Including a rare interview with American pianist and composer, Earl Wild, possibly the last great exponent of the Romantic tradition of piano playing. And a look at a new book about the gypsy music of the Roma communities in Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania.
In this programme
Virtuoso American pianist Earl Wild celebrates his 90th Birthday this year but he continues to practice just as hard as ever and is about to go on tour in the US and to Amsterdam. His repertoire embraces not only the fiendishly difficult piano works of Liszt and Rachmaninov but also his own explosive transcriptions of pieces by composers as diverse as Handel, Tchaikovsky, Bach and Strauss. Wild's career has spanned seven decades through his various roles as soloist, composer, Gypsy musician, concert pianist and improviser. He started out as the pianist in the NBC Symphony Orchestra, where he was employed by Arturo Toscanini. He talks to Tom about his experience of working with Toscanini, and his acquaintance with Gershwin and Rachmaninov.
Revered in his lifetime as a supremely talented concert pianist and as a pioneering recording artist, Rachmaninov's composing formed a more complex dimension to his life. In his new Rachmaninov biography, Max Harrison addresses the way in which Rachmaninov's compositions reflected the tensions of his age, placing him both in a Romantic and Modernist tradition. Harrison explains to Tom why his book focuses on Rachmaninov as studio artist. The pianist Stephen Hough and musicologist Marina Frolova-Walker join Tom to review Harrison's biography and discuss the future reception of Rachmaninov's music.
Max Harrison: Rachmaninoff. Life, Works, Recordings
Pub. Continuum. June 2005 HB
ISBN 0 8264 5344 9 £25.00
You can hear Stephen Hough perform Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No.1 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra live at this year's BBC Proms and on BBC Radio 3 on Wednesday 20th July at 7pm.
Journeys with Gypsy Musicians
The Gypsies have long been subjected to persecution and stereotyping. However, if the clichés of Gypsies as social outcasts are ingrained in this country, as revealed through the recent debate about travellers in the General Election campaign, they are even stronger in the Balkans. In his new book, Garth Cartwright tells the story of his journey throughout the Balkans to explore the music of the Gypsies - the Roma. He discovered music and musicians of astonishing wildness, energy and strength. A community for which music was the lifeblood. Tom talks with Garth Cartwright about his experience.
Garth Cartwright: Princes Amongst Men. Journeys with Gypsy Musicians
Pub. Serpent's Tail June 2005 PB
ISBN 1 85242 877 5 £11.99