Soul Music

By BBC Radio 4

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Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact

Episode Date
Chervona Kalyna
1662
Powerful stories linked to this beautiful and stirring Ukrainian folk song which inspired Pink Floyd to reform so they could release their own version, 'Hey Hey Rise Up', alongside Andriy Khlyvnyuk of Boombox. Chervona Kalyna is a clarion call with roots stretching back to 17th century Cossack history; as meaningful now as then, this episode of Soul Music reflects how music can be a unifying force in the most dangerous and difficult of times. Anti-Russian, it was banned prior to Ukrainian independence in 1991 with one of its lyrics calling to 'free our brothers Ukrainian from Muscovites shackles'. Its full title 'Oi u luzi chervona kalyna' translates as 'Oh the red viburnum in the meadow': red viburnum is a common plant in Ukraine and in the song it's a metaphor for the country itself. Telling their stories on Soul Music: Taras Ratushnyy, journalist turned soldier, discusses his beloved son, Roman, and the heroic role he played in Ukrainian society both before after the war began. Elizaveta Izmalkova is a young Ukrainian singer who now lives in Lithuania. She performed Chervona Kalyna as part of a flash-mob co-organised by Egle Plytnikaite who describes why she and other Lithuanians wanted to demonstrate their support for Ukraine. Nadia Morykvas wrote a book about the cultural polymath, Stepan Charnetskyi, who - in the early 20th century - adapted Chervona Kalyna for one of his plays. (Volodymyr Oleyko translates for Nadia Morykvas). Andrij Halushka is a Ukrainian who now lives in London. He describes how his family history, down multiple generations, connects with the song. Julia and Kateryna came to England under the 'Homes for Ukraine' scheme when the war began. Under the name 'Dvi Doli' they raise money for Ukraine by staging concerts where they perform traditional songs on the Bandura. Taras Filenko is a pianist and ethno-musicologist. Originally from Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine, he now lives in Pennsylvania, USA. He discusses the musicology of the song, and recalls a neighbour from his childhood who was imprisoned for performing Chervona Kalyna in the 1940s. Myroslava Hartmond is a British-Ukrainian cultural diplomacy expert. She explains how the current popularity of Chervona Kalyna began when Andriy Khlyvnyuk, the lead singer of Boombox, recorded an a capella version in the centre of Kyiv. This inspired Pink Floyd to collaborate with Khlyvnyuk and release their own version. Please scroll down to the 'Related Links' box on the Radio 4 Soul Music webpage for further information about some of the interviewees and the different versions of the song used in the programme. The programme image is of Taras and Roman Ratushnyy. Producer for BBC Audio in Bristol: Karen Gregor
Nov 26, 2022
Bruch's Violin Concerto
1668
A Violin Concerto in G minor, Opus 26, became the best-known work of the German composer Max Bruch. Originally written in 1866 it went through many revisions before finally being completed in 1867. It was performed extensively but having sold both the publishing and the manuscript Bruch died in relative obscurity in 1920. The Concerto would continue to be played around the world and the second movement in particular, the Adagio, became a much-loved favourite. Journalist Claire Read describes how much her Mother loved the piece after Claire learned and performed it in school, and how she would listen to it whilst being treated for cancer. Ukrainian violinist Kostia Lukyniuk recalls playing it with an orchestra in his home town aged 11, and how music still gives him strength as he plays for those battered by the Russian invasion of his home country. The second movement brings back fond memories for Archers actor June Spencer who listened to it with her husband and their friends on a veranda in Minorca. Leader of the Welsh National Opera David Adams was inspired to take-up the violin after listening to a recording of David Oistrakh playing this piece, and later performed it at the Fishguard Festival. It was a favourite of his Mum's and that recording was played at her funeral. The Carnegie Hall was the setting for violinist Shlomo Mintz's most treasured performance and he describes how it feels to play those soaring melodies. Curator Robinson McClellan at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York explains how the manuscript of this concerto made its way from Germany to the USA, and why this work would later become a source of resentment for this 'establishment' composer. Studio Manager: Ilse Lademann Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Toby Field.
Jun 18, 2022
Ne Me Quitte Pas
1670
Ne Me Quitte Pas is a song about begging someone not to go; of promising the world to them, if they'll only stay. From Haiti to New York, Provence to Glasgow... in versions by Nina Simone, Dusty Springfield and Scott Walker... we hear stories of what Jacques Brel's song has meant to people around the world. With contributions from France Brel, Johane Celestin, Alastair Campbell, Brendan McGeever, Peter Hawkins and Malaika Kegode. Produced by Mair Bosworth for BBC Audio
Jun 11, 2022
Purple Rain
1675
"I never meant to cause you any sorrow, I never meant to cause you any pain..." True stories of what Prince's epic ballad means to different people around the world, from the very first jam in 1983 to the global hit that reigns over us today. Bobby Z, the drummer from Prince and The Revolution, remembers the buzz of the first ever performance of Purple Rain, and how the recording from that night lives on. Susan Rogers, Prince's recording engineer, tells stories from the Purple Rain tour, when the crew took bets on how long Prince's guitar solos would last. Comedian Sindhu Vee first heard the song as a teenager growing up in India and was knocked sideways by it. Weather reporter Judith Ralston describes the beautiful and rare weather phenomenon of purple rain. Social historian Zaheer Ali sees the song as a cry out for change, bringing audiences from different backgrounds together in cross-genre harmony. And finally, an intensive care hospital nurse played Purple Rain to Kevin Clarke while he was in a coma, because his sister knew he loved the song and hoped it might pull him through. Produced by Becky Ripley
May 30, 2022
Young Hearts Run Free by Candi Staton
1662
Candi Staton and others celebrate this 1970's disco classic which delivers an optimistic message. Written by David Crawford and released in 1976 this is the kind of song that feels like a carefree celebration, something to lose yourself in on the dancefloor. But its story isn't quite so simple. As Candi tells Soul Music, Young Hearts Run Free was influenced by her own troubled and abusive relationship which she struggled to leave. In fact the creation of the song helped her gain the confidence to finally walk away. Other contributors are: Singer songwriter, Glen Hansard. He performs the song 'as' his mother because it reminds him so much of what the song meant to her. Ziggi Battles , a singer who chose to cover the song as a way of rejoicing in the role it played in recovering from a very difficult time. Jason Gilkison, the Creative Director of Strictly Come Dancing. It will forever remind him of the first time he choreographed a group dance for Strictly at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom. His grandfather had danced there himself as a young man, before establishing the first dance school in Perth, Australia, which is where Jason developed his own love of ballroom dancing. Neil Brand, composer and broadcaster, analyses why the piece works musically. He also describes the pure joy of a version by Kym Mazelle and - unlikely as it seems - the actor and opera singer, Paul Sorvino. It was used as the soundtrack to the ballroom scene in Baz Luhrmann's film of Romeo and Juliet. Versions used: Candi Staton; Glen Hansard; Maz O'Connor; Ziggi Battles; Gloria Estefan; Kym Mazelle; Kym Mazelle (Ballroom Version) with Paul Sorvino Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Karen Gregor
May 28, 2022
A Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten
1674
In 1942, Benjamin Britten boarded the M.S. Axel Johnson, a Swedish cargo vessel, to make the journey home to England after three years in America. During the voyage, the ship stopped at Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Britten came across a poetry anthology in a bookshop - The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems. In his cabin, he began work on setting some of these poems for voices and harp. Originally conceived as a series of unrelated songs, the piece developed into an extended choral composition for Christmas. There are some pieces of music we return to at special moments and, for many, Britten's A Ceremony of Carols is a beloved winter piece - "Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a performance of it" says harpist Sally Pryce, who recalls performing the piece in deepest winter, desperately trying to keep her fingers warm as she prepared to play the first harp notes. Music writer Gavin Plumley tells the story of Britten's wartime voyage home and reflects on Christmases past and present. Matt Peacock remembers a very special performance of the work bringing together professional musicians, choristers and people experiencing homelessness in an Oxford college chapel. Dr Imani Mosley reflects on how the piece has helped her create a winter ritual in sunny Florida and how its meaning has changed since losing her partner. Conductor and composer Graham Ross is Director of Music at Clare College, Cambridge; he takes us deep into Britten's sound world and reflects on the genius of his approach to setting texts and the mastery of his writing for harp and voices. And Johanna Rehbaum remembers the joy of singing the work with the women of her choir, days before giving birth to her son. Produced in Bristol by Mair Bosworth for BBC Audio
Dec 18, 2021
U2 - I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
1661
More gospel than rock, this 1987 hit has inspired great change in people's lives and created memories for music lovers across the world. Brendan McManus was a corporate high flyer with an inexplicable sense that his life needed to change direction. This song was the tipping point that encouraged him to make a huge decision. Raghav Prasad writes a music blog about the songs he grew up with as a young man in India. This track takes him back to the 'chummery' where he lived in Bombay (now Mumbai) when he was starting out on what became a globe-trotting career. This song reflects both his continued urge to travel but also how he regards his Hindu faith. Neil Brand is a musician and broadcaster and a regular Soul Music contributor. He explains that the roots of this track are more gospel than rock. Pauline Henry was the lead singer of The Chimes. Their version of this track, with Pauline's stirring vocals, not only changed her life but was said to be Bono's favourite interpretation of the song. Rory Coleman is a world-class athlete and life coach who loves nothing more than to run for hundreds of miles across inhospitable terrain. However, in his 20s, his life was out of control. Something had to change and this song provided inspiration. Gail Mullin, in Kansas City, describes how much her husband loved U2 and especially this track. Shortly before he died he received a personal letter from Bono explaining what motivated him to write this song. Scroll down on the Soul Music webpage to the 'related links' box for more info about all the guests. Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Karen Gregor
Dec 11, 2021
Song To The Siren
1706
"Long afloat in shipless oceans": So begins Song To The Siren whose lyrics were inspired by Homer's Odyssey and the story of the Sirens who lured unwitting sailors to their deaths on the rocks. There is something so ancient and enchanting about the Siren that appeals to us. For the wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson listening to the song reinforced his belief that the eerie calls of seals at night were in fact the original siren voices whose sound and shape convinced sailors that they were being called by strange mer-creatures. His collaboration with poet Alec Finlay led to Chris recording two singers singing to each other across a bay in the North East of England "Here I am waiting to enfold you". Song To The Siren fills him with melancholy. The image of lives lost at sea is one that Meg Bignell strongly associates with the song and when a family friend drowned in the ocean surrounding her native Tasmania she was comforted by the version by This Mortal Coil and Elizabeth Fraser's haunting vocals. Larry Beckett regrets the song's association with death as he intended the lyrics to tell a more hopeful story about love. However Tim Buckley's death at 28 and the tragedy of his son Jeff's drowning in 1997 weigh Song To The Siren with a heavy sorrow that comforts those who have lost a loved one. Former Olympic runner Anthony Famiglietti lost his childhood friend Rob in an accident when they were both 21. Rob introduced Anthony to the music of John Frusciante whose version of Song To The Siren astounded him when he first heard it. It has a profound effect on him and it speaks to him of fathers and sons communicating across time and space, when one has passed on as in the case of Tim and Jeff Buckley, and Anthony's friend Rob and his father, the man who inspired Anthony's career as a runner. When director Zack Snyder lost his daughter he stopped working on his Justice League film but when he completed it four years on he wanted to include Song To The Siren. Singer Rose Betts who recorded it for him explains how she immersed herself in the song to express the love, longing, grief and loss that it evokes. Musician and singer Dominic Stichbury sets out the musical elements that make this such a simple yet devastatingly powerful song. Producer: Maggie Ayre
Dec 04, 2021
Unfinished Sympathy
1671
Personal stories inspired by Massive Attack's breakthrough single. Featuring the vocals of Shara Nelson, the track together with its iconic video would help catapult this band from Bristol onto the global stage. Stories include the photographer Giles Duley whose work was displayed during the song at the band's 2016 homecoming show in Bristol. Mountaineer Dmitry Golovchenko who named an attempt on the Nepalese mountain of Jannu after the track, and solicitor Marti Burgess who saw early sets from The Wild Bunch, the collective from which Massive Attack emerged, and for whom 'Unfinished Sympathy' helped crystallise her identity. Music Producer Ski Oakenfull deconstructs the track, peeling back the layers of beats, bells and samples. Belgian singer Liz Aku recorded a version of the track during lockdown, bringing back memories of her first love. Melissa Chemam, author of 'Massive Attack Out Of The Comfort Zone' explains the origins of Massive Attack, how 'Unfinished Sympathy' was written and why, when the track was released in 1991, the band had to drop the word 'Attack' from their name. A radio producer and DJ who spent New Year's Eve in a detox centre in London was asked to pick the tune to be played at midnight, and she chose 'Unfinished Sympathy'. Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Toby Field
Nov 27, 2021
Some Enchanted Evening from South Pacific
1669
Ezio Pinza was the first person to sing Some Enchanted Evening when South Pacific opened on Broadway in 1949. His granddaughter, Sarah Goodyear, recounts his extraordinary life story: from international opera singer, to political prisoner, then a star of musical theatre. Perhaps best known for its 1958 film version, South Pacific famously starred Rossano Brazzi as Emile de Becque. However his singing voice was provided by opera star, Giorgio Tozzi. His son, Eric Tozzi, recalls hearing his father practice Some Enchanted Evening in their California beach-side home. Canan Maxton runs the charity, Talent Unlimited, which supports student musicians. Some Enchanted Evening was the signature tune to her own love story, which inspired her to launch that organisation. Alan Titchmarsh is best known as a TV gardener, but he has a surprisingly good voice. Some Enchanted Evening is a childhood favourite which reminds him of his parents, but he couldn't have foreseen the day when he would sing it live at the London Palladium for an ITV audience (credit to ITV All Star Musicals, produced by Multistory Media for the extract used). Daniel Evans is the Artistic Director of Chichester Festival Theatre. He has recently staged a well-reviewed production of South Pacific; one which explores the racist theme Rodgers and Hammerstein originally sought to address in their Broadway production. He explains the role Some Enchanted Evening plays in the storyline of the show. Julian Ovenden played Emile de Becque in the Chichester production (which, in 2022, will also be staged in Manchester and London before a national tour). He describes what it's like to perform this very famous and much anticipated song. Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by: Karen Gregor
Nov 20, 2021
Ain't No Mountain High Enough
1724
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell made Ain't No Mountain High Enough a hit for Motown in 1967. Diana Ross followed suit in 1970 as a solo artist with her version of the song. It has a place in people's hearts with its anthemic themes of love, loyalty, triumph and perseverance. Cynthia Dagnal-Miron is a former rock critic. As an African American growing up in the 1960s she says the song gave black people a sense of comfort and of being loved. Kevin Patterson recalls meeting an elderly lady in a store in Philadelphia. When the song came on over the speaker both independently started singing along. They got talking and he learned she had been part of a movement to desegregate a local school in the 1960s and she had sung it then at a talent show. Kevin says it was a brush with history that gives him a new connection to the song. John Harris also grew up hearing Ain't No Mountain High Enough . He says music and being part of a choir were what saved him when he sank into drug addiction and crime and ended up in front of Judge Elizabeth Martin who was presiding over 'Drug Court' an experimental programme to help offenders beat their habit and avoid going to jail. When he got clean Judge Martin invited him to sing at the Court's 25th anniversary celebration and the song he chose to sing with some of his choir was Ain't No Mountain High Enough. John feels a sense of gratitude towards it. "No wind no rain no winters cold can stop me from getting to you" were the words Lesley Pearl sang to her birth mother as she lay gravely ill in hospital. Lesley had braved the incoming Hurricane Sandy to fly to Charleston to be with her. She and her mother shared a love of Motown and it brought them closer towards the end of her life. The song still inspires hope and positivity. At the height of the pandemic in 2020 when New York was suffering huge numbers of Covid deaths and hospitalisations, nurse Kym Villamer sang it to staff and patients at the hospital where she works to remind them of the perseverance of the human spirit and the goodness of humanity. The drama and anticipation the song evokes are described by Lauren Eldridge Stewart who is Assistant Professor of Music at Washington University in St Louis. She breaks down the various musical elements that make Ain't No Mountain High Enough such an enduring powerful uplifting anthem.
