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.
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, Richard Armitage
John dos Passos
Manhattan Transfer, Book I, Chapter I – Great Lady on a White Horse, Emilia Fox.
William Carlos Williams
Overture to a Dance of Locomotives, Richard Armitage.
Mrs Dalloway, Emilia Fox.
A Description of a City Shower. Emilia Fox.
Bleak House. Emilia Fox.
John Dos Passos
Manhattan Transfer, Book II, Chapter V – Went to the Animals’ Fair. Richard Armitage.