, say, a series on Mozart's pupils, we write back to the person and say that we are terribly sorry but we are already working on a series along very similar lines."

And are you ?

"Oh, no. But we don't tell them that. It would be terribly expensive to tell them that. However, we do have a list of titles of almost every conceivable unmade programme in the world, so if pushed to it, we could probably point to an idea on the list not unlike the one proposed to us, the one which we reject and then use."

Hmm. Well, how did the idea for Mozart's Pupils arrive? What is the idea, come to that?

"Well, " smiles Eric Bosforth, "I got this idea myself, actually. In fact, I got it from a letter sent to us by an independent company somewhere down West."

Bath, Bristol, Exeter, somewhere like that?

"No, I think it was down Ealing way," says Eric, with the air of a man for whom London is the whole country. "The letter said that the last remaining undiscovered area in the field of the great composers was their pupils. Chopin was always falling in love with his. Mendelssohn had some tender friendships. Beethoven had some very serious young men. But Mozart was the one whose pupils were worth examining, if only because he was young and attractive and mischievous, and his pupils were female and pretty and..."

He trails off into silence, smiling to himself. Then he seems to come out of a dream.

"Anyway, I wrote back saying that sadly we were already working on the idea, and thought no more about it. Then one day I was playing through some Mozart piano sonatas, and noticed a dedication to a Fraulein Sophie somebody, and I thought: Who was this girl? Why do we know nothing about her?This was a girl whose fingers Mozart had touched, whose very body posture he had rearranged, yet we knew nothing about her!"

Hold on a moment. Wasn't this exactly the same idea as the one the man from Ealing had suggested?

"So gradually the idea of a great epic began to emerge," says Eric Bosforth, ignoring me. "Big country house in the landscape. Great reunion of Mozart's pupils for a weekend. Dedicated to the memory of the great man. Costume drama. BBC at its finest. Production values universally praised, even by Victor Lewis-Smith. But when you get a dozen or more beautiful young women for the weekend in a country house, with smouldering male Mozart pupils, there are bound to be fireworks. Passionate fireworks. There we have it. Wonderful music. Sex. Costumes. Intrigue."

Hold on a moment. Is this a drama or a documentary?

"There's humour, too, " goes on Eric, waving his hands expansively. "The pupils of Beethoven are holding a reunion nearby and they all get together to throw a party which gets a bit out of hand - great scene that!"

But surely Beethoven was too young to... ?

"It's incredibly topical!" cried Eric. "Mozart died in 1791, so his pupils would all have gone through the 1800 celebrations! We follow them all as the turn of the century gets nearer and nearer. In the film we see one of them win a fortune on the Viennese lottery, we see another bringing up Mozart's child which she has had by him, we cry and laugh..."

At this point two men in white coats burst in and take Eric away, then ask me to leave, as the interview is now over. But I think I have heard enough to make us all very thoughtful.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

Read Next
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012  

Vote Tory and you’re voting for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer

Mark Steel

If I were Prime Minister: I'd end the war on drugs

Patrick Hennessey
General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants