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Boyhood

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).

1 hour, 15 minutes

Last on

Sun 11 Jun 2017 17:30

Music Played

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

  • 00:00

    Purcell, arr. Berio

    The modification and instrumentation of a famous hornpipe as a merry and altogether sincere homage to Uncle Alfred

    Performer: Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, Riccardo Chailly (conductor).
    • DECCA 476 2830.
    • Tr1.
  • Unknown

    What are little boys made of? (Natural History), read by Roger Ringrose and James Stewart.

  • 00:00

    Edward Elgar

    Serenade (The Wand of Youth, Suite No.1 (Op.1a))

    Performer: London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult (conductor).
    • EMI CDM 7692072.
    • Tr2.
  • John Greenleaf Whittier

    The Barefoot Boy, read by Roger Ringrose

  • 00:03

    R. McKuer, adapted by Serge Gainsbourg

    Un petit garcon appele Charlie Brown

    Performer: Serge Gainsbourg (vocal), Unnamed Orchestra.
    • PHILIPS 838 391.2.
    • Tr9.
  • Benjamin Robbins Curtis Low

    The Locomotive to the Boy, read by Roger Ringrose

  • 00:06

    Béla Bartók

    Swineheard’s Dance (Hungarian Pictures, BB103)

    Performer: Philharmonia Orchestra, Neeme Jarvi (conductor).
    • CHAN 241-52.
    • CD1 Tr14.
  • John Clare

    The Schoolboy, read by Roger Ringrose

  • 00:09

    Benjamin Britten

    Sentimental Sarabande (Simple Symphony, Op.4)

    Performer: Emperor Quartet.
    • BIS 1870.
    • Tr3.
  • 00:12

    Lord Robert Baden-Powell

    Boy Scout Training (archive extract).

    Performer: Lord Robert Baden-Powell.
    • COLOMBIA D 40086-7.
    • Tr1.
  • Charles Dickens

    David Copperfield, read by James Stewart

  • 00:17

    Guedron

    Je suis bon garcon

    Performer: Le Poeme Harmonique, Vincent Dumestre (director).
    • ALPHA 019.
    • Tr3.
  • Unknown

    The Sad Story of a Little Boy That Cried, read by Roger Ringrose

  • 00:21

    Dohnanyi

    Scherzo (Symphonische Minuten, Op.36 No.3)

    Performer: BBC Philharmonic, Matthias Bamert (conductor).
    • CHANDOS CHAN9455.
    • Tr3.
  • Francesca Simon

    Horrid Henry, read by James Stewart

  • 00:23

    Sergei Prokofiev

    Allegro (Sonata for Two Violins in C major, Op.56)

    Performer: Veronika Jaruskova & Eva Karova (violins of the Pavel Haas Quartet).
    • SUPRAPHON SU 3957-2.
    • Tr5.
  • Ogden Nash

    To A Small Boy Standing On My Shoes While I Am Wearing Them, read by Roger Ringrose

  • 00:27

    Claude Debussy

    Scherzando (En blanc et noir)

    Performer: Katia and Marielle Labeque (pianos).
    • PHILIPS 454 471-2.
    • Tr3.
  • René Goscinny

    A Game of Football, read by Roger Ringrose

  • 00:31

    Trad.

    Georgy Porgy

    Performer: Unnamed Children.
    • CPM Classical Series CAR207.
    • Tr59.
  • 00:32

    Igor Stravinsky

    Suite for Small Orchestra No.1 (arranged from 5 Easy Pieces for piano duet)

    Performer: Ensemble InterContemporain, Pierre Boulez (conductor).
    • SONY SMK45843.
    • Tr1.
  • Mark Haddon

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, read by James Stewart

  • 00:34

    Leos Janáček

    Andante Sostenuto (Youth Suite)

    Performer: Prague Wind Quintet.
    • SUPRAPHON SU 11 1354-2.
    • Tr10.
  • Henry Longfellow

    The Castle-builder, read by Roger Ringrose

  • 00:38

    Jimmy Rogers

    The Land of my Boyhood Dreams

    Performer: Jimmy Rodgers (vocal and guitar).
    • ROUNDER CD 1058ROU.
    • Tr13.
  • Steve Martin

    How to Read an Ancient Map (extract from The Boys Book of Adventure), read by James Stewart

  • 00:41

    Paul Reade

    Exotica (The Victorian Kitchen Garden – suite for clarinet and harp)

    Performer: Emma Johnson (clarinet), Skaila Kanga (harp).
    • ASV CD DCA800.
    • Tr4.
  • John Keats

    The Naughty Boy, read by Roger Ringrose

  • 00:42

    Mark-Anthony Turnage

    Lullaby (Sleep on for Cello and Piano)

    Performer: Members of the Nash Ensemble.
    • Black Box BBM1065.
    • Tr6.
  • Martin Oliver

    How to Be The best Spy (extract from The Boys’ Book of Spycraft), read by James Stewart

  • Mother Goose

    Little Boy Blue, read by Roger Ringrose

  • William Blake

    The Little Boy Lost (Songs of Innocence), read by Roger Ringrose and James Stewart

  • 00:46

    Michael Tippett

    Boyhood’s End

    Performer: Mark Padmore (tenor), Roger Vignoles (piano).
    • HYPERION CDA67459.
    • Tr1-4.
  • Aesop, adapted William Ellery Leonard

    The Boys and the Frogs, read by Roger Ringrose and James Stewart

  • 00:59

    György Ligeti

    Calmo, sostenuto (Chamber Concerto for 13 Instruments)

    Performer: Ensemble InterContemporain, Pierre Boulez (conductor).
    • DG 423 244-2.
    • Tr2.
  • John Boyne

    The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (extract), read by Roger Ringrose

  • 01:05

    Benjamin Britten

    Spring Carol (Ceremony of Carols)

    Performer: Choir of Westminster Cathedral, Sioned Williams (harp).
    • HYPERION CDA66220.
    • Tr10.
  • Walt Whitman

    We Two Boys Together Clinging, read by James Stewart

  • Arthur Guiterman

    A Boy and a Pup, read by Roger Ringrose

  • 01:07

    Johannes Brahms

    Intermezzo in C major, Op.119 No.3

    Performer: Daniel Barenboim (piano).
    • GUILD GHCD 2390.
    • Tr8.
  • 01:09

    Debussy, arr. Robert Aitken

    The Little Shepherd (Children’s Corner)

    Performer: Judith Hall (flute), Elinor Bennett (harp).
    • NIMBUS NI5247.
    • Tr2.
  • John Kendrick Bangs

    The Little Elfman, read by James Stewart

  • William Blake

    The Little Boy Found (Songs of Innocence), read by Roger Ringrose and James Stewart

  • 01:12

    William Byrd

    I thought that love had been a boy

    Performer: Laurence Zazzo (countertenor), Paragon Saxophone Quartet.
    • LANDOR LAN280.
    • Tr8.
  • Thomas Hardy

    Boys, Then and Now, read by Roger Ringrose and James Stewart

Producer Note

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) 

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