Nov 13, 2021
Take Me Home, Country Roads
1670
"Country roads, take me home To the place I belong" Written by Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert with and for their friend John Denver, the song went on to be covered by Ray Charles, Toots and the Maytals, Olivia Newton John and many more. A song about the longing for home and the desire to be back with the people you love, 'Country Roads' has become one of the official state songs of West Virginia but it also speaks to people from around the world and across political divides. It's a song about togetherness, belonging, homesickness, the immigrant experience and the hold that the landscape of your 'home place' can have on you. Featuring contributions from Bill Danoff, Sarah Morris, Jason Jeong, Ngozi Fulani, Lloyd Bradley and Alison Wells. And from Molly Sarlé, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Amelia Meath of the band Mountain Man. Produced by Mair Bosworth for BBC Audio in Bristol
Aug 04, 2021
The Parting Glass
1720
"So fill to me the parting glass... Goodnight and joy be to you all." A popular toast at the end of an evening or a heartfelt farewell to a departed or deceased person? The Parting Glass has become synonymous with leaving. It was written in Scotland and has criss crossed the Irish Sea becoming a popular song among Celtic peoples around the world. Folk singer Karine Polwart talks of its fragile beauty as a song that can be a rousing drinking song at the end of the night but equally a poignant farewell at a funeral. For Alaskan Fire Chief Benjamin Fleagle there was no more fitting song to honour his mentor and colleague at his Fire Department when he passed away over a decade ago. The song still brings out raw emotion in him. Alissa McCulloch 'clung' to the song when she heard the Irish singer Hozier sing a version of it at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. At the time Alissa was seriously mentally unwell at home in Australia and was admitted to hospital where she listened to the song over and over finding comfort in its timeless beauty. After Canada's worst mass shooting in its history Pete MacDonald and his sisters recorded an acapella version of the song as a musical tribute to those who lost their lives. It's a tradition in Novia Scotia to sing in the kitchen at parties, wakes and celebrations and they wanted to pay their respects to the dead. The Irish singer Finbar Furey has performed the song with his band the Fureys and talks about its appeal not only in Scotland and Ireland but throughout the Scots-Irish diaspora. "But since it falls unto my lot That I should rise And you should not I'll gently rise and softly call Goodnight and joy be to you all" Producer for BBC Audio in Bristol: Maggie Ayre Song versions: Karine Polwart Hozier Finbar Furey The High Kings The MacDonalds
Jul 28, 2021
We've Only Just Begun
1711
The Carpenters - brother and sister duo Richard and Karen - were one of the most popular groups of the 1970s. His outstanding compositions and her stunning vocals created several massive hits including We've Only Just Begun. Originally written as a TV advert for a bank portraying happy young couples embarking on married life full of hope, they loved it and released it as their third single in 1970. Karen's wistful voice gave the song a melancholy that has long resonated with fans. After her premature death from heart failure due to anorexia nervosa, the song took on an extra poignancy with lyrics like "so much of life ahead". Fans tell their stories about the song and how it relates to their own life journeys. For Professor Karen Tongson (named after the singer), We've Only Just Begun is about growing up in the Philippines where The Carpenters epitomised the American Dream. When she emigrated to the USA, the song became a metaphor for the immigrant experience. Nomad and writer Jeff Read remembers his childhood in a poor part of Los Angeles brought up by a single mother who eventually died homeless on the street. The song brings back memories of childhood optimism and his longing for a stable family life. Poet Abigail George recalls seeing a film about Karen Carpenter's life and identifying with the singer's struggles with an eating disorder as she herself had to cope with a difficult family life in South Africa. Retired policeman John Weiss was reminded of the song when he attended the death of an elderly person at a care home. John looked at the deceased man's wedding photos and was struck by the brevity of life. The singer Natasha Khan aka Bat For Lashes always loved The Carpenters and recorded her own version of We've Only Just Begun as part of an album where things don't end well for the young bride. Ironically, her version now features in a commercial for a British bank so the song has come full circle. Randy Schmidt is the author of Little Girl Blue (The Life of Karen Carpenter). Versions of the song featured are by Grant Lee Buffalo Paul Williams Natasha Khan The Carpenters The Carpenters with the Philharmonic Orchestra Producer for BBC Audio in Bristol: Maggie Ayre
Jul 21, 2021
Smalltown Boy by Bronski Beat
1654
This disco classic tells a powerful story: that of a young, gay man leaving his homophobic small town for the freedom of the big city. Released in 1984, Smalltown Boy continues to resonate and has become an anthem for the LGBTQ+ community. The track appeared on their album 'The Age of Consent' which drew attention to the inequality between the ages at which heterosexual people and homosexual men were legally able to have sex. Taking part in the programme: Shaun Dellenty, an ex primary school leader and author who developed an award winning LGBT+ training programme 'Celebrating Difference-Inclusion For All' which he now delivers to students and staff around the world. Paul Flynn, journalist and author of 'Good As You, 30 Years of Gay Britain'. Diane Anderson-Minshall, CEO and Editorial Director of Pride Media. Colin Crummy, freelance journalist Neil Brand, pianist, composer, writer and broadcaster Adam Carver aka Fatt Butcher, drag artist, creative producer, and community organiser. Archive: The audio of Jimmy Somerville is taken from the BBC archives Music:: various versions of Smalltown Boy by Jimmy Somerville, and Bronski Beat. Also covers by Dido, and Orville Peck. Produced by Karen Gregor for BBC Audio in Bristol.
Jul 14, 2021
Sunshine on Leith
1710
"While I'm worth my room on this earth......" Sunshine on Leith was released in 1988 but didn't become the big hit The Proclaimers had hoped for. However it has endured and become an anthem of love and a celebration of life. It is the song played at Hibs FC matches and has come to symbolise the sense of community felt by supporters. Margaret Alcorn recalls how she and her husband were involved in the Hibs Supporters Club organising and taking part in social events for local people in Leith. When their club came under threat from a merger with rival Edinburgh team Hearts she and her husband worked tirelessly to preserve it. Craig and Charlie Reid played a benefit concert for the Club. Sunshine on Leith became the song that expressed the emotions of the fans during that time and has remained the song they still sing at the football ground. When her husband passed away the song played at his funeral was Sunshine on Leith. Musician Ross Wilson grew up in Leith and is also a passionate Hibs Supporter. The feelings of comfort and solidarity he experiences at home games led him to create his own version of the song which he performed with a choir to celebrate one of his favourite songs that reminds him of home and that he calls true soul music. Melinda Tetley's family would always sing Proclaimers songs at home in Edinburgh while her three children were growing up. But when her teenage son fell ill with leukemia Sunshine on Leith took on a special significance for them culminating in a spontaneous joyful singalong on a walk along a lochside. The human rights lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith is a big fan of The Proclaimers and remembers seeing them perform Sunshine on Leith in New Orleans just days after 9/11 to an audience of exactly eight people - half of whom were the prosecuting team in a Death Row murder case he was defending. And musicologist Dave Robb who toured with The Proclaimers explains the song's lasting emotional appeal and spiritual beauty. Producer: Maggie Ayre
Feb 12, 2021
Life on Mars?
1724
Life on Mars was released on David Bowie's Hunky Dory album in 1971. Two years later it came out as a single in its own right. Famous for its exploration of disillusionment and alienation, there is no one single definitive story behind it. But that is perhaps the song's beauty and the secret behind its appeal - that its cryptic lyrics are open to interpretation, and can mean different things to different people. Musicians and fans talk about what Life on Mars? means to them, and its lasting emotional impact, in this special programme remembering Bowie's birthday on January 8th 1947 and commemorating his death on January 10th 2016. And what does the question mark in the song's title mean? With contributions from: Musician Dana Gillespie whose autobiography is Weren't Born A Man Bowie author Chris O'Leary Scientist Abigail Fraeman of NASA's Mars Mission Artist Bridget Griggs The Reverend Steve Stockman Screenwriter Ashley Pharoah (Life on Mars) Producer: Maggie Ayre for BBC Audio Bristol
Jan 09, 2021
Once In A Lifetime
1697
Talking Heads emerged out of the post punk scene of the late 1970s. Once In A Lifetime is the iconic single taken from their album Remain In Light. With its looped synthesizer and Afrobeat inspired by Fela Kuti it seemed to pre-empt the consumerism and ennui of the 1980s. Writer Ian Gittins interviewed David Byrne and later wrote his book Once In A Lifetime. He says David Byrne had in mind people of a certain middle class existence who seemingly breeze through life with ease when he wrote the lyrics. They may get to middle age or reach a crisis point and ask "How did I get here?" For a song that invites us to question our lives it has a suprisingly emotional core that encourages people to be grateful and make positive changes in their lives where necessary. For Glaswegian Gerry Murphy that meant becoming more present for his family after serious illness forced him to reconsider the amount of time he devoted to his career. He went on to write a book about his experience - And You May Find Yourself: A Guided Practice To Never Fearing Death Again. Ian Peddie was inspired by the song to leave his dead end existence in Wolverhampton in the mid 1980s to 'find himself in another part of the world' following his dreams. Kelly Waterhouse says the song symbolises gratitude for all the things she takes for granted and sometimes struggles with in her life as a busy working mother. And singer Angelique Kidjo recorded her own version of Once In A Lifetime in 2018 after coming full circle with the song from her arrival in Paris in 1983 after fleeing the dictatorship in her home country of Benin. She heard the song at a student party and recognised the Afrobeats adopted by David Byrne and Brian Eno that made her feel both joyful and homesick at the same time. Producer: Maggie Ayre
Dec 29, 2020
I Wonder as I Wander
1669
As Christmas approaches, Soul Music leads you through Advent with the Appalachian carol "I Wonder as I Wander". Written by American folklorist and singer John Jacob Niles, its origins come from a song fragment collected in 1933. Mysterious, inspiring, this traditional Christmas carol reflects on the nativity and the nature of wondering. While in the town of Murphy in Appalachian North Carolina, Niles attended a fundraising meeting held by evangelicals who had been ordered out of town by the police. He wrote of hearing the song: “A girl had stepped out to the edge of the little platform attached to the automobile. She began to sing. Her clothes were unbelievably dirty and ragged, and she, too, was unwashed. Her ash-blond hair hung down in long skeins. ... she was beautiful, and in her untutored way, she could sing. She smiled as she sang, smiled rather sadly, and sang only a single line of a song”. The girl, named Annie Morgan, repeated the fragment seven times in exchange for a quarter per performance, and Niles left with "three lines of verse, and a magnificent idea". Based on this fragment, Niles composed the version of "I Wonder as I Wander" that is known today. This most unusual of carols touches people in different ways. With childhood memories from a 1960s RAF base in Oxfordshire, a Nigerian schoolgirl who found her place in Winchester Cathedral, reflections from a candlelit vigil in an Appalachian town, and a Christmas gift as described by world renowned singer Melanie Marshall. Guests: Performer Melanie Marshall, Ron Pen (biographer John Jacob Niles), Viva Choir member Louise Sheaves, author Chibundu Onuzo and music scholar John McClain. Featuring music from John Rutter and Burl Ives. Consultant: Ted Olson. Producer: Nicola Humphries
Dec 22, 2020
Lean On Me by Bill Withers
1636
An enduring classic which delivers a message of support and friendship. Never more so than in 2020 when it's been the musical backdrop to the Covid crisis in the UK, and at Black Lives Matter protests in the US. Taking part: Andy Greene, a senior writer at Rolling Stone magazine, tells the remarkable life-story of Bill Withers. Composer, Neil Brand, explains how the simplicity of this track is what enables it to pack such a strong emotional punch. Sara Morrell is a nurse whose version of Lean On Me, recorded quickly at home as a way of cheering-up colleagues, caught the attention of some big names in the music industry. Sharmila Bousa organised a community flash-mob to show support to her local shops in Westbury-on-Trym which had suffered a spate of armed-robberies. Arianna Evans has become a voice of the Black Lives Matter protests. She recalls a powerful moment at one of the Washington DC rallies where local singer, Kenny Sway, sang Lean On Me creating a memorable and much-needed moment of joy and unity. Thanks to: Ian DeMartino who recorded the speech given by Arianna Evans; Zaranyzerak who provided the recording of Kenny Sway's performance; and to Tristan Cork who filmed the Westbury-on-Trym flashmob for Bristol Live Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Karen Gregor
Dec 08, 2020
I Will Survive
1674
"At first I was afraid, I was petrified"... From a breakup to a shipwreck, emotional true stories of what Gloria Gaynor's iconic disco anthem I Will Survive means to different people around the world. A woman sets out to become the first female rower to cross the Atlantic solo; a woman listens to the song 35 times in a row after a breakup; a drag queen steps onto the stage of a Berlin nightclub; a mother watches her daughters sing karaoke at a holiday club on the first foreign holiday since leaving her abusive marriage; women gather on the steps of the Courts of Justice to sing the song together as they await a verdict. Featuring Elisabeth Hoff, Latrice Royale, Penny Arcade, Pragna Patel and Nadine Hubbs. Produced by Mair Bosworth
Aug 10, 2020
Harvest Moon
1673
It's a love song about growing old. Neil Young's Harvest Moon released in 1992 is a nod to the 1970s country rock loved by music blogger Alyson Young. It's also a grown up song about love says singer-songwriter Ricky Ross. How do you make the magic last and how do you keep love alive? People tell their stories about what the song means to them: jazz singer Maureen Washington danced to the song with her late husband. Amanda Legere played it to her premature baby daughter when she went to see her in the ICU. She knows the baby responded to that song. Mary Divine and her husband were serenaded on their wedding anniversary during lockdown. The whole neighbourhood came out to watch a teenage neighbour play Harvest Moon for them. Margy Waller drove to work at the White House on the final days of Bill Clinton's Presidency listening to Harvest Moon because she needed to cry. For her it's a song about loss. She is still touched by it today during the pandemic in what she describes as another period of great loss. Versions include Harvest Moon by Neil Young Cassandra Wilson Maureen Washington Nils Lofgren Neil Young Unplugged Produced by Maggie Ayre Alyson's music blog is Jukeboxtimemachine.com Ricky Ross presents Another Country on BBC Radio Scotland. Maureen Washington is a jazz singer based in British Columbia.
Aug 05, 2020
Pavane Pour Une Infante Défunte by Maurice Ravel
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Ravel's beautiful Pavane For A Dead Princess touches many people. While it is not actually about a dead princess it does evoke a sense loss. For Carla van Raay it symbolises the loss of innocence she experienced after sexual abuse as a child which led her to make some difficult life choices. Deal Hudson played it to prisoners in Atlanta and was moved by their reaction. At an academy for troubled teenagers in California the Pavane had a similar effect. Genevieve Monneris comes from the town where Ravel was born on the border with Spain. Her film Henri and Pat tells the story of three French airman who were stationed in York during World War Two. Just days before Henri's plane was shot down the three young men went to a concert of Ravel's music in York. So the piece has a strong emotional meaning for Genevieve whose own father was also stationed with the RAF in York. Professor Barbara Kelly of the Royal Northern College of Music explains the background to the Pavane's composition and why it appeals to the emotions in such a powerful way. Although it was written at the end of the 19th century it became more widely known in the 1920s. That was when a young woman called Lucia Joyce daughter of James Joyce danced to it with her avant garde dance group. The writer Annabel Abbs tells Lucia's tragic story of how her life ended in a mental asylum and how she almost became the imaginary 'dead princess'. Versions used: Pavane Pour Une Infante Défunte William Orbit Julian Bream James Rhodes Maurice Ravel Ravel Pavane arrangement for harp and cello Producer: Maggie Ayre
Jul 22, 2020
Feeling Good
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The surprising history behind a track made famous by Nina Simone. Feeling Good was written for a now obscure musical and originally performed by Cy Grant, the first black man to appear regularly on British TV. Cy Grant's daughter, Samantha Moxon, describes her father's extraordinary life from Prisoner of War camp to a successful career in the arts. The composer, Neil Brand, discusses why the song has gone on to transcend the almost forgotten musical it was created for. Other speakers are Sam Reynolds, who says the track helped her through challenging times, and musician, Kirsten Lamb, who sings a simplified version with young children at a homelessness project in Massachusetts. Producer: Karen Gregor
Jul 15, 2020
Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay
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Sittin' On The Dock of the Bay was written while Otis Redding was reflecting on his life on Sausalito Bay in California in the summer of 1967. Its upbeat, laidback melody belies the loneliness of the lyrics. Just a few months later Otis Redding was killed in a plane crash and the song was released, becoming the first posthumous number 1 record in the US. His musician contemporaries including Booker T Jones and guitarist Steve Cropper, who co-wrote Dock of the Bay, tell the story of the song's genesis, and people in their twenties to their seventies reveal why they relate it to dramatic periods in their lives. Booker T Jones' Time Is Tight is published by Omnibus Press Producers: Maggie Ayre and Mair Bosworth
Jan 22, 2020
Days
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“It’s a goodbye song, but it’s also an inspirational song, It could also mean a new beginning" - Ray Davies Written by Ray Davies and released by the Kinks in 1968 'Days' had a very different sound to the rest of their repertoire. Sorrowful but uplifting it's been embraced by listeners across the world who have found solace and hope in it's lyrics. Having been covered by numerous artists (most notably Kirsty MacColl), it speaks to people of all generations and captures moments in their lives. For Sim Wood it's an anthem to great friendships and discovery whilst for actor Gabriel Vick it's a song that has journeyed with him from a place of fond memories to heartfelt remembrance. John Slater, who was born the same year that it was released, has his own celebratory take on 'Days' and for Laura and John Mapes it's the song that gave them the words they so needed to express. Produced By Nicola Humphries With contributions from rock critic and writer Barry Miles For Help and Support BBC Action Line support: Emotional distress www.bbc.co.uk/actionline https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/4WLs5NlwrySXJR2n8Snszdg/emotional-distress-information-and-support The Samaritans www.samaritans.org Cruse Bereavement Care provides support after the death of someone close including face to face, telephone, group support, as well as bereavement support for children. www.cruse.org.uk SUDEP Action provides information and bereavement support to families affected by Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) and other epilepsy related deaths. www.sudep.org Young Epilepsy is a national charity supporting children and young people aged 25 and under living in the UK with epilepsy. www.youngepilepsy.org.uk
Jan 15, 2020
Toto's Africa
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Released in 1982, this soft-rock anthem has become an unlikely viral smash-hit. Africa by Toto is a song that has changed lives, helped to raise thousands of pounds for charity and provided an unexpected musical corner-stone in a critically acclaimed play. Telling their personal stories in Soul Music: Ralf Schmidt is the Artistic Director of Ndlovu Youth Choir which is made up of young people from the poorest parts of South Africa. Incredibly, the choir made it to the final of America's Got Talent, one of the biggest entertainment shows in the world. Ralf's exuberant, irresistible and uniquely African arrangement of Toto's Africa was their stand-out performance. (Brief extract of AGT (c) Fremantle USA and Syco Entertainment) Michael Savage (aka DJ Michael Vinyl) of Prime Cuts record shop in Bristol, staged what could be considered a night of torture when he played Africa non-stop for twelve hours at a club. As Mike and Olivia Perry recall, this was to raise money for the Bristol based charity, Temwa, which operates in Malawi. They expected a handful of people to turn up, but the event had worldwide attention and was a huge success. Mike Massé's life was completely changed following his release on YouTube of what many consider to be one of the best Africa cover-versions ever recorded. The main photo is of Mike Massé (photo credit: Jim Mimna). David Greig is the Artistic Director of the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh; an esteemed playwright with intellectual clout. So, why did he include Africa in one of his plays? Well, he nearly didn't, but then he saw the light. And, Abigail Gardner, a reader in music at the University of Gloucestershire, explains why Africa - originally a US No. 1 for just a week in 1982 - has recently undergone a strange modern rebirth, making it one of the most streamed songs on the internet. Please scroll down to the 'Related Links' box to find out more about the interviewees. Producer: Karen Gregor
Jan 08, 2020
Coventry Carol
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Performed as part of the mystery plays, the 'Coventry Carol' is from the Pageant of the Shearman and Taylors and tells the story of the Slaughter of The Innocents. A copy of the manuscript survived a fire in Birmingham Library in 1879 by sheer chance. Musician Ian Pittaway describes seeing the play in the ruins of Coventry cathedral in the 1980s - the drama was so powerful it still moves him to tears. The carol was sung on Christmas Day in 1940 in a live broadcast to the Empire just six weeks after the bombing of Coventry that destroyed the city's cathedral. Journalist Donna Marmestein tells of how the carol transformed how she felt about loss in her family. Composer and performer Tori Amos describes what inspired her cover version of the song. Amy Hanson from the Small Steps Charity talks about how much her mother loved the carol. The children from the school her charity supports in Kenya sing their version of the song. Roxanne Burroughs explains about how her daughter Kaitlyn came to have the carol sung at her funeral. The soloist is Samantha Lewis; early music is from The Night Watch; Reading Phoenix choir and Southern Voices sing the carol and the children's choir is from the Rehabilitation centre Immanuel Afrika in Nairobi, Kenya. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Sara Conkey First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Christmas Day 2019.
