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Milton's Music

Clarinettist and Cambridge University English literature graduate Emma Johnson analyses the influence of John Milton senior on his famous poet son.

In one of his early Latin poems John Milton junior wrote, 'Apollo, wishing to disperse himself between the two, gave to me certain gifts, to my father others, and father and son, we possess each one half of the god'. This programme fills in the other half of that Godly image by exploring the musical gifts of John Milton senior. The musicologist and performer Richard Rastall has unearthed and recorded many of the elder Milton's pieces including choral, viol consort and song settings. He shows what he has discovered and what it sounds like in specially reconstructed recordings of works that even scholars are unfamiliar with.

As well as revealing John Milton the composer, the programme examines the life of the man and his relationship with his son. Although a gifted musician, John Milton was not able to live on the earnings from his compositions alone. A scrivener by trade, he managed to free himself from the Scriveners' Company in 1599 and was subsequently able to afford a private tutor for his son and then provide for him when he took a place at St Paul's School and Christ's College, Cambridge.

Emma also talks to Milton scholars and the early music group Fretwork, as they prepare and record John Milton's instrument works.

Release date:

30 minutes

Last on

Tue 9 Feb 2010 13:30