Main content

Mothers and Daughters

Words and Music on the theme of mothers and daughters, with readers Samantha Bond and Molly Hanson.

On Mothering Sunday, this edition of Words and Music explores mothers and daughters. The readers are real-life mother and daughter Samantha Bond and Molly Hanson. From Shakespeare's domineering Lady Capulet and bewildered Juliet to Austen's neurotic Mrs Bennet and her brood of daughters, the mother and daughter relationship is one fraught with concern and competition but also - often - full of love. From the adoration of Christina Rosetti in her Sonnets are full of love to the tussle over identity in Gillian Clarke's Catrin, this is a journey through one of life's most multi-faceted relationships with music by Ives, Dvorak, Laurie Anderson and Richard Strauss.

Producer: Georgia Mann

Readings

Sylvia Plath – Morning Song
Christina Rossetti - Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome
Shakespeare – extract from Romeo and Juliet Act One, Scene 3
Angela Carter – extract from Extract from The Bloody Chamber
Anne Sexton - Extract from letter
Anne Sexton - Dreaming The Breasts
Jane Austen - Extract from Pride and Prejudice
Gillian Clarke – Catrin
Erica Jong - Extract from Mother
Sophocles translated by Anne Carson - Extract from Elektra
Jeanette Winterson - Extract from Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
Louisa M Alcott - Extract from Little Women
Lola Ridge – Mother
Carol Ann Duffy - The Light Gatherer
Dodi Smith - Extract from I Capture the Castle
Elizabeth Akers Allen - Extract from Rock Me to Sleep

13 days left to listen

1 hour, 14 minutes

Music Played

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

  • 00:00

    Grieg

    Lyric pieces - book 2 for piano (Op.38); no.1; Vuggevise [Cradle song]

    Performer: James Rhodes (piano).
    • Warner 5249835832.
  • Sylvia Plath

    Morning Song, read by Samantha Bond

  • Christina Rossetti

    Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome, read by Molly Hanson

  • 00:03

    Ives

    Songs My Mother Taught Me

    Performer: Roberta Alexander (soprano), Tan Crone (piano).
    • Etcetera KTC 1020.
  • 00:06

    Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

    Extract from Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy Overture after Shakespeare

    Performer: Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Semyon Bychkov (conductor).
    • Decca 4830656.
  • Shakespeare

    Extract from Romeo and Juliet Act One, Scene 3, read by Samantha Bond and Molly Hanson

  • 00:08

    Sergei Prokofiev

    Romeo and Juliet - Juliet refuses to marry Paris

    Performer: LSO, Valery Gergiev (conductor).
    • LSO LIVE LSO0682.
  • Angela Carter

    Extract from The Bloody Chamber, read by Molly Hanson

  • 00:12

    Träd

    Shallow Brown

    Performer: Eliza Carthy and Norma Waterson.
    • Topic TSCD579.
  • Anne Sexton

    Extract from letter by Anne Sexton, read by Samantha Bond

  • Anne Sexton

    Dreaming The Breasts, read by Molly Hanson

  • 00:18

    Laurie Anderson

    O Superman (For Massenet)

    Performer: Laurie Anderson.
    • Warner USWB10101173.
  • 00:21

    Joseph Haydn

    Sonata in E flat major H.16.28 for piano; Menuet and Trio

    Performer: Ronald Brautigam (Fortepiano).
    • BIS BISCD1093.
  • Jane Austen

    Extract from Pride and Prejudice, read by Molly Hanson and Samantha Bond

  • Gilian Clarke

    Catrin, read by Samantha Bond

  • 00:25

    Grace Williams

    Extract from Fantasia on Welsh Nursey Tunes

    Performer: Royal Ballet Sinfonia, Andrew Penny (conductor).
    • Marco Polo 8225048.
  • Erica Jong

    Extract from Mother read by Molly Hanson

  • 00:00

    Kate McGarrigle

    Proserpina

    Performer: Martha Wainwright.
    • V2 Music Ltd 338626-4.
  • 00:33

    Richard Strauss/Manfred Honeck/Tomas Ille

    Elektra Suite

    Performer: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Manfred Honeck (conductor).
    • Reference Recordings FR-722SACD.
    • 1.
  • Sophocles translated by Anne Carson

