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Episode 2

2 hours, 30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 20 September 2011

Some of the world's most famous composers came from extremely poor backgrounds. This week's Composer of the Week, Carl Nielsen, grew up with 11 siblings in a cottage with just a few rooms. The young Johannes Brahms had to help his family survive by playing in taverns alongside his feckless father, while his mother struggled against ill health working her fingers to the bone as a seamstress. Edward Elgar left school at 15 to earn his living, and - as a working-class boy made good - never felt at ease in the upper echelons of society to which his music gained him access; perhaps that's precisely why he cultivated his image as an English country gentleman.

This week Katie Derham presents the BBC's orchestras and BBC Singers in music by composers who struggled against extreme adversity to make their way in the world by the force of their musical talent - even genius. There's music by Elgar on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and a special focus on composers born in the Czech lands on both Tuesday and Thursday - with country boys Dvorak, Janacek, Mahler and Martinu developing the rich folk music culture of their native land.

Ending this programme at 4pm you can hear the Adagio from Mahler's Tenth Symphony - explored earlier today in Radio 4's 'Page to Performance'.

Music Played

7 items
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
  • Image for Johannes Brahms

    Johannes Brahms Tragic overture

    Conductor: Rossen Gergov Performer: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

  • Image for Edward Elgar

    Edward Elgar Cello concerto

    Conductor: Yutaka Sado Performer: Danjulo Ishizaka (cello) Performer: BBC Philharmonic

  • Image for Havergal Brian

    Havergal Brian 'Preludio Tragico' from The Cenci

    Conductor: Garry Walker Performer: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

  • Image for Bohuslav Martinu

    Bohuslav Martinu Kitchen revue suite

    Performer: Elizabeth Layton (violin) Performer: Mark o'Keeffe (trumpet) Performer: Peter Wesley (Bassoon) Performer: Scott Mitchell (piano) Performer: Sian Bell (cello) Performer: Yann Ghiro (clarinet)

  • Image for Antonin Dvorak

    Antonin Dvorak The Noonday witch

    Conductor: Walter Weller Performer: BBC National Orchestra of Wales

  • Image for Leos Janacek

    Leos Janacek Sinfonietta

    Conductor: Libor Pesek Performer: BBC National Orchestra of Wales

  • Image for Gustav Mahler

    Gustav Mahler 'Adagio' from Symphony no. 10

    Conductor: Thierry Fischer Performer: BBC National Orchestra of Wales



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    Radio 3 Opera Guides

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