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European Cities on the Brink of War

45 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 07 January 2014

As part of Radio 3's Music on the Brink, Free Thinking takes the cultural temperature of Paris, Berlin, London, St Petersburg and Vienna in the years leading up to the First World War.

The novelist AS Byatt, the film expert Neil Brand and the cultural historians Alexandra Harris and Philipp Blom have chosen artworks and artefacts from the period and will use them to explore, with Anne McElvoy, the ideas and spirit of the European capital cities on the brink of World War 1.

Roger Fry, a landmark silent film version of Les Miserables and Freud's understanding of the Viennese practice of Gschnas give us glimpses of a rapidly changing world.

Producer: Natalie Steed.


5 items
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
  • St Petersburg

    Philipp Blom on St Petersburg and Andrei Bely's novel Petersburg.

  • Vienna

    AS Byatt on Vienna and Freud’s understanding of the practice of Gschnas.

  • London

    Alexandra Harris on London and the Post-Impressionist exhibitions at the Grafton Gallery.

  • Paris

    Neil Brand on Paris and Albert Cappelini film adaptation of Les Miserables.

  • Berlin

    Philipp Blom on Berlin and Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s version of Electra.


Anne McElvoy
Interviewed Guest
Neil Brand
Interviewed Guest
AS Byatt
Interviewed Guest
Alexandra Harris


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