Dec 25, 2019
We Are Family
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We Are Family written by Nile Rodgers and performed by the Sledge Sisters Kathy, Kim, Debbie and Joni was released in 1978 at the height of disco's popularity. Kim Sledge says it has become the anthem for diverse groups of people around the world who come together on the dance floor to form a friend family. Professor Tim Lawrence says disco at its best was an inclusive music movement that welcomed people of all races and genders, unlike rock music which in the early 1970s appealed to a predominantly white male audience. We Are Family epitomised dance music's appeal to traditionally marginalised groups in the USA - African Americans, Latinos, women and gay men. Listen to the stories of some of the people for whom the song is linked with some of the most significant experiences of their lives. Producer: Maggie Ayre
Dec 18, 2019
The Boxer - Simon & Garfunkel
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The Boxer - Simon & Garfunkel. People who connect directly with the lyrics and have a deep personal connection to the song discuss what this masterpiece means to them. Seamus McDonagh is a former boxer. He describes the tumultuous time he had during and after his famous fight with Evander Holyfield in 1990. He also explains why he identifies closely with the lyrics of The Boxer. Julie Nimoy is the daughter of Leonard Nimoy and co-producer of the film 'Remembering Leonard Nimoy' which tells the life story of this much loved actor, most famous for playing Mr Spock in Star Trek. The Boxer was his favourite song, and Julie describes exactly what it meant to him both throughout his life, and in its closing moments. Gary Edward Jones is a singer-songwriter who for years rejected comparisons made of him to Paul Simon. Eventually, he embraced the likeness and his life changed after developing a show called 'Something About Simon - The Paul Simon Story'. Dave Mason is an amateur guitarist who has found deep meaning in The Boxer; meaning that has changed and grown as he has. Scroll down for photos, and to the 'Related Links' box to find out more about these interviewees. Producer: Karen Gregor
Dec 11, 2019
Farewell to Stromness
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Personal stories about Farewell to Stromness, by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Written in 1980 as a protest against uranium mining in Orkney, the music has touched and changed people's lives. The Orkney landscape which inspired Max's music is described by his partner Tim Morrison. We hear from Rosalind Newton, for whom the music provided peace after the death of her grandmother. Conductor Christopher Warren-Green recalls his performance of the music at the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall. In Stromness we discover a community coming together to face the threat of uranium mining. Guitarist Sean Shibe and writer Ivan Hewett consider why this simple piece is so subtle and affective. And we hear from Jeana Leslie how the music, with its quiet melancholy inspired by folk music, has became traditional , and was a favourite for Peter Maxwell Davies to perform to visitors at his remote island home. Producer: Melvin Rickarby
Jul 31, 2019
Wind of Change
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“I follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park… listening to the wind of change.” The German rock band Scorpions’ lead singer Klaus Meine was inspired to write Wind of Change at a rock festival in Moscow in the summer of 1989. Politics were rapidly shifting in the Soviet Union at the time as a result of Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms. Recalling the peaceful yet revolutionary atmosphere at the concerts, Klaus said “there was a whole new generation of Russian kids that said the Cold War would be over soon - we could literally feel the world changing in front of our eyes”. No one had any idea that the Berlin wall would come down only a few months later. Wind of Change was released in 1990, and has since become an unofficial anthem for the end of the Cold War and the reunification of Germany in 1991. The power ballad is one the best-selling singles in history, and popular all over the world. Featuring interviews with lead singer of the Scorpions Klaus Meine, Russian rock musician Stas Namin, and true stories of what the song means to people who lived in the former USSR. Producer: Sophie Anton First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2019.
Jul 24, 2019
Streets of London by Ralph McTell
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Ralph McTell and others discuss a song that was written for a heroin addict, became an anthem against homelessness, and transcended the folk genre to become an enduring classic. Ralph McTell says he’s thought constantly about the “blip in my graph” that is Streets of London. People say to him “50 years. One hit. You think you’d have given up by now”. But, Ralph says, that’s not why he writes songs. And, of course, he’s written many. Many that he considers far better than Streets of London. But this remains his best known, best loved, and most played track. It was first recorded 50 years ago, in 1969, for his album Spiral Staircase although it wasn’t released as a single until 1974. Taking part in Soul Music, alongside Ralph, with their stories and memories connected to Streets of London, are: Jerry Playle, a music producer. His first ever public performance as a teenage guitarist was of Streets of London. The guitar part went well, but when he opened his mouth to sing, he realised - to his horror - that he couldn't... Gwen Ever, a DJ. He became homeless in the 1980s. It’s the unlikely punk version of Streets of London by the Anti Nowhere League that reminds him of this time. Maria Bentley-Dingwall, the daughter of Iris Bentley. Iris was the sister of Derek Bentley who was hanged for a murder he did not commit. Iris spent her life campaigning for his conviction to be quashed. Ralph McTell grew up knowing this story, became a friend of the family, wrote a song about the case, and sang Streets of London at Iris Bentley’s funeral. Producer: Karen Gregor First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2019.
Jul 17, 2019
Back to Black
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Amy Winehouse died in July 2011 aged just 27. 'Back to Black' - the title track of her second and final album - is a torch song to tragic love, addiction and loss. People who loved her and her music talk about how she helped them cope with their own struggles. Lesley Jamison is now a successful writer but at 27 she was an alcoholic. She stopped drinking the same year that Amy died. Lesley reflects on how her own life could have followed the same path had she gone further into the darkness or the black of drinking and self destruction. Daisy Buchanan tells her story of addictive love and how Back to Black helped her break free. Umaru Saidu was a vulnerable teenager with mental health issues who lost a dear childhood friend when he was 17. He later trained at the Amy's Yard programme and is grateful for the inspiration she gave him. As a young teenager Amy Charles too identified with the pain expressed in Back to Black and says it helped her deal with depression brought on by a spinal injury. Donald Brackett is the author of Back to Black: Amy Winehouse's Only Masterpiece and believes performing the song may have become traumatic for her in the end as it forced her to relive the emotional pain. Elizabeth Kesses was visiting her terminally ill father at the same hospital where Amy Winehouse was being treated. She recalls seeing her there and hoping she would recover. Sadly it was not to be. But these stories reveal a legacy that goes beyond the music. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Maggie Ayre First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2019.
Jul 10, 2019
Let the River Run
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The story of how a song from a classic 1980s movie became an inspirational anthem for a 21st-century generation. Carly Simon’s ‘Let the River Run’ was originally conceived as the title track for the 1988 movie ‘Working Girl. It went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song. It also went on to win the affection of people around the world. Initially thought of as a ‘hymn for New York’, ‘Let the River Run’ encapsulates the spirit of striving for a better life. As Carly Simon puts it herself, “I wanted it to be large, I wanted it to be vast – it’s about bringing forth a common desire into the world”. In more recent years it has become an anthem for Woman's Rights Movements and global initiatives aimed at making a better life for all. Featuring interviews with: * Carly Simon * Ginny Suss - music producer and part of the team who organised the Women’s March on Washington * Elisabet Barnes - Ultra Marathon Runner * Nina Ritzen Music from The Resistance Revival Chorus. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Nicola Humphries First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2019.
Jan 23, 2019
Smile
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Charlie Chaplin wrote the music for 'Smile' in 1935 for the film 'Modern Times', but the lyrics were only added nearly 30 years later. Chris Philips tells the story of how his grandfather was inspired to write the words when he left his father at boarding school. Gemma Lowery talks about how her son Bradley loved the song; writer Bryony Rheam describes why she associates the song with her grandmother and Marine Lucas remembers flying to Michael Jackson's memorial on hearing the news of his death. And author Bob Williams remembers after his father died, his mother sitting on the floor listening to the Nat King Cole version and crying when he came home from school. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Sara Conkey First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2019.
Jan 17, 2019
Schubert’s B-Flat Piano Sonata D960
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The B-Flat Piano Sonata D960, which Schubert completed two months before his death, in 1828, is a vast and complex work. It’s the last of a triptych of piano sonatas that Schubert wrote, possibly in response to the death of his hero Beethoven the year before. Schubert had been a pallbearer at Beethoven’s funeral. Pianists Imogen Cooper, Steven Osborne and James Lisney consider what it’s like to play this work. And Andrea Avery and Pamela Rose describe ways in which this sonata has marked and shaped their lives. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Rosie Boulton First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2019.
Jan 09, 2019
Shine On You Crazy Diamond
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Shine On You Crazy Diamond discussed by voices including David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. Understood to have been written about Syd Barrett, their former band member, it’s both a tribute, and a call for him to ‘shine on’ despite suffering serious mental health issues. David Gilmour of Pink Floyd recalls the legendary day that Syd Barrett unexpectedly appeared in the studio where they were recording Wish You Were Here, the album bookended by Shine On. Nobody recognised Syd at first; once handsome and slender, he'd gained weight and shaved his head and eyebrows. Another contributor to the programme, Anna Gascoigne, talks about the pain of losing her son, Jay. He was a gentle boy, a talented musician, who eventually succumbed to the multiple mental health problems he had battled for years. Shine On You Crazy Diamond, for Anna, speaks directly to her of Jay; he loved Pink Floyd and Shine On was played at his memorial service. Anna, herself, was driven to the brink of suicide by her son’s death. It was the support of her family – including her brother, Paul Gascoigne - that helped her to carry on. Ed Steelefox, a DJ based in Worcester, describes a New Year’s Eve house-party of a few years ago: as the guests gradually fell asleep he chose to slip out the door leaving a non-stop playlist of different, live, versions of Shine On You Crazy Diamond to penetrate their dreams. And Professor Allan Moore, a regular Soul Music contributor, takes to the grand piano to play and talk about what it is in the track that is so directly reminiscent of Syd Barrett. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact.' NB: Details of organisations offering information and support are available at bbc.co.uk/actionline. Or you can call for free, at any time to hear recorded information on 08000 566 065. Producer: Karen Gregor First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2018.
Dec 26, 2018
River
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Soul Music with stories of the lasting impact of Joni Mitchell's song 'River', from her iconic 1971 album Blue. A song about the breakdown of a relationship and of a longing to be elsewhere that has become a melancholy Christmas anthem. It's coming on Christmas / They're cutting down trees / They're putting up reindeer / And singing songs of joy and peace / Oh I wish I had a river / I could skate away on.... Emotional true stories of what the song means to different people, including comedian Chris Forbes, who lost his father on Christmas Day; Isobel, who fell sick far from home and understands the longing to be elsewhere captured in the song; Laura, who heard the song while pregnant at Christmastime; writer Rob Crossan, who will forever associate the song with his first love; Canadian poet Lorna Crozier who describes the frozen rivers of her and Joni's Saskatchewan childhood; and from Joni Mitchell's biographer David Yaffe. Includes a rare live recording of 'River' from a BBC Concert in 1970, hosted by John Peel. The other versions of the song are by (in order of appearance) Joni Mitchell (Blue, 1971), Scott Matthews (Live Session for BBC 6 Music, 2011), Béla Fleck and the Flecktones (Jingle All the Way, 2008) and the Belgian indie choir Scala & Kolacny Brothers (Live Session for BBC 6 Music, 2011). Producer: Mair Bosworth First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2018.
Dec 19, 2018
True Colors
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"Your true colors...are beautiful, like a rainbow..." Billy Steinberg's lyrics were originally inspired by his mother but his song writing partner Tom Kelly recognised it's universal appeal and with a slight re-write, it became the song that Cyndi Lauper made famous the world over. Growing up in a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ken Kidd could never truly be himself. Watching Cyndi Lauper perform True Colors on MTV showed him that it was OK to be his authentic self. Years later he describes his pride at watching the Rainbow Flag being raised above the Stonewall National Monument as he and other LGBTQ campaigners sang that same song. Lesley Pyne learnt to sing 'True Colors' with her local choir. It's a song that resonated with her more than she had ever expected. After six attempts at IVF, Lesley had had to come to terms with the knowledge that she wouldn't be able to have children. It wasn't easy. It has taken years of digging deep to work through the grief but now she helps others to find their true colours and firmly believes that they can be beautiful, like a rainbow. And in 1999, Caroline Paige, a jet and helicopter navigator in the Royal Air Force, became the first ever openly serving transgender officer in the British military. She rose above the extraordinary challenges placed before her to show her 'True Colors' whilst serving her country on the front line in the war on terror. Featuring songwriter Billy Steinberg and music from The Rock Choir Producer: Nicola Humphries First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in May 2018.
May 02, 2018
God Only Knows
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"God only knows what I'd be without you" For artist Kim Lynch God Only Knows is a song that she has carried with her from the moment her father played it to her mother back in their 1960's London home and it's the song that resonated throughout her parents 65 years together. Meanwhile in land locked Burundi, another couple are bought together from two very different cultures. Sharing the same hopes and prayers, they began their married life by blending a traditional wedding ceremony with the Californian song that spans decades - and continents - to touch souls wherever it's played. And across the ocean, Erin Prewitt tells her love story and describes how tragic and unexpected circumstances meant she has had to learn to live out those iconic lyrics and discover what it means to be without the person you love. With reflections from musician Al Kooper and author Barry Miles. Produced By Nicola Humphries. First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2018.
Apr 25, 2018
Prelude a l'Apres Midi d'un Faune by Debussy
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Claude Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun speaks to artists of different kinds. Jamaican poet Ishion Hutchinson recalls hearing it through an open window in Kingston Jamaica and being mesmerised by its beauty, but not knowing what it was, setting off on a quest to find out and to write a poem that captured his feelings about the piece. Babak Kazemi was training to be a doctor in his home city of Tehran when he heard it for the first time. The piece changed his life and led him to abandon his medical studies in Iran to move to the UK to become a professional conductor and composer. Artist Fiona Robinson specialises in interpreting Debussy's works on paper. She explains how she has been moved to visualise the Prelude, while Debussy's biographer Paul Roberts credits it with having changed classical music forever. Katya Jezzard-Puyraud recalls how the music lifted her out of a difficult time after the birth of her first son and how she uses it now to help people with anxiety and stress to relax. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Maggie Ayre First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2018.
Apr 18, 2018
A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum
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Why has Procol Harum's surreal track ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ remained enduringly popular for over 50 years? Soul Music hears the stories and memories of those who love it. Released in May 1967, it was the group's first single. It went to No. 1 in the UK, and stayed there for six weeks. Musicologist Allan Moore deconstructs the track and dismisses the almost universally accepted idea that it mimics Bach's ‘Air on a G String’. Film-maker Chris Rodley remembers the impact it had on him when he heard it for the first time, in the dead of the night, on pirate Radio Caroline. Musician, James Pollard, explains how he created a wedding march for a friend using this track as inspiration. Thriller writer Nelson DeMille describes his year in Vietnam as 'the year without music', but ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ is the one song that reminds him of his time there. Singer Sarah Collins suffered a brain tumour shortly after the birth of her second child. Making the decision to sing again was fundamental to her healing process. As her Dad, Phil, explains 'Whiter Shade' is his favourite song. He was very moved when she decided to record it for her YouTube channel. Produced at BBC Bristol by Karen Gregor. First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2018.
