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30 minutes
First broadcast:
Friday 29 January 2010

Matthew Bannister presents the obituary series, analysing and celebrating the life stories of people who have recently died. The lives of JD Salinger, Lord Richardson and Earl Wild.


    American author who has died aged 91

    Jerome David Salinger known to his friends as “Jerry” was the reclusive author of the 20th-century classic The Catcher in the Rye whose hero Holden Caulfield spoke for rebellious youth. First published in 1951, the book went on to sell sixty million copies. But its author was deeply uncomfortable with the success it brought. He retired to a rural compound in Cornish, New Hampshire and cut himself off from public life. He published a couple of novellas and some short stories but the last of these appeared in 1965. Since then, he is reported to have carried on writing, but none of it left his home.

    Matthew speaks to Christopher Bigsby, Professor of American Studies at the University of East Anglia and to Professor Bill Philips who teaches screenwriting at Dartmouth College and regularly bumped into Salinger near his home.

    We end the programme with a newly commissioned piece of writing in which American writer and cartoonist Peter Blegvad imagines how Holden Caulfield might have said farewell to his creator JD Salinger.

    Born 1 January 1919; died 27 January 2010.


    Former Governor of the Bank of England who has died aged 94

    Gordon Richardson was Governor of the Bank of England during a decade of great economic upheaval. He took up the post in 1973 and almost immediately faced a banking crisis, followed by the threat of hyperinflation and the collapse of the Labour government’s economic policy. He was still in post when Margaret Thatcher came to power, and played a key role in the international debt crisis of 1982. A year later, on his retirement from the Bank, he was created a life peer, taking the title Lord Richardson of Duntisbourne after the village in Gloucestershire where he lived.

    We hear from the former Conservative Chancellors Lords Lawson and Howe and from Sir David Walker who worked with Gordon Richardson at the Bank of England.

    Born 25 November 1915; died 22 January 2010.


    American piano virtuoso who has died aged 94

    Earl Wild was the virtuoso American pianist who could trace his musical lineage back to Liszt. Known for his dazzling technique and fondness for the great Romantic concertos, Earl Wild started his career working for the broadcaster NBC. In fact he was the first American pianist to appear on television, playing Mendelssohn and Ravel. He was also a composer and arranger in his own right, and at one time created musical parodies for the comedian Sid Caesar. But from 1969, he was exclusively a concert performer and made hundreds of recordings of a wide range of works.

    Matthew speaks to one of the leading authorities on piano performance Bryce Morrison, and to Jeremy Nicholas who has been editing Earl Wild’s memoirs.

    Born 26 November 1915; died 23 January 2010



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    Last Word

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