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Texts and music on the theme of hallucinations, with readings by Samantha Bond and Stephen Campbell Moore. Including Lewis Carroll, Baudelaire, Ginsberg and Coleridge.

Words and Music takes a journey into the unknown to explore the world of hallucinations in poetry, prose and music.

Samantha Bond and Stephen Campbell Moore read texts by Lewis Carroll, Alex Garland, Baudelaire, Allen Ginsberg and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Music includes Berlioz, Ligeti, Jeff Buckley, Hildegard of Bingen and Steve Reich.

1 hour, 15 minutes

Last on

Sun 29 Nov 2015 17:30

Music Played

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

  • 00:00

    György Ligeti


    Performer: Berlin Philharmonic, Jonathan Nott (conductor).
    • Teldec 8573-88261-2.
    • Tr2.
  • William Blake

    Auguries of Innocence (opening), read by Stephen Campbell Moore

  • 00:02

    Delia Derbyshire


    Performer: The BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
    • BBC Records REC25MCD.
    • Tr4.
  • Lewis Carroll

    Alice in Wonderland, read by Samantha Bond

  • 00:04

    Steve Reich

    New York Counterpoint – 2nd mvt

    Performer: Ensemble Modern.
    • RCA 74321664592.
    • Tr7.
  • 00:06

    Alfred Schnittke

    Four Hymns – II for cello and double bass

    Performer: Torleif Thedéen (cello), Entcho Radoukanov (double bass).
    • Rhino 8122798319.
    • CD2 Tr4.
  • Shakespeare

    Macbeth (Act 2), read by Stephen Campbell Moore

  • 00:08

    Hector Berlioz

    Symphonie Fantastique (Op.14), 5th mvt ‘Songe d'une nuit du Sabbat’

    Performer: Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Claudio Abbado (conductor).
    • DG 474165-2.
    • Tr9.
  • 00:15

    John Cage

    Sonata 6 – from Sonatas and Interludes

    Performer: Rolf Hind (piano).
    • Warp CD144.
    • CD 2 5.
  • Charles Dickens

    A Christmas Carol, read by Samantha Bond

  • 00:17

    Camille Saint‐Saëns

    Le Carnaval des animaux, no.7; Aquarium

    Performer: Nelson Freire and Martha Argerich (pianos), Gidon Kremer and Isabelle van Keulen (violins), Tabea Zimmermann (viola), Mischa Maisky (cello), Georg Hortnagel (db), Eduard Brunner (clarinet), Irena Grafenauer (flute), Markus Steckeler (xylophone), Edith Sal.
    • Philips 416841-2.
    • Tr7.
  • 00:19

    Hildegard von Bingen

    Canticles of Ecstasy - O viridissima virga, Ave

    Performer: Ensemble for medieval music.
    • Harmonia Mundi 05472773202.
    • Tr11.
  • Hildegard von Bingen

    Scivias, read by Samantha Bond

  • Thomas de Quincy

    Confessions of an English Opium Eater, read by Stephen Campbell Moore

  • 00:24

    György Ligeti


    Performer: Berlin Philharmonic, Jonathan Nott (conductor).
    • Teldec 8573-88261-2.
    • Tr2.
  • William Blake

    Auguries of Innocence (opening), read by Stephen Campbell Moore

  • 00:24

    Oliver Wallace

    Pink Elephants on Parade – from Dumbo Original Soundtrack

    Performer: (Studio Orchestra).
    • Disney 60949.
    • Tr11.
  • 00:28


    2 Studies for Orchestra Op.16, no.2

    Performer: English Northern Philharmonia, David Lloyd-Jones (conductor).
    • Naxos 8553383.
    • Tr7.
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge

    Kubla Khan, read by Samantha Bond

  • Oliver Sacks

    Hallucinations, read by Stephen Campbell Moore

  • 00:35


    The Battle, arr. Howarth for brass ensemble

    Performer: Philip Jones Brass Ensemble.
    • Decca 448183-2.
    • Tr10.
  • 00:45

    Richard Strauss

    Don Quixote, op.35 - introduction

    Performer: Gurzenich-Orchester Köln, Markus Stenz (conductor).
    • Hyperion CDA 67960.
    • Tr1.
  • Miguel de Cervantes

    Don Quixote, read by Samantha Bond

  • Alex Garland

    The Beach, read by Stephen Campbell Moore

  • 00:45

    Bob Dylan

    Mr Tambourine Man

    Performer: The Byrds.
    • Columbia 9172 ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’.
    • Tr1.
  • Charles Baudelaire (trans. Richard Howard)

    Le Poison – from Les Fleurs du mal, read by Samantha Bond

  • 00:47

    Bernard Herrmann

    The Nightmare – from Vertigo

    Performer: Sinfonia of London Orchestra, Muir Mathieson (conductor).
    • Varese 5759.
    • Tr5.
  • 00:49

