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Symphony of a City

Emilia Fox & Richard Armitage read poetry & prose on the theme of a 'Symphony of a City', recording & evoking the movements of a city day. Music by Gershwin, Byrd & Steve Reich.

Emilia Fox and Richard Armitage read poetry and prose on the theme of a 'Symphony of a City', recording and evoking the movement of a city day. This Words and Music takes as its departure point the silent 'city symphony' documentaries of the 1920s, from Walter Ruttmann's 'Berlin: Symphony of a Great City' to Dziga Vertov's 'The Man with a Movie Camera'. These were among the first documentaries to take the city as both character and subject, highlighting the inherent musicality of the heterogeneous mass of the modernist city.

The rhythms of daily city life are evoked not just in the subject matter of this poetry and prose but in the very rhythms of their performance. And yet, we also see that the study of these daily movements of city life does not just belong to the modernists. The beauty, the energy, and the strange terror of city life, are evoked here by poets and authors across time, from Swift, Dickens and Wordsworth to T. S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf and William Carlos Williams.

Music from Gershwin, Varese, Byrd, Steve Reich and Charles Ives.

1 hour

Last on

Sun 12 Sep 2010 22:45

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:00

    Aaron Copland

    Quiet City

    Performer: The New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein.

    • Deutsche Grammophon.
  • William Wordsworth

    Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, Richard Armitage

  • John dos Passos

    Manhattan Transfer, Book I, Chapter I – Great Lady on a White Horse, Emilia Fox.

  • 00:04

    Steve Reich

    City Life. I – 'Check it out'.

    Performer: Ensemble Modern, conducted by Peter Rundel.

    • RCA.
  • William Carlos Williams

    Overture to a Dance of Locomotives, Richard Armitage.

  • 00:07

    George Gershwin

    An American in Paris

    Performer: Jazzogene Orchestra, Jean-Luc Fillon (conductor), Georges Rabol (piano). Arrangement Jean-Luc Fillon.

    • Opus 111.
  • Virginia Woolf

    Mrs Dalloway, Emilia Fox.

  • 00:15

    James Rhodes

    Estampes, III: Jardins sous la pluie.

    Performer: Jean-Yves Thibaudet (piano)

    • Decca.
  • Jonathan Swift

    A Description of a City Shower. Emilia Fox.

  • Charles Dickens

    Bleak House. Emilia Fox.

  • 00:22

    Edgard Varèse


    Performer: Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Pierre Boulez

    • Deutsche Grammophon.
  • John Dos Passos

    Manhattan Transfer, Book II, Chapter V – Went to the Animals’ Fair. Richard Armitage.

  • T. S. Eliot

    Silence, Richard Armitage

  • 00:22

    Arvo Pärt

    Fur Alina

    Performer: Alexei Lubimov (piano)

    • Bis-CD-1434.
  • 00:35

    Ralph McTell

    Streets of London

    Performer: Ralph McTell

    • TPGCD 12.
  • 00:39

    Charles Ives

    Central Park in the Dark

    Performer: Saint Louise Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leonard Slatkin.

    • Red Seal.
  • John dos Passos

    Manhattan Transfer, Book I, Chapter V – Steam-Roller, Emilia Fox

  • T. S. Eliot

    Preludes, Richard Armitage

  • 00:49

    Burke Van Heusen

    Moonlight Becomes You

    Performer: Chet Baker and band.

    • Pacific Jazz.
  • Samuel Coleridge

    A Silent City

  • 00:53

    William Byrd

    Civitas sancti tui

    Performer: The Hilliard Ensemble,

    • Helios.


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