Apr 11, 2018
Songs of the Civil Rights Movement
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Actor Clarke Peters narrates this special edition to mark 50 years since the assassination of the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King on April 4th 1968. "If in doubt, pray and sing" an activist recalls how music was used as part of Dr King's non-violent resistance movement. The stories of the songs behind the Civil Rights Movement include the spirituals and freedom songs that were integral to the struggle. In the 19th century, music became a tool for protest and resistance among the enslaved peoples of the American South. Hear the stories behind some of the most popular anthems and Freedom Songs that were later used as part of the civil resistance movement that eventually led to voting rights and desegregation. From Swing Low Sweet Chariot and We Shall Overcome to Amazing Grace, Strange Fruit and A Change Is Gonna Come, witnesses to and participants in the Civil Rights Movement recall how songs were such a vital part of the story. Producer: Maggie Ayre First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2018.
Apr 04, 2018
Cerys Matthews' Soul Music Mixtape - Part Three
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Cerys Matthews delves into the archives to put together a specially curated mixtape of her favourite stories from across 25 series of the BBC Radio 4's Soul Music. Each episode of Soul Music takes a different piece of music - it might be a pop song, or a hymn, or a piece of classical music or world music - and looks at why it moves us and what it means to different people. Cerys's choices include Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, Mozart's Requiem in D Minor, Bob Marley's Redemption Song, Puccini's La Boheme and Sam Cooke's A Change is Gonna Come. Producer: Mair Bosworth.
Feb 12, 2018
Cerys Matthews' Soul Music Mixtape - Part Two
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Cerys Matthews delves into the archives to put together a specially curated mixtape of her favourite stories from across 25 series of the BBC Radio 4's Soul Music. Each episode of Soul Music takes a different piece of music - it might be a pop song, or a hymn, or a piece of classical music or world music - and looks at why it moves us and what it means to different people. Cerys's choices include Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, Mozart's Requiem in D Minor, Bob Marley's Redemption Song, Puccini's La Boheme and Sam Cooke's A Change is Gonna Come. Producer: Mair Bosworth.
Feb 12, 2018
Cerys Matthews' Soul Music Mixtape - Part One
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Cerys Matthews delves into the archives to put together a specially curated mixtape of her favourite stories from across 25 series of the BBC Radio 4's Soul Music. Each episode of Soul Music takes a different piece of music - it might be a pop song, or a hymn, or a piece of classical music or world music - and looks at why it moves us and what it means to different people. Cerys's choices include Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, Mozart's Requiem in D Minor, Bob Marley's Redemption Song, Puccini's La Boheme and Sam Cooke's A Change is Gonna Come. Producer: Mair Bosworth.
Feb 12, 2018
Kraftwerk: Computer World
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How Kraftwerk's classic album Computer World has changed people's lives. On their first wedding anniversary, David Sanborn and Jennifer Huber remember their Kraftwerk themed celebrations. Ramona Gonzales from the band Nite Jewel recounts how a car crash and a chance encounter with Computer World changed the course of her life. And Andy McCluskey from Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark recalls the Kraftwerk concert that inspired his musical career. Kraftwerk were forged in the shadow of the Second World War, out of a desire to create a new, German music. Uwe Schütte from Aston University explains how Computer World embodies the politics of this time and points the way to a computerized future. Brian Carney recalls how the album's glamour and sheen changed his horizons in the industrial town of St Helens. And in South Central Los Angeles, Greg Broussard, aka Egyptian Lover, shows how this album brought love into his life. Life, love and an electronic future as experienced through the music of this pioneering German band. Producer: Melvin Rickarby First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2018.
Jan 24, 2018
Boys Don't Cry
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Boys Don't Cry by The Cure is, on the surface, a tribute to teenage angst and a slice of pop perfection. Lol Tolhurst, the band's drummer, wrote the song with his band mates in Robert Smith's parents' house extension. Poorna Bell saw the song's lyrics echo her husband's struggle with expressing his emotions, and describes the devastating impact which that can have. Runner Derek Redmond recalls the moment he lost his 'game face' at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, and Sara Pacella and Jeffrey Axt chart the changing fortunes of a giant Boys Don't Cry poster. Producer: Sally Heaven. First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2018.
Jan 17, 2018
Ich Habe Genug
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JS Bach wrote his cantata Ich Habe Genug for the Feast of the Purification of Mary to be performed in Leipzig on 2nd February 1727. The work is a retelling of the story of the old man Simeon who, waiting in the temple, was presented with the baby Jesus. As he held the baby in his arms, in Bach's version he says: It is enough. I have held the Saviour, the hope of all peoples, In the warm embrace of my arms. It is enough. Oboist George Caird recalls playing Ich Habe Genug at his father's funeral. Theologian Paula Gooder recalls the effect of putting her new born baby into the arms of an elderly relative. Danish music therapist Lars Ole Bonde tells how this music provided vital solace for him as a teenager growing up with a father suffering from depression. American Susan Dray remembers how the Cantata helped her when she was grieving for her baby. And tenor Ian Bostridge wonders why we never feel that we have "enough". Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact Producer: Rosie Boulton First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2018.
Jan 10, 2018
Redemption Song
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"If you've never heard of Bob Marley then you must be living under a rock" - Neville Garrick, Bob Marley's Art Director and friend. At the time he wrote 'Redemption Song', circa 1979, Bob had been diagnosed with the cancer in his toe that later took his life. It is considered one of his greatest works and continues to inspire generations of Marley fans across the world. For Grammy Award Winning artist John Legend, it's become an anthem for addressing the criminal justice system of America. 'Musicians without Borders' practitioner Ahmed al 'Azzeh finds the song inspires him to work towards a better life in the Palestinian Territories. For Jamaican Poet Laureate Lorna Goodison, it is a reminder to continue Marley's call to 'sing these songs of freedom' and for Bob Scott, it will forever be heard in memory of his nephew Dominick who lost his life during the 2004 Tsunami. Featuring interviews with: Neville Garrick Wailers Guitarist - Don Kinsley. Producer: Nicola Humphries First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2017.
Dec 27, 2017
O Holy Night
1676
"O' Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining..." and so begins the gentle carol of reflection that has touched the lives of listeners around the world. For The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, it's the carol that lifted his spirits as he lay in a London hospital battling pneumonia. It is also the hymn that inspired a fellow patient to find faith. In Philadelphia it is the song that outreach worker Asteria Vives sang when she took Christmas to the homeless, whilst for singer and songwriter Katie Melua it's the carol that awoke her love of music as an 8 year old child in Belfast. And for Tymara Walker it's the Christmas family favourite which went viral when she sang it on a Washington subway, eventually reaching a worldwide audience of over 5 million. Featuring choral conductor and composer Bob Chilcott. Producer: Nicola Humphries.
Dec 20, 2017
Who Knows Where the Time Goes?
1669
Sandy Denny was just 19 years old when she wrote 'Who Knows Where the Time Goes?', her much-loved song about the passing of time. Soul Music tells the story behind the song and speaks to people for whom it has special meaning. Record producer Joe Boyd and founder member of Fairport Convention Simon Nicol remember Sandy and her music. We speak to musicians who have covered the song, including folk legend Judy Collins and the singer Rufus Wainwright, about what the song means to them. We hear from people whose lives have been touched by the song, including the singer-songwriter Ren Harvieu, who suffered a back break in a freak accident and found strength in the song during her recovery. And neuroscientist and best-selling author David Eagleman explains why the years seem to fly past ever more quickly as we grow older. Also featuring contributions from Sandy Denny's biographer Mick Houghton and Dr Richard Elliott, Senior Lecturer in Music at Newcastle University. Producer: Mair Bosworth First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in June 2017.
Jun 14, 2017
You Are My Sunshine
1662
You Are My Sunshine was written in or around 1939 and was adopted by the then governor of Louisiana, Jimmy Davies, who recorded and used it as his campaign theme song. It has since been recorded by more than 400 artists, from Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash to Aretha Franklin and Bryan Ferry. A mother and daughter tell their story of how the song helped the daughter's recovery after a catastrophic car crash, and how it has come to symbolise her struggle to rebuild her life after being in a coma for several months. A resident of 'Tornado Alley' and author of The Mercy of the Sky tells the story of a devastating tornado that hit a town in Oklahoma in 2013, killing several schoolchildren, but how all the toddlers in a nearby daycare centre survived. The staff comforted them by singing You Are My Sunshine as the storm destroyed the building. And pensioner Alice Kennedy fondly recalls a friend from the Irish Pensioners Choir in London, who used to sing the song and add his own cheeky lyrics. Music historian: Paul Kingsbury Producer: Maggie Ayre First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in June 2017.
Jun 07, 2017
Siegfried Idyll
1656
Wagner's peaceful Siegfried Idyll was written to thank his wife after the birth of his son Siegfried. On her birthday in 1870, she awoke to find an orchestra on her staircase performing the music for the first time. It is music which celebrates family relationships, and Soul Music hears from people whose lives and relationships have been touched and changed by this remarkable piece. Cellist Nick Trygstad explains how the music conjures up scenes of domestic life and helped him cope with his homesickness when he arrived in the UK. Karen West recalls a 50th birthday treat - a trip across lake Lucerne with her father, to visit Wagner's villa. For Tim Reynish, the music has a special connection with his son - when William was born he recreated the first performance on the staircase of his Birmingham home; many years later he conducted the music at his son's memorial concert. And Roberto Paternostro recalls a historic performance in Germany when he took a group of Israeli musicians to perform Wagner's music for the first time at Bayreuth - the opera house built by Wagner, and later frequented by Adolf Hitler. Producer: Melvin Rickarby First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in May 2017.
May 31, 2017
My Favourite Things
1640
"Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens". Guests from around the world share their special memories of The Sound of Music classic 'My Favourite Things'. Written by Rodgers and Hammerstein in 1959, this deceptively simple song has travelled the globe to comfort and enthral children the world over. Iranian Astronaut and philanthropist Anousheh Ansari's first encounter with this musical classic was in her native language of Farsi. It's a melody she held dear to her during years of unrest through the Iranian revolution and the war that was to follow. It's also the song that travelled with her as she realised her childhood dream of exploring outer space. For vocal coach Heather Mair Thomas 'My Favourite Things' evokes memories of a happy Cornish childhood, growing up with her musical family. It has also become a reminder to always look for the good in life - come what may. Meanwhile Jazz musician David Lieberman takes us on a journey through the 1960's New York club scene to the night where an encounter with John Coltrane's version of 'My Favourite Things' changed his life forever. Plus Sound of Music fan Emma Poulton-White relives her very special wedding day that was topped off with a 'copper kettle' . Featuring Tom Santopietro author of 'The Sound of Music Story'. Producer: Nicola Humphries First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in May 2017.
May 24, 2017
Waterloo Sunset
1638
Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks was released in 1967. Soul Music hears the poignant, thoughtful and life-changing memories of those who love it. Childhood holidays were an escape from bullying for John Harvey. He describes the unforgettable moment when he heard Waterloo Sunset for the first time, on the radio, in 1967. Getting to know the music of The Kinks, and finding out about the character of its lead singer, Ray Davies, shaped and coloured his life from then on. Allison Moore Adams is an American who married Vernon, a Brit. Waterloo Sunset was sung at his bedside following a terrible road accident. The painting used to illustrate this edition of Soul Music is of Vernon and Allison on Waterloo Bridge. It's by Allison's friend, Isabelle Logie, who also sang to Vernon in hospital. Christopher Young used to work in mental health. For him, the lyrics of Waterloo Sunset symbolise the isolation that many people feel. Professor Allan Moore, a musicologist, discusses why this beautiful pop song works so well. Producer: Karen Gregor First brodacast on BBC Radio 4 in May 2017.
May 17, 2017
The Star-Spangled Banner
1631
America's national anthem was written by a lawyer, Francis Scott Key, after watching the British navy bombing Fort McHenry in 1814. It was set to an English social men's club song and recognized as the national anthem in 1889. Notoriously difficult to sing, and traditionally played at public sports events and orchestral concerts, the anthem has inspired emotion and attracted controversy. We hear from: Dr John Carlos who along with Dr Tommie Smith, raised their fists on the Olympic podium in the Mexico City Olympics in 1968 as the anthem was played. Jose Feliciano who sang the anthem at the 1968 World series and provoked criticism. Conrad Netting IV who discovered the truth about his fighter pilot father's history which led him to a cemetery in Normandy. Writer Crista Cloutier who associated it with President Obama's election. Members of the Coldstream Guards band who played the anthem at the changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace the day after 9/11. And Leon Hendrix, Jimi's brother, who was in the army at the time of Woodstock, and was put on 'potato peeling duty' because of the 'dishonourable' version his brother had played. Producer: Sara Conkey First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November 2016.
Nov 01, 2016
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
1666
Memories of first love, first borns and loss are stirred by 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face'. This timeless love song was written by Ewan MacColl for Peggy Seeger, and made famous by Roberta Flack. Activist and folk musician Peggy Seeger recalls her first meeting with the Scottish folk musician, which would inspire him to write the song, and talks about what the song means to her today. Ewan MacColl's biographer Ben Harker explains why this song is so different from much of his other work. Julie Young talks about singing the song to her son Reagan, who had severe complex needs following a cardiac arrest as a baby. Writer Louise Janson speaks about what the song came to mean to her as she set out on the path to becoming a mother on her own. Writer and academic Jason King tells the story of how Roberta Flack came to cover this ballad, and how it catapulted her to fame. And Kandace Springs, a singer and pianist from Nashville, Tennessee, records her version of the song and talks about why the song is one of the greatest love songs of all time. Producer: Mair Bosworth First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in October 2016.
Oct 25, 2016
Jerusalem
1647
"Jerusalem" has become a quintessentially middle-class and very English song, but it is held in the hearts and memories of people from different backgrounds and cultures. There is a bit of cricket - commentator Jonathan Agnew (Aggers) discusses England's stunning and unexpected victory in the 2005 Ashes. Jerusalem reminds him of that extraordinary summer. Pamela Davenport is the daughter of a man who felt that the words of Jerusalem highlighted inequality in society; lack of money prevented him fulfilling his academic potential and he died in a care home that didn't care well enough for him. For American poet, Ann Lauterbach, the unusual and little-known Paul Robeson version was the theme-tune to her escape from the difficult years of Nixon and Vietnam to 1960s London. Singer, Janet Shell, recalls the burial of her Great Uncle who was killed during World War One, but whose body was only discovered in 2009. Susanne Sklar - a scholar of William Blake - discusses the inspiration behind the words of the poem. Probably, she says, he wrote them while awaiting his trial for sedition; he was in trouble for fighting with a soldier who had urinated in his garden. Composer and writer, Paul Spicer, plays, sings and talks through the tune which was composed by Sir Hubert Parry. Producer: Karen Gregor First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2016.
Oct 18, 2016
A Change Is Gonna Come, by Sam Cooke
1674
Sam Cooke's A Change Is Gonna Come has become synonymous with the American Civil Rights Movement. It was released in December 1964, two weeks after the influential singer was shot dead in Los Angeles. Contributors include: Sam Cooke's brother LC, singer Bettye Lavette who sang it for Barack Obama at his inaugural ceremony and civil rights activists from the Freedom Summer of 64, Jennifer Lawson and Mary King. Producer: Maggie Ayre First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in October 2016.
Oct 12, 2016
Feed the Birds
1695
'Feed The Birds' was written for the film Mary Poppins by Richard and Robert Sherman.
May 03, 2016
Mozart's Requiem
1656
How Mozart's Requiem, written when he was dying, has touched and changed people's lives. Crime writer Val McDermid recalls how this music helped her after the loss of her father. Hypnotist Athanasios Komianos recounts how the piece took him to the darker side of the spirit world. And a friend of ballet dancer Edward Stierle, Lissette Salgado-Lucas, explains how Eddie turned his struggle with HIV into a ballet inspired by Mozart's music. Basement Jaxx used the Requiem in their live shows while Felix Buxton reveals his love for Mozart and the divine nature of the Requiem. And Mozart expert Cliff Eisen takes us inside the composer's world: how the orchestra and choir conjure visions of funerals, beauty, hellfire and the confusion of death. He recounts how Mozart was commissioned to write the piece by a nobleman who may have intended to pass off the work as his own. The stern challenge faced by people trying to complete the piece are described by composer Michael Finnissy, who himself wrote a completion of the work. The Requiem was performed at the funerals of many heroic figures - Beethoven, Napoleon and JF Kennedy, among others. Gordana Blazinovic remembers one extraordinary performance during the horrors of the Bosnian war - a show of defiance and grief from the ruins of Sarajevo City Hall. Producer: Melvin Rickarby. First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2016.
