211 episodes

Exploring different aspects of history, science, philosophy and the arts.

The Radio 3 Documentary BBC Radio 3

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.5 • 47 Ratings

Exploring different aspects of history, science, philosophy and the arts.

    Sunday Feature: The Ancient Algorithm

    Sunday Feature: The Ancient Algorithm

    Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough delves into the history of runes, the ancient alphabet of Northern Europe. Travelling to Orkney, she learns how and why these spiky letters were used.

    • 43 min
    Sunday Feature:The Emergency

    Sunday Feature:The Emergency

    Regan Hutchins tells the story of how dancers, spies, writers and artists brought a welcome burst of creativity to neutral Dublin during World War II.

    • 44 min
    Sunday Feature: Florence Price’s Chicago and the Black Female Fellowship

    Sunday Feature: Florence Price’s Chicago and the Black Female Fellowship

    The remarkable female musicians and activists who helped Florence Price's music to thrive

    • 43 min
    Sunday Feature: Nixon in China

    Sunday Feature: Nixon in China

    Director Daniel Kramer explores John Adams' opera Nixon in China on the 50th anniversary of the President's state visit in a feature combining art, reportage, music and politics.

    • 43 min
    Tchaikovsky's Island of Inspiration

    Tchaikovsky's Island of Inspiration

    If it hadn’t been for Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s love of jam, he may never have completed his first large-scale work. After graduating from the Conservatory of St Petersburg, the 26-year-old started composing his first symphony, ‘Winter Daydreams’, but quickly ran out of steam.

    “No other work cost him such effort and suffering… its composition was fraught with difficulty,” recalled his younger brother Modest.

    A school friend came to the rescue. The poet, Aleksey Apukhtin, suggested a visit to the monastery island of Valaam in Lake Ladoga near St Petersburg for some fresh ideas. Tchaikovsky refused but was lured on board a ship by the promise of delicious jam from the buffet. The trip inspired the symphony’s second movement ‘Gloomy Land, Misty Land’ with its haunting oboe that seems to echo over the Ladoga waters like a hymn.

    Founded in the 14th century, Valaam was a northern outpost of the Eastern Orthodox Church against pagans. Tchaikovsky was deeply entranced by its ancient monastery’s unique a cappella style of singing called Znamenny Chant. Throughout his life he was at once immensely drawn to church services and at the same time tormented by contradictions in his faith. His search for inner peace is reflected in his Liturgy of St John Chrysostom and the All-Night Vigil.

    This Sunday Feature interweaves Tchaikovsky’s music with Apukhtin’s poem, A Year in a Monastery as well as the composer's letters. Just like Tchaikovsky, Lucy Ash ends up staying on Valaam for longer than expected due to a ferocious autumn storm on Europe’s biggest lake. There she meets Brother Maxim, a young monk and a former import trader, and Father David, the head of a remote skete, or settlement of Orthodox monks, who happens to be a professionally trained jazz musician.

    Producer Tatyana Movshevich

    • 46 min
    Then there was Light - Stockhausen and LICHT, his opera cycle based on the seven days of the week

    Then there was Light - Stockhausen and LICHT, his opera cycle based on the seven days of the week

    LICHT, the vast opera cycle composed by Karlheinz Stockhausen between 1977 and 2004 is an enigma, and composer and broadcaster Robert Worby goes on a personal journey to find out why it divides critics and audiences.

    Stockhausen was the most gifted composer of the post-war European avant-garde. In the 1950s, his early works - including some of the first electronic music created - confirmed his genius.

    But LICHT wasn't so warmly received.

    In LICHT Stockhausen wrote an opera cycle for the new millennium, bewildering in scale, and frequently baffling for audiences, but containing music as challenging as anything that he'd written.

    The seven operas, each named after a day of the week, total more than 28 hours. It took Stockhausen 26 years to compose them, and amazingly its musical architecture derives from a three minute 'Super-formula' inspired on a trip to Japan.

    Robert Worby speaks with Stockhausen’s family, life partners, critics, scholars and interpreters, who candidly put this extraordinary achievement in the context of his life and work.

    Producer Andrew Carter - A Radio Cumbria Production for BBC Radio 3

    Photo - Rolando Paolo Guerzoni - Stockhausen May 2003 Teatro Comunale di Modena.

    • 43 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
47 Ratings

47 Ratings

PineGroveCharlie ,

Consistently Interesting

I can wholeheartedly recommend this podcast. The episodes are of a very high quality and offer both much interest but also post listen a sense of having been immersed in a valuable learning opportunity. Thanks

British-Postman ,

Enjoyable

Quite an enjoyable podcast - I was assuming that radio 3 would be exclusively about classical music but there are many unrelated (often historical) documentaries that are well put together and interesting.

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