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Suzy Klein tells the story of the composers and musicians who shaped the 18th-century British musical map. She investigates music as a weapon in the fight for British identity.

Suzy Klein investigates music as a weapon in the fight for British identity; helping to cement the power of a new German royal family and used in Jacobite uprisings against them. She discovers why Italian opera was all the rage, thanks partly to a fascination with castrated male singers.

When Handel arrived in London, the city realised it has a genius on its hands, a man capable of creating music of such power, vigour and vitality that it can stir the hearts of the whole nation. Music stirred a 'bottom up' revolution, as the Beggar's Opera brought the satirical, subversive songs of the street onto the British stage, inventing modern musical theatre as we know it.

Featured music includes Rule Britannia, God Save the King, Handel's Water Music and Thomas Arne's guide to hating the French - Beer-Drinking Britons.

1 hour

Last on

Tue 23 Jan 2018 00:00

Music Played

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

  • 00:00

    Early Opera Company

    Music for the Royal Fireworks Rejouissance - Allegro

  • 00:02

    Henry Purcell

    The Queen’s Funeral March

    Choir: Winchester Cathedral Choir.
    • ARGO4368332.
  • 00:05

    Giovanni Battista Bononcini

    Troppo Il Dolore – Ernesto from ‘Griselda’

  • 00:08

    George Frideric Handel

    I Dixit Dominus Domino Meo

  • 00:09

    George Frideric Handel

    Combatti da forte (Rinaldo)

    • Sony Classical.
    • SM3K34592.
  • 00:09

    George Frideric Handel

    Furie terribili (Aria from Rinaldo)

  • 00:12

    George Frideric Handel

    Amidigi di Gaula - Act III - Sinfonia

  • 00:14

    George Frideric Handel

    Hornpipe from Water Music

    • Philips 4260032.
  • 00:15

    George Frideric Handel

    Water Music Suite in D: no 2 – Alla Hornpipe

    Performer: Early Opera Company.
  • 00:17

    George Frideric Handel

    Coro/Finale, Amico arrida il ciel (Alessandro HWV 21)

    • Pan Classics PC10275.
  • 00:20

    George Frideric Handel

    Recitativo: Vien di Romano inclita figlia from Handel’s Ottone

    Conductor: Robert King. Singer: Dominique Visse. Singer: Claron McFadden.
    • Hyperion.
    • CDA66751.
  • 00:21

    George Frideric Handel

    Alessandro - Aria: "Brilla nell'alma"

    • Decca.
    • 4784699.
  • 00:23

    George Frideric Handel

    Lascia Ch’io Pianga, from Rinaldo

  • 00:25

    George Frideric Handel

    Alessandra: Placa l’alma – Rosseane – Lisaura

  • 00:26

    George Frideric Handel

    Alessandro: Che vidi! – Che mirai?

    • Decca 4784699.
  • 00:28

    George Frideric Handel

    Rompo I Lacci, Flavio

    Singer: Iestyn Davies.
  • 00:30

    Riccardo Broschi

    English Country Dances: Portsmouth

    Performer: The Broadside Band.
  • 00:39

    John Gay

    Beggar’s Opera Overture

  • 00:40

    John Gay

    Beggar’s Opera: When My Hero in Court Appears

  • 00:42

    John Gay

    Beggar’s Opera: Mr Bevereidge’s Maggot

  • 00:43

    John Gay

    Beggar’s Opera: Air 1 - Through the Employment of Life – An Old Woman Clothed in Gray

  • 00:44

    John Gay

    Beggar’s Opera: Air 38 – Why HOW Now Madam Flirt Good Morrow Gossip

  • 00:45

    John Gay

    Beggar’s Opera: Virgins are like their fair flowers

    • Decca 4300662.
    • GCD81861.
  • 00:46

    Thomas Arne

    Artaxerxes: Fair Aurora Prithee Stay

    • GCD21116.
  • 00:47

    Thomas Arne

    Rule Britannia

    • A Fairest Isle.
    • HYPERION CDA67115.
  • 00:48

    Thomas Arne

    Alfred Overture - Allegro moderato

    • GCD181269-1.
  • 00:49

    Thomas Arne

    Rule Britannia

  • 00:50

    The Pipes & Drums 1St Bat. The Blackwatch

    Donald Blue

    • Proud Heritage.
  • 00:52

    Thomas Arne

    God Save our King

  • 00:53

    Thomas Arne

    God Save our Queen

  • 00:55

    Thomas Arne

    Beer Drinking Britons

  • 00:57

    William Herschel

    Symphony No. 8 in C minor

    Performer: Tom Bowling.


Role Contributor
Presenter Suzy Klein
Producer David Jeffcock
Director David Jeffcock
Executive Producer Paul Bullock


18th Century Season

18th Century Season

Meet the Georgians who forged modern Britain, across BBC Two, BBC Four and BBC Radio 3.