Apr 26, 2016
The Way You Look Tonight
1645
'The Way You Look Tonight' was written by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields for the 1936 film 'Swing Time'. Sung by Fred Astaire to Ginger Rodgers while she was washing her hair, the song won an Oscar. It's been recorded by Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday. Sarah Woodward, daughter of actor Edward, recalls how aged seven, she watched him sing it on The Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show with his 'angelic' voice. Theatre director Michael Bawtree remembers the song being his father's favourite, and being distraught when he broke the gramophone record as a five year old. And Glaswegian singer, Eddie Toal describes making an album of jazz songs, including 'The Way You Look Tonight' to remember his late wife, Irene. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Sara Conkey First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2016.
Apr 19, 2016
Sukiyaki (Ue o Muite Arukou)
1651
Memories of a prison camp in the Arizona desert, a tsunami and a plane crash are stirred by the bittersweet Japanese song Sukiyaki, a huge global hit of the 1960s. Originally released in Japan with the title 'Ue o Muite Arukou' ('I Look Up As I Walk'), the song was retitled 'Sukiyaki' (the name for a type of beef stew) for international release. It went to No 1 in the USA, Canada and Australia and placed in the top 10 of the UK singles chart. With melancholy lyrics set to a bright and unforgettable melody, it has since been covered hundreds of times in countless languages. California peach farmer Mas Masumoto tells the story of his family's internment in an Arizona relocation camp following the bombing of Pearl Harbor and explains what the song meant to him and many other Japanese-Americans in the years after the Second World War. Violinist and composer Diana Yukawa plays the song as a way to remember her father, who died in the same plane crash that killed Kyu Sakamoto, the original singer of 'Sukiyaki'. Michael Bourdaghs, author of 'Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon', talks about the songwriting team behind the song (Rokusuke Ei, Hachidai Nakamura and Kyu Sakamoto), and the surprising roots of the song in the Japanese protest movement of the early 1960s. Janice-Marie Johnson of A Taste of Honey talks about writing an English version of the song and how she interpreted the Japanese lyrics. While Gemma Treharne-Foose speaks about her experience of travelling to Japan from her home in the Rhondda Valleys, and what the song came to mean to her. And we hear the story of how Ue o Muite Arukou became a 'prayer for hope' following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011 from musician Masami Utsunomiya. Producer: Mair Bosworth First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2016
Apr 14, 2016
Bring Him Home
1647
Bring Him Home is a beautiful and moving prayer-in-song that has developed meaning and identity outside of the hit musical, from Les Miserables. What has been its impact? Celebrated tenor, Alfie Boe has sung it many times in the West End and on Broadway. He discusses what the song means to him. Herbert Kretzmer talks about the agonising process of writing the lyrics. The Greater Manchester Police Male Voice Choir recorded a version especially for the programme; one of their members describes singing it at the funeral of PC Dave Phillips in 2015. The original Cosette, from Les Miserables, Rebecca Caine now sings this song - written for a male voice - regularly as part of international recitals. And for Becky Douglas it will forever be a reminder of her daughter whose death inspired the foundation of a leprosy charity. Jeremy Summerly, Director of Music at St Peter's College, Oxford plays through the piece and describes why it moves us emotionally. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Karen Gregor First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2016.
Apr 05, 2016
Fairytale of New York
1642
The tragi-comic tale of love gone sour and shattered dreams eloquently depicted in the Christmas classic Fairytale of New York is the focus of this edition of Soul Music. James Fearnley, pianist with The Pogues recounts how the song started off as a transatlantic love story between an Irish seafarer missing his girl at Christmas before becoming the bittersweet reminiscences of the Irish immigrant down on his luck in the Big Apple, attempting to win back the woman he wooed with promises of 'cars big as bars and rivers of gold'. Gaelic footballer Alisha Jordan came to New York to play football aged 17 from County Meath in Ireland. Despite being dazzled by the glamour and pace of New York City, she missed her family and friends and stencilled the words 'Fairytale of New York' on her apartment wall as an affirmation of her determination to make the most of her new life in the city. When she was later attacked on the street by a stranger, the words came to signify her battle to recover and not to let the horrific facial injuries she suffered defeat her or her ambition to captain her football team. Rachel Burdett posted the video of the song onto her friend Michelle's social media page to let her know she was thinking of her and praying for her safe return when Michelle went missing suddenly one December. Stories of redemption and of a recognition that Christmas is often not the fairytale we are sold, told through a seasonal favourite. Producer: Maggie Ayre.
Dec 22, 2015
Nimrod
1623
Edward Elgar's incomparable Nimrod, and the part it plays in people's lives, is explored this week: Composed as part of the Enigma Variations in the latter part of the 19th century, Nimrod was inspired by Elgar's friend and music editor, Augustus Jaeger. In an interview for this programme, Jaeger's granddaughter, Gillian Scully, talks about her grandfather and describes hearing her own granddaughter playing Nimrod at a school concert. The Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch - National Chaplain to the Royal British Legion - talks about hearing it played at the Festival of Remembrance in the Royal Albert Hall stirring memories of his own father who died in WW2, and serving as a reminder of all those lost or injured in war. Margaret Evison's son, Lieutenant Mark Evison of the Welsh Guards, was killed in Afghanistan in 2009. Nimrod played an important part in his funeral which was held at The Guard's Chapel in London. For Lord Victor Adebowale, Chief Executive of the charity Turning Point, Nimrod is a piece that reminds him of his father and the struggles he had as a Nigerian immigrant to the UK. Composer and conductor, Paul Spicer, plays through Nimrod at the piano exploring why it is a piece that stirs such deep emotions. Producer: Karen Gregor First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2015.
Dec 15, 2015
Mack the Knife
1637
The Brecht/Weill song, 'Mack The Knife' first appeared in 'The Threepenny Opera' in Berlin in 1928. Sung about the criminal MacHeath, the 'play with music' is based on John Gay's 'The Beggar's Opera', who was inspired by the real-life English highwayman, Jack Sheppard. The song became a hit when performed in 1959 by Bobby Darin. Ella Fitzgerald famously forgot the words when performing live in Berlin in 1960 and her improvised version won a Grammy. Suzi Quatro talks about how she performed it with her father as a child, playing bongos to accompany him. Lenny Kaye from the Patti Smith Group recalls how he and Patti did a version of 'Mack The Knife' at their first ever performance together at St Marks Church in New York on 10th February 1971, as it was Brecht's birthday. Film-maker Malcolm Clark tells the story of the song's first public performer, Kurt Gerron, an actor and director, who took the song into the darkest places of the Third Reich. Contributors: Stephen Hinton Stephen Parker Jane Tipping John Bird Malcolm Clarke Lenny Kaye Suzi Quatro Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Sarah Conkey First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2015.
Dec 08, 2015
Nkosi Sikelel iAfrica
1660
Nkosi Sikelel iAfrica (Lord Bless Africa) is a song that runs through the very soul of South African life. It was originally composed in 1897 by Enoch Sontonga, a Xhosa clergyman at a Methodist mission school near Johannesburg who is said to have been inspired by the melody of John Parry's 'Aberystwyth', a hymn that would've been shared by Welsh missionary's at that time. It went on to travel the African continent but most significantly it became one of the defining symbols of a united South Africa - a country that still holds this song at its heart. Having travelled through the country's Christian congregations it soon rang out from meetings and protest rallies throughout the apartheid era eventually becoming the unofficial anthem of the ANC (African National Congress Party). At a time of great hardship and pain, it was a song that offered hope and encouragement to millions of South Africans. Having being sentenced to life imprisonment, Nkosi Sikelel iAfrica was the song that Nelson Mandela will have heard being sung out by his supporters as he and his fellow ANC members were driven away to Robben Island. Decades later it was the hymn that he would use to unify his country as it was adapted into the South African National Anthem. Featuring interviews with: Albert Mazibuko of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Lord Joel Joffe, author Sindiwe Magona, Edward Griffiths - former CEO of South African Rugby during the 1995 World Cup, music journalist Robin Denslow and the Za Foundation's Zakhele Choir. Produced in Bristol by Nicola Humphries First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2015. **We’re sorry that due to copyright restrictions, if you are listening abroad, you will not be able to listen to this programme.**
Dec 01, 2015
Mr Blue Sky
1627
Mr Blue Sky is the Electric Light Orchestra's brilliantly off-beam classic song. It was released as a single in 1978, having first appeared on the ELO album 'Out of the Blue' in 1977. Written by Jeff Lynne, it was a no.6 hit in the UK, and has endured on the radio airwaves ever since. Tracey Collinson whose husband, Nigel, loved the track tells of the meaning it has for her. Musicologist, Allan Moore, discusses the anomolous use of the word 'blue': usually associated with downbeat emotions, this is a peculiar subversion of that cultural norm with the word 'blue' conjuring happiness and good weather. Tremayne Crossley and his friend, Jo Milne, tell the extraordinary story of how Jo heard music for the first time. This track played an important role in that event. For Dr. Sam Illingworth, Mr Blue Sky will always take him back to the low-flying research-flights he made over the wetlands, greenlands and seas of the Arctic Circle with the shadow of the BAE146 plane beneath him and clear blue skies above. The children of King's St. Albans in Worcester sing the track featuring at the end of the programme. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact Producer: Karen Gregor First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November 2015.
Nov 24, 2015
The Lord Is My Shepherd
1662
This much-loved hymn based on Psalm 23 has been set to music many times, including Brother James' Air and Crimond. The Queen requested the Crimond version at her wedding. Harriet Bowes Lyon's tells the story that her mother, Lady Margaret Colville, ( formerly Lady Margaret Egerton) taught the descant to the Queen and Princess Margaret, and was summoned to sing it when, two days before the wedding, the descant music could not be found. Howard Goodall, who wrote a new setting for 'The Vicar of Dibley' describes how he composed it in a taxi. Selina Scott says that the Crimond always puts her in mind of her Scottish grandmother. Contributors: Howard Goodall Ian Bradley Marion Dodd Emily Badger Athena Kruger Esther Sternberg Selina Scott Harriet Bowes-Lyon Adrian Goldberg First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2015.
May 12, 2015
Scarborough Fair
1654
"Tomorrow we're going in search of a song and in search of a dream of England which has travelled right around the world" - Will Parsons No one can be sure of the true origins of the song Scarborough Fair. It's a melody of mystery, of voices of old, of ancient days. It's travelled through land and time, drawing singers and listeners in where ever they maybe. For Will Parsons and Guy Hayward it's a song that has inspired a pilgrimage through a landscape that is embodied in the lyrics. Setting off from Whitby Abbey, they journey to Scarborough on foot, sensing the song as they go, learning to sing it, interpreting it in a new way just as thousands of traditional singers have done throughout time. This too is the landscape of Martin Carthy, the 'father of folk' who has made his home along the Yorkshire coast. It was from this legendary singer that Paul Simon first learnt Scarborough Fair, creating a version that came to represent a generation continuing its journey far and wide, weaving its spell in many different guises, never truly being pinned down. Decades on Harpist Claire Jones recorded a version of her own. Arranged by her husband, the composer Chris Marshall, hers is a very personal journey through unexpected illness to recovery. Whilst for Mike Masheder it is a song that brings memories of his wife Sally, who approached the journey of life with love and equanimity. "It can change or stay the same. And the more it changes, the more it stays the same" - Martin Carthy With expert contribution from Sandra Kerr, musician and lecturer at Newcastle University School of Arts and Culture. Producer: Nicola Humphries First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in May 2015
May 05, 2015
First Cut Is the Deepest
1661
Long before it was a worldwide hit for Rod Stewart, the Cat Stevens song 'First Cut is the Deepest' made a name for Ike and Tina Turner's former backing singer, PP Arnold. PP describes the emotional connection she felt to the lyrics, having emerged from an abusive marriage shortly before recording it. The song's original producer, Mike Hurst describes how he achieved the huge 'wall of sound' production using double drums, a huge string section, and a harp instead of a guitar to play the signature riff at the the start of the track. There are many personal stories associated with the track: Carsten Knauff recalls a childhood sweetheart - his first true love - and explains why the Cat Stevens' version brings back bitter-sweet memories for him. Rosemarie Purdy saw PP Arnold give an extraordinary live rendition at a club in Portsmouth in 1967. Never before had she seen such a heartfelt, emotionally charged performance. It's something she's never forgotten. The Sheryl Crow version reminds Rachel Batson of a very difficult phase in her life; it's a song she says reflects her own faith journey. And former Radio Caroline DJ, Keith Hampshire, describes the circumstances that led to him having a No.1 hit with the song in Canada. It was the first time 'First Cut' reached No.1 anywhere in the world. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Karen Gregor First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2015.
Apr 28, 2015
Bach Cello Suite No 1 in G Major
1649
Johann Sebastian Bach's Cello Suite No I in G major is one of the most frequently performed and recognisable solo compositions ever written for cello. Yet it was virtually unknown for almost 200 years until the Catalan cellist, Pablo Casals discovered an edition in a thrift shop in Barcelona. Casals became the first to record it and the suites are now cherished by musicians across the globe. The world renowned cellist, Steven Isserlis describes his relationship with the piece and why it still surprises and excites him. Fellow cellists Richard Jenkinson and Jane Salmon talk about the challenge of playing it and we hear from the Dominic Martens, a member of the National Youth Orchestra and his teacher, Nick Jones as they explore the piece together. Garden designer Julie Moir Messervy, describes how Yo-Yo Ma's recording inspired her to design The Toronto Music Garden and doctor Heidi Kimberly explains why she chose the piece for her wedding and why she believes the suite to have healing powers. While historian and author, Eric Siblin, reveals the extraordinary history of the suites and why some still argue that they was written by Bach's second wife Anna Magdalena. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Lucy Lunt First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2015.
Apr 21, 2015
Hallelujah
1670
Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' took him years to write. It originally had as many as 80 verses. Recorded for his 'Various Positions' album, it was almost ignored when first released in 1984. Only Bob Dylan saw its true worth and would play it live. John Cale eventually recorded a version which was heard by an obscure musician called Jeff Buckley. The song has been covered by hundreds of artists including Rufus Wainwright, K.D.Lang and Alexandra Burke. We hear from those whose relationship with the song is deep and profound: singer Brandi Carlisle listened to it over and over again as a troubled teenager; it became a sound-track to James Talerico falling in love and Jim Kullander made a connection with the song after the death of his wife.
Apr 18, 2015
La Boheme
1659
"La Boheme is a work of genius, for me it's the perfect opera. There's not a bar or a word or anything you'd want to alter. It just gets to you" - Opera Director John Copley CBE. Soul Music ventures back into the Parisian winter of Puccini's beloved 'La Boheme' where legendary Opera Director John Copley CBE reflects on his 40 years of bringing this tale of friendship, love and loss to the stage of London's Royal Opera House. Alongside his memories of sharing pasta with a young Pavarotti we hear the stories from those whose lives have been touched by - and often reflect - the essence of this most popular of operas. From the romantic gesture of a probationary constable serenading his soon to be bus conductress wife in 1950s Torquay to the moment that a devoted husband passed away - La Boheme has touched the lives of opera lovers around the world. Featuring interviews with author Mavis Cheek and opera devotees Ray Tabb and Nancy Rossi. Producer: Nicola Humphries First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2014.
Dec 09, 2014
There Is a Light That Never Goes Out
1650
'There Is a Light That Never Goes Out' by The Smiths is explored through personal stories. Released in 1986 on 'The Queen Is Dead' album, it's become an anthem of hope, loss and love. As a teenager, Andy listened to it with his father, as he drove him to work. They had a moment of connection, and when his father died suddenly a few weeks later, the song took on huge significance. When her young son was ill, Sharon Woolley drew strength from this music as she sat by his bedside in the small hours of the morning. For comic artist Lucy Knisley, the song got her through a bad break-up with her long-term boyfriend - and its meaning changed for her when unexpected events unfolded. Also featuring: Mike Garry Teddy Jameison Mark Gatiss Simon Goddard Producer: Sara Conkey First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2014.
Dec 02, 2014
Gracias a la Vida
1665
Gracias A La Vida - thank you to life - is a song that means a lot to many people around the world. Recorded by artists as diverse as Joan Baez and the magnificent Mercedes Sosa, it reflects the bittersweet nature of life's joys and sadnesses. To the people of Chile where it was written in 1966 by Violetta Parra, it has become an anthem that brings people together in times of trouble. One man tortured and imprisoned under the Pinochet regime in 1973 recalls how playing the song on guitar in prison for other inmates helped keep their spirits and hopes alive under the most brutal circumstances. Australian writer and actor Ailsa Piper recalls being gifted the words to Gracias A La Vida by a fellow walker along one of the holy routes in Spain, and how the song has become a poignant reminder of the fragility of life. Producer: Maggie Ayre. First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November 2014.
Nov 25, 2014
Plaisir d'Amour / Can't Help Falling in Love With You:
1662
Marianne Faithfull recalls the classical French Love song which went on to inspire a 1960s hit record by Elvis Presley. 'Plaisir d'Amour' somehow found its way through 18th century orchestration (Hector Berlioz) and 1960's folk revival, to an unexpected re-invention as Elvis’s 'I Can't' Help Falling in Love with You'. Written in 1784 by Jean-Paul-Égide Martini, the song muses on the pleasures and pains of love and was inspired by a poem in Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian's novel 'Célestine'. For 17 year old Marianne Faithfull it was a song of innocence, recorded in a tiny booth in London’s old Decca studios whilst happily pregnant with her first child. Meanwhile, author Julia Donaldson and husband Malcolm busked it on the streets of Paris. This was in the summer of 1969 and police hid in alleyways, still fearful of students following the 1968 riots. Inspired by Elvis, West Point Military Academy Freshman Andrew Scott learnt to pick the tune on guitar – helping him win the heart of his wife. For Henry and Christine Wallace, it summed everything up "It was what I was looking for, someone to share my life and the words 'take my whole life too was in tune with what I wanted'. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact Producer: Nicola Humphries First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November 2014.
