Playing: Romance, Op 67 by Camille Saint‐Saëns
BBC Radio 3

Sir John Eliot Gardiner

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Tom Service interviews one of the most influential musicians of our time - the conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner. In his new book on Bach, 'Music in the Castle of Heaven', Sir John Eliot offers a portrait of this most enigmatic musical genius. He tells Tom how a Silesian refugee arrived at his family farm in Dorset in 1936 with two items of luggage: a guitar and the celebrated portrait of Bach by Haussmann, which led to Sir John Eliot growing up 'under the Cantor's gaze'. It was the start of a lifetime's fascination with Bach, the man and his music, and Sir John Eliot recalls his frustration at the 'precious' way his music was performed during his university years at Cambridge in the 1960S. Biographical information on Bach is sparse, but Sir John Eliot tells Tom how his research paints a picture of a rebellious man, perhaps thuggish in his teenaged years, with a mania for composition. Bach's Cantatas, Passions and Motets, Sir John Eliot argues, offer the most revealing glimpses of the composer: passionate, querulous, self- castigating but also one who believed he had been selected by God to create a new and glorious music.

First broadcast in November 2013.

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Sat 23 Aug 2014 12:15


Role Contributor
PresenterTom Service
Interviewed GuestJohn Eliot Gardiner
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