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Aminatta Forna

Michael Berkeley's guest is Glasgow-born author Aminatta Forna. Her choices include music by Bach, Elgar, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, Rodrigo Leao and Ali Farka Toure.

Michael Berkeley's guest this week is the Glasgow-born author Aminatta Forna, whose first book, 'The Devil that Danced on the Water' - a memoir of Sierra Leone where her dissident father was eventually arrested and executed by the regime - was runner-up for the 2003 Samuel Johnson Prize. Her next book, the novel 'Ancestor Stones', described by the Washington Post as 'a richly patterned mosaic of African culture and history', won several international awards; while her latest novel, 'The Memory of Love', set during the Sierra Leonean civil war of the 1990s, has been shortlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction and won the 2011 Commonwealth Writers Prize (Africa). She is a trustee of the Royal Literary Fund, has published essays and articles, and writes for radio and TV.

Several of her choices recall her childhood experiences of music: she tried to learn piano and has always loved Bach's keyboard music, which she listens to while writing. She went to school in Malvern, where she first encountered Elgar's Cello Concerto, which helped her write the love scene in 'The Memory of Love'; while an extract from Prokofiev's ballet 'Romeo and Juliet' recalls her early love of opera and ballet. Tchaikovsky's first Piano Concerto was also an early passion from her schooldays, while she became interested in the improvisatory nature of jazz during a year spent in the USA. While writing her first book she used to go to Westminster Abbey, particularly to hear church music, and Rodrigo Leao's 'Ave Mundi' marries her enthusiasm for sacred music and dance. Finally her African heritage is celebrated in the music of Ali Farka Toure.

1 hour

Last on

Sun 18 Sep 2011 12:00

Music Played

  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    'Andante' from Italian Concerto in F (BWV971)

    Performers: Alfred Brendel (piano)

    • PHILIPS 4544092.
  • Edward Elgar

    1st mvt from Cello Concerto in E minor Op 85

    Performers: Julian Lloyd Webber (cello), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Yehudi Menuhin

    • PHILIPS 4163542.
  • Louis Armstrong/Jelly Roll Morton

    Wild Man Blues

    Performers: Dr Michael White (clarinet), Steve Pistorious (piano)

    • VERVE 5177772.
  • Sergei Prokofiev

    Montagues and Capulets from 'Romeo and Juliet' Ballet Suite Op 64

    Performers: Philharmonia Orchestra/Efrem Kurtz

    • EMI CDZ7625302.
  • Ali Farka Touré

    'Sega' (trans The Grass Snake) Peul (of the Fula People)

    Performers: Ali Farka Toure (njarka), Hamma Sankare (calabash), Oumar Toure (congas)

    • WORLD CIRCUIT WCD040.
  • Rodrigo Leão

    Ave Mundi

    Performers: Rodrigo Leão

    • COLUMBIA 4814532.
  • Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

    3rd mvt from Piano Concerto no 1 in B flat minor Op 23

    Performers: Andras Schiff (piano), Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Sir Georg Solti

    • DECCA 4172942.

Broadcast

  • Sun 18 Sep 2011 12:00

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