Roger Ringrose and James Stewart contemplate boyhood in texts from Dickens' David Copperfield to the humorous verse of Ogden Nash, and Keats to Guiterman, including music by Tippett and Byrd.
Elizabeth Arno (producer).
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
What are little boys made of? (Natural History), read by Roger Ringrose and James Stewart.
John Greenleaf Whittier
The Barefoot Boy, read by Roger Ringrose
Benjamin Robbins Curtis Low
The Locomotive to the Boy, read by Roger Ringrose
The Schoolboy, read by Roger Ringrose
David Copperfield, read by James Stewart
The Sad Story of a Little Boy That Cried, read by Roger Ringrose
Horrid Henry, read by James Stewart
To A Small Boy Standing On My Shoes While I Am Wearing Them, read by Roger Ringrose
A Game of Football, read by Roger Ringrose
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, read by James Stewart
The Castle-builder, read by Roger Ringrose
How to Read an Ancient Map (extract from The Boys Book of Adventure), read by James Stewart
The Naughty Boy, read by Roger Ringrose
How to Be The best Spy (extract from The Boys Book of Spycraft), read by James Stewart
Little Boy Blue, read by Roger Ringrose
The Little Boy Lost (Songs of Innocence), read by Roger Ringrose and James Stewart
Aesop, adapted William Ellery Leonard
The Boys and the Frogs, read by Roger Ringrose and James Stewart
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (extract), read by Roger Ringrose
We Two Boys Together Clinging, read by James Stewart
A Boy and a Pup, read by Roger Ringrose
John Kendrick Bangs
The Little Elfman, read by James Stewart
The Little Boy Found (Songs of Innocence), read by Roger Ringrose and James Stewart
Boys, Then and Now, read by Roger Ringrose and James Stewart
This edition of Words and Music is a celebration of boyhood, that special time early in a man's life which is full of wonderment at the world, learning and the forging of friendships. It's a programme inspired by my own very small boy. I look at him in amazement: what is it about dinosaurs, monsters, trains, fire engines, running around furiously and travelling to the moon, that endlessly fascinating find of a stick in the park, pirates and treasure hunts? What will he like at school and what kind of man will he become? The imaginative world of boys seems limitless.
In this programme, James Stewart and Roger Ringrose contemplate boyhood past and present. James Stewart plays the part of a boy, from Charles Dickens' David Copperfield in an agonising tutorial with the fearsome Murdstones and doting mother to Francesca Simon's Horrid Henry. He also reveals how to read an ancient map and how to be the best spy, and reads Walt Whitman’s poem about friendships, We Two Boys Together Clinging.
Roger Ringrose looks back wistfully on the boyhood years, in poems by John Clare, John Whittier, Henry Longfellow, Arthur Guiterman, and Thomas Hardy. He also plays the part of the adult narrator who recounts the hilarious chaos of a football game in René Goscinny’s Le Petit Nicolas, and the more tragic tale of a young boy whose risky adventure with his new best friend naively leads him to pay for his curiosity with his own life in John Boyne’s poignant tale of The Boy in Striped Pyjamas. James Stewart and Roger Ringrose join forces in two poems about the boy lost and the boy found from William Blake's Songs of Innocence.
The programme looks at the typical interests of boys, beginning with trains in Benjamin Low’s poem, The Locomotive to the Boy, and the education of boys in John Clare’s poem, The Schoolboy, the Dickens and an archive recording of Lord Robert Baden-Powell outlining the purpose of his scouting movement. I’ve chosen music that reflects the texts of these poems and reflects both the innocence and joyfulness of young boys, including movements from Elgar’s Wand of Youth Suite, Bartok’s Hungarian Pictures and Britten’s Simple Symphony.
Then follows a comical section on the quintessential, lovable image of a cheeky, naughty boy, including The Sad Story of a Little Boy That Cried, Horrid Henry, and Ogden Nash’s angry retort To A Small Boy Standing On My Shoes While I Am Wearing Them. Music from Dohnanyi’s Symphonische Minuten and Prokofiev’s Sonata for Two Violins reflect the energy and determination of boys rebelling against all the rules.
More antics follow with Goscinny’s football game, Longfellow’s The Castle-builder, treasure hunting and spying to the spirited Scherzando from Debussy’s Blanc et Noir followed by Janacek’s Youth Suite. There are moments when the narrative turns nostalgic with the American country musician Jimmie Rodgers poignantly singing about the land of his boyhood dreams.
The musical centrepiece is Tippett’s emotionally rich cantata, Boyhood’s End, which forms a transition in the programme in which young boys grow up into young men. The gulf between the carefree world of boyhood and the complicated sometimes callous world of adulthood is underpinned in the moment when Bruno follows Shmuel into a gas chamber, only because he wanted to stay with his friend, all of which is accompanied by the eerie sounds of Ligeti’s Chamber Concerto for 13 instruments.
This programme also includes the musical voices of boys, first in a school room singing Georgy Porgy, then in the Spring Carol from Britten’s Ceremony of Carols and finally the young Daniel Barenboim playing Brahms’s Intermezzo in C major, Op.119 No.3, which leads toward the closing moments of the programme: Byrd’s I thought that Love Had Been a Boy and Thomas Hardy’s Boys, Then and Now.
Elizabeth Arno (producer)""Added, go to My Music