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Clarke Peters uncovers the stories of black music in Europe, from the Jazz Age to the 1950s.

Drawing on rare archive recordings, Clarke Peters' new three-part series explores the hidden history of black music across Europe, from the late 1920s through the war years and beyond.

Black music in Europe doesn’t begin with the arrival of the Empire Windrush at Tilbury. There is a long, rich history preserved on shellac discs that shows how diverse sounds enthralled the continent long before 1948.

Throughout the series, we hear from a huge array of different performers - including classical composers, jazz stars, calypso legends and more - as well as commentators and historians, to get to the heart of early black music in Europe.

Episode 1 – Before the War
Clarke examines the variety of black music recorded in Europe from the late 1920s onwards - hot jazz in Weimar Berlin, calypso in Cardiff Bay and the sounds of the Beguine in Paris. He also investigates the Degenerate Music exhibition held in Dusseldorf in 1938, and hears how the rise of Hitler affected the lives of musicians like trumpeter Arthur Briggs.

Presented by Clarke Peters
Produced by Tom Woolfenden
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4

Available now

28 minutes

Music Played

  • Lord Kitchener

    London Is the Place For Me

    • London Is the Place For Me.
    • PARLOPHONE.
    • HJRCD-2.
  • Arthur Brigg's Savoy Syncops Orchestra

    Halleluja

    • Halleluja.
    • Grammophon.
    • 21034.
  • Stellio Et Son Orchestre Créole

    Balcon Fleuri

    • Balcon Fleuri.
    • Pathe.
    • 1932.
  • Harry E Quashie

    Anadwofa

    • Honest Jons.
    • HJRCD-33.
  • Arthur Brigg's Savoy Syncops Orchestra

    Halleluja

    • Halleluja.
    • Grammophon.
    • 21034.
  • Sam Wooding

    Shanghai Shuffle

    • Shanghai Shuffle.
    • Biograph.
    • BLP-12025.
  • Duke Ellington & His Orchestra

    Black and Tan Fantasy

    • Black and Tan Fantasy.
    • Prestige.
    • 2PCD-240732.
  • Sam Wooding

    Shanghai Shuffle

    • Shanghai Shuffle.
    • Biograph.
    • BLP-12025.
  • Arthur Brigg's Savoy Syncops Orchestra

    Bugle Call Rag

    • Black Jack (8).
    • LP 3006.
  • L'Orchestre Antillais

    Mussieu Satan Faché

    • Mussieu Satan Faché.
    • Odeon.
    • 165.793.
  • L'Orchestre Antillais

    Mussieu Dollar

    • Mussieu Dollar.
    • Odeon.
    • 165.793.
  • Abrew's Portuguese Instrumental Trio

    Marsha Du Golfo

    • Marsha Du Golfo.
    • Colombia.
    • 112792.
  • Sam Manning

    Sly Mongoose

    • Sly Mongoose.
    • Jazz Oracle.
    • BDW 8028.
  • Wilmoth Houdini & His Caribbean Orchestra

    Sweet like a Honey Bee

    • Sweet like a Honey Bee.
    • Arhoolie.
    • CD-37010.
  • Frank Deniz and his Spirits of Rhythm

    Soft Winds

    • Soft Winds.
    • Topic.
    • TSCD-781.
  • Ludwig Hofmann

    Leb Wohl Mein Schatz

    • Leb Wohl Mein Schatz.
    • ETERNA.
    • 8 35 105.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Symphony No 5 In C Minor I: Allegro Con Brio

    • Symphony No 5 In C Minor I: Allegro Con Brio.
    • EMI.
    • B00004SEIA.
  • Vancouver Orchestra

    African Suite: V. Akinla: Allegro non troppo

    • African Suite: V. Akinla: Allegro non troppo.
    • CBC.
    • B003H14T1U.
  • Charly And His Orchestra

    Let's Go Bombin' (United Nations Air Men)

    • Let's Go Bombin' (United Nations Air Men).
    • Bob's Music.
    • Bob-CD 28.
  • Ken "Snakehips" Johnson and His Orchestra

    Snakeships Swing

    • Snakeships Swing.
    • F-6854.

Broadcasts