Main content

Martin Gayford

Michael Berkeley's guest is art writer Martin Gayford. His musical choices include Debussy, Duke Ellington, Haydn, Arcadelt, Thelonious Monk, Stravinsky and Billie Holliday.

Martin Gayford has a passion for painting and music, and has spent his career writing about artists - Constable, Van Gogh, David Hockney, Lucian Freud - and thinking about the connection between art and music. His new biography of Michelangelo is published in this month, and in this edition of Private Passions he explores the musical worlds of some of our greatest painters. He begins with the choir that Michelangelo heard as he lay high up on the scaffolding, painting the Sistine Ceiling - there were complaints he banged around too much, interfering with the music.

Martin Gayford then moves on to talk about the painter Constable as a musician (he was a flautist) and to tell the story of Van Gogh's attempt to learn the piano - in order to experience synaesthesia, and paint the music he played in bright colours.

Apart from his biographies of great artists, Martin Gayford is famous because his portrait was painted by Lucian Freud ('Man in a Blue Scarf'), a process that took 18 months. During that time they visited jazz clubs together, and the programme includes some of Freud's favourite music. There's also a food theme running through the programme - Gayford is a keen cook - and the programme ends with one of Toulouse Lautrec's favourite recipes, designed to be bright orange. As always Michael Berkeley's programme is perfect timing for cooking Sunday Lunch.

Music choices include: Debussy, Duke Ellington, Haydn, Arcadelt, Thelonius Monk, Stravinsky's 'Rake's Progress' and Billie Holliday.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Fred E. Ahlert

    Mean to Me

    Singer: Billie Holiday.
  • Jacques Arcadelt

    Missa Ave Regina Caelorum (Gloria)

    Choir: Musica Contexta. Ensemble: The English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble.
  • Joseph Haydn

    In holder Anmut steh'n (The Creation)

    Orchestra: Budapest Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Rafael Kubelík. Singer: Margaret Marshall. Singer: Vinson Cole. Singer: Gwynne Howell. Choir: Bavarian Radio Chorus.
  • Claude Debussy

    Poissons d'or (Images - book 2)

    Performer: Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli.
  • Duke Ellington

    Mood Indigo

    Orchestra: Duke Ellington & His Orchestra.
  • Thelonious Monk

    Brilliant Corners

    Ensemble: Thelonious Monk.
  • Igor Stravinsky

    My Father... I go, I go to him (The Rake's Progress)

    Orchestra: Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Conductor: Robert Craft. Singer: Jayne West.
  • Jimmy Van Heusen

    Darn that Dream

    Performer: Warren Vaché. Performer: Bill Charlap.


Six mind-expanding music podcasts to download in 2019

Six mind-expanding music podcasts to download in 2019

Love music? Looking for new ear-fodder for your commute? We've got you covered.

Archive Unlocked: Two Decades of Private Passions

Archive Unlocked: Two Decades of Private Passions

Michael Berkeley introduces memorable interviews from Private Passions' archives.