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Orientalism and the Music of Elsewhere

Tom Service unpicks western music's debt to the exotic and asks when western music itself can be exotic. The second of three companion programmes to TV's Civilisations series.

In the second of three companion programmes to BBC TV's Civilisations series, Tom Service unpicks western music's debt to the exotic and ponders the allure of western music for other cultures.

Reflecting contemporary attitudes and trends in fashion and the arts, the exotic has long cast its spell on western composers. Mozart catered to the 18th-century Viennese craze for all things Turkish; in 19th-century France the exotic stretched east to Indonesia and Japan. More recently, the music of Africa has attracted the likes of Steve Reich and György Ligeti. And 150 years ago, as Japan opened up to outside influences, western culture became suddenly desirable in the east, with profound and lasting consequences. But what does it take to make the exotic in music more than a titillating and imperialist added extra?

Including contributions from composer Unsuk Chin, and cultural historian of Japan, Jonathan Service.

David Papp (producer).

Available now

29 minutes

Last on

Sun 1 Apr 2018 17:00

Music Played

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Piano Sonata in A major (K.331): III. Alla turca (Allegretto)

    Performer: Sir András Schiff.
    • Decca.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 'Choral': IV. Finale: Presto - Allegro assai

    Performer: Minnesota Orchestra. Performer: Osmo Vänskä.
    • BIS.
  • Léo Delibes

    Lakme, Act 2: "Ah! Par les dieux inspires...Ou va la jeune hindoue..."

    Performer: Natalie Dessay. Performer: Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse. Performer: Michel Plasson.
    • Warner Classics.
  • Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

    Scheherazade, Op. 35: I. The Sea and Sinbad's Ship

    Performer: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Performer: Kirill Kondrashin.
    • Phillips.
  • Ron Goodwin

    One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing - Opening Credits

    Performer: Unknown.
    • TBA.
  • David Bowie

    China Girl

    Composer: Iggy Pop. Performer: David Bowie.
    • EMI.
  • Paul Simon

    Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes

    Performer: Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Performer: Paul Simon.
    • Warner Bros. Records.
  • Albert Ketèlbey

    From a Japanese Screen

    Performer: Noriko Ogawa.
    • BIS.
  • Traditional

    Gadhung Mlati

    Performer: Unnamed Javanese musicians.
    • ARC.
  • Claude Debussy

    3 Estampes - 1. Pagodes

    Performer: Stephen Hough.
    • Hyperion.
  • Traditional

    Hotaru no hikari (Fireflies’ Light)

    Performer: Unnamed choir and pianist.
    • TBA.
  • Traditional

    Tsurukame (Crane and Tortoise)

    Performer: Sada Yakko.
    • Berliner Phonogramm Archiv.
  • Gyorgy Ligeti

    Etudes for piano, Book 1 - No.1 Desordre

    Performer: Fredrik Ullén.
    • BIS.
  • Traditional

    Enanga harp music

    Performer: Unnamed enanga player.
    • Saydisc.
  • Traditional

    Oyagala Nkole Ntya

    Performer: Ssaza Chief Kago. Performer: Danieri Seruwaniko.
    • SWP Records.
  • Gyorgy Ligeti

    Etudes for piano, book 1 - No.1 Desordre

    Performer: Fredrik Ullén.
    • BIS.
  • Unsuk Chin

    Su for sheng and orchestra

    Performer: Wu Wei. Performer: Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. Performer: Myung-Whun Chung.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
  • Traditional

    Amadina solo

    Performer: Unnamed players.
    • Orcora.

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