109. When personal pain becomes universal: Shostakovich String Quartet No.8

How is it that when an artist shares their pain we can all feel it? And how does listening to music full of suffering make us feel better? I don’t know how or why, but I know that it does. Dmitri Shostakovich knew all about war, loss, and suffering. His 8th string quartet is desperate but defiant and deeply moving, bleak but often beautiful and whilst it doesn’t provide any answers it somehow gives consolation to us all. Listening time 28 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

98. Searching for answers and getting Marmite: Bruckner, Symphony no.3

It’s inexplicable to me, but Anton Bruckner’s music has been dividing opinion since he started writing it 140 or so years ago. He goes in search of the meaning of life and comes back with… Marmite! Personally, I love it. There are few better noises than the transcendental climax of a Bruckner symphony. In this episode, it’s the thrilling end of his 3rd. (Listening time 20 mins)… Listen

88. Funeral for a friend: Heinrich Schütz, Funeral Music

Asked to write funeral music for his friend and patron during the middle of a war, with millions dying all around plus a shortage of musicians, Heinrich Schütz finds hope, beauty and joy among the devastation. His Musikalische Exequien (Funeral Music) is a 400-year old masterpiece that still works its magic. 39 mins (Podcast 11′, music 28′)… Listen