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Music in the Great War: Fiddler in the Tower

Award-winning British violinist Daniel Hope visits the Tower of London with violin, and tells the little-known story of German/Brazilian Fernando Buschman (1890-1915) the virtuoso violinist and engineer held and executed there when charged with espionage in World War One.

Buschman's wartime existence comprised of a string of still-born entrepreneurial adventures from aircraft design to cheese and vegetable export, with, allegedly, spying on the Royal Navy also thrown in! His big love was his violin and when, in 1915, he was arrested and condemned to face a firing squad at the Tower he asked for his instrument to be brought to his cell. The night before his execution Buschman played away, the violin echoing and keening round the Tower.

In the Chapel of the Tower at night-time, beside the tombs of famed Tower victims Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Sir Thomas More, Daniel performs the music Buschman played, tries to fathom what motivated this man and imagines himself facing those final fated hours.

Daniel performs the Sarabande from Bach's D Minor Partita BWV1004, Braga's Angel's Serenade, and music from Leoncavallo's Pagliacci - all works Buschman had with him at the time.

Daniel interviews Bridget Clifford of the Royal Armouries at the Tower of London, and Dr Nicholas Hiley of the University of Kent puts in context German espionage at the beginning of World War I.

Daniel Hope is still searching for Buschman's violin and would welcome any clues.

First broadcast: 26 October 2011.

20 minutes

Last on

Wed 2 Jul 2014 20:20
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