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The Power of Love Songs

Tom Service explores the enduring power of love songs. Including critic Ted Gioia on ancient hymns to love, tenor Ian Bostridge on lieder, and love as a subversive force in opera.

The Listening Service - an odyssey through the musical universe with Tom Service. Join him on a journey of imagination and insight, exploring how music works.

With Valentines Day just around the corner, Tom explores the enduring power of love songs. He talks to Ted Gioia, author of Love Songs: The Hidden History who explains that the very first traces of writing in human history are hymns to love. The tenor Ian Bostridge reflects on the inward-looking art of Lieder and what they tell us about true love in the Romantic era. And Tom turns to the operatic stage for some of the ultimate expressions of love as a subversive and even revolutionary force, showing how Verdi and Strauss used thwarted lovers in their operas to shine a light on the hypocrisy and gender politics of their times.

Tune in and rethink music with The Listening Service.

Available now

29 minutes

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Music Played

  • Giacomo Puccini

    La Boheme - opera in 4 acts, Act 1; O soave fanciulla

    Performer: Anna Netrebko. Performer: Rolando Villazón. Performer: Staatskapelle Dresden. Performer: Nicola Luisotti.
    • Puccini: La Bohème.
    • DG.
  • Robert Palmer

    Addicted to Love

    • Riptide.
    • Island Records.
  • Jaufré Rudel

    Le Depart: Qui non sap chanter

    Performer: La Compaignie Medievale. Performer: PIERRE VERNAY.
    • Troubadour - Instrumental & Vocal Music Of The 12th Century.
    • Disques Pierre Verany ‎.
  • Elton John

    Your Song

    • Elton John.
    • Island/mercury.
  • Claudio Monteverdi

    Pur ti miro, pur ti godo (L'Incoronazione di Poppea)

    Singer: Elin Manahan Thomas. Singer: Robin Blaze. Orchestra: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Conductor: Harry Christophers.
    • Elin Manahan-Thomas - Eternal Light.
    • HELIODOR.
  • Richard Wagner

    O SINK HERNIEDER, Nacht der Liebe from Tristan Und Isolde

    Performer: René Kollo. Performer: Margaret Price. Performer: Staatskapelle Dresden. Performer: Carlos Kleiber.
    • Tristan Und Isolde.
    • DG.
  • Calvin Harris & Rihanna

    This Is What You Came For (feat. Rihanna)

    • This Is What You Came For.
    • Sony Music.
  • The Beatles

    All You Need Is Love

    • Magical Mystery Tour.
    • Capitol.
  • Franz Schubert

    Standchen from Scwanengesang

    Performer: Mark Padmore. Performer: Paul Lewis.
    • Scwanengesang.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI.
  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

    Fantasy Overture: Romeo & Juliet

    Performer: Budapest Festival Orchestra. Performer: Iván Fischer.
    • Romeo & Juliet.
    • CHANNEL.
  • Georges Bizet

    Carmen - Act 1; L'Amour est un oiseau rebelle (Habanera)

    Performer: Teresa Berganza. Performer: Ambrosian Singers. Performer: London Symphony Orchestra. Performer: Claudio Abbado.
    • 111 Years of Deutsche Grammophon.
    • DG.
  • Joni Mitchell

    A Case Of You

    • Blue.
    • Reprise.
  • Franz Schubert

    Die Taubenpost from Schwanengesang

    Performer: Mark Padmore. Performer: Paul Lewis.
    • Schwanengesang.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI.
  • Robert Schumann

    Ein Jungling liebt ein Madchen from Dichterliebe, Op.48

    Performer: Mark Padmore. Performer: Julius Drake.
    • Schumann: Dichterliebe.
    • EMI.
  • Franz Schubert

    Standchen from Scwanengesang

    Performer: Mark Padmore. Performer: Julius Drake.
    • Scwanengesang.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI.
  • Franz Schubert

    Die Taubenpost from Schwanengesang

    Performer: Mark Padmore. Performer: Julius Drake.
    • Scwanengesang.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI.
  • Giuseppe Verdi

    Brindisi from La Traviata

    Performer: Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper. Performer: Bavarian State Orchestra. Performer: Carlos Kleiber.
    • La Traviata.
    • DG.
    • 2.
  • Giuseppe Verdi

    Un di, quando le veneri from La Traviata

    Performer: Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper. Performer: Bavarian State Orchestra. Performer: Carlos Kleiber. Performer: Plácido Domingo. Performer: Ileana Cotrubaș.
    • La Traviata.
    • DG.
    • 9.
  • Giuseppe Verdi

    Addio del passato from La Traviata

    Performer: Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper. Performer: Bavarian State Orchestra. Performer: Carlos Kleiber. Performer: Ileana Cotrubaș.
    • La Traviata.
    • DG.
    • 18.
  • Giuseppe Verdi

    Prendi, quest’e l’immagine from La Traviata

    Performer: Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper. Performer: Bavarian State Orchestra. Performer: Carlos Kleiber. Performer: Ileana Cotrubaș.
    • La Traviata.
    • DG.
    • 23.
  • Kylie Minogue

    Can't Get You Out Of My Head

    • Can't Get You Out of My Head.
    • EMI Digital / Parlophone.
  • Britney Spears

    Toxic

    • Toxic.
    • BMG.
  • Cathy Dennis

    Never Had a Dream Come True

    Performer: S Club 7.
    • Never Had a Dream Come True.
    • Polydor.
  • Bessie Smith

    Empty Bed Blues

    • Ladies Sing the Blues.
    • ASV.
  • Richard Strauss

    Hab’ mir’s gelobt from Der Rosenkavalier

    Performer: Christa Ludwig. Performer: Teresa Stich-Randall. Performer: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf.
    • Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier.
    • EMI.
  • Wings

    Silly Love Songs

    • Wingspan: Hits and History.
    • Universal.

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