Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Hayley Atwell and Simon Callow read texts and poems related to the number seven including last words, deadly sins, veils, brides, brothers, and dwarfs.

Seven days in the week, colours in the rainbow, notes in the diatonic scale; The number seven is considered lucky, mystical and holy in many different cultures and religions and appears frequently in nature as well as literature. Hayley Atwell and Simon Callow read texts and poems related to this most important of numbers, including last words, deadly sins, veils, brides, brothers, and dwarfs. With music by Haydn, Bartok, Strauss and Bowie.

Producer - Ellie Mant.

1 hour, 15 minutes

Last on

Sun 27 May 2018 17:30

Music Played

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

  • 00:00

    Dave Brubeck

    Unsquare dance (excerpt)

    Performer: Dave Brubeck (piano), Paul Desmond (alto sax, Eugene Wright (bass), Joe Morello (drums).
    • COLUMBIA 5105942.
    • CD2 tr4.
  • Peter Clayton and Martin Price

    The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, read by Hayley Atwell

  • 00:01

    John Dowland

    Behold a wonder here (excerpt)

    Performer: Emma Kirkby (soprano), Anthony Rooley (lute).
    • BIS SACD1475.
    • Tr12.
  • Lewis Carroll

    Through the Looking Glass, read by Simon Callow

  • 00:03

    Ludwig van Beethoven

    Septet: Andante con moto alla Marcia (excerpt)

    Performer: Berlin Philharmonic Octet.
    • PHILIPS 4260912.
    • Tr6.
  • Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm trans DL Ashliman

    Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, read by Hayley Atwell

  • 00:08

    Frank Churchill

    Reminiscences of Snow White (excerpt)

    Performer: Earl Wild.
    • IVORY CLASSICS 70907.
    • Tr9.
  • Edgar Allan Poe

    Serenade, read by Simon Callow

  • 00:11

    Jonathan Dove

    Seek him that maketh the seven stars (excerpt)

    Performer: Wells Cathedral Choir, Jonathan Vaughn (organ), Matthew Owens (conductor).
    • HYPERION CDA67768.
    • Tr13.
  • Jane Austen

    Sense and Sensibility, read by Hayley Atwell

  • 00:14

    Sergei Prokofiev

    Piano Sonata no.7 in B flat: Precipitato (excerpt)

    Performer: Boris Giltberg (piano).
    • Tr7.
  • Anon

    As I was Going to St. Ives, read by Simon Callow

  • 00:16

    Gene de Paul

    Seven brides for seven brothers: Barn dance (excerpt)

    • Tr9.
  • Agatha Christie

    The Seven Dials Mystery, read by Hayley Atwell

  • 00:19

    György Ligeti

    Clocks and clouds (excerpt)

    Performer: Compositieproject van Asko|Schönberg. Conductor: Reinbert de Leeuw.
    • TELDEC 8573876312.
    • Tr3.
  • William Shakespeare

    As you Like it, read by Simon Callow

  • 00:23

    Charles-Valentin Alkan

    Grande Sonata: Les Quatre Ages – 50 ans (excerpt)

    Performer: Marc-Andre Hamelin (piano).
    • HYPERION CDA66794.
    • Tr4.
  • 00:26

    Claude Debussy

    Clair de lune (excerpt)

    Performer: Renaud Capucon (violin), Jerome Ducros (piano).
    • VIRGIN CLASSICS 37408728.
    • Tr10.
  • Jessie Belle Rittenhouse

    Seven Times the Moon Came, read by Hayley Atwell

  • Geoffrey Chaucer trans Larry D Benson

    The Parson’s Tale, read by Simon Callow

  • 00:29

    Kurt Weill

    The Seven Deadly Sins: Pride (excerpt)

    Performer: Ute Lemper (singer), Rias Berlin Sinfonietta, John Mauceri (conductor).
    • DECCA 430 168-2.
    • Tr3.
  • Jean Ingelow

    Seven time one - exultation, read by Hayley Atwell

  • 00:33

    Giovanni Gabrieli

    Canzon septimi toni

    Performer: His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts, Timothy Roberts (conductor).
    • HYPERION CDA66908.
    • Tr12.
  • The Bible

