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MUSICAL CAPITALS Haydn’s Vienna was a very different place from the cosmopolitan city Brahms fell in love with a century later. During the Enlightenment, Paris offered Rameau the ideal arena in which to present his scientific theories of music, while in the first decades of the twentieth century it became an irresistible magnet for artists from all over the world, offering them new freedom and opportunities to collaborate. From the popular ferment of Handel’s London to the nascent nationalism of nineteenth-century Prague, this series examines the ideas and cultural politics behind the artistic lives of these great cities, and how they helped shape the music composed within their bounds.Click on the thumbnails for more info
COMPOSERS ON COMPOSERS Enriching dialogues between composers cross time and continents and haunt every line of Western music. Bach walked almost 250 miles to hear the great Buxtehude improvise. Mozart memorized and transcribed Allegri’s Miserere after one hearing at the Sistine Chapel. Brahms said of his mighty predecessor Beethoven, ‘You can’t have any idea what it’s like always to hear such a giant marching behind you.’ Schumann saw Bach as his ‘daily bread’, while for Shostakovich Mussorgsky’s music was ‘an entire academy’ in which to immerse himself. This series explores how composers love and loathe their predecessors, borrow and reject their ideas, and find new paths amid time-honoured traditions.Click on the thumbnails for more info
GREAT MUSES The muses of Greek mythology are variously associated with literature and music, and have often been invoked by writers and musicians to ‘sing through’ them. But what do we mean by a muse today? Is it the poet whose words inspire sounds, the singer or player who inspires new technical feats or the far-sighted patron who ensures a creative spark reaches its fruition? Music history is peopled with mysterious female figures whose names are woven into the scores of composers from Brahms to Elgar, Berg to Shostakovich. Some were passive objects of desire, while others, such as Clara Schumann, Alma Mahler and Misia Godebska, were musicians in their own right. This series investigates these fascinating creative relationships.Click on the thumbnails for more info.
WORDS OF MUSIC An elusive violin melody thought to have been inspired by Saint-Saëns’s First Violin Sonata winds its way through Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu, just one of many instances where music and literature illuminate one another. While E.M. Forster’s indelibly comic description of a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony lights up Howard’s End, Tolstoy’s devastating novella The Kreutzer Sonata created a shadowy new aspect to Beethoven’s violin sonata, dramatised by Janáček in his coruscating string quartet. From the literary obsessions of the young Schumann to contemporary poet Ruth Padel’s responses to Haydn and Beethoven, this series explores poetic kinships through chamber music.Click on the thumbnails for more info
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