Isaac Newton: The Last Magician

Isaac Newton: The Last Magician is a 60-minute biography about the scientific genius who transformed the understanding of the universe.

John Hardy created an expressive sound-world for the programme, using instruments of Newton’s own period. From an early stage in the composition process John describes “taking my courage in both hands, I plunged into the exciting but scary decision to invite some of the most distinguished and respected baroque specialists working in the UK to come to record in the beautiful and acoustically perfect Dora Stoutzker Hall at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.”

The instruments include baroque violin, theorbo (bass lute), hurdy gurdy and nyckelharpa (Swedish keyed tenor fiddle), and further musical ‘period features’ include arrangements by John of music by Baroque composers Purcell and Corelli.

Composers studying from Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama assisted John, with Victoria Ashfield working on “recording music played by some of the best baroque instrumentalists to production, sound design and performance,” and Benjamin Talbott “continuing my collaboration with John… I was involved in the construction of many of the music cues, in the role of co-composer and engineer.”

The soundtrack was recorded in London and Cardiff, performed by musicians including Simon Jones, Andrea Jones, David Miller and Clare Salaman.

Read more about composing for Newton in our Insights series.

Isaac Newton: The Last Magician is broadcast on BBC Two at 9pm Friday 12 April 2013.

Pick of The Day
— The Times & The Sunday Times
— The Guardian, TV Highlights
**** Renny Bartlett’s documentary does a good job of explaining the science while at the same time, analysing the man.
— Time Out