Radio 3’s Composer Of The Week turns 70

It is a huge privilege to present a programme with such a rich history - I feel incredibly lucky to be presenting Composer Of The Week as I genuinely think it is one of the best jobs in broadcasting. It’s terrific that the listeners get a chance to participate in the 70th birthday celebrations...”Donald Macleod
Date: 02.08.2013     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 17.52
Category: Radio 3
BBC Radio 3’s Composer of the Week, originally launched during the middle of the Second World War on 2 August 1943, is to celebrate its 70th anniversary this year. It is one of the longest running programmes in radio history.
  • At 70 years old, the programme is one of radio’s longest running shows
  • Public to be asked to suggest a composer not previously featured, which Donald Macleod and the team will select for a Christmas special
  • A series of live BBC National Orchestra of Wales shows to close anniversary year in 2014

On Friday 2 August 2013, as BBC Radio 3’s Composer of the Week celebrates its 70th anniversary, presenter Donald Macleod will mark the occasion by, for the first time in the programme’s history, inviting listeners to suggest composers that have never before been featured.

Donald and the production team will then pick their favourite submission and make a special Composer Of The Week to be broadcast this Christmas 2013 (16–20 December). Listeners will be able to suggest names via email, post and social media.

The programme also plans to go on the road with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, for a series of live editions of the programme in July 2014 to mark the closing of the 70th anniversary year.

The programme initially began as ‘This Week’s Composer’ on the Home Service on 2 August 1943, where the first ever week was devoted to the music of Mozart, and presented by a staff BBC announcer. In 1964, ‘This Week’s Composer’ moved to a new home, on the ‘Third Programme’, which would eventually become the BBC Radio 3 we know today. On 18 January 1988, the programme was re-branded ‘Composer Of The Week’, exploring a composer Monday to Friday 1200-1300, plus a podcast compilation every Friday.

Roger Wright, Controller, BBC Radio 3 & Director, BBC Proms says: “It is a thrill to have one of BBC Radio’s longest running programmes celebrating 70 years on air. Composer of the Week is one of our most loved programmes and it continues to delight with its descriptions of the life and work of composers who have inspired generations of listeners."

Donald Macleod became the new regular presenter for the programme in 1999, with a brief to put the life-story of each composer at the heart of the programme, alongside their music. Donald remains at the helm today and has written the script for over 3,000 shows, never missing a single one in his 14 years presenting the programme.

Donald Macleod says: “It is a huge privilege to present a programme with such a rich history - I feel incredibly lucky to be presenting Composer Of The Week as I genuinely think it is one of the best jobs in broadcasting. It’s terrific that the listeners get a chance to participate in the 70th birthday celebrations - over the years I have had many suggestions put to me, so who knows what they will suggest but I’m looking forward to learning about somebody new.”

During the anniversary week of the show (29 July–2 August), Donald will explore the work and life of the prototypically Romantic composer, Robert Schumann. Largely self-taught, Schumann drew his inspiration as much from literature and the dramas of his own life as from the music of the composers he revered – Bach, Beethoven and Schubert. Schumann immersed himself in one musical medium until he felt ready to move on and tackle another, so throughout the week the programmes look, in turn, at his five major fields of compositional activity: solo piano; song; chamber music; music drama; and music for orchestra.

A full list of all the composers who have appeared will feature on the BBC website bbc.co.uk/radio3/composeroftheweek. Listeners can send in their Composer Of The Week suggestions either by email: composeroftheweek@bbc.co.uk, by post to this address: Composer of the Week, BBC Wales, Cardiff, CF5 2YQ, or tweet us at @bbcradio3 using the hashtag #COTW70

Notes to Editors

BBC Radio 3 is the home of classical music. The station also broadcasts a wide range of cultural programming including jazz, world music, arts and over 25 new drama programmes a year. BBC Radio 3 features more live classical music programming than any other station and is the home of the BBC Proms, broadcasting every Prom live and over 600 complete concerts a year. The station is also the most significant commissioner of new musical works in the world and is committed to supporting new talent, composers, writers and new young performers through schemes such as New Generation Artists and New Generation Thinkers.

EH