The intensity, joy, heartbreak and thrills of great sporting moments are almost unmatchable… except by those in great music. The magic of the Olympics is transformed by the alchemist John Williams into four minutes of musical, life-affirming perfection. Olympic Fanfare and Theme is one of my favourite Williams pieces, and that’s really saying something! (Listening time 11′)… Listen
Why is Beethoven – perhaps – the greatest composer of them all? One thing he does is expand everything – the volume goes up to 11 and down to almost nothing. Also, he cared deeply, about music and humanity. In his Coriolan Overture he makes us care about an obscure Roman general intent on [self-]destruction… and it’s fab. (14 mins)… Listen
I’m always a bit surprised to find myself humming bits of Ma Vlast – My Country by one of the Czech’s favourite sons. I guess I must really love it!
Feared by the Nazis, loved by the Czechs, this is the acceptable face of nationalism, and its full of great tunes and causes deep satisfaction.
Listening time 32mins
Delicate, sparkling and perhaps surprisingly touching, here are three short diversions from the various trials of modern life – written 300 years ago by Couperin and brilliantly rewritten in 2006 by Thomas Adès who takes delight in the sound of music. Listening time 20mins… Listen
Great music to mark the US Presidential hand-over! Raucous fun alongside the deep and meaningful, Three Places in New England is challenging, confusing, complex, silly and surprising music that leaves me baffled but smiling and moved too! A hundred years old but way ahead of its time from one of America’s first great composers, Charles Ives. Listening time 28mins.… Listen