Comedienne Sue Perkins joins Tom Service to unravel everything you ever wanted to know about the most famous form in classical music. In the third programme of the series, the pair look at symphonies with a story to tell...

How can a symphony tell a story? Today's episode explores the rise of the 'programme symphony' in the mid-19th century in the hands of Berlioz, Liszt and Richard Strauss, as a host of composers, from Berlioz to Schumann to Liszt, sought to make their music tell fantastic tales of life, death, sex and the underworld...

But away from these symphonies' explicit texts, in the works of Tchaikovsky and Mahler, a new type of 'extra-musical' symphony developed: musical works with hidden subtexts that hinted at the composers' inner world. These would come to a peak in the works of two of the greatest 20th century symphonists: Dmitri Shostakovich and Alfred Schnittke.

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20 minutes

Last on

Fri 18 Nov 2011 20:10

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