Main content

Brokeback Mountain, Andre Tchaikowsky

Tom Service talks to the creators of the new opera Brokeback Mountain, based on the novel by Annie Proulx and explores the life of Polish composer and pianist Andre Tchaikowsky.

Tom Service visits the Teatro Real in Madrid for the premiere of a new opera by composer Charles Wuorinen and author and librettist Annie Proulx and asks them how they went about adapting Proulx's best-selling novel 'Brokeback Mountain' for the opera stage. Hotfoot from the first night Tom will be reviewing the production with music critic Shirley Apthorp. Polish composer and pianist André Tchaikowsky is the subject of a new book by Anastasia Belina-Johnson, Tom talks to the author as well as pianist Stephen Kovacevich and opera director David Pountney about this fascinating yet complex musician.

Available now

45 minutes


  • Brokeback Mountain - the opera

    Interviewees:Annie Proulx, Charles Wuorinen, Tom Randle, Daniel Okulitch & Shirley Apthorp

    Duration: 19:00

  • André Tchaikowsky

    Interviews with Anastasia Belina-Johnson, David Pountney & Stephen Kovacevich.

    Duration: 15:45

  • Andris Nelsons

    Duration: 09:26



Earlier this week Tom travelled to Madrid to meet the creative team and cast of Charles Wuorinen’s new opera Brokeback Mountain. Annie Proulx, who wrote the original short story, wasn’t completely satisfied with the blockbuster film adaptation of her work so she was more than happy to provide the libretto for this new operatic interpretation.  Tom talks to the composer and librettist and the singers Tom Randle and Daniel Okulitch who play the two lead characters - Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar. Hotfoot from the premiere Tom reviews the new opera with Shirley Apthorp, music critic for The Financial Times.

More information:

Brokeback Mountain runs at the Teatro Real, Madrid until 11th Feb.




The Polish pianist and composer André Tchaikowsky was only 46 when he died in 1982. His virtuosity as a pianist had made him a familiar figure on the world’s concert platforms.  Yet for all his facility at the keyboard Tchaikowsky’s real passion was for composition and at the time of his death he had all but finished his opera based on Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice which was finally premiered at the 2013 Bregenz Festival. Tom Service talks to Anastasia Belina-Johnson - who has just edited a collection of Tchaikowsky’s diaries -  about how he survived the Holocaust and became a brilliant pianist and fine composer. Tom also speaks to David Pountney who instigated the production of Tchaikowsky’s opera at Bregenz last year and hears the thoughts of the pianist Stephen Kovacevich who was a close friend of Tchaikowsky.

More information:
A Musician Divided: André Tchaikowsky in his Own Words – published by Boydell and Brewer – out now - £30

Anastasia Belina-Johnson will be joining Donald MacLeod on Composer of the Week each day next week to explore the music of Taneyev.



The Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons has been Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra since 2008 and has now been appointed Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the US. Tom talks to him about the challenges and differences of working in America, his faith and how his natural shyness disappears when he is on the conducting podium.

More information:

Andris Nelsons


Role Contributor
Presenter Tom Service
Interviewed Guest Charles Wuorinen
Interviewed Guest Annie Proulx
Interviewed Guest Shirley Apthorp
Interviewed Guest Anastasia Belina-Johnson
Interviewed Guest Stephen Kovacevich
Interviewed Guest David Pountney


Knock on wood – six stunning wooden concert halls around the world

Steel and concrete can't beat good old wood to produce the best sounds for music.

The evolution of video game music

Tom Service traces the rise of an exciting new genre, from bleeps to responsive scores.

Why music can literally make us lose track of time

Try our psychoacoustic experiment to see how tempo can affect your timekeeping abilities.