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The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Past and Present - Episode 4
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Harun al-Rashid

15 minutes
First broadcast:
Friday 29 November 2013

The Islamic Golden Age rediscovered through portraits of key achivements and figures. The period ranges from 750 to 1258 CE and over twenty episodes, we'll hear about architecture, invention, medicine, innovation and philosophy. Professor Julia Bray explores the figure of Harun al-Rashid known to many from the Thousand and One Night tales.

Julia separates fact from fiction and sheds light on Harun's life. What was his Baghdad really like? Was it as Tennyson said 'A goodly place, a goodly time, For it was in the golden prime Of good Haroun Alraschid'. Harun is remembered as a champion of the arts, as a romantic hero, a benevolent ruler. However, there's plenty of evidence to the contrary and that his failure to plan properly for the future led to chaos and bloodshed.

Producer: Sarah Taylor.


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