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Simon Sebag Montefiore

Writer Simon Sebag Montefiore discusses his latest novel Red Sky at Noon, the last of his Moscow Trilogy, with Michael Berkeley as part of Radio 3's celebration of Russian Culture.

Simon Sebag Montefiore is a prizewinning writer whose books return again and again to Russia. His latest novel is Red Sky at Noon, the last of his Moscow Trilogy, following Sashenka and One Night in Winter. His most recent history, The Romanovs 1613-1918, tells the story of twenty tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness. It's a world of unlimited power and ruthless empire-building, overshadowed by palace conspiracy, family rivalries, sexual decadence and wild extravagance. Montefiore is also author of the epic history books Catherine the Great and Potemkin; Young Stalin; and Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar.

In Private Passions, Simon Sebag Montefiore tells the story of how his grandparents fled the Russian Revolution, buying tickets to New York. Instead, they were cheated, and landed in Ireland on the coast of Cork. In Ireland they had to flee persecution again - and relocated to Newcastle. He talks too about what he saw first-hand as a war correspondent during the fall of the Soviet Union. He explores the similarities between Putin, Stalin, and the Tsars who came before them. And he reflects on what "Russian Culture" means in a country with such a turbulent history.

Produced by Elizabeth Burke
A Loftus production by BBC Radio 3.

Available now

36 minutes

Last on

Sun 12 Nov 2017 12:00

Music Played

  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

    1812 Overture

    Orchestra: Minnesota Orchestra. Conductor: Antal Doráti.
  • Sergei Prokofiev

    Peter and the Wolf

    Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra. Conductor: Philip Ellis. Narrator: Peter Ustinov.
  • Giuseppe Verdi

    Celeste Aida (Aida)

    Orchestra: La Scala Orchestra, Milan. Conductor: Lorin Maazel. Singer: Luciano Pavarotti.
  • Leonard Cohen

    Chelsea Hotel No.2

    Performer: Rufus Wainwright.
  • Richard Wagner

    Selig, wie die Sonne (Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg)

    Orchestra: London Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Vladimir Jurowski. Singer: Gerald Finley.
  • יהורם גאון

    Hasar Moshe Montefiore

    Singer: יהורם גאון.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Piano Sonata in A major, K.331 (3rd mvt: Rondo alla Turca)

    Performer: Mitsuko Uchida.
  • Mick Jagger

    Sympathy for the Devil

    Ensemble: The Rolling Stones.

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