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Cecil Balmond

Structural engineer Cecil Balmond, deputy chairman of Ove Arup, has collaborated with some of the world's leading architects and artists on some of the most daring and celebrated contemporary projects. A frequent collaborator, Anish Kapoor, describes him as 'the world's greatest engineer', and he has worked with Kapoor on the 2002 Tate Modern installation Marsyas, the Tees Valley Giants, and on the 155m-high ArcelorMittal Orbit for the 2012 London Olympics. He has also partnered the Japanese architect Toyo Ito on the 2002 Serpentine Pavilion. In 2006 Balmond made his own debut as an architect, designing a footbridge in Coimbra, Portugal.

His musical tastes, as discussed with Michael Berkeley, reveal fascinating links between his own work and music. He expounds on the idea of architecture as 'frozen music', especially in the music of Bach, represented here by movements from the Cello Suite No.1 in G. His mother was a piano teacher, and he was brought up with the music of Chopin, his chosen example today being the Fantaisie-Impromptu No.4 in C sharp minor, played by Artur Rubinstein. He himself plays classical guitar, and was introduced to John Williams while at university, so another of his choices is Paganini's Grand Sonata in A major, played by Williams. He loves jazz, and has chosen the Benny Goodman Quartet playing 'Runnin' Wild', followed by part of the opening movement of Brahms's Clarinet Quintet in B minor. He loves Beethoven, especially the symphonies, the piano sonatas and the late quartets, but today has chosen a song (Adelaide), which he feels is both heartfelt and also light relief from the great structures Beethoven set in motion. Finally there's a choral piece from Ladysmith Black Mambazo, which reminds him of time spent in Nigeria.

First broadcast in June 2010.

Release date:

1 hour

Last on

Sun 26 Aug 2012 12:00

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