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Seven Ages of Love

Samuel West and Hattie Morahan with poems and prose on love from young to old including words by Shakespeare, John Donne, Sarah Maguire, Daphne du Maurier and Elizabeth Jennings and music by Ravel, Mahler, Stephen Sondheim, Miles Davis, Janacek and John Tavener.

Producer: Fiona McLean.

1 hour, 15 minutes

Last on

Sun 11 Feb 2018 17:30

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:00

    Edward Elgar

    Salut d’amour Op. 12

    Performer: Bournemouth Sinfonietta Ronald Thomas (Leader), Norman Del Mar (Conductor).
    • Chandos CHAN8371.
    • Tr4.
  • Michael Longley

    The Sunburst read by Samuel West

  • 00:03

    Maurice Ravel

    String Quartet in F Major, 1903 – Assez vif – Très Rythmé

    Performer: Avalon String Quartet.
    • Channel Classics CCS14898.
    • Tr2.
  • Elizabeth Jennings

    A Child in the Night read by Hattie Morahan

  • 00:09

    John Tavener

    To a Child Dancing in the Wind

    Performer: Patricia Rozario, Kathryn Lukas (flute), Stephen Tees (viola), Helen Tunstall (harp).
    • Collins Classics 14282.
    • Tr3.
  • 00:11

    Nino Rota

    Romeo and Juliet – Their First Meeting

    Performer: Nino Rota (Conductor).
    • Cloud Nine CNS5000.
    • Tr5.
  • William Shakespeare

    from Romeo and Juliet read by Hattie Morahan

  • 00:14

    Gustav Mahler

    Symphony no. 5 - Adagietto

    Performer: Weiner Philharmoniker, Leonard Bernstein (Conductor).
    • Deutsche Grammophon 4691542.
    • CD2 Tr4.
  • John Clare

    I Hid my Love read by Samuel West

  • Ezra Pound

    The River Merchant’s Wife read by Hattie Morahan

  • 00:25

    Gabriel Fauré

    Après un rêve ("Dans un sommeil"), song for voice & piano, Op. 7/1

    Performer: Veronique Gens and Roger Vignoles.
    • CLASSICS 724354536021.
    • Tr1.
  • John Donne

    The Good-Morrow read by Samuel West

  • 00:29

    Alfred Reynolds

    Suite: Marriage à la Mode - Gavotte

    Performer: Royal Ballet Sinfonia, Gavin Sutherland (Conductor).
    • Marco Polo 8225184.
    • Tr22.
  • James Fenton

    Hinterhof read by Samuel West

  • 00:32

    Rufus Wainwright


    Performer: The London Oratory Choir, Marius de Vries (piano).
    • Dreamworks 4505041.
    • Tr7.
  • 00:35

    Leos Janáček

    Quartet no. 2 "Lettres intimes" - Moderato

    Performer: Talichovo kvarteto.
    • Calliope CAL9333.
    • Tr7.
  • Edward Dower

    The Lowest Trees have Tops read by Samuel West

  • 00:41

    Toru Takemitsu

    Towards the Sea – The Night

    Performer: Aureole Trio.
    • Koch 374492.
    • Tr7.
  • Sarah Maguire

    Perfect Timing read by Hattie Morahan

  • Thom Gunn

    Tamer and Hawk read by Samuel West

  • 00:45

    Dmitry Shostakovich

    Nocturne for Cello and Orchestra from The Gadfly

    Performer: Russian Philharmonic Orchestra, Dmitry Yablonsky (Conductor).
    • Naxos 8557722.
    • Tr9.
  • Daphne du Maurier

    from Rebecca read by Hattie Morahan

  • 00:50

    Stephen Sondheim

    Send in the Clowns

    Performer: Judi Dench.
    • Tring Tring001.
    • Tr18.
  • D.H. Lawrence

    On the Balcony read by Samuel West

  • 00:55

    Miles Davis

    Blue in Green

    Performer: Miles Davis.
    • Columbia CK64935.
    • Tr3.
  • Harold Pinter

    It is Here read by Samuel West

  • Jackie Kay

    Late Love read by Hattie Morahan

  • 01:02

    Antonín Dvořák

    Love Songs, Op. 83 – No.4, 'I know that on my love to you'

    Performer: Josef Suk (violin); Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano).
    • Toccata ROCC0100.
    • Tr13.
  • Hugo Williams

    Love Life read by Samuel West

  • George Crabbe

    A Marriage Ring read by Hattie Morahan

  • 01:05

    Alexander Borodin

    String Quartet no. 2 in D Major – Allegro moderato

    Performer: Haydn Quartet.
    • Naxos 8550850.
    • Tr5.

Producer's Notes: The Seven Ages of Love


Leonard Cohen met his muse Marianne on the Greek island of Hydra in the 1960s and they remained close friends throughout their lives.  His letter on hearing that she was extremely ill was read around the world:

‘Well Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon.  Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine… Goodbye, old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.’

Leonard Cohen died just four months after Marianne.

Words and Music explores love from young to old following melancholy Jacques’ monologue in ‘As You Like It’ where he describes the seven ages of man – infant, schoolchild, lover, soldier, justice, pantaloons and second childhood.

‘Seven Ages of Love’ opens with Elgar’s ‘Salut d’amour’, written as an engagement present for his future wife.  Here you’ll hear Michael Longley’s ‘The Sunburst’, a baby’s first memory of the light around her as she lies under the patchwork quilt made by her loving mother and grandmother.

The second age is heard in Juliet’s declaration of her true love to Romeo as she beseeches him to tell her of his feelings. The ‘Adagietto’ of Mahler’s ‘Symphony no. 5’ is said to be his love song for his wife, Alma.  The passion he conveys is heard too in John Clare’s moving poem, ‘I Hid my Love’, in which he talks of the pain of concealing his love from a girl in his young life.

Fauré’s ‘Après un rêve’ in which a lover dreams of leaving the earth with his lover only to be brought back to life on awakening, is followed by John Donne’s ‘The Good-Morrow’, in which he explores love from its early days of lust to what he sees as true, spiritual love.

The anonymous narrator of Daphne du Maurier remembers what she believes to be the fever of first love where one is so easily hurt, a passage where it’s hard for the reader not to think of the sadness of the narrator’s later life. Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Send in the Clowns’ from ‘A Little Night Music’, heard here sung by Judi Dench is, too, an older woman looking back on the disappointments of her life.

The happier days of later love are heard in Miles Davis’ ‘Blue in Green’ with Harold Pinter’s ‘It is Here’, dedicated to his wife and remembering the sound of the breath they both took when they first met.  This joy in later life is heard too in Hugo Williams’ ‘Love-Life’ where an elderly couple feel they are young again, ‘our smiles wrapped in lace’.  ‘The Seven Ages of Love’ ends with Alexander Borodin’s warm ‘String Quartet no. 2’, written for his wife after their long marriage and in which he remembers their first meeting in Heidelberg.


 Producer: Fiona McLean



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