Roger Wright introduces The Spirit of Schubert.
Franz Schubert (1797-1828) Radio 3 Controller Roger Wright reflects on the network's forthcoming focus on the music of Schubert.
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Radio 3 Controller Roger Wright reflects on the network's forthcoming focus on the music of Schubert.
There is an important role that BBC Radio 3 plays that is often overlooked, and that is its function as a catalyst for ideas - at the very least, moulding agendas rather than following them.
However it can also have the powerful effect of leading debate and developing tastes amongst our audience and opinion formers. You can feel this happen at the Proms - look at the recent surge of interest in Havergal Brian and Parry, or in musicals and the work of the John Wilson Orchestra.
But you can also see it in our special festivals such as Free Thinking and our composer seasons. In our 'time-poor' world, the opportunity for Radio 3 to single out huge creative figures for special attention and bring them and their work to a wider audience is really appreciated by our audiences. When one season is over the ideas pile in for suggestions for the next composer to be gjven the full treatment. It is, I suppose, an extension of our Composer of the Week principle - if you only have time to think about one composer this week, let us recommend x or y.
Since we announced last weekend that our next major composer focus (at the end of March) will be Schubert, the discussion has begun. Roger Scruton has suggested that we need Schubert now more than ever - 'no writer of music is more relevant to us' he wrote. There is also lots of discussion about the business of finishing works left unfinished by artists. Brian Newbould has bravely agreed to our commission to complete a symphony left unfinished by Schubert - just one part of our extensive season, 'The Spirit of Schubert'.
Already our Breakfast and Essential Classics programmes have been providing mouth-watering tasters of Schubert to come. Breakfast has an important role in providing pointers to what is coming up on the station and I am delighted that our new morning schedule has proved such a hit, according to the listening figures just released. There has been an increase by more than 25% in the Breakfast slot and our average listening is up by more than an hour a week.
Of course this is only one quarter's figures, but encouraging nonetheless as we prepare to fall under the spell of Schubert.