    Seven last words, read by Simon Callow

  • 00:38

    Joseph Haydn

    The Seven Last Words; introduction (excerpt)

    Performer: Callino Quartet.
    • CORO COR16152.
    • Tr1.
  • Charles Perrault trans Andrew Lang

    Bluebeard, read by Hayley Atwell

  • 00:40

    Béla Bartók

    Bluebeard’s Castle: Seventh door (excerpt)

    Performer: Elena Zhidkova (mezzo-soprano), Willard White (bass-baritone), London Symphony Orchestra, Valery Gergiev (conductor).
    • LSO LIVE LSO0685.
    • Tr8.
  • Lord Byron

    The Prisoner of Chillon, read by Simon Callow

  • 00:45

    David Bowie

    Seven (excerpt)

    Performer: David Bowie (singer).
    • VIRGIN CDV2900.
    • Tr5.
  • Traditional

    Monday’s Child, read by Hayley Atwell

  • 00:48

    Heitor Villa‐Lobos

    Fantasia: tres anime (excerpt)

    Performer: John Harle (saxophone), Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Neville Marriner (conductor).
    • EMI 0947032.
    • Tr3.
  • Ted Hughes

    The Seven Sorrows, read by Simon Callow

  • 00:52

    Max Bruch

    Septet: Adagio (excerpt)

    Performer: Consortium Classicum.
    • ORFEO C167881A.
    • Tr8.
  • Christina Rossetti

    The Rainbow, read by Hayley Atwell

  • 00:55

    Yoskihiro Kanno

    Lunar rainbow (excerpt)

    Performer: Noriko Ogawa (piano).
    • BIS 2075 SACD.
    • Tr5.
  • 00:58

    Richard Strauss

    Salome: Dance of the Seven Veils (excerpt)

    Performer: London Philharmonic Orchestra, Norman Del Mar (conductor).
    • Tr2.
  • Oscar Wilde

    Salome, read by Simon Callow

  • Giovanni Pascoli translated by Arletta M. Abbott

    Nightfall, read by Hayley Atwell

  • 01:01

    Benjamin Britten

    Peter Grimes: Now the Great Bear and Pleiades (excerpt)

    Performer: Philip Langridge (tenor), City of London Sinfonia, Richard Hickox (conductor).
    • CHANDOS CHAN9447/8.
    • tr22.
  • Enid Blyton

    Secret Seven read by Simon Callow

  • 01:05

    Malcolm Arnold

    Little Suite no.4, Op.80a: Rondo

    Orchestra: Royal Ballet Sinfonia. Conductor: Gavin Sutherland.
    • ASV CDWHL2126.
    • Tr3.
  • William Butler Yeats

    In the Seven Woods read by Hayley Atwell

  • 01:08

    Antoine Reicha

    Fugue no.24 for piano

    Performer: Tiny Wirtz (piano).
    • CPO 9990652.
    • tr6.
  • 01:10

    Camille Saint‐Saëns

    Septet: Intermede (excerpt)

    Performer: Nash Ensemble.
    • HYPERION CDA67431/2.
    • tr3.
  • WH Auden

    As I walked out one evening read by Simon Callow

Words and Music: Seven

Words and Music: Seven – producer’s note

Seven has always been my favourite number, and I’m not unusual in that. Throughout history it has been considered lucky, mystical, magical and holy in many different cultures and religions, while also appearing frequently in nature. In literature I found plenty of varied texts to choose from; Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Agatha Christie’s Seven Dials Mystery, Shakespeare’s seven ages of man, and the seven last words of Christ on the cross. There were other sevens which lent themselves particularly well to music choices, such as the seventh door in Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, Salome’s dance of the seven veils, and the seven deadly sins.  In poetry I found descriptions of the seven stars of the Pleiades from Poe, seven sorrows from Ted Hughes, a seven-coloured rainbow from Christina Rossetti, and seven pillars in a dungeon from Byron. Musically of course there are seven notes in the diatonic scale, and I was also keen to include some works for septet, and others with a seven in the time signature!     

Ellie Mant - Producer


Books website

Books website

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