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Hearing Ragas

The story of violinist Paul Robertson, who heard Indian ragas and Sir John Tavener's music from within a coma. From 2012.

This is violinist Professor Paul Robertson's remarkable story of the Indian ragas he heard from within a coma, and the healing effect that Sir John Tavener's music had on him in his recovery.

When Paul and John met at a conference in 2007 they discovered that they had a shared interest in near death experiences and John stated that he wanted to write a piece for Paul involving four string quartets to be called "Towards Silence". He wrote the piece and Paul started to make arrangements for its premiere.

However, John suffered a heart attack and was taken into intensive care in Switzerland. Within weeks, Paul's aorta gave way and he found himself in a London hospital in a coma. Paul had a series of horrific visions, but was occasionally comforted by the sound of a woman singing Indian ragas. Only when he came out of the coma did he realise that the music John had written for him: "Towards Silence", was based on an Indian raga.

Paul then used the practising of this piece to rehabilitate himself after the paralysing strokes he'd suffered. Paul and John are brought together for the first time to share their experiences; how they view their respective illnesses and how these episodes have changed their lives.

Including music by Sir John Tavener, a soundtrack by Simon Hall and Sanchita Pal singing Ragas.

Producer: Rosie Boulton

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2012.

30 minutes

Last on

Sat 30 Oct 2021 02:30


  • Fri 7 Sep 2012 11:00
  • Tue 17 Oct 2017 06:30
  • Tue 17 Oct 2017 13:30
  • Tue 17 Oct 2017 20:30
  • Wed 18 Oct 2017 01:30
  • Fri 29 Oct 2021 14:30
  • Sat 30 Oct 2021 02:30