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Essential Classics

Essential Classics

Rob Cowan and Sarah Walker share great music and performances, with the Essential CD of the Week, Artist of the Week, and a guest introducing their essential recordings.
To take part in our daily Brainteasers, e-mail your answers to, or text us at 83111 (texts will cost 10p to 12p depending on the network)

About the Show

Join Rob Cowan and Sarah Walker in the mornings on Radio 3 and share in great music and performances. Each week, Rob and Sarah recommend an Essential CD of the Week and explore the recordings of an Artist of the Week - it could be a conductor, a soloist or an ensemble. There's also the chance to pit your wits against a musical brainteaser. At 10.30, Rob and Sarah are joined by their guest, who shares music that has a strong personal connection for them, having taken part in the Essential Classics Questionnaire - which you can see in full below this paragraph. At 11am, there's the Essential Choice - a chance to sit back and hear a major repertoire work. On Monday, it's the Building a Library choice from last Saturday's CD Review.


If you would like to send in your suggestions for music to share or your answers to the questionnaire, you can email:


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Note: Inevitably, some discs we play are unavailable, or they may currently be available but under different disc numbers or on different labels from the ones listed.

The Essential Classics Questionnaire

1 - What was the first piece of classical music you can remember hearing?
2 - What piece first stimulated your interest in classical music
3 - What was the first classical record/CD you bought yourself?
4 - Do you have a favourite performer, and what piece would you choose to hear him/her/them play?
5 - If you could choose to be a virtuoso on any instrument, what would it be, and what piece would you like to play?
6 - Is there a piece you can play, or would like to play yourself?
7 - Do you have a favourite composer – and a favourite piece by him/her?
8 - What piece of music do you use to relax to?
9 - What piece of music makes you glad to be alive?
10 - What piece of music would you listen to on a journey (car/train/plane)?
11 - Is there a piece that you find particularly moving?
12 - Is there a piece that reminds you of a particular place?
13 - Is there a piece that makes you laugh?
14 - Can you work while listening to music, and what piece would you choose, and why?
15 - If you are entertaining friends, is there a particular piece you would put on?
16 - Is there a piece that you think should be more widely known – a hidden gem?
17 - Is there a piece of film or TV music that has particularly affected you?
18 - If you could step back in time to hear a great performer who’s no longer with us, who would it be, and what piece would you choose to hear?
19 - If we gave you an orchestra/choir/soloists, what piece would you choose to conduct?
20 - What piece of music do you want played at your funeral/to be remembered by?

Read the Essential Classics blog

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Explore the world of Essential Classics and find out what's coming up in our weekly blog.

Essential Choices on BBC Playlister

Essential Choices on BBC Playlister

Explore the Essential Choices via BBC Playlister as chosen by Rob Cowan and Sarah Walker.

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