    Extract from Elektra, read by Samantha Bond and Molly Hanson

  • 00:39

    George Frideric Handel

    First perish thou from Jephtha

    Performer: Anne Sofie von Otter (contralto).
    • Philips 4223512.
    • 11.
  • 00:41

    Gustav Holst

    Nocturne, A Moorside Suite

    Performer: Grimethorpe Colliery Band.
    • BELART 450 043 3.
    • 11.
  • Jeanette Winterson

    Extract from Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, read by Samantha Bond

  • Louisa M Alcott

    Extract from Little Women, read by Molly Hanson and Samantha Bond

  • 00:46

    Ives

    The Alcotts - third movement of Concord Sonata (Piano Sonata No 2)

    Performer: Jeremy Denk (piano).
    • Think Denk Media TDM2567.
    • 10.
  • Lola Ridge

    Mother, read by Molly Hanson

  • 00:51

    Claudio Monteverdi

    Vespro della Beata Vergine 1610 (Hymnus - Ave maris stella)

    Performer: Emma Kirkby (soprano), Taverner Choir & Consort, Andrew Parrott (director).
    • EMI CDS7470788.
    • 5.
  • 01:00

    David Lang

    Light Moving

    Performer: Hilary Hahn (violin), Cory Smythe (piano).
    • DG 4791725.
    • 4.
  • Carol Ann Duffy

    The Light Gatherer, read by Samantha Bond

  • Extract from Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

    Narration read by Adriana Caelotti

  • Dodi Smith

    Extract from I Capture the Castle, read by Molly Hanson

  • 01:04

    Anon

    Italiana for lute

    Performer: Paul O’Dette.
    • Helios, CDH55146.
    • 6.
  • Elizabeth Akers Allen

    Extract from Rock Me to Sleep, read by Samantha Bond

  • 01:06

    Dvorak

    Lasst mich allein, Op. 82; Songs my mother taught me, Op. 55 No. 4

    Performer: Alisa Weilersteion (cello), Anna Polonsky (piano).
    • Decca, 4785705.
    • 4.

Words and Music: Mother and Daughters

As we approach International Women’s Day, this edition of Words and Music explores one of the most complex, loving and sometimes fraught of female relationships: mothers and daughters. It’s one that has been much on my mind since I had my own daughter three years ago.  Real life mother and daughter Samantha Bond and Molly Hanson  read poetry, prose and drama which takes us from the cradle, in Sylvia Plath’s Morning Song (underscored by a Cradle Song by Grieg), through the difficulties of adolescence and the shift from a daughter who is very much a child, to one who is becoming a woman. The American poet Anne Sexton explored this relationship perhaps more profoundly than any other. I’ve placed an extract of a letter Sexton wrote to her daughter Linda Gray, a sort of comforting reminder of her ever-lasting presence as a mother even after death, next to her poem Dreaming the Breasts, where the mother is a far more problematic presence; someone who suffocates but someone who also craves  freedom. Laurie Taylor placed the contradiction of the mother figure at the heart of her electronic masterpiece O Superman, a disembodied, robotic voice says: ‘This is your mother…you don't know me, but I know you.’ The fight for separation, bubbling away beneath the closeness of this relationship is also at the heart of Gillian Clarke’s Catrin, but Sophocles’ Elektra shows us just how bleak things can get when the darkness takes over. Alongside those dark portrayals, I’ve placed some light-infused ones: Lola Ridge’s poem depicts her mother’s presence as a luminescence, similarly Carol Ann Duffy  in The Light Gatherer  portrays a daughter who catches the light wherever she goes. We hear the voices of Eliza Carthy and her mother Norma Waterson and Martha Wainwright sings the heart breaking Proserpina, the last song written for her by her mother Kate McGarrigle. I chose to end the programme on a sentimental note (and one that very much resonates with me), a daughter who now has ‘silver threads’ in her hair longing to be taken back into her mother’s arms ‘just for tonight’.

Producer - Georgia Mann-Smith

Broadcasts

The hidden history of plant-based diets

The hidden history of plant-based diets

Forget social media influencers - the meat-free movement started with the Victorians.

Books website

Books website

Get closer to books with in-depth articles, quizzes and our picks from radio & TV.