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Music for Mourning

Tom Service unpicks the musical threads which bind public and private grief, from royal funerals and the hidden grieving behind abstract works to the UK's funeral Top Ten.

Tom Service asks why music has always been an essential part of mourning. With the help of cognitive neuropsychologist Catherine Loveday, he compares the music of two royal funerals separated by three centuries, and by tracing the development of funeral music into abstract art music he uncovers the private grief behind Bach's great D-minor violin Chaconne. And before ending with a Top Ten countdown of today's UK musical funeral favourites, he ponders why some music, never intended to be mournful, becomes indelibly associated with grieving.

Producer David Papp.

27 days left to listen

29 minutes

Music Played

  • Traditional

    Aboriginal funeral music

    Performer: Unknown.
  • Elton John

    Candle in the wind

    Performer: Elton John.
    • Diana Princess Of Wales 1961-1997 - The BBC Recording Of The Funeral Service.
    • BBC Worldwide.
  • György Kurtág

    Jatekok, Book 3: No. 28, Hommage à Farkas Ferenc II

    Performer: Leif Ove Andsnes.
    • Shadows of Silence.
    • Warner Classics.
    • 22.
  • Hector Berlioz

    Grande messe des morts, Op. 5, "Requiem": Dies irae

    Choir: Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir. Orchestra: Gabrieli Consort & Players. Conductor: Paul McCreesh. Ensemble: Chetham's School of Music Symphonic Brass Ensemble. Orchestra: Wrocław Philharmonic Orchestra.
    • Berlioz: Grande messe des morts (1837).
    • Signum Classics.
    • 2.
  • Frédéric Chopin

    Funeral march (brass band version)

    Performer: Alfred Kluten.
    • Sonoton Music.
  • Frédéric Chopin

    Tweety humming Chopin's Funeral March

    Performer: Tweety.
    • Tweet and Sour.
    • Warner Bros. Pictures.
  • Traditional

    Just A Closer Walk With Thee / New Second Line

    Performer: Olympia Brass Band.
    • Live And Let Die (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack).
    • Capitol Records.
  • Henry Purcell

    March (Queen Mary's Funeral Music)

    Performer: Les Trompettes des Plaisirs. Performer: Lingua Franca. Performer: Vox Luminis. Performer: Lionel Meunier.
    • Ricercar.
  • Henry Purcell

    Thou knowest, Lord (Queen Mary's Funeral Music)

    Performer: Les Trompettes des Plaisirs. Performer: Lingua Franca. Performer: Vox Luminis. Performer: Lionel Meunier.
    • Ricercar.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Partita No 2 in D minor for violin, BWV 1004 (Chaconne)

    Performer: Christoph Poppen. Ensemble: The Hilliard Ensemble.
    • ECM NEW SERIES.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Saul, Act 3: Dead March

    Orchestra: English Baroque Soloists. Conductor: Sir John Eliot Gardiner.
    • PHILIPS.
  • Richard Wagner

    Götterdämerung: Siegfried's Death and Funeral March

    Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Klaus Tennstedt.
    • EMI.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Marcia funebre (Symphony No. 3 in E flat major 'Eroica', mvt 2)

    Performer: Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Performer: Charles Mackerras.
    • Hyperion.
  • Gustav Mahler

    Trauermarsch (Symphony No.5, mvt 1)

    Performer: Vienna Philharmonic. Performer: Leonard Bernstein.
    • DG.
  • Gustav Mahler

    Symphony No.5: IV. Adagietto

    Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic. Conductor: Leonard Bernstein.
    • DG.
  • Samuel Barber

    Adagio for Strings

    Conductor: Leonard Bernstein. Orchestra: New York Philharmonic.
    • The Royal Edition Vol. 39: New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein.
    • Sony Classical.
  • John Tavener

    Song for Athene

    Performer: Choir of Westminster Abbey.
    • Diana Princess Of Wales 1961-1997 - The BBC Recording Of The Funeral Service.
    • BBC Worldwide.
  • Nat King Cole

    Unforgettable

    • Unforgettable.
    • Capitol.
  • Dinnington Colliery Band

    Abide with Me

    • A Band For Britain.
    • Decca.
  • Monty Python

    Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life

    • Monty Python's Life of Brian.
    • Warner Bros. Records.
  • Katherine Jenkins

    All Things Bright and Beautiful

    • Living A Dream.
    • UCJ.
  • Vera Lynn

    We'll Meet Again

    • The Very Best Of Vera Lynn - We'll Meet Again.
    • Decca.
  • Harry Secombe

    The Lord is My Shepherd

    • Songs Of Praise.
    • Decca.
  • Bette Midler

    Wind Beneath my Wings

    • Beaches: Original Soundtrack Recording.
    • Atlantic.
  • Eva Cassidy

    Over The Rainbow

    • The Other Side.
    • Hot Records.
  • Sarah Brightman & Andrea Bocelli

    Time To Say Goodbye

    • Time to Say Goodbye / Timeless.
    • East West Records.
  • Frank Sinatra

    My Way

    • My Way.
    • Reprise Records.

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