Nov 19, 2014
A Shropshire Lad
1660
"Into my heart an air that kills From yon far country blows: What are those blue remembered hills, What spires, what farms are those? That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain, The happy highways where I went And cannot come again." So wrote the poet AE Housman lamenting the loss of his brother in the Boer war in his epic poem A Shropshire Lad. It harks back to a simple idyllic rural way of life that is forever changed at the end of the 19th century as hundreds of country boys go off to fight and never return. George Butterworth adapted his words to music in 1913 just before the outbreak of the Great War. We hear from those whose lives continue to be touched by the loss of so many young men between 1914 and 1918. Broadcaster Sybil Ruscoe recalls visiting her Great Uncle's grave in a military cemetery in France with Butterworth's Rhapsody as the soundtrack to her journey. A concert at Bromsgrove School in Worcestershire where Housman was a pupil remembers the former schoolboys killed in action, and singer Steve Knightley discusses and performs his adaptation of The Lads In Their Hundreds. The Bishop of Woolwich connects his love of the countryside and Butterworth's music with his father's battered copy of Housman's poems which comforted him while held captive in Singapore during the Second World War. Contributors: James McKelvey Phillip Bowen Tish Farrell Michael Ipgrave Steve Knightley Stephen Johnson Sybil Ruscoe Sam Adamson Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact Producer: Maggie Ayre First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November 2014.
Nov 12, 2014
Adagio in G minor
1651
Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor, is one of the most popular and moving pieces of music. But, as academic and composer Andrew Gant explains, it wasn't written by Albinoni and is now attributed to 20th century Italian composer, Giazotto. Award-winning veteran BBC foreign correspondent, Malcolm Brabant recalls the ' cellist of Sarajevo', Vedran Smailovic, playing it everyday for weeks amidst the wreckage of the beautiful city, as Serbian gunfire raged around. Actress Virginia McKenna explains its importance to her and her late husband, actor Bill Travers, who died in 1994. The piece was played at the beginning and end of his memorial service. And TV producer, Gareth Gwenlan reveals why it was chosen as the theme for the character played by Wendy Craig, in the BBC’s 1970s TV sitcom, Butterflies. Producer: Lucy Lunt First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2014.
Apr 29, 2014
Myfanwy
1670
The hauntingly beautiful Welsh song Myfanwy 'is in the air in Wales' according to singer Cerys Matthews. She along with others discuss what the melodic tale of unrequited love means to them. They include a Welsh woman living in Sicily for whom the song represents 'hiraeth', a longing or homesickness for Wales and another who believes it expresses the 'wounded soul of the Welsh'. A man remembers how his late brother and he used to sing it in pubs in North Wales and how the song symbolises the unrequited love he felt for him. Members of the Ynysowen choir, started after the mining disaster in Aberfan as a way of dealing with the emotion, talk about the song's power, and an ex soldier recalls digging for survivors with lines from it playing in his head "Give me your hand, my sweet Myfanwy". Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Maggie Ayre First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2014.
Apr 22, 2014
Something Inside So Strong
1651
Labi Siffre wrote Something Inside So Strong in 1984. Widely believed to have been inspired by seeing film footage from South Africa, of young blacks being shot at by white policeman, the singer-songwriter now reveals that the lyrics were also informed by the oppression he had experienced as as a gay man. The song has been taken up by individuals and groups around the world who have suffered from discrimination. The Choir With No Name in Birmingham, made up of homeless singers, always close their concerts with the song. Choir members explain why it's so important to them, giving them a sense of pride and dignity. American singer Suede, talks about the power she finds in the song while South African singer, Lira talks about making a special recording of it for the birthday of Nelson Mandela, as it was one of his favourite pieces. Also hear how Celtic football fans sing it as an act of solidarity with their beleaguered manager, Neil Lennon. In his first interview for over a decade, Siffre explains how he still sings the songs as he tries to put his life back together after the death of his partner, Peter. Contributors: Labi Siffre Bill West Peter Churchill Neil Lennon Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact Producer: Lucy Lunt First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2014.
Apr 15, 2014
Crazy
1660
"It's the kind of music that makes you feel like you're just hurting so good" People of different ages reflect on why the pop country classic 'Crazy' made famous by Patsy Cline brings out such strong emotions in them. Featuring a young woman mourning the loss of a father's love after divorce - and broadcaster Fiona Phillips reflects on losing her father to Alzheimer's disease. 87 year old Wayne Rethford met Patsy Cline in 1961 and two years later happened upon the crash site where she died after her plane came down in a heavy storm in Tennessee. "That music becomes embedded in your soul" he says. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact Producer: Maggie Ayre First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2014.
Apr 08, 2014
Rhapsody in Blue
1653
"I'm convinced it's the best thing ever written and recorded in the history of things written and recorded" - Moby. Rhapsody in Blue was premiered on February 12, 1924, in New York's Aeolian Hall. Through its use at the opening of Woody Allen's 'Manhattan' it’s become synonymous with the city that inspired its creation. But for people around the world, George Gershwin's "experiment in modern music" has become imbued with the most personal of memories. LA based screen writer Charles Peacock reflects on how this piece has become entwined with his life and how, on an evening at the Hollywood Bowl this music "healed him". When Adela Galasiu was growing up in communist Romania, Rhapsody in Blue represented "life itself, as seen through the eyes of an optimist". For world speed champion Gina Campbell, the opening of that piece will forever remind her of the roar of the Bluebird's ignition as it flew through the "glass like stillness of the water" and brings back the memories of her father, the legendary Donald Campbell - it was played at his funeral when he was finally laid to rest decades after his fatal record attempt on Coniston Lake. Featuring interviews with Professor of Music Howard Pollock and musician Moby. Producer: Nicola Humphries First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in April 2014.
Apr 01, 2014
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
1649
The story behind the song, 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas'. It was first performed by Judy Garland in the 1944 MGM musical Meet Me In St Louis', for the now famous scene in which she and her seven year old sister, played by Margaret O'Brien are downcast about the prospect of moving away from their beloved home. Garland asked the composer, Hugh Martin to modify his original lyric, explaining it to be too depressing for her to sing, or the audience to hear. Martin's collaborator and friend, John Fricke, explains the importance this song had for the composer and the joy he experienced in hearing it covered by every major artist since, from Frank Sinatra to Chrissie Hynde, Punk band Fear to Cold Play, Rod Stewart to James Taylor. It's clear that the song's enduring power lies in a beautiful melody with a melancholic feel that sums up our emotional ambivalence to the Christmas season. We hear from those who have a special connection to the song. Soul Music is a series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer Lucy Lunt First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2013.
Dec 24, 2013
Brahms' German Requiem
1657
How Brahms' German Requiem has touched and changed people’s lives. It was written as a tribute to his mother and designed to comfort the grieving, Stuart Perkins describes how the piece arrived at the right time in his life, after the death of his aunt. Axel Körner, Professor of Modern History at University College London, explains the genesis of the work and how the deaths of Brahms' friends and family contributed to the emotional power of the piece. Daniel Malis and Danica Buckley recall how the piece enabled them to cope with the trauma of the Boston marathon bombings. Simon Halsey, Chief Conductor of the Berlin Radio Choir, explores how Brahms' experience as a church musician enabled him to distil hundreds of years of musical history into this dramatic choral work. For Imani Mosley, the piece helped her through a traumatic time in hospital. Rosemary Sales sought solace in the physical power of Brahms' music after the death of her son. And June Noble recounts how the piece helped her find her voice and make her peace with her parents. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact Producer: Melvin Rickarby First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2013.
Dec 17, 2013
Can't Take My Eyes Off You
1655
Few songs can claim to be - quite literally - as far reaching as the 1967 classic 'Can't Take My Eyes off You'. In this edition of Radio 4's 'Soul Music', we hear from former astronaut Christopher Ferguson who heard this song as an early morning wake-up call aboard the space shuttle Endeavour. And from mum of two Michelle Noakes who sang this classic piece to the baby she was told she may never be able to carry. We also hear from the honeymoon couple whose marriage proposal began with a hundred strong 'flash mob' performance of this track and from Frankie Valli himself, who reflects on one of the most moving performances he ever gave when he sang 'Can't Take My Eyes off You' to a crowd of recently returned Vietnam Veterans. DJ Mark Radcliff recalls the many artists since Valli that have covered this song (not least his mum as she sang along to the Andy Williams version) and composer Bob Gaudio tells us how this now universally famous piece of music began life in a room over looking Central Park with a melody originally penned for a children's nursery rhyme. Producer: Nicola Humphries.
Dec 12, 2013
Gymnopédie No 1
1643
From the seat of a concert hall piano, Pascal Rogé, one of the world's greatest interpreters of French piano music, leads us through a personal and musical journey of Erik Satie's Gymnopédies. You may not immediately know the title but in hearing just the first few notes you are most likely to know the music. Erik Satie's Gymnopédies are a collection of short, atmospheric pieces of which Gymnopédie No.1 is perhaps the most popular. Music historian and author Mark Prendergast has studied Satie's work and reveals the complex character of the man who revolutionised the 19th century classical music of Europe. Melbourne based artist Colin Duncan reflects on the music's 'physical form which takes you into space and time' and for him inspired a body of work created in braille. Murder Mystery writer Cathy Ace remembers how this meditative music could shut out the noise of the city as she sped around London in her old brown mini, whilst Mathematician and author Ian Stewart explores the mathematics of this special piece and how music can touch our soul. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact Producer: Nicola Humphries First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2013.
Dec 03, 2013
Strange Fruit
1662
"Southern trees bear a strange fruit, blood on the leaves and blood at the root..." Billie Holiday's famous song expresses the horror and anguish of those communities subjected to a campaign of lynching in the American South. Soul Music hears the stories of people whose relatives were lynched by white racists and of the various forms of grief, anger and reconciliation that have followed. These include the cousin of teenager Emmett Till, whose killing in 1955 for whistling at a white woman, added powerful impetus to the civil rights movement. Despite its association with the deep south, the song was actually composed in 1930's New York by a Jewish schoolteacher, Abel Meeropol. Meeropol adopted the children of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg after they were executed in 1953 as Soviet spies. One of those children, Robert, talks of his adopted father's humanity and his belief that the Rosenberg's were killed in a 'state sanctioned lynching by the American government'. For him, Strange Fruit is a comforting reminder of his adopted father's passionate belief in justice and compassion. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Maggie Ayre First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November 2013.
Nov 26, 2013
Elgar's Dream of Gerontius
1657
How the choral work The Dream of Gerontius, by Edward Elgar, has touched and changed people's lives. For Terry Waite, it was the first piece of music he heard as a hostage in the Lebanon, after four years in solitary confinement. Writer and broadcaster Stephen Johnson describes how Elgar's own fragile emotional state is written into the music, which describes the journey taken by a dying man. Singer Catherine Wyn-Rogers explains how Elgar's music helped her come to terms with the loss of her parents. Martin Firth recalls a life-enhancing performance of the piece in Bristol cathedral. Jude Kelly, artistic director of the South Bank Centre, explains how she experienced the choir in this piece as a 'spiritual army' when she performed it at university. Martyn Marsh describes how the music brought him to a realisation about how he would like to end his days. And Robin Self recalls a life-changing performance of this piece, which enabled him to grieve for his son. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Melvin Rickarby First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2013.
Aug 02, 2013
Don't Leave Me This Way
1644
Don't Leave Me This Way was written in the early 1970s by songwriters Huff, Gamble and Gilbert who were the composers behind the famous black American Philadelphia Sound. It was first performed by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, featuring Teddy Pendergrass on lead vocals, and later became a hit for Thelma Houston and The Communards. As the title suggests, the song is all about longing, yearning and loss. Remarkable stories reflect the pain expressed in this soul classic, including one told by Dr Dan Gottlieb, a quadriplegic therapist who befriended Teddy Pendergrass after he became paralysed in a car accident. Sharon Wachsler recalls dancing to the version made famous by The Communards in 1986 before a devastating illness left her housebound and reliant on her beloved service dog Gadget, who gave her a reason to keep going. When he died, the song was the only way she could express her grief over his loss. The Reverend Richard Coles, formerly of The Communards, talks about the significance of Don't Leave Me This Way as a dancefloor anthem for young gay men in the 1980s that was later to become associated with the AIDS epidemic that took so many of their lives. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact Producer: Maggie Ayre First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2013.
Jul 25, 2013
Make Me a Channel of Your Peace
1649
The hymn 'Make Me a Channel of Your Peace' found its way into weddings, funerals and school assemblies and in this week's 'Soul Music' we hear how it has also embedded itself into the hearts of peace campaigners, charity workers and reformed alcoholics. The simplicity of this hymn often belies the challenges at its heart. Its lyrics call for unconditional love and forgiveness in the toughest situations. The words are based on a poem which has often been attributed to St Francis of Assisi. However, Franciscan Historian, Dr Christian Renoux, suggests it was most likely to have been written by an anonymous French noble women. The poem travelled across the globe with translations published during the first and second world wars, subsequently bringing inspiration to public figures ranging from Mother Theresa to President Roosevelt. In 1967 it caught the eye of South African born musician and 'yogi' Sebastian Temple who put these words to its most famous musical arrangement. It's Sebastian's version that was played at Princess Diana's funeral and that has also touched the hearts of millions worldwide. Mathew Neville of children's charity 'World Vision' recalls his encounter with this hymn in the Democratic Republic of Congo, whilst closer to home Wendy and Colin Parry share their memories of this music and the role it played in remembering their son Tim, who was killed in the 1993 Warrington Bombings. In Minnesota former lawyer Mike Donohue reflects on how this hymn has guided him on a journey through alcohol abuse and dementia and Sarah Hershberg remembers her good friend Sebastian Temple, who first played this simple hymn in her front room before it went on to travel the world. First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2013.
Jul 16, 2013
Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez for Guitar
1654
Written by Joaquin Rodrigo in 1939, the Concierto de Aranjuez is a guitar classic. He wrote it amid the chaos of the Spanish Civil War, and in circumstances of poverty and personal tragedy. How has it touched and changed people's lives? The composer's daughter Cecilia Rodrigo explains how the blind composer was inspired by the fountains and gardens of the palace of Aranjuez. Nelício Faria de Sales recounts an unforgettable performance deep inside one of Brazil's largest caves. David B Katague remembers how the piece got him through a difficult period of separation from his family in the Philippines. Guitarist Craig Ogden explains the magic of the piece for a performer, while actor Simon Callow recalls how hearing the piece was a formative experience for him during his schooldays, when it turned rural Berkshire into a piece of Spain. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact Producer: Melvin Rickarby First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2013.
Jul 09, 2013
Lili Marlene
1659
Stories of love, loss and friendship through the Second World War favourite, Lili Marlene. She was made famous by Marlene Dietrich - with songs sung by soldiers on both sides. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact Producer: Maggie Ayre. First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2013.
Jul 03, 2013
Shipbuilding
1653
Written by Elvis Costello and Clive Langer for Robert Wyatt, Shipbuilding was recorded in several versions by Elvis Costello himself, Suede, June Tabor, Hue and Cry, Tamsin Archer and The Unthanks. The blend of subtle lyrics and extraordinary music makes this a political song like no other. It transcends the particular circumstances of its writing: the Falklands War and the decline of British heavy industry, especially ship-building. Clive and Elvis describe how the song was written in 1982 and how legendary jazz trumpeter and flugelhorn player, Chet Baker, came to perform on Costello's version. Philosopher Richard Ashcroft wants the song, which he sees as a kind of secular hymn, played at his funeral because it gives a perfect expression of how he believes we should think about life. Not being able to feel the emotion of the song would, he feels, be like being morally tone-deaf. If you don't like this song, he'd find it hard to be your friend. The song's achingly beautiful final couplet about "diving for pearls" makes former MP Alan Johnson cry. It's also inspired an oral history and migrant integration project in Glasgow. Chris Gourley describes how the participants found a way to overcome their lack of English and communicate through a shared understanding of ship-building practice. Other contributors include Hopi Sen, a political blogger who was an unusually political child, and the Mercury Prize winning folk group The Unthanks. They toured their version to towns with ship-building connections as part of a live performance of a film tracing the history of British ship-building using archive footage. Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact Producer: Natalie Steed First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in March 2013.
Mar 08, 2013
Pergolesi's Stabat Mater
1654
The Stabat Mater's imagines the sufferings of the Virgin Mary at the foot of the cross, and Pergolesi's 18th-century setting remains a choral favourite. Pam Self tells the moving story of how this piece unites her and her friend Helen Vaughan, both during life and after. Soprano Catherine Bott reflects on the piece's themes. The Stabat Mater has been reinterpreted many times over the years: Sasha Lazard recalls singing it in the school choir, before later taking the melody and transforming it into a dance version for her album 'The Myth of Red' rechristening it 'Stabat Mater IXXI' in the wake of the September 11th attacks. Victor Alcantara also sang it as a boy, before returning to the piece as an adult and transforming it into a jazz opus. Composer and Conductor Paul Spicer examines the musical tensions in the piece, likening its opening to "a heartbeat." Professor Anthony DelDonna recalls a performance of the Stabat Mater in his hometown of Naples, and reflects on the moment which reaffirmed his his faith. Producer: Toby Field First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in February 2013.
