BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

Accessibility help
Text only
BBC Homepage
BBC Music
BBC Radio 3

Radio 3

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

Listen Up - Festival of Orchestras 2004Making Music and ABO
Listen Up! A - Z of the Orchestra
Dermot Clinch has written an A to Y of the Orchestra. Every evening, during the Listen Up! concert a new letter will be revealed. You can listen to the entries here soon after the concert

However the letter Z is missing. Send us your suggestion for Z and you'll be in the running to win a set of CDs recorded by the BBC orchestras or a digital radio

Letter YListenY is for Yamaha
'The symphony orchestra, gently declining in the West since its great days of the late nineteenth and early 20th centuries, in Asia suddenly becomes big business.'

Letter XListenX is for Xenakis
'Iannis Xenakis, the composer who lays bare in his music the plight of the individual orchestral player. Nothing in himself or herself that person is everything when combined with the others.'

Letter WListenW is for Waltz
'He himself dances, body and soul, while he plays - not with his feet but with his violin, which keeps bobbing up and down while the whole man marks the accent of every bar.'

Letter VListenV is for Vingt Quatre Violons du Roi
'The Vingt Quatre Violons were the Berlin Phil of their day, in the sense that their prestige was so great that everyone wanted to emulate them...'

Letter UListenU is for unplayable
the 'totally unnecessary - except as his interpretations make the music understandable to an audience unfortunate enough not to be able to read it in print.'

Letter TListenT is for tuning up
'no one much regard what another doth; and in all that disorder the sound will be rich and amazing.'

Letter SListenS is for Sarrusophone (and other extraordinary instruments)
The lumbering old symphony orchestra feels, always, threatened by innovation...Too many newcomers in its own ranks and it would become something else.

Letter RListenR is for Rite
'The conductor was Pierre Monteux who stood, Stravinsky remembered, 'impervious' during the riot that accompanied the premiere, though he looked, it is true, 'as nervous as a crocodile.'

Letter QListenQ is for Quantz
'In any orchestral alphabet, however heterogeneous or random, it's a rule that one should always include the son of a village blacksmith from Oberscheden in Lower Saxony.

Letter PListenP is for Pompeii
'To certain types of musical mind the ancient world has always been a magical stimulus to the imagination, and nowhere more so than with the orchestra, its very name, as we know, deriving from the theatres of Ancient Greece.'

Letter OListenO is for Orchestration
"'What is good orchestration', Stravinsky was once asked. He answered it was the kind you didn't notice."

Letter NListenN is for Nightingale
"When it comes to the richest and most beguiling of birdsongs - the Nightingale - composers generally feel they are released from any obligation to imitate the natural world."

Letter MListenM is for Maestro
"In an age of despots Jean-Baptiste Lully was exemplary in his despotism. 'More than once' he broke a violin across a player's back for some infringement 'and then took the player out to dinner where the wine 'dispelled the ill feelings'."

Letter LListenL is for Lollipop
"For many years past my audience … has had the disconcerting habit of remaining in its seats and declining to depart until, emulating Oliver Twist, it has obtained an extra helping."

Letter KListenK is for Kazoo
"30,000 players buzzing together in the main square of Cincinnati, Ohio, they can't all be wrong"

Letter JListenJ is for Jullien
"He conducted Beethoven with a jewelled baton handed to him on a silver salver"

Letter IListenI is for Instrument
"A new kind of social organisation, a large number of people doing the same thing at the same time in precisely the same way."

Letter HListenH
"The redemption of music into the realm of universal art, the human evangel of the art of the future, no forward step is possible beyond it."

Letter GListenG is for Gramophone
"Singers sometimes had to put their heads inside the horn, leading accompanists to complain that they were playing for a pair of buttocks."

Letter FListenF is for the Future
"Even in one of the great orchestras you'll find incompetent conductors, bad halls, too little money, too much stress."

Letter EListenE is for Etymology
"There's a picture by Thomas Rowlandson of the orchestra at Vauxhall, glittering on several tiers like a wedding cake, with an organ inside, and a female singer leaning provocatively over the edge."

Letter DListenD is for Dress
"Uniform renders the wearer invisible...It was with good reason that orchestral musicians appeared 'in the simplest clothes' fact 'it would be best if they were not visible at all.'"

Letter CListenC is for Conservatoire
"They are sad places. They are, in fact, orphanages. The question in the Italian city of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was: how to offer the illegitimate child or the orphan some chance of a future life, a career?"

Letter BListenB is for Baton
"I draw my baton from my pocket. I give the signal to begin. Quite shocked at this innovation some of the directors of the Society want to protest. But it is discipline at last!"

Letter AListenA is for Applause
"It's pretty clear on the whole. The reason the orchestra sits up there in the penitential dark making interesting noises is because they need our love, they want our applause."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy