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30 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 27 July 2014

Mark Tully negotiates the challenges, pitfalls and delights of translating ideas, emotions and even music, into different languages, cultures and forms of expression.

In literature, he draws from the writing of Salman Rushdie who regards himself as having been translated from India to the English-speaking world: a physical translation which greatly affects his literary translations of Indian themes.

In music, Mark plays variations on, or musical translations of, Paganini's Caprice 24 by artists as diverse as Benny Goodman and Sergei Rachmaninov.

And in poetry he borrows the wisdom of Rainer Maria Rilke who said "Translation is the purest procedure by which poetic skill can be realised"; and of Ted Hughes who wrote that bringing poets together, in translation, gives us hope that the various nations of the world will eventually, "make a working synthesis of their ferocious contradictions".

The readers are Polly Frame, John McAndrew and Frank Stirling.

The producer is Adam Fowler and it is a Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Music Played

11 items
  • Image for Georges Bizet

    Georges Bizet Dat's Love

    Performer: Dorothy Dandridge.

    Carmen Jones (Original Soundtrack 1954 Remastered), RCA

  • Image for John Coltrane

    John Coltrane Part 4 – Psalm

    A Love Supreme, Impulse!

  • Image for [traditional]

    [traditional] Psalm 33, Goudimel

    Performer: Stephanie Martin, Calvin Choir and Recordare Ensemble.

    Reformation & Renaissance: Psalms, Motets & Dances, Sjm003

  • ‘A Single Brushstroke: Writing Through Translation’ by Sherry Simon

    Simon explores the poverty of the language of ‘translation’ in English.

  • Image for Elizete Cardoso

    Elizete Cardoso Chega De Saudade

    The Rough Guide to the Music of Brazil: Rio de Janeiro, Rough Guide

  • Image for Nicolò Paganini

    Nicolò Paganini Cappricio #24 in A minor

    Performer: Shlomo Mintz.

    Paganini: 24 Capricci, Deutsche Grammophon

  • Image for Benny Goodman

    Benny Goodman Caprice 24

    The Ultimate Collection, Burning Fire

  • Image for Nicolo Paganini (arr. Rachmaninoff)

    Nicolo Paganini (arr. Rachmaninoff) Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini, Op.43, 18th Variation

    Performer: Van Cliburn, Pianist; The Philadelphia Orchestra, Cond. Eugene Ormandy.

    Rachmaninoff’s Greatest Hits, RCA

  • Imaginary Homelands by Salman Rushdie

    Rushdie explores the idea that writers writing in another culture to their own are translated.

  • Selected Translations by Ted Hughes

    At the Festival of International Poetry, Hughes wrote of the social and political importance of translation.

  • Image for Ludolf Nielsen

    Ludolf Nielsen Maestoso from Babelstarnet, op.35

    Performer: Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra and Choir cond. Owain Arwel Hughes.

    Ludolf Nielsen: The Tower of Babel, Forest Walk, dacapo


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