145 episodes

Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact

Soul Music BBC Radio 4

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.7 • 211 Ratings

Series about pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact

    Into My Arms by Nick Cave

    Into My Arms by Nick Cave

    "I don't believe in an interventionist God" has to be one of the most original opening lines to a song. It's one that resonates with the people in this programme who take comfort from Nick Cave's love song. Els from Belgium was introduced to Cave's music through her partner Guido and Into My Arms became their song. After Guido died in a road accident Els carried on going to concerts and took great comfort from hearing that song. When she later wrote to Nick Cave's blog The Red Hand Files to tell him her story about Into My Arms she was overwhelmed when Nick Cave responded.
    The Reverend John Walker feels a strong connection to the song as it's one his musician son Jonny performed just for him one evening on a rainy street in Leeds City Centre as Jonny was about to pack up and leave his busking spot. That special father-son moment has become even more cherished since Jonny's untimely death in 2018.
    Many different artists have recorded their versions of Into My Arms including the Norwegian singer Ane Brun who performed it as a way of dealing with the heartache of a lost relationship.


    Producer: Maggie Ayre

    • 27 min
    Chervona Kalyna

    Chervona Kalyna

    Powerful stories linked to this beautiful and stirring Ukrainian folk song which inspired Pink Floyd to reform so they could release their own version, 'Hey Hey Rise Up', alongside Andriy Khlyvnyuk of Boombox.

    Chervona Kalyna is a clarion call with roots stretching back to 17th century Cossack history; as meaningful now as then, this episode of Soul Music reflects how music can be a unifying force in the most dangerous and difficult of times.

    Anti-Russian, it was banned prior to Ukrainian independence in 1991 with one of its lyrics calling to 'free our brothers Ukrainian from Muscovites shackles'. Its full title 'Oi u luzi chervona kalyna' translates as 'Oh the red viburnum in the meadow': red viburnum is a common plant in Ukraine and in the song it's a metaphor for the country itself.

    Telling their stories on Soul Music: Taras Ratushnyy, journalist turned soldier, discusses his beloved son, Roman, and the heroic role he played in Ukrainian society both before after the war began.

    Elizaveta Izmalkova is a young Ukrainian singer who now lives in Lithuania. She performed Chervona Kalyna as part of a flash-mob co-organised by Egle Plytnikaite who describes why she and other Lithuanians wanted to demonstrate their support for Ukraine.

    Nadia Morykvas wrote a book about the cultural polymath, Stepan Charnetskyi, who - in the early 20th century - adapted Chervona Kalyna for one of his plays. (Volodymyr Oleyko translates for Nadia Morykvas).

    Andrij Halushka is a Ukrainian who now lives in London. He describes how his family history, down multiple generations, connects with the song.

    Julia and Kateryna came to England under the 'Homes for Ukraine' scheme when the war began. Under the name 'Dvi Doli' they raise money for Ukraine by staging concerts where they perform traditional songs on the Bandura.

    Taras Filenko is a pianist and ethno-musicologist. Originally from Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine, he now lives in Pennsylvania, USA. He discusses the musicology of the song, and recalls a neighbour from his childhood who was imprisoned for performing Chervona Kalyna in the 1940s.

    Myroslava Hartmond is a British-Ukrainian cultural diplomacy expert. She explains how the current popularity of Chervona Kalyna began when Andriy Khlyvnyuk, the lead singer of Boombox, recorded an a capella version in the centre of Kyiv. This inspired Pink Floyd to collaborate with Khlyvnyuk and release their own version.

    Please scroll down to the 'Related Links' box on the Radio 4 Soul Music webpage for further information about some of the interviewees and the different versions of the song used in the programme. The programme image is of Taras and Roman Ratushnyy.


    Producer for BBC Audio in Bristol: Karen Gregor

    • 27 min
    Bruch's Violin Concerto

    Bruch's Violin Concerto

    A Violin Concerto in G minor, Opus 26, became the best-known work of the German composer Max Bruch. Originally written in 1866 it went through many revisions before finally being completed in 1867. It was performed extensively but having sold both the publishing and the manuscript Bruch died in relative obscurity in 1920. The Concerto would continue to be played around the world and the second movement in particular, the Adagio, became a much-loved favourite.

    Journalist Claire Read describes how much her Mother loved the piece after Claire learned and performed it in school, and how she would listen to it whilst being treated for cancer.

    Ukrainian violinist Kostia Lukyniuk recalls playing it with an orchestra in his home town aged 11, and how music still gives him strength as he plays for those battered by the Russian invasion of his home country.

