Rethink music with The Listening Service. Tom Service presents a journey of imagination and insight, exploring how music works
How to listen to... Arvo Pärt
Tom Service lifts the lid on the music of the most popular living composer - Arvo Pärt. Nominated for 11 Grammy awards and revered by Björk, P.J Harvey, and Radiohead, as well as classical musicians around the world, his seemingly simple and spiritual music is loved by millions. Born in Estonia in 1935 he did military service in the Soviet Army, worked as a radio producer, and wrote music for films, documentaries and animations, before creating his unique style of composition ‘tintinnabulation’.
But what exactly is tintinnabulation? What do you get when you cross mathematics with love? And how can strict rules and discipline ultimately mean freedom?
Our witnesses are violinist Viktoria Mullova who has recorded many of Pärt’s seminal works, and theologian Dr Peter Bouteneff who has researched his music’s connections with his Orthodox faith.
Producer: Ruth Thomson
Fiddles and Fiddle Tunes
What’s the difference between a fiddle and a violin?
How did an English jig turn into a Virginian reel?
And what do Bach’s violin sonatas have in common with folk tunes from Finland?
In The Listening Service today Tom Service explores fiddles, fiddlers, and fiddle tunes from around the globe, looking at how they connect communities, reflecting the stories of migrants and musicians across time, and staying true to tradition whilst continually changing. And how have classical composers incorporated fiddle tunes into their work? From Max Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy, based on tunes found in a library in Munich, to Aaron Copland’s Rodeo Hoe-Down, an orchestral transformation of the Kentucky fiddler Bill Stepp’s tune Bonaparte’s Retreat.
Our witnesses today are Pete Cooper, who learnt classical violin as a teenager before discovering busking and ending up fiddling in West Virginia, and Lori Watson whose music and research draw on the landscapes and folklore of the Scottish Borders where she grew up.
Producer: Ruth Thomson
Themes and Variations
Tom Service explores the endless potential of musical variations on a theme. On the one hand it's the simplest of all musical ideas - take a basic tune and play around with it - and yet on the other, it's a deeply profound reflection of life, as small sequences of musical DNA provide the building blocks for structures of ever increasing complexity.
Money Makes the Music Go Round
What have the Pet Shop Boys and Prokofiev got in common? How can you sing about not wanting money at the same time as making it? What does it feel like to burn a million pounds? Tom Service explores how our transactional economy underpins centuries of music making from Notre-Dame’s patronage of the polyphonic Perotin, to Beethoven writing a symphony for £100 and Wagner losing over a million on the premiere of his operatic masterpiece The Ring cycle.
Our Listening Service witness today is macroeconomist, fund manager and sometime cellist Felix Martin, who has written the unauthorised biography of money.
Producer: Ruth Thomson
How to listen to... Gilbert and Sullivan
Tom Service immerses himself in the topsy-turvy world of Gilbert and Sullivan, and finds things are seldom what they seem...
With Derek Clark of Scottish Opera and pianist and composer Richard Sisson.
Playing Second Fiddle (and Horn and Trumpet...)
What's it like to play second fiddle in an orchestra? Or to sit beside the first horn or trumpet as they garner the limelight with their flashy solos and are stood up for a bow by the conductor at the end of the concert? Are orchestral seconds a tribe of self-effacing, embittered Eeyore-ish wannabees, or does it involve a set of skills and a personality just as musically vital as their more lauded colleagues?
Tom Service seeks answers with the help of London Symphony Orchestra principal second violin David Alberman, second trumpet with English National Opera and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields Will O'Sullivan and the Berlin Philharmonic's second horn, Sarah Willis.
David Papp (producer)
Best talk out there about classical music. All the one star reviews are about not being able to download. So counterproductive. I listen on BBC3. I wasn’t able for many months to download through Podcast app. But now I can. Try again you all. Solved the rights issues, it seems. So smart, entertaining.
Truly a unique podcast, my only qualm is that it's only available to listen when a new episode is aired! Otherwise I get the same error message that others have noted.
SOMEONE FIX IT
FIX IT FIX IT FIX IT FIX IT
Great podcast, can never get it to download