Feb 26, 2013
She Moved through the Fair
1674
The Irish traditional song She Moved Through The Fair is well loved and well recorded by many. To some it is a ghost story that tells of unfulfilled longings and of hopes and aspirations cut short. Sinead O' Connor and other fans talk about the haunting beauty of this ancient song and of why its imagery is carved into their souls. Featuring: Sinead O'Connor Catriona Crowe Bernie Warren David Johnston. Producer: Maggie Ayre First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in February 2013.
Feb 19, 2013
Beethoven's Fifth Symphony
1654
More than just 'da da da dum': Beethoven's 5th Symphony is this week's Soul Music. It accompanied Sir Robin Knox-Johnston on the regular Bombay to Basra route he sailed during his early days in the Merchant Navy. Archaeologist and crime novelist, Dana Cameron, spent many a long day in a dark, lonely basement analysing artefacts from a merchant's house in Salem, Massachusetts. A CD player was often her only companion and Beethoven's 5th buoyed her through these arduous days working towards her PhD And for conductor, Christopher Gayford, it was the piece which provided a breakthrough in his musical life. Recalling the time he spent rehearsing it with the Sheffield Youth Orchestra - for a tour in East Germany - he describes the build up to one of the most memorable performances of his career. Producer: Karen Gregor First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in February 2013.
Feb 12, 2013
Peggy Lee's Is That All There Is?
1661
‘Is That All There Is?’, a Leiber & Stoller song made famous by Peggy Lee, is based upon a short story by Thomas Mann called 'Disillusionment'. But those who know and love it feel it's inspirational rather than a cynical, world weary musical take on existentialism and the futility of life. ‘Soul Music’ uncovers the compelling individual stories behind our collective love of music. Producer: Maggie Ayre First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in February 2013.
Feb 08, 2013
Bach's St Matthew Passion
1661
Bach's St Matthew Passion was written in 1727 and was probably first performed as part of the Good Friday Service at Thomaskirche in Leipzig. This programme explores ways in which Bach's St Mattew Passion touches and changes people's lives. Guitarist Andrew Schulman describes what happened when he was played this music whilst he was in a coma. James Jacobs talks about the St Matthew Passion providing solace in difficult times during childhood. And singer Emma Kirkby, conductor Paul Spicer and musical historian Simon Heighes explore how the music works and what it's like to perform. Producer: Rosie Boulton. First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2012.
Oct 09, 2012
Brothers in Arms
1671
An exploration into the enduring appeal of the Dire Straits classic, Brothers in Arms. Although thought to have been written by Mark Knopfler in response to the Falklands war in the mid 1980's, it's a piece that people now associate with many other conflicts; military, personal and social. Bass player, John Illsley explains why it remains such a special piece for Dire Straits, while Marines chaplain, Nigel Beardsley, recalls the important part it's played in the lives of so many soldiers in Iran and Afghanistan and why it's now often heard at military funerals. Irish playwright, Sam Millar describes why he based a very personal play around the song and Snuffy Walden, music director of the hit American TV show, The West Wing, talks about how the series writer, Aaron Sorkin insisted on it being used in its entirety during a crucial episode. Professor Alan Moore of Surrey University explains how it's Knopfler's brilliant use of harmony that gives the song the sense of yearning that has made it into one of the most enduring pop songs of the last century. Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Lucy Lunt First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2012.
Oct 08, 2012
The Skye Boat Song
1663
The Skye Boat Song brings back a wealth of childhood memories for many. The words "Speed Bonnie Boat Like a Bird on the Wing" tell the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s escape to the Isle of Skye - dressed as a maid - after defeat at the battle of Culloden. Originally written by Sir Harold Boulton and Anne MacLeod back in the 1870's, we explore the song’s beauty and how it continues to touch people's lives across the world in very different ways. The Queen's Piper, who has played it in happy and sad times, recalls his rendition outside the Queen's window and leading Princess Margaret's cortege. A New Zealand artist shares his memories of time spent with his father, and the sound of him whistling the song on their way home as dusk fell. A sailor from the Isle of Skye, describes his connection with the spirituality of piece and the Loch on which he sails. Acclaimed violinist Tasmin Little shares her own arrangement of the piece and explains why it works so well musically. An Australian mum, tells how important this song has been in connecting with the two girls she has adopted from China. Gaelic singer Maggie MacInnes tells the history of the piece. Featuring music by Julian Lloyd Webber, The Corries and Pete Lashley. Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Rachel Matthews First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2012.
Oct 08, 2012
Beethoven's Violin Concerto
1671
Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D major Opus 61 was written in 1806, but was not a success at its premiere. 200 years on and this Concerto is regarded as one of the greatest pieces ever written for the violin. Beethoven Violin Concerto has touched and shaped people's lives in many ways. Writer Kelly Cherry describes her father loving this piece and still remembering it even when he had Alzheimers. Violinist Robert Gupta talks about this piece being the music which cemented his friendship with Nathaniel Ayers - a moment which changed Robert's life. Joe Quigley remembers hearing the Concerto at a crucial point in his life whilst living in a monastery. Devorina Gamalova recalls being entranced by this music as a child. And violinist Christian Tetzlaff talks about what it's like to play the Beethoven Violin Concerto. Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Rosie Boulton. First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2012.
Oct 08, 2012
Dvorak's New World Symphony
1655
While for many, it will be always associated with brown bread, the Largo from Dvorak's New World Symphony is an enduring a piece that never fails to move and inspire. Anti- apartheid campaigner Albie Sachs explains that through whistling the theme while in solitary confinement, he was able to make contact with the wider world and kept his spirit and hope alive. Margaret Caldicott recalls the important role the piece played in her mother's life while in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer Lucy Lunt First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in June 2012.
Aug 28, 2012
The Hallelujah Chorus
1645
The Hallelujah chorus from Handel's Messiah is stirring, emotional and unmistakable. The Alzheimer's Society runs a group called 'Singing for the Brain'. It's for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s and their carers who come together to sing in a group. As music is tied so closely to emotional memories, often lyrics and music remain firmly fixed in the brain, while other memories have died away. Julia Burton recalls the power of the Hallelujah Chorus, as performed at a special event by Singing for the Brain groups in Wiltshire and Dorset. Mrs Vera Fiton, whose late husband - Ted - had dementia talks about how important the weekly singing group was for both of them. Carol Pemberton, of the Birmingham-based a capella quintet 'Black Voices', took part in the reopening concert of Birmingham Town Hall in 2007. The programme director suggested they sing The Messiah, but not as Handel intended, rather a daring interpretation arranged by Quincy Jones, called the 'Soulful Messiah'. It's a soul/gospel version which has to be heard to be believed! Carol describes performing it as one of the biggest highs of her career to date. Jennifer Blakeley runs Alphabet Photography, a photo company based in Niagara Falls in Canada. She came up with the idea of staging a Flash Mob to promote her company. The Hallelujah Chorus had long been a favourite piece, and she - along with her local choir - set up a flash-mob in a local shopping mall. The result was emotional, extraordinary... and achieved so much more than the intended aim to boost her business. Even passers-by joined in., while others cried as emotions ran high. And the resulting You Tube video has now attracted over 37 million hits. Paul Spicer, composer, conductor and organist, describes the historical backdrop to Handel's exhilarating composition. Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in February 2012.
Feb 28, 2012
Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien
1638
The powerful song, Non, je ne regrette rien was made famous by Edith Piaf. Written in 1960 by Charles Dumont, in a fit of despair, he gave the music to lyricist Michel Vaucaire, but was surprised by the words he wrote. Dumont thought the song should be about war or revolution. Vaucaire explained he wanted to give the song to Edith Piaf. She was living in Paris at the time, having recently finished her 'suicide tour' during which she had collapsed. At that time, Piaf didn't think much of Charles Dumont and tried to cancel their appointment. But on hearing the song, Piaf told Dumont that with this song, she would sing again. Contributors include: * Charles Dumont who lives in Paris at the same apartment, with the same piano on which he wrote the song in 1960. He plays the song on the very same piano. * Lord Lamont, who became associated with the song when asked by a reporter which he regretted most - talking about the 'green shoots of recovery' or allegedly singing in the bath after the withdrawal of Britain from the Exchange Rate Mechanism. Lamont famously replied 'Je ne regrette rien.' * Christine Bovill, who tours a one-woman show about Piaf's life. * Carolyn Birke, biographer of Piaf. Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in February 2012.
Feb 21, 2012
Rachmaninov, 2nd Piano Concerto
1653
Rachmaninov's 2nd Piano Concerto - famously featured in David Lean's film "Brief Encounter" - is one of the world's most popular pieces of classical music. Some of its fans describe the way in which it has touched and shaped their lives. Featuring a pianist from Taiwan whose memories of a repressive childhood were dispelled by the emotions contained within this music. Plus a story from an acclaimed pianist from Argentina who was told she would never play the piano again after a serious car accident, but who has recently performed this piece in New York. And finally an account of the place that this piece of passionate and heartfelt music played in the life of John Peel and his family, told by his wife Sheila Ravenscroft. The concerto is also given historical and musical context by pianists Peter Donohoe and Howard Shelley. Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Rosie Boulton. First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in February 2012.
Feb 14, 2012
Gresford, the Miners' Hymn
1666
An exploration of the haunting melancholy of Gresford, the Miners' Hymn. Written by a former miner, Robert Saint, to commemorate the Gresford pit disaster in 1934, it has been played at mining events ever since. George Leslie Lister wrote the words in 1970. With the thoughts of Albert Rowlands who was working in the lamp-room of Gresford colliery when there was a devastating underground explosion. His father was among the men lost. Plus the composer's grandson, David Saint, organist at St. Chad's Cathedral in Birmingham. And Cecil Peacock, a former miner who recalls playing Gresford at the funerals of 83 miners who died following the Easington Colliery disaster in 1951. With thanks to Trevor Sutherland and the Llay Welfare band. Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal Producer: Karen Gregor First broadcast on Radio 4 in February 2012.
Feb 07, 2012
Baker Street
1680
Baker Street is Gerry Rafferty's glorious and instantly recognisable hit. It’s arguably the most popular track from his widely respected musical legacy. (Gerry sadly died aged just 63 in 2011) His daughter Martha Rafferty recalls hearing him develop the melody in the attic of their Glasgow home. His inspiration for the lyrics came from a book by Colin Wilson about the sense of disconnection from the world that artists often feel. Featuring: Musician and founder member of Stealer's Wheel, Rab Noakes. Singer-songwriter, Betsy Cook Poet, Ian McMillan Busker, Gavin Randle Guitarist, Hugh Burns Music featured: An acoustic version of Baker Street is played especially for Soul Music by the Hugh Burns. The original demo of Baker Street, on which Gerry Rafferty plays the famous sax solo on guitar. Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Karen Gregor (whose first decision when starting work on this programme was to NOT mention the urban myth about Bob Holness and the saxophone riff!) First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2012
Jan 31, 2012
Let's Face the Music and Dance
1664
Irving Berlin’s enduring classic, Let's Face the Music and Dance is celebrated by those for whom it has a special significance. Written in 1932 as a dance number for the film ‘Follow the Fleet’ starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, it's since taken on a life of its own, being recorded by hundreds of artists including Diane Krall, Shirley Bassey, Frank Sinatra, Vera Lynn, Ella Fitzgerald and Matt Munroe. For Sir John Mortimer's widow, Penny, it conjures up the very essence of her husband, who loved life, romance and dancing - even though he was no Fred Astaire, a fact he always deeply regretted. Lawrence Bergreen, Berlin's biographer and academic Morris Dickstein explain why this song has such a unique place in popular culture. Cabaret singer and composer, Kit Hesketh Harvey explains why the melody continues to haunt us. We hear from the bride and groom who decided to dance down the aisle to it after their wedding and the redundant welder for whom the song will be forever associated with the demise of our ship building industry. An insurance executive recalls how the song became central to their advertising campaign, bringing success to the firm and also placing Nat King Cole's version back in the charts nearly 60 years after it was written. Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Lucy Lunt First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2011.
Sep 13, 2011
Dear Lord and Father of Mankind
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The words of one of our most loved hymns, Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, were taken from the last six verses of John Greenleaf Whittier's poem, The Brewing of Soma, an attack on ostentatious and overt religious practise. But it wasn't until over 50 years later, that a school teacher at Repton in Derbyshire had the inspiration to pair it with a tune by Sir Hubert Parry, thus confirming it as a favourite for assemblies, funerals and weddings. Repton’s former music director, John Bowley, explains how this happened, while composer and conductor Bob Chilcott explains why this was a musical marriage made in heaven. We hear from those for whom the hymn has special significance, including Gloucester MP, Richard Graham; when briefly imprisoned in a Libyan gaol in 1978 he found enormous comfort in the words and tune. Pipe Major Ross Munro remembers recording the piece in the sweltering heat of Basra with members of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and film director Joe Wright recalls how the inclusion of this hymn was central to the power of his famous scene depicting the evacuation of Dunkirk in his film, Atonement. Contributors: John Bowley Richard Graham Ian Bradley Bob Chilcott Joan Lambley Ross Munro Richard Hoyes Joe Wright Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Lucy Lunt First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2011.
Sep 06, 2011
Spiegel im Spiegel
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Exploring the impact that Estonian composer Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel has had on people's lives. Written in 1978, just prior to his departure from Estonia, Arvo’s piece for piano and violin is musically minimal, yet produces a serene tranquillity. It's in F major in 6/4 time, with the piano playing rising crotchet triads and the violin playing slow scales, alternately rising and falling, of increasing length, which all end on the note A. The score of the piece looks deceptively simple, but as violinist, Tasmin Little explains, it's one of the most difficult pieces to perform because the playing has to simply be perfect, or the mood is lost. "Spiegel im Spiegel" in German literally can mean both "mirror in the mirror" as well as "mirrors in the mirror", referring to the infinity of images produced by parallel plane mirrors. The music inspired visual artist Mary Husted to produce a set of collages called "Spiegel im Spiegel" which in a roundabout way, led to her being traced by her long lost son. Contributors: Doreen Macfarlane Rhona Smith Mary Husted Tasmin Little Vicky Smith Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Rosie Boulton First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in August 2011.
Aug 30, 2011
Wichita Lineman
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Witchita Lineman is the ultimate country/pop crossover track - written by Jimmy Webb for the Country star Glen Campbell. Released in 1968, it tells the story of a lonely lineman in the American Midwest, travelling vast distances to mend power and telephone lines. It's been covered many times, but Glen’s version remains the best loved and most played. Johnny Cash also recorded an extraordinary and very raw version. Peter Lewry, a lifelong Cash fan, describes how it came about. David Crary is a lineman from Oklahoma, who recalls his reaction to the first time he heard the song. Meggean Ward's father was a lineman in Rhode Island. As a child she always felt it was written for him. Glen Campbell is also interviewed. Shortly after it was recorded, he went public about his diagnosis of Alzheimer's. His contribution is brief, but it includes an acoustic performance of the song. It was a privilege to record ‘down the line’. Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Karen Gregor. First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in August 2011.
Aug 23, 2011
Mendelssohn's Octet
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An exploration of the impact that Mendelssohn's Octet has had on different people's lives, demonstrating the healing power of music in a variety of situations around the world. Felix Mendelssohn wrote his Octet for double string quartet in 1825 aged just 16. Despite his youth, this is a mature and brilliant piece of music described by our interviewees as "carnivalesque", "a romp", "a party". Choreographer Bill T Jones describes the way in which the Octet showed his company how to keep living during the onslaught of AIDS in the 1980's. Cellist Raphael and violinist Elizabeth Wallfisch talk about falling in love whilst learning this music in the 1970's. South Korean Lisa Kim tells a story about going on tour with the New York Philharmonic to North Korea and her intense fear and mistrust being replaced by wonder when they played the Octet with a North Korean Quartet. And Matthew Trusler describes the importance of playing this work after the death of his son. The featured recording of the Mendelssohn Octet by the Emerson String Quartet on Deutsche Gramophon. Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Rosie Boulton First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in August 2011.
Aug 16, 2011
Mahler's Adagietto
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Gustav Mahler wrote his 5th Symphony during the summers of 1901 and 1902. The Adagietto is the 4th movement which is thought to have been inspired by falling in love with Alma who he married around this time. This single movement is the composer’s most well-known piece of music. It was famously used in the 1971 Luchino Visconti film Death in Venice. It was also conducted by Leonard Bernstein at the mass at St Patrick's Cathedral, New York on the day of the burial of Robert Kennedy. Composer David Matthews explains the significance of this piece in Mahler's output. Psychoanalyst Anthony Cantle describes listening to it with his mother during her last days of dementia. Malcolm Reid tells how this piece signified a change in himself as a young man in the British police force with narrow, racist views, to hearing it in Australia and shifting to becoming a liberal. And Helen Epstein explains why it was played at her mother's funeral. Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Rosie Boulton First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in March 2011.
