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45 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 01 November 2008

Tom Service is joined by three leading figures from the American music scene to assess the possible impact of 2008's presidential elections on musical life in the US.

Plus author John Tilbury talking about his controversial biography of composer Cornelius Cardew, and a conversation with Leon Fleisher, hailed as one of the great pianists of the 1950s and 60s and who was forced into early retirement by repetitive strain injury.

  • US Elections

    With the Presidential election only days away, Music Matters looks at what the effects of an Obama or McCain presidency would be on the arts. America’s funding situation is totally different from ours – about one per cent comes from federal sources, like the National Endowment for the Arts, and the bulk of the rest from private donations, eligible for tax deductions. But both sources are vulnerable at the moment, in the current economic downturn. Tom Service is joined by Karen Stone, ex-General Director of the Dallas Opera, Greg Sandow, composer and critic, and on the phone from Washington, Dana Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, to try and predict what the future may hold for music in America post November 4th.

  • Leon Fleisher

    Virtuoso pianist Leon Fleisher has experienced success and tragedy in equal measure during his long career. In the mid 60s, at the height of his career, he noticed a numbness and loss of feeling in his right hand. Eventually, he couldn’t use the hand at all, effectively ending his career. After years of soul-searching, Fleisher devoted himself to the repertoire for the left hand as well as conducting and teaching. And after decades of experimental therapies, Fleisher, at the age of 80, is back with both hands on the keyboard. He talks to Tom about his remarkable career, and how the message of classical music is still as necessary as ever in today’s world.

    Leon Fleisher performs at The Royal Academy of Music on 14th November 2008
  • Music in Prisons

    Music in Prisons is an organisation that has changed the lives of prisoners across the country. Tom visits HMP Wandsworth in London, where he meets two inmates who have participated in a project to create and perform a set of songs in just a few days of intensive work. The effects of their experience have had a profound affect on their lives. Tom talks to those involved in advising and inspecting prisons about how important this work is in rehabilitating prisoners – and if it should be a permanent part of prison life.

    Music in Prisons
  • Cornelius Cardew

    Cornelius Cardew was a composer devoted to direct political action. He died in a hit-and-run incident in 1981. His last years were spent writing songs and piano pieces explicitly in service of the ideals of Maoism – a transformation from his early years as an avant-garde composer, working as Stockhausen’s assistant in the late 50s, and writing works that created new notations. Pianist John Tilbury has been working on Cardew’s biography for 25 years, and he’s finally finished it: 1100 pages that cover Cardew’s life, music, and politics. Tom talks to Tilbury about telling the story of his friend and creative inspiration, and finds out from composers Steve Beresford and Michael Finnissy if his book is the final word on Cardew’s music.

    Cornelius Cardew (1936 - 1981) a life unfinished by John Tilbury, published by Copula, an imprint of Matchless Recordings and Publishing.

    Hard back edition: £45.00, paperback edition: £30.00

    Matchless Recordings and Publishing


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