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
Punchy, gut-churning and wow-inducing: Miserere by Scottish composer James MacMillan reflects deep religious faith and 1000 years of church music tradition, with music to move all of us, regardless of belief. (Listening time 16 mins)… Listen
Sometimes the best things happen by accident! Allegri’s ‘Miserere’ is famously beautiful, ethereal and transports us out of ourselves – or maybe deeper within. But the ‘best bit’, when one of the singers soars high above the others, wasn’t actually composed at all – could it be music’s greatest mistake? How did it happen…? (Listening time 20 mins: podcast 8′, Music 10-12′)… 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
What’s in a name? Not much it seems. An ‘Intermezzo’ is often a short piece that breaks up something bigger… but Brahms used it as his go to name for any short piano pieces where nothing else came to mind! In any case, these three Intermezzos for solo piano from late in Brahms’s life are beautiful, wistful, dreamy and give us a perfect break from whatever you’ve got going on… Like all Brahms pieces they’re musically perfect too. [21′]… Listen