    The second movement brings back fond memories for Archers actor June Spencer who listened to it with her husband and their friends on a veranda in Minorca.

    Leader of the Welsh National Opera David Adams was inspired to take-up the violin after listening to a recording of David Oistrakh playing this piece, and later performed it at the Fishguard Festival. It was a favourite of his Mum's and that recording was played at her funeral.

    The Carnegie Hall was the setting for violinist Shlomo Mintz's most treasured performance and he describes how it feels to play those soaring melodies.

    Curator Robinson McClellan at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York explains how the manuscript of this concerto made its way from Germany to the USA, and why this work would later become a source of resentment for this 'establishment' composer.

    Studio Manager: Ilse Lademann
    Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Toby Field.

    • 27 min
    Ne Me Quitte Pas

    Ne Me Quitte Pas

    Ne Me Quitte Pas is a song about begging someone not to go; of promising the world to them, if they'll only stay. From Haiti to New York, Provence to Glasgow... in versions by Nina Simone, Dusty Springfield and Scott Walker... we hear stories of what Jacques Brel's song has meant to people around the world.

    With contributions from France Brel, Johane Celestin, Alastair Campbell, Brendan McGeever, Peter Hawkins and Malaika Kegode.

    Produced by Mair Bosworth for BBC Audio

    • 27 min
    Purple Rain

    Purple Rain

    "I never meant to cause you any sorrow,
    I never meant to cause you any pain..."

    True stories of what Prince's epic ballad means to different people around the world, from the very first jam in 1983 to the global hit that reigns over us today.

    Bobby Z, the drummer from Prince and The Revolution, remembers the buzz of the first ever performance of Purple Rain, and how the recording from that night lives on. Susan Rogers, Prince's recording engineer, tells stories from the Purple Rain tour, when the crew took bets on how long Prince's guitar solos would last. Comedian Sindhu Vee first heard the song as a teenager growing up in India and was knocked sideways by it. Weather reporter Judith Ralston describes the beautiful and rare weather phenomenon of purple rain. Social historian Zaheer Ali sees the song as a cry out for change, bringing audiences from different backgrounds together in cross-genre harmony. And finally, an intensive care hospital nurse played Purple Rain to Kevin Clarke while he was in a coma, because his sister knew he loved the song and hoped it might pull him through.

    Produced by Becky Ripley

    • 27 min
    Young Hearts Run Free by Candi Staton

    Young Hearts Run Free by Candi Staton

    Candi Staton and others celebrate this 1970's disco classic which delivers an optimistic message.

    Written by David Crawford and released in 1976 this is the kind of song that feels like a carefree celebration, something to lose yourself in on the dancefloor. But its story isn't quite so simple. As Candi tells Soul Music, Young Hearts Run Free was influenced by her own troubled and abusive relationship which she struggled to leave. In fact the creation of the song helped her gain the confidence to finally walk away.

    Other contributors are:

    Singer songwriter, Glen Hansard. He performs the song 'as' his mother because it reminds him so much of what the song meant to her.

    Ziggi Battles , a singer who chose to cover the song as a way of rejoicing in the role it played in recovering from a very difficult time.

    Jason Gilkison, the Creative Director of Strictly Come Dancing. It will forever remind him of the first time he choreographed a group dance for Strictly at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom. His grandfather had danced there himself as a young man, before establishing the first dance school in Perth, Australia, which is where Jason developed his own love of ballroom dancing.

    Neil Brand, composer and broadcaster, analyses why the piece works musically. He also describes the pure joy of a version by Kym Mazelle and - unlikely as it seems - the actor and opera singer, Paul Sorvino. It was used as the soundtrack to the ballroom scene in Baz Luhrmann's film of Romeo and Juliet.



    Versions used: Candi Staton; Glen Hansard; Maz O'Connor; Ziggi Battles; Gloria Estefan; Kym Mazelle; Kym Mazelle (Ballroom Version) with Paul Sorvino

    Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Karen Gregor

    • 27 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
211 Ratings

211 Ratings

Beady333 ,

Hope for More

I love this podcast so much. This podcast gives me joy and comfort. I have learned lot about music that I did not know before. Thank you! Now more episodes please!

jomabj ,

Soul music

Please. More episodes

NotoriousMLE ,

More Please!

I found this gem of a podcast a year ago and binged all the episodes I could find here and on the BBC website. I only wish more episodes would be posted on a regular basis. The stories behind the creation of the songs, the impact they’ve had on others, and social context bring me so much joy at a time I really need it. Thank you! Hope to hear more new episodes

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