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Charles Hazlewood explores the four great American minimalist composers who rebooted classical music in the 20th century. He begins with La Monte Young and Terry Riley.

In this episode Charles Hazlewood tracks down the pioneers of minimalism, which began on America's west coast in the 1950s. Describing them as 'prophets without honour', Charles explores La Monte Young's groundbreaking experiments with musical form that included notes held for exceptionally long periods of time, and drones inspired by Eastern classical music and Hindustani singer Pandit Pran Nath.

He drives out into the Californian countryside to the ranch of Terry Riley and discusses the musician's revolutionary experiments with tape recording looping and phasing, along with early synthesizer sound. The episode includes excerpts from key early minimalist pieces, including Riley's now famous In C, performed by Charles Hazlewood's All Stars Collective and detailed workshopping by Hazlewood where pieces are deconstructed musically.

The key attributes of minimalism, its reliance on repetition, its mesmerizing transcendent qualities and innovative use of technology are also discussed with broadcaster and writer Tom Service; Gillian Moore, Director of Music at the Southbank Centre; composers Morton Subotnick, Max Richter and Bryce Dessner, and musicians Jarvis Cocker and Adrian Utley.

59 minutes

Last on

Sat 26 Oct 2019 02:30

Music Played

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

  • 00:21

    The Who

    Baba O'Riley

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Charles Hazlewood
Executive Producer Franny Moyle
Director Ben Whalley

Broadcasts

Californian dreamer

Californian dreamer

BBC Arts profiles composer Terry Riley at 80.