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Texts and music on the theme of crowds. With music including Handel, Grieg, Mozart, Beethoven, Elgar and Copland, plus texts including Philip Larkin, Shakespeare and Maya Angelou.

Words and Music explores our relationship with Crowds - everyday collectives, the political and the personal.

We begin with the popular experience of mass gatherings, from sporting events, to the daily commute and the fair ground. William Carlos William's majestic poem 'At The Ball Game' celebrates the festive side of crowds and hints at the potential for terror. This foreboding is embodied in Stravinsky's manipulated puppet trapped in a fairground burlesque, and Petrushka points towards the political nature of crowds. In Dicken's famous revolutionary novel 'A Tale of Two Cities', playful games outside a wine shop end with the word BLOOD painted in red wine. Shakespeare's Coriolanus addresses the mob and Aldous Huxley analyses Hitler, the ultimate manipulator of crowds, in 'Brave New World Revisited'. Verdi's Nabucco completes this section; so synonymous is it with Italian history and politics Ricardo Muti recently found his audience rising as one to join in the 'Hebrew Slaves Chorus'.

Freddie Mercury's anthem 'Someone to Love' heralds the personal nature of crowds - the pursuit of the perfect match in amongst humanity - and the sense of loneliness experienced in a crowd. We visit Gatsby's vibrant parties, glittering with emptiness; Cinderella fleeing the ball and Maya Angelou's phenomenal woman where men swarm around her like bees. Finally we end with Philip Larkin's love poem written to Maeve whilst listening to a broadcast of the concert she was attending. There are a few other crowd pleasers along the way, including music by Handel, Grieg, Mozart, Beethoven, Elgar and Copland; with additional words from Walt Whitman, Wordsworth and Garrison Keillor.

Producer, Erika Wright.

1 hour, 15 minutes

Music Played

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

  • 00:00

    Giuseppe Verdi

    La donna e mobile

    • Decca.
  • William Carlos Williams

    At the Ball Game

  • 00:03

    Aaron Copland

    Fanfare for the Common Man

    • EMI.
  • Walt Whitman

    Leaves of Grass

  • 00:07

    Stephen Sondheim

    Company: Another hundred People

    • Columbia.
  • National Geographic: State Fairs

    Garrison Keillor

  • 00:10

    Igor Stravinsky


    • EMI.
  • A tale of Two Cities: The Wine Shop


  • 00:16

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    String Trio in G Major Kanh.66 [K.562e]

    • Naxos.
  • Coriolanus


  • 00:21

    Ludwig van Beethoven

    Coriolan overture

    • Live Southbank Centre.
  • Brave New World Revisited

    Aldous Huxley

  • 00:29

    Edvard Grieg


    • EMI.
  • 00:33

    Giuseppe Verdi


    • KOCH.
  • 00:37


    Love of My Life

    • EMI.
  • The Multitude

    Walt Whitman

  • 00:41


    Riverboat Shuffle

    • Capitol.
  • Great Gatsby

    F.Scott Fitzgerald

  • 00:43

    Sergei Prokofiev


    • DG.
  • Phenomenal Woman

    Maya Angelou

  • 00:47

    Georges Bizet


  • 00:49

    Sergei Prokofiev

    Romeo and Juliet: The quarrel

    • DECCA.
  • 00:51


    Sign on a Window

    • Columbia.
  • 00:51

    Robert Schumann

    Fantasiestucke in A minor

    • Chandos.
  • The Daffodils


  • 00:56

    George Frideric Handel

    Music for the Royal Fireworks

    • MCPS.
  • Broadcast

    Philip Larkin

  • 00:59

    Edward Elgar

    Introduction and Allegro

    • 59’40.

Adjoa Andoh

Adjoa Andoh
Adjoa Andoh

William Hope

William Hope
William Hope


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