Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Thursday - Rob Cowan, plus Sarah Walker with John Lithgow

With Rob Cowan. Including Five Reasons to Love Operetta; Musical challenge; Artist of the week: the Vienna Philharmonic, featured in Strauss's Tod und Verklarung.

A selection of music including '5 reasons to love... operetta'. Throughout the week Rob makes the case for this sometimes overlooked genre, showcasing some personal favourites that demonstrate the many delights of light opera: charm, wonderful tunes, great singers and quirky and amusing storylines. You may not hear operetta in quite the same way again!

Take part in our daily musical challenge: listen to the music and see if you can trace the classical inspiration.

This week Sarah interviews the stage and screen actor John Lithgow. John has appeared on Broadway 22 times, winning Tony Awards for The Changing Room and Sweet Smell of Success. He received back-to-back Academy Award nominations for The World According to Garp and Terms of Endearment and is well known for his Emmy Award-winning performances in the television series 3rd Rock From the Sun and Dexter. Most recently he has starred in Love is Strange, Interstellar and The Homesman. John shares a selection of his favourite classical music and tells Sarah about catching the acting bug performing in Gilbert and Sullivan, how he appeared as the elephant in a ballet of Saint-Saëns's Carnival of the Animals and why Yo-Yo Ma once gave him a private performance of Bach.

Vintage Proms 1915 - music inspired by a Prom from 100 years ago
During the BBC Proms 2015 Rob takes a look at the Proms season from a century ago and plays music that reflects a time when concert programmes were quite different from those of today. This week Rob showcases highlights including two Elgar rarities, Carillon and Polonia, Parry's Overture to an Unwritten Tragedy and Mendelssohn's Rondo brillant in E flat major, all of which received their Proms premiere during the 1915 season.

Rob's artist of the week is one of the world's finest orchestras, the Vienna Philharmonic. Since its foundation in 1842 the orchestra has earned a reputation as one of the greats, making top recordings stretching back to 1905 and performing over a hundred concerts every season. Throughout the week Rob shares the Vienna Philharmonic's interpretations of works by composers including Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss, under the batons of maestros such as Karl Böhm, Claudio Abbado and Fritz Reiner.

Tod und Verklärung
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Fritz Reiner (conductor).

3 hours

Music Played

  • Felix Mendelssohn

    Etude in C

    Performer: Roberto Prosseda.
    • DECCA.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Concerto in D major for three violins, BWV 1064

    Performer: Gottfried von der Goltz. Performer: Anne Katharina Schreiber. Performer: Petra Müllejans. Orchestra: Freiburg Baroque Orchestra.
  • 5 reasons to love...Operetta

    • Franz von Suppé

      Hab' ich nur deine Liebe (Boccaccio)

      Singer: Rita Streich. Orchestra: RIAS Berlin Sinfonietta. Conductor: Kurt Gaebel.
  • Gaetano Donizetti

    La fille du regiment: Overture

    Orchestra: Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Conductor: Richard Bonynge.
    • DECCA.
  • Proms Artists of the week: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

    • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

      Rondo in B flat major, K.269

      Performer: Itzhak Perlman. Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic. Conductor: James Levine.
      • DG.
  • Josef Myslivecek

    Wind Octet No 1 in E flat major

    Ensemble: L'Orfeo Wind Ensemble. Conductor: Carin van Heerden.
    • Myslivecek: Complete Wind Octets & Quintets: L'Orfeo Blaeserensemble/van Heerden.
    • CPO.
  • Jean‐Paul‐Égide Martini

    Plaisir d'amour for voice and piano

    Performer: Gerald Moore. Singer: John McCormack.
    • The Art of John McCormack.
    • EMI.
    • 1.
  • John Lithgow's Choice No. 1

    • Johann Sebastian Bach

      Mache dich, mein Herze, rein (St Matthew Passion, BWV 244)

      Singer: Dietrich Fischer‐Dieskau. Orchestra: Munich Bach Orchestra. Conductor: Karl Richter.
      • ARCHIV.
  • John Lithgow's Choice No. 2

    • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

      II. Canzonetta. Andante (Violin Concerto)

      Performer: Hilary Hahn. Orchestra: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Vasily Petrenko.
      • DG.
  • Claude Debussy

    L'isle joyeuse

    Performer: Zoltán Kocsis.
    • Images / 2 Arabesques / L'Isle Joyeuse / Berceuse Héroïque.
    • Philips Classics.
    • 8.
  • Hubert Parry

    Overture to an Unwritten Tragedy

    Orchestra: Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Conductor: Andrew Penny.
    • NAXOS.
  • Felix Mendelssohn

    Rondo Brilliant in E flat major Op.29

    Performer: Martin Helmchen. Orchestra: Antwerp Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Philippe Herreweghe.
    • Pentatone.
  • Thomas Crecquillon

    Congratulamini Mihi

    Choir: Stile Antico.
    • Harmonia Mundi.
  • Proms Artists of the week: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

    • Richard Strauss

      Tod und Verklarung

      Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic. Conductor: Fritz Reiner.
      • RCA.
  • Joseph Haydn

    Symphony no. 98 (H.1.98) in B flat major

    Conductor: Colin Davis. Orchestra: Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra.
    • Haydn: The London Symphonies: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Davis.
    • Philips.
    • 5.
  • Dmitry Shostakovich

    Prelude and fugue for piano no. 21 (Op.87`21) in Bb major, Fugue (Allegro non...

    Performer: Tatiana Nikolayeva.
    • Shostakovich: 24 Preludes and Fugues Op. 87: Tatiana Nicolayeva.
    • Hyperion.
    • 8.


Our Classical Century

Our Classical Century

Radio 3 explores 100 key musical moments that shaped us, from 1918 to the present day.

Time Travellers: the podcast

Time Travellers: the podcast

Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough presents quirky tales gathered from the corners of history.