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Why Music? Weekend: Frank Wilczek

Michael Berkeley is joined by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Prof Frank Wilczek. His musical choices include Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Queen, and Gilbert and Sullivan.

As part of Radio 3's Why Music? weekend, Michael Berkeley talks to the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek. Frank Wilczek was brought up in Queens, New York, the son of a radio repairman. By the time he was a teenager it was clear that he was a mathematical prodigy. By the time he was 21, he was doing the ground-breaking research which won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2004. He's currently Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and he has a great mission to explain his work to a general public. He's intrigued by questions which have as much to do with philosophy as mathematics; his latest book explores beauty, including the beauty of art and music. Why are we so drawn to harmony? Is there in fact a 'music of the spheres' all around us, which we're not able to hear but which particle physics can detect?
In Private Passions, Professor Wilczek talks to Michael Berkeley about the 'deep geometry' of the world, and how this beautiful symmetry is revealed in music. He describes vividly the excitement of the scientific research which brought him the Nobel Prize: sleepless nights, skipped meals, too many cigarettes - and then the ideas which came to him while he was lying in the bathtub. A true Eureka! moment.
Frank Wilczek is a keen piano player and accordionist, and plays drums in a rock band. His music choices include Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Queen, and Gilbert and Sullivan's opera - for which he has written some alternative comical lyrics celebrating the Hadron Collider.

Available now

33 minutes

Last on

Sun 27 Sep 2015 13:00

Music Played

  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Fantasia and Fugue in C minor, BWV.906

    Performer: Tatiana Nikolayeva.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Symphony No.7 in A major, Op.92 (2nd mvt: Allegretto)

    Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra. Conductor: Christian Thielemann.
  • Felix Mendelssohn

    Wedding March (A Midsummer Night's Dream)

    Orchestra: Orchestra.. Conductor: Otto Klemperer.
  • Freddie Mercury

    Don't Stop me Now

    Ensemble: Queen.
  • Arthur Sullivan

    Tit Willow (The Mikado)

    Orchestra: Pro Arte Orchestra. Conductor: Malcolm Sargent. Singer: Geraint Evans.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Rondo in D major, K.485

    Performer: Alicia de Larrocha.

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