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Canada 150: Madeleine Thien

As part of Canada 150, a series of programmes marking the 150th anniversary of the founding of the nation, Michael Berkeley's guest is Canadian novelist Madeleine Thien.

As part of Canada 150, a week of programmes marking the 150th anniversary of the founding of the nation, Michael Berkeley talks to Canadian novelist Madeleine Thien.

Born in Vancouver, she is the daughter of Malaysian-Chinese immigrants to Canada and her writing explores the history of the Asian diaspora. She is the author a short story collection 'Simple Recipes' and the novels 'Certainty', 'Dogs at the Perimeter' and 'Do Not Say We Have Nothing' -about musicians studying Western classical music at the Shanghai Conservatory in the 1960s and about the legacy of the 1989 Tiananmen demonstrations. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Scotiabank Giller Prize 2016 and the Governor General's Award 2016. Her books and stories have been translated into 23 languages.

Madeleine talks to Michael about the history of Western of classical music in China and its suppression during the Cultural Revolution. Countless instruments were destroyed, including more than 500 pianos at the Shanghai Conservatory. The bravery of its director, He Luting, a Debussy scholar, in resisting the Red Guards was an inspiration to her as she wrote the book and she chooses a piece of his music.

She tells Michael how her love of music was reborn as she listened to Bach whilst writing Do Not Say We Have Nothing, and we hear Bach's music played by the Chinese pianist Zhu Xiao Mei. She also chooses music from fellow Canadians Glenn Gould and Leonard Cohen.

Producer: Jane Greenwood
A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3

CANADA 150: a week of programmes from across Canada, marking the 150th anniversary of the founding of the nation and exploring the range and diversity of Canadian music and arts.

Available now

34 minutes

Last on

Sun 25 Jun 2017 12:00

Music Played

  • Gustav Mahler

    Das Lied von der Erde: 'Der Abschied'

    Singer: Christa Ludwig. Orchestra: New Philhamonia Orchestra. Conductor: Otto Klemperer.
    • Das Lied von der Erde.
    • 6.
  • 賀綠汀


    Performer: Xiong Zhao. Orchestra: Shanghai Philharmonic Society Orchestra. Conductor: Cao Peng.
    • The Buffalo Boy’s Bamboo Flute.
    • Naxos.
    • 4.
  • Abing

    Moon Reflected on the Second Spring

    Performer: Min Hui-Fen.
    • The River of Sorrow.
    • 2.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Goldberg Variations: Aria and Variation 15

    Performer: Zhu Xiao-Mei.
    • Goldberg Variations.
    • MANDALA.
    • 1,16.
  • Dmitry Shostakovich

    Symphony No 5 in D minor, Op 47 - 3:Largo

    Orchestra: Leningrad Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra. Conductor: Yevgeny Mravinsky.
    • Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5 / Miaskovsky: Symphony No. 15.
    • Audiophile Classics.
    • 3.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Violin Sonata No 4 in C minor - 1: Siciliano

    Performer: Yehudi Menuhin. Performer: Glenn Gould.
    • Bach, Beethoven, Schoenberg: Violin and piano works.
    • Sony Classical.
    • 1.
  • Leonard Cohen

    Dance Me To The End of Love

    Performer: Leonard Cohen. Performer: Jennifer Warnes.
    • Various Positions.
    • Columbia.
    • 1.


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