    Robert Schumann

    Thema mit Variationen (‘Geistervariationen’) – Var V

    Performer: András Schiff (piano).
    • ECM 4763909.
    • CD2 Tr18.
  • 00:52

    Miles Davis


    Performer: Miles Davis (trumpet).
    • Columbia 85475.
    • CD1 Tr9.
  • Allen Ginsberg

    Howl (opening), read by Stephen Campbell Moore

  • 00:54

    John Corigliano

    Hymn – from Three Hallucinations (from Altered States)

    Performer: Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, JoAnn Falletta (conductor).
    • Naxos 8559331.
  • William Blake

    Auguries of Innocence (opening), read by Stephen Campbell Moore

  • Rumi (trans. Deepak Chopra)

    Bittersweet, read by Samantha Bond

  • 01:00

    James Shelton

    Lilac Wine

    Performer: Jeff Buckley.
    • Columbia 57528 ‘Grace’.
    • Tr4.
  • 01:04

    Claude Debussy

    Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune

    Performer: Cleveland Orchestra, Pierre Boulez (conductor).
    • DG 4790333.
    • Tr1.
  • Stephane Mallarmé

    L’Apres-midi d’un Faune, read by Stephen Campbell Moore

  • William Blake

    Auguries of Innocence (opening), read by Stephen Campbell Moore

Producer's Note - Hallucinations

What is a hallucination?

A vision, a dream, an illusion, an apparition?

A symptom of insanity, a consequence of overmedication or just a wandering mind?

This edition of Words and Music explores hallucinations in all their various forms – some are unsettling, some enlightening, and some are perfectly friendly. Samantha Bond and Stephen Campbell Moore are the actors who reveal them to us.

Inspiration has come to artists throughout the ages disguised as visions. There are words and music later from the nun Hildegard of Bingen who saw visions of God, while music came to Ligeti ‘in a hallucination’ and it’s his mesmeric sound mass Atmospheres that opens the programme, which I thought mirrored the eternity in the words of William Blake. Blake's visions of the divine illuminated his work too and his Auguries of Innocence reappears throughout the programme.

Whether or not Blake was - as William Wordsworth believed – mad, is debatable but in literature, hallucinations tend to go hand in hand with madness and it’s a thread that goes through this programme.

Macbeth slips into a murderous insanity in his dagger induced soliloquy, but happily not all visions of madness are dark, and some are even handy for directions as Alice finds out in her dealings with the Cheshire Cat.

Later on in the programme, in one of the earliest literary examples of over-binging on boxsets, an excess of books about chivalry sends Don Quixote on an insane knightly adventure to the accompaniment of Richard Strauss’ tone poem of the same name. Meanwhile, a different Richard loses his grip on reality while isolated on Alex Garland’s The Beach and discovers an unwelcome old friend, his very own Mr Tambourine Man.

Ebenezer Scrooge also struggles with the vision of his old partner Jacob Marley. And, while not remotely festive or ghostly in itself, Saint-Saens’ gossamer sounding Aquarium has always seemed to me to embody the sound world of A Christmas Carol.

Of course, hallucinations can also have a chemical basis – Thomas de Quincy waxed lyrical about the wonders of opium in his Confessions of an English Opium Eater, but poor old Dumbo has a more trying night while intoxicated in the classic Disney score.

The influence of the poppy comes up time and again in Romantic art - post-opium Berlioz’s artist finds himself in a hellish witches Sabbath in the Symphonie Fantastique, while Samuel Taylor Coleridge was a lifelong addict and Kubla Khan famously was composed after an opium-influenced dream.

Thinking more scientifically, the neurologist Oliver Sacks, who sadly passed away earlier this year, wrote extensively on the brain and, early in his career, went to the extremes of self-medicating in order to better understand his patients, reasoning that “I would never really know what hallucinogenic drugs are unless I tried them” and an excerpt from his book Hallucinations documents the results.

Another artist inspired by his own hallucinations – in his case hearing the voice of William Blake while reading his poetry - Allen Ginsberg’s Howl is a hallucinatory snapshot of the lives of "the best minds of my generation", himself and his Beat Generation colleagues, to the accompaniment of Miles Davis, which I felt the jazz loving Ginsberg would approve of.

Finally, illusions that come from something that can be both madness and intoxication at once – love. From the passionate haze evoked by 13th century Persian poet Rumi via a broken hearted Jeff Buckley who craves the oblivion of Lilac Wine. The final vision is that conjured up by Mallarme and Debussy’s lustful fawn who enjoys a long, lazy afternoon watching beautiful nymphs dance around him in L’après midi d’un faun.


Hannah Thorne - producer


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