Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Thursday - Rob Cowan with Jocelyn Bell Burnell

With Rob Cowan. Including Musical challenge; Music in Time: Schubert: Allegro in A minor, D947 'Lebenssturme'; Artist of the Week: Arturo Toscanini, in Wagner's Gotterdammerung.

Rob sets the tone and mood of the day's programme with a range of music to intrigue, surprise and entertain.

Take part in our daily musical challenge: identify a piece of music played backwards.

Rob's guest this week is the astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell. Whilst still completing her PhD at Cambridge University Jocelyn made what is considered one of the greatest astronomical discoveries of the twentieth century. She discovered Pulsars, small stars near the end of their life-cycle which emit radio signals, pulses. Uncovering Pulsars has unlocked many doors in the field of astrophysics, validating and enabling many other notable scientists. Jocelyn has since become a role model for young students and female scientists throughout the world, and when she became professor she doubled the number of female Physics professors in the UK. As well as discussing her life and work, Jocelyn has chosen a selection of her favourite classical music.

Music in Time: Romantic
Today Rob delves into the Romantic period with a late piano duet by Schubert: the wonderfully dramatic Lebensstürme, D.947. It's a work that demonstrates Schubert's development of the piano style, surpassing his early works with its abrupt gestures, symphonic drive and a new, more concentrated energy.

Double Take
Rob explores the nature of performance by highlighting the differences between two interpretations of Brahms' Scherzo in C minor from the 'F.A.E' Sonata, in highly contrasting accounts from violinists Isabelle Faust and Itzhak Perlman.

Rob's Artist of the Week is the Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini. Considered one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century, he was admired for his faithfulness to the score as well as for the incendiary thrust he brought to his interpretations. His career began sooner than perhaps he might have expected. Whilst on tour in South America as an Assistant Chorus Master he was called upon to conduct Verdi's Aida after three other conductors were either booed-off by the audience or rejected by the cast; Toscanini was only 19, but he conducted the whole opera from memory. He went on to be a leading opera conductor, entrusted with the world premieres of Puccini's La Bohème and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, and he was Principal Conductor at La Scala, Milan twice during his career. He spent much of his working life in America, leading the Metropolitan Opera, the NBC Symphony Orchestra - an orchestra created for him - and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. He was also the first non-German conductor to appear at Bayreuth. This week Rob's chosen his interpretations of Elgar's Enigma Variations, Beethoven's 7th Symphony, Debussy's Iberia, part of Wagner's Götterdämmerung and Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No.1 with Vladimir Horowitz.

Götterdämmerung (excerpt)
Helen Traubel (soprano)
Lauritz Melchior (tenor)
NBC Symphony Orchestra
Arturo Toscanini (conductor).

3 hours

Music Played

  • Camille Saint‐Saëns

    Allegro appassionato Op.70

    Performer: Romain Descharmes. Orchestra: Malmö SymfoniOrkester. Conductor: Marc Soustrot.
    • NAXOS.
  • Joseph Haydn

    'London' Trio No.4

    Performer: Jean‐Pierre Rampal. Performer: Isaac Stern. Performer: Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich.
    • CBS.
  • Johann Friedrich Fasch

    Concerto in D for 2 horns, 2 oboes, bassoon and strings

    Ensemble: Virtuosi Saxoniae.

    • Giacomo Puccini

      La Boheme: 'O soave fanciulla'

      Singer: Jan Peerce. Singer: Licia Albanese. Orchestra: NBC Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Arturo Toscanini.
      • RCA.
  • Simon Holt

    A Book of Colours: 4. Some distant chimes

    Performer: Rolf Hind.
    • NMC.
  • Carlos Verardi

    Viva la gran Re Don Fernando

    Choir: Hespèrion XXI. Choir: La Capella Reial de Catalunya. Director: Jordi Savall.
    • ALIA VOX.
  • Arcangelo Corelli

    Sinfonia to Santa Beatrice d'Este in D minor

    Orchestra: La Serenissima. Conductor: Adrian Chandler.
    • AVIE.
  • Benjamin Britten

    Suite Op.6: Waltz - Alla valse, vivace e rubato

    Performer: Tasmin Little. Performer: Piers Lane.
  • Jocelyn Bell Burnell's Choice No.1

    • Heitor Villa‐Lobos

      Choros No.10 finale "Rasga o Coracao"

      Choir: Schola Cantorum de Caracas. Choir: Orfeon Universitario Simon Bolivar. Orchestra: Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Eduardo Mata.
      • DORIAN.
  • Jocelyn Bell Burnell's Choice No.2

    • Johannes Brahms

      Academic Festival Overture

      Orchestra: Budapest Festival Orchestra. Conductor: Iván Fischer.
      • CHANNEL.
  • Pablo de Sarasate

    Playera, Op 23 No 1

    Ensemble: Brodsky Quartet.
    • Chandos.

    • Franz Schubert

      Duo in A minor D.947 'Lebensstürme

      Performer: Anne Queffélec. Performer: Imogen Cooper.
      • APEX.

    • Johannes Brahms

      FAE Sonata: Scherzo in C minor

      Performer: Isabelle Faust. Performer: Alexander Melnikov.
    • Johannes Brahms

      Scherzo in C minor, FAE Sonata

      Performer: Itzhak Perlman. Performer: Martha Argerich.
  • Henry Purcell

    Chacony à 4 in G minor

    Conductor: Reinhard Goebel. Ensemble: Musica Antiqua Köln.
    • Blow/Corelli/Marini/Purcell: Chaconnes: Musica Antiqua Koln/Goebel.
    • Archiv Produktion.

    • Richard Wagner

      Götterdämmerung: Dawn and Duet

      Singer: Helen Traubel. Singer: Lauritz Melchior. Orchestra: NBC Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Arturo Toscanini.
      • RCA.
  • Frédéric Chopin

    Berceuse in D flat major, Op 57

    Performer: Stephen Hough.
    • Chopin: Late Masterpieces, Stephen Hough.
    • Hyperion.
    • 13.
  • Benjamin Britten

    Simple Symphony, Op.4

    Orchestra: English Chamber Orchestra. Conductor: Benjamin Britten.
    • LONDON.

    • Richard Strauss

      Salome: Dance of the Seven Veils

      Orchestra: NBC Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Arturo Toscanini.
      • RCA.

Musical Challenge: Recording Rewind

The piece of music we heard in reverse was the 'Playful Pizzicato' movement from Benjamin Britten's Simple Symphony, which sounds almost as delightful forwards as it does backwards.


Time Travellers: the podcast

Time Travellers: the podcast

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