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A look ahead to WW1 - Music on the Brink

Producer, R3 Multiplatform

From 6 to 11 January 2014, Radio 3 steps into the cultural ferment of Europe at the outset of 1914, as the world teetered unknowingly on the edge of war. As part of World War I on the BBC, Radio 3’s WW1- Music on the Brink relives the music of five capitals about to undergo a shock.

The week-long exploration captures the mood of January 1914, through concert halls, cafes, theatres and opera houses, when conductors and soloists toured the globe and crossed European borders on a regular basis and modernist experiments in music, art and literature were already present. Seven months later, in the summer of 1914, this world would end.

Each day, Radio 3 programmes will focus on a different city, beginning on Monday with Vienna and taking in Paris, Berlin and St. Petersburg before heading to London. As these capitals embarked on a calamitous year, how did they stand on the brink of war?

You’ll be able to hear concerts of music from the period, talks and discussions, including actor Jonathan Pryce reading daily dramatised postcards of musical life in January 1914, and novelists William Boyd and AS Byatt discussing the art and literature of 1914. In Tune will be coming live from the Imperial War Museum North in Salford; BBC Correspondents will report on the legacy of 1914 in the European capitals today, and Pat Barker, author of the Regeneration Trilogy will appear on Private Passions.

In the run-up to January 6, we’ll be bringing together music and discussions in a special WW1 – Music on the Brink Collection. By way of preview, here are two short videos which will give a flavour of the Collection, and the week …

First, here’s Charles Emmerson, historian and author of 1913 – the World before the Great War, who will be the guest on Essential Classics from Monday 6 January.

Charles Emmerson, author of '1913', looks ahead to Essential Classics' January WW1 week.

And here’s Dr Kate Kennedy of Girton College, Cambridge, who is scripting one of the In Tune postcards and talks about music in London before the start of WW1.

Dr Kate Kennedy previews her postcard of musical London in 1913, for In Tune (10 Jan).

You can visit the Collection here.

And here are Galleries of period photos from the five featured European capitals.

The BBC's WW1 Portal page is here, bringing together all of the BBC's speical content across all networks.

The Collection will continue to grow in the coming weeks – it will be accessible from the Radio 3 home page from New Year's Day and we’ll also be updating it here, along with more news and content from WW1-Music on the Brink.

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  • Comment number 3. Posted by SuchFriends

    on 4 Jan 2014 10:39

    Looking forward to this and all the centenaries to be commemorated this year. I will be posting blogs about what the writers and artists in salons--in Dublin, Bloomsbury, Paris and Manhattan--were doing 100 years ago at www.suchfriends.wordpress.com. Watch this space!

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  • Comment number 2. Posted by roys

    on 29 Dec 2013 17:05

    Looking forward to this. I recently read a biography on Wilfred Owen, the war poet, by Dominic Hibbard which covered the pre war period plus the war and what a fascinating read it was !

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  • Comment number 1. Posted by Charlie

    on 21 Dec 2013 11:14

    I remember doing the causes of the First World War for History (GCSE), Graeme, and I got thoroughly confused. Perhaps Music on the Brink will help explain what was really going on! Are we heading for the Third World War in 2014, Graeme?

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