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.
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
The Sunburst read by Samuel West
A Child in the Night read by Hattie Morahan
from Romeo and Juliet read by Hattie Morahan
I Hid my Love read by Samuel West
The River Merchants Wife read by Hattie Morahan
The Good-Morrow read by Samuel West
Hinterhof read by Samuel West
The Lowest Trees have Tops read by Samuel West
Perfect Timing read by Hattie Morahan
Tamer and Hawk read by Samuel West
Daphne du Maurier
from Rebecca read by Hattie Morahan
On the Balcony read by Samuel West
It is Here read by Samuel West
Late Love read by Hattie Morahan
Love Life read by Samuel West
A Marriage Ring read by Hattie Morahan
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""Added, go to My Music