116. Uneasy listening. Scary music for modern times: Bartók, Music for strings, percussion and celesta

I’m no fan of horror films – too scary for me – but, in any case, nothing really scares us more than the thoughts in our heads! I do love scary music though and Béla Bartók wrote the best. Music for strings, percussion and celesta is unusual, gripping, terrifying and thrilling. It’s also brilliant at clearing my mind of any ‘unneccessary’ thinking. Listening time, 40 mins.… Listen

115. A superstar symphony, but not a miracle: Haydn, Symphony No.96

n Haydn came to London he was treated like a superstar: wined and dined by the great and good, and his concerts were the hottest ticket in town. The ‘Miracle’ Symphony, no.96, was Haydn’s first written for Londoners and is designed to win us over with its charms. Music to put a smile on our faces and a spring in our step! Listening time c32 (music 22′, podcast 10′)… Listen

110. Shakespeare, Tchaikovsky, and how great art knows no borders. Tchaikovsky, The Tempest

Shakespeare reaches people across the world with his insights into our shared humanity and his plays have inspired countless composers to write music – providing their own way for us to connect to Shakespeare, each other and ourselves. Tchaikovsky’s The Tempest overture gives us a torrential storm, a big love theme that beats Romeo & Juliet, and one of the most atmospheric, goose-bump-inducing beginning and end to any piece of music. And almost no one knows it at all! Listening time 33 mins… Listen

108. A short break for bread and Beethoven

We’ve all got pieces of music that instantly remind us of special times and places in our lives. What are yours I wonder? (Tell me!) We’re in Sri Lanka at the moment and, bizarrely, the piece of music we’ve heard more than any other in the last few months has been Beethoven’s perfect little piano piece, Für Elise, but perhaps not as we’re used to hearing it… Here’s the story of why, and how it’s in the ears of everyone Sri Lanka. (Listening time 8 mins: podcast 5′, music 3′)… Listen

107. Made in America: Florence Price, Symphony No.1

Individual, passionate, soulful music rooted in the southern states, Florence Price’s Symphony No.1 was the first by a black woman composer to be played by a major US orchestra back in the 1930s. A Moment of History, but those ‘twin handicaps’ [her words] meant that her music has hardly been played since and we’ve been missing out on great music from a distinctive voice – it’s time to put that right! (Listening time 47 mins: podcast 8′, music 39′)… Listen