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Christopher Nupen

Christopher Nupen is a South African-born filmmaker based in the United Kingdom specialising in biographical documentaries of musicians.

Nupen was born in South Africa to a family of Norwegian descent — his father, E. P. "Buster" Nupen (1902–1977), was a Test cricketer. His mother was Claire (Doombie) Nupen, née Meikle.

After studying law at university he moved to Britain to work in banking, then trained as a sound engineer with the BBC.

In 1962 he made High Festival In Siena about the summer music school at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena for BBC Radio Three and was subsequently invited by Huw Weldon to make films for the BBC. Using newly developed silent 16mm film cameras he created a new, intimate style of biographical film beginning with Double Concerto in 1966, featuring the collaboration of Vladimir Ashkenazy and Daniel Barenboim.[1]

In 1968 he co-founded Allegro Films,[2] one of the earliest independent television production companies in the UK. He went on to work on over 80 film and television productions about music.

The Trout, his film of a performance of Schubert’s Trout quintet by Jacqueline du Pré, Daniel Barenboim, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman and Zubin Mehta on August 30, 1969 at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, became a benchmark of classical music broadcasting. His close friendships with many of his subjects enabled him to communicate the spirit of the artists' work, such as in Jacqueline Du Pré In Portrait.[3]

Surveys of the life and work of composers have also featured prominently in his work, including films about Paganini, Sibelius and Schubert.

His 2004 film We Want The Light explores the meaning of music in human experience, focusing on relationships between Jews and Germans.[4]

In January 2008 he was a guest on Private Passions, the biographical music discussion programme on BBC Radio 3.[5]


Nupen's work has twice won "DVD of the Year Award" in Cannes and the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik.


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