Mar 29, 2011
Schubert's Winterreise
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Winterreise was written the year before Franz Schubert's death aged just 31, these 24 songs based on poems by Wilhelm Müller describe a journey that takes us ever deeper into the frozen landscape of the soul. Singers Thomas Hampson, Mark Padmore, Alice Coote and David Pisaro describe the experience of immersing themselves in this music. And Bernard Keefe tells of the time he sang these songs in Hiroshima to survivors of the bomb. Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Rosie Boulton First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in March 2011.
Mar 22, 2011
The Impossible Dream
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In this series that explores those pieces of music that never fail to move us, this week we feature, 'The Impossible Dream', a song that talks of the resilience of the human spirit. It tells the story of a quest and it's had a surprising journey of it's own. It was originally composed for the 1965 musical The Man of La Mancha which was inspired by Miguel de Cervantes story of Don Quixote. The music was written by Mitch Leigh and the lyrics by Joe Darion. Now in his 80's Leigh explains how his first writing partner was WH Auden and talks about why this particular piece struck a chord with African American friends at that time. Generations on, international Soprano Lesley Garrett recalls how this song inspired her childhood dreams in Doncaster, Yachtsman of the Year Geoff Holt talks about how this song carried him across the Atlantic on one of the most important voyages of his life and former advertising executive Rob Chew explains how this piece is helping him face lifes biggest challenge. Contributors: Geoff Holt Rob Chew Mitch Leigh Stuart Pedlar Lesley Garrett Producer: Nicola Humphries First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2011.
Mar 15, 2011
Simple Gifts
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Simple Gifts started life as a Shaker Hymn and became incorporated into the hymn Lord of the Dance and Aaron Copland's ballet suite Appalachian Spring. Nora Guthrie describes the central place this tune has played throughout her life. Pete Lashley tells how he heard it unexpectedly whilst touring in New Zealand. Michael Carter explains why his father chose this tune for his famous hymn "Lord of the Dance" and Scott Malchus describes running a marathon whilst listening to this music. Featuring: Thomas Swain Michael Carter Nora Guthrie Scott Malchus Pete Lashley Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Rosie Boulton First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in August 2011.
Mar 08, 2011
Mozart's Clarinet Quintet
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Mozart's Clarinet Quintet was written in 1789, two years before the composer’s death. The first ever work for string quartet plus clarinet remains a firm favourite for music lovers around the world. Professor Paul Robertson describes how his wife played this piece to him whilst he lay in a coma. Clarinettist Peter Furniss tells of the solace the slow movement provided his mother as she lay dying. And Alex Smith explains the importance of this piece in his work to help children with autism, Asperger's, dyslexia and other childhood disorders. Featuring: Paul Robertson Peter Furniss Alex Smith John Playfair David Campbell Robin Batteau Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Rosie Boulton First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in March 2011.
Mar 01, 2011
The Emperor
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Beethoven's fifth and final piano concerto, The Emperor is majestic and moving in equal measure. Richard McMahon plays extracts and discusses the virtuosic it demands. Australian film producer, Hal McElroy, talks about using the Adagio (the second movement) to illustrate the classic 1970s film Picnic at Hanging Rock. That was where Andrew Law – who was Chaplain at Malvern College - first heard the piece. He describes the Adagio as being 'one of those pieces of art which it is worth being alive to have heard'. Concert pianist, James Rhodes, describes how The Emperor was central to his childhood and his developing love of Beethoven's piano music. Music teacher and singer, Prue Hawthorne, recalls how her father (an amateur clarinetist) labouriously transcribed by hand the horn and clarinet sections of the first movement so they could play along with the record in their living room. Also contributing is the renowned Beethoven biographer, John Suchet. Concert pianist Richard McMahon has now retired as a teacher at the Royal Welsh School of Music and Drama. Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Karen Gregor First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in October 2010.
Oct 05, 2010
How Great Thou Art
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An examination of the enduring popularity of the hymn, How Great Thou Art. Based on a Swedish poem by Carl Gustav Boberg, it was written by the British missionary Stuart Hine in 1949. It subsequently become an Elvis Presley classic and as the country and western star , Connie Smith explains, it's the piece she always sings to close her show, the stirring lyrics and soaring melody having the ability to move and inspire audiences of all ages and backgrounds. At the age of 101, George Beverly Shea shares his clear memories of singing it at hundreds of Billy Graham crusades. Featuring: Bud Boberg Ray Bodkin Bev Shea Jerry Schilling Malcolm Imhoff David Darg Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Lucy Lunt First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2010.
Sep 28, 2010
Faure Requiem
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"He wanted it to be something that's consoling and helpful. It's the end of their lives where they can rest in peace." World renowned choral conductor Sir David Willcocks, shares his personal reflections on the Faure Requiem alongside those for whom the music has comforted and inspired. Known for its peaceful and hopeful nature the Faure Requiem has been called 'The lullaby of death'. Whilst Gabriel Faure himself never spoke directly about what inspired his interpretation of the Requiem, author and biographer Jessica Duchen has speculated that it may have been born out of his experience as a soldier during the Franco-Prussian war. Featuring personal stories of conflict and deliverance shared from across the decades. Reaching from the beaches of Normandy to the plains of Afghanistan and into the skies of Salisbury. Faure composed the first version of the work, which he called "un petit Requiem" with five movements, of which the Pie Jesu and In Paradisum have become arguably the most popular. "Everything I managed to entertain by way of religious illusion I put into my Requiem, which moreover is dominated from beginning to end by a very human feeling of faith in eternal rest." Featuring: David Willcocks Jessica Duchen Christina Schmid Paul Hawkins Ross Mallock Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Nicola Humphries First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2010.
Sep 21, 2010
Ma Vlast
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At the core of Czech cultural identity Bedrich Smetana’s Ma Vlast. Written in the late 19th century, it's a series of six symphonic poems. For a western audience the most popular and best loved is Vltava, a soundscape conjuring up vivid images of the river which runs through Prague. Jan Kaplan is a Czech born film-maker who has lived in the UK since 1968. He describes the 'educational concerts' he had to attend as a young boy when - bored to tears - he would endure long performances of Smetana's music. However, as an adult living in exile, his experience of Czech culture was tinged with a remote sense of patriotism and he grew to appreciate his national composer. When - following the 1989 Velvet revolution - he was eventually able to return home, he witnessed one of the most famous and moving performances of Ma Vlast at Smetana Hall in 1990. Also at that concert was musicologist, Professor Jan Smaczny, who describes his memories of that evening, and explains the history and mythology portrayed in Ma Vlast. Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Karen Gregor. First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2010.
Sep 14, 2010
Send in the Clowns
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Stephen Sondheim's song, Send In the Clowns, from the musical 'A Little Night Music' was written late in rehearsals for the actress Glynis Johns, playing the part of Desiree. A song of regret and anger, the part has famously been played by Judi Dench, and the song became an independent hit, sung by Judy Collins, Shirley Bassey and Barbra Streisand. Hannah Waddingham played the youngest ever Desiree in Trevor Nunn's production, and used her memories of an unhappy relationship to inspire her performance. Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Sara Conkey. First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2010.
Sep 07, 2010
Bach's Goldberg Variations
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Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Bach wrote his Goldberg Variations for harpsichord in the 1740s, but today it's performed by pianists all over the world. People describe the place these pieces have in their lives, including a neuroscientist from New York, pianist Angela Hewitt, a father driving his family through the night in the Australian Outback, and a woman from Oregon whose life was transformed, perhaps even saved, by this music. Produced by Sarah Conkey First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2010.
Mar 23, 2010
He's Got the Whole World in His Hands
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Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. He's Got the Whole World in His Hands is a spiritual song originating in the United States, but it first caught the public's attention when Laurie London took it to the top of the charts in 1958. In this programme, people describe the place that the song has in their lives. Including the conductor of a choir for refugees and asylum seekers and the minister who led prayers on President Obama's first day in office. The programme also includes a performance from Washington Performing Arts Society's Children of the Gospel Choir. They sang an arrangement of He's Got the Whole World in His Hands made by their conductor and Artistic Director Stanley J Thurston at the National Prayer Service at the Washington National Cathedral on January 21, 2009. President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden and their families attended this service and the sermon was given by the Reverend Sharon E Watkins. Contributors: John Copley Ian Bradley Amy Mclean Philip Wright Sharon Watkins Mike McGrother First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2010.
Mar 16, 2010
Dido's Lament
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Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Dido's Lament is a popular name for a famous aria, 'When I am laid in earth', from the opera Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell, with the libretto by Nahum Tate. Mezzo soprano Sarah Connolly talks about why she finds the piece, sung by the likes of Janet Baker and Emma Kirkby, so extraordinary, and the skill it takes to perform it. Composer and cellist Philip Shepperd's musical life was transformed when he was part of the rock singer Jeff Buckley's performance of the piece at the 1995 Meltdown Festival. Contributors: Alison Moyet Sarah Connolly Jeremy summerly Graham Jones Sheryl Sarnet Nicholas Witchell Philip Sheppard First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2010.
Mar 09, 2010
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
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Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. When Mendelssohn wrote his Violin Concerto in 1844 he could hardly have imagined how famous and well loved it would become. In this programme, people tell how it has played an important part in their lives. Violinist Daniel Hope tells how he got caught practising this concerto secretly locked in the bathroom at school. Harry Atterbury remembers hearing the Mendelssohn for the first time on the night before a Second world War air raid which turned his life upside down. Composer Stephen Pratt describes discovering that his father had played this concerto to cheer fellow soldiers in the jungle in Burma, and explains how this inspired him to write his own violin concerto. To find out more about Stephen Pratt's Violin Concerto, go to: http://www.liverpoolphil.com./1132/rlpo-recordings/stephen-pratt-lovebytes.html The recording of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto featured in this programme was by violinist Maxim Vengerov with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra conducted by Kurt Masur. Teldec 4509-90875-2. First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2010.
Mar 02, 2010
Praise My Soul
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Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Based on Psalm 103, this hymn was written by Henry Francis Lyte, who also penned Abide With Me, and is most asssociated with the tune by John Goss - even though the two men never met. Their hymn has become one of the most popular for weddings, and was used at those of the Queen and Prince Philip and Charles and Camilla. Increasingly it is also used at funerals, and the widow of DC Stephen Oake, killed while on duty during an anti-terrorist raid, explains why it's so important to her and her family. It's also the perfect tune for teaching young choristers to sight read music, although these days they often misplace the comma in the line, 'Father like, he tends and spares us'. Contributors John Ridyard Lesley Jenkins Ian Bradley Gordon Giles Daniel Hyde Rob White John Ganjavi Gillian Warson First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2010.
Feb 23, 2010
Richard Strauss' Four Last Songs
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Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Richard Strauss was 84 when he completed his last work. It was the Four Last Songs, which, although about death, convey a sense of calm acceptance. It was written of its time in 1948, but it still touches the hearts of many listeners today. As the soprano voice delves ever deeper into the richness of the music, interviewees tell how the Four Last Songs have brought calm and beauty at key moments in their lives. Contributors Alan Yentob Michael Kennedy Gillian Weir Margaret Nelson Jamie Nichols Gabe Meline First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2009.
Sep 29, 2009
You've Got a Friend
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Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Written by Carole King and made famous by James Taylor, You've Got a Friend won a Grammy Award in 1971. In this programme people tell how this song has affected their life. Contributors Carole King Nick Barraclough Marcella Erskine Estelle Williams Karen Garner James Taylor First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2009.
Sep 22, 2009
Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme, by Thomas Tallis
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Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis When Vaughan Williams wrote his Tallis Fantasia in 1910, he changed the course of British music. Here at last was a piece of music which was no longer under the Teutonic influence, but which drew on old English hymn tunes and folk idioms for its themes. As the string music builds to a climax, interviewees tell how this music has brought solace and hope in times of tragedy and changed the course of their lives. When composers Herbert Howells and Ivor Gurney heard the premiere of Vaughan Williams' Tallis Fantasia in Gloucester Cathedral in 1910, it's said that they walked the streets of Gloucester all night because of the sheer excitement of possibility that this new piece had awakened in them. This programme tells how the beauty and richness of Vaughan Williams' Tallis Fantasia awakened a life long love of classical music in a nine year old boy at bedtime; how it served as comfort for an artist in despair and how it brought solace to a grieving father Contributors: Michael Kennedy Ian Clarke EM Marshall Rolf Jordan Peter Phillips Harry Atterbury Colin Wood Producer: Rosie Boulton First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2009.
Sep 15, 2009
The Look of Love
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Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Hal David discusses writing The Look of Love with Burt Bacharach, for the soundtrack of the spoof 1967 James Bond film Casino Royale. This classic track, sung by Dusty Springfield, provided the musical backdrop for a love scene between Peter Sellers and Ursula Andress. Dusty Springfield's former backing singer, Simon Bell, remembers being on stage at the Albert Hall when Dusty laughed her way through a performance of the song, and musician Jonathan Cohen describes how the samba rhythm underscoring Dusty's smooth vocals combine to make this an enduringly popular love song. It has been covered many times by artists including Isaac Hayes, Gladys Knight and the French singer Mirielle Mathieu. This programme hears from people whose personal memories of love and loss are forever linked with The Look of Love. Contributors: Sue Clarke Wally Welling Simon Bell Trevor Foster Jonathan Cohen Hal David First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2010.
Sep 08, 2009
Allegri's Miserere
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Allegri wrote the chord sequence for his Miserere in the 1630s for use in the Sistine Chapel during Holy Week. It then went through the hands of a 12-year-old Mozart, Mendelssohn and Liszt until it finally reached England in the early 20th century and got fixed into the version we know today. The soaring soprano line that hits the famous top C and never fails to thrill has become a firm favourite for concert audiences around the world. Textile designer Kaffe Fassett, writer Sarah Manguso and conductor Roy Goodman explain how they have all been deeply affected by this beautiful piece of music. With Peter Phillips. Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Rosie Boulton First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2009.
Sep 01, 2009
What a Wonderful World
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Louis Armstrong recorded the classic 'What a Wonderful World' in 1967 amidst civil rights demonstrations and protests against the Vietnam War. It was a song written for him. Was it naive or a powerful anthem for peace? Featuring: Prof Peter Ling Laurence Bergreen Simon Weston Katie Melua Troy Andrews Milan Bertosa Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Sara Conkey First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in October 2008.
Oct 14, 2008
Chopin's Ballade No 1 in G Minor
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Chopin's Ballade clearly tells a story, and yet that story differs for each person who hears or plays it. Pianist Peter Donohoe heads a cast of people whose lives have been shaped and changed by hearing and playing this technically demanding, emotionally turbulent piece of music. Featuring: Peter Donohoe Pete Rosskamm Edi Bilimoria Richard Bielecki Andrew Armstrong Dr Jay B. Hess Joshua Wright Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Rosie Boulton First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in October 2008.
Oct 07, 2008
So What
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On 2nd March 1959, Miles Davis and his sextet began recording a new album: "Kind of Blue". The first track was "So What" and the album became the best selling Jazz album of all time. This programme tells the stories of people whose lives have been changed by this piece of music. Featuring: Clemency Burton-Hill Jonathan Eno Estelle Kokot Ashley Kahn Dr Richard Niles Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. Producer: Rosa Boulton First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2008.
Sep 30, 2008
Swan Lake
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Series exploring famous pieces of music and their emotional appeal. 1/4. Swan Lake The story behind Tchaikovsky's ballet and the impact it has had on those who have heard and danced to it.
Sep 23, 2008
Spem in Alium
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Thomas Tallis's work is one of the most elaborate and spectacular pieces of choral music ever written. Scored for 40 voices, the piece is best sung and heard in the round in order to appreciate an extraordinary sonic experience. Choral conductor Simon Halsey and Michael Morpurgo discuss the music's spine-tingling effect on both performers and listeners. Featuring: Graeme Fife John Davies Clive Stafford-Smith Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producers: Rosie Boulton & Melvin Rickarby First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2008.
Jan 29, 2008
Tainted Love
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Originally a Motown song written by Ed Cobb and recorded by Gloria Jones, Tainted Love became famous on the UK's Northern Soul scene in the late 1970s. It was heard by Marc Almond and Dave Ball who later became Soft Cell, and recorded a classic version. Featuring: Mark Ravenhill Peter Christopherson Ray Harris Russ Winstanley Alan King Dave Ball Mike Thorne Danny McNamara Nev Fountain Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. Producer: Sara Conkey First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2008.
Jan 22, 2008
Finlandia
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Jean Sibelius's glorious orchestral work was adopted by the Finnish people as a symbol of its fight for independence from Russia, and well over 100 years later it is still regarded as Finland's second national anthem. Its popularity is international, both in orchestral form and also in shorter form as the Finlandia Hymn. Featuring Sibelius's great-grandson Jaakko Ilves and conductor John Storgards. Series about music that makes the hairs stand up on the back of our necks. Producer: Karen Gregor First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2008.
Jan 15, 2008
New York, New York
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Andrew Collins and Mark Shenton present the story behind the classic song New York, New York. Songwriting duo John Kander and Fred Ebb wrote the title song for the film. Unfortunately, the star Robert de Niro didn't like it, so they furiously wrote another one. John Kander talks about the story behind the classic song. Featuring: Lorrena Turner Michael Freedland Huw Madoc-Jones Terry Bennett Alun Howells Gareth Valentine John Kander Patrick Sasso Rosemary Watts Series about music that makes the hairs stand up on the back of our necks. Producer: Sara Conkey First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 2008.
Jan 08, 2008