What is your own musical background, and are Elgar, Delius and Vaughan Williams special passions for you?
I was lucky to have musical parents: my mother Phoebe played the piano and organ and had a lovely voice. My father Jack always regretted he had never learnt an instrument or even to read music, yet in church always picked out the right bass harmony: he never sang the tune. I learnt the piano and violin at school, and many years later took up the cello. For years I belonged to the London Symphony Chorus, which meant I learnt the big choral works inside out under some of the world’s greatest conductors, and I have always enjoyed singing in small choirs as well. I was fortunate to have a director of music at school, Donald Paine, who was passionate about English music, and he laid the foundations for my love of Elgar and Vaughan Williams. Delius’s music was something I encountered rather later.
Were these documentary films intended as part of a series, and was there a particular ‘philosophy’ behind your approach to all three?
They were never intended as a series but became one as time went on. I had already made Britten’s...