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The Power of Music

Clarke Peters and Maggie Service read poetry and prose set against a musical menu with special recordings by BBC musicians and performing groups of Mozart to Lianne La Havas.

As the 2020 BBC Proms gets under way Words and Music explores The Power of Music in a special programme featuring recordings by all the BBC-affiliated performing groups. Readers Clarke Peters and Maggie Service read poetry and prose exploring the unique place music has in our lives, from the 'thousand twangling instruments' which magically fill the air in Shakespeare's The Tempest, to the 'mute glorious Storyvilles' that Philip Larkin imagines when he hears Sidney Bechet play. We'll feel the jealousy and awe that Mozart inspired in Salieri in Peter Schaffer's Amadeus, and the erotic urgency of Langston Hughes' Harlem Night Club. In this special edition of Words and Music the BBC orchestras play a starring role. There are special remote recordings from members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic and BBC Singers, and Rachel Weld, a viola player from the BBC Philharmonic, has recorded a series of postcards reflecting on life as an orchestral musician, and what the enforced distance from her fellow players has been like during lockdown.

All the music in this special edition is recorded by BBC performing groups and affiliated orchestras and ranges from the BBC Philharmonic playing Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales playing Shostakovich, to the BBC Symphony Orchestra playing with Lianne La Havas. There's also Britten played in a special remote recording by BBC Symphony Orchestra harpist Louise Martin, Haydn from a BBC Philharmonic Orchestra quartet and Cole Porter's Night and Day sung by members of The BBC Singers.


Saturday - Ian McEwan
I Am In Need of Music - Elizabeth Bishop
The Tempest - Shakespeare
If Bach had been a beekeeper - Charles Tomlinson
For Sidney Bechet - Philip Larkin
My Last Dance - Julia Ward Howe
The Harlem Dancer - Claude McKay
Amadeus - Peter Schaffer
An Equal Music – Vikram Seth
Harlem Night Club - Langston Hughes
Grace Notes - Bernard MacLaverty
Siege and Symphony - Brian Moynhan
Tess of the d’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
Music when Soft Voices Die - Percy Bysshe Shelley
Everyone Sang - Siegfried Sassoon
Howard's End - EM Forster

1 hour, 14 minutes

Music Played

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

  • 00:00

    Ludwig van Beethoven

    Symphony No. 5, first Mvt.

    Orchestra: BBC Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Gianandrea Noseda.
    • BBC Recording.
  • Ian McEwan

    Extract from Saturday, read by Clarke Peters

  • 00:02

    Henry Purcell

    If Music be the Food of Love, Z.379

    Singer: Eleanor Minney. Performer: Oliver John Ruthven.
    • BBC Recording.
  • 00:04

    Charles Villiers Stanford

    The Bluebird

    Singer: Rebecca Lea. Orchestra: BBC Singers. Conductor: Sofi Jeannin.
    • BBC Recording.
  • Elizabeth Bishop

    I Am In Need of Music, read by Maggie Service

  • William Shakespeare

    Extract from The Tempest, read by Clarke Peters

  • 00:08

    Lianne La Havas


    Singer: Lianne La Havas. Orchestra: BBC Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Jules Buckley.
    • BBC Recording.
  • 00:13

    Claude Debussy

    Extract from La Mer

    Orchestra: BBC Philharmonic. Conductor: Yan Pascal Tortelier.
    • BBC Recording.
  • Rachel Weld

    Postcards on Context No. 1, read by Rachel Weld

  • Charles Tomlinson

    If Bach had been a beekeeper, read by Maggie Service

  • 00:17

    Johann Sebastian Bach

    Extract from Lobet Den Herrn BWV 230

    Choir: BBC Singers. Performer: Stephen Farr. Conductor: Paul Brough.
    • BBC Recording.
  • 00:19

    Lew Pollack

    That's a Plenty

    Performer: Misha Mullov-Abbado. Performer: James Davison.
    • BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists Recording.
  • Langston Hughes

    Harlem Night Club, read by Clarke Peters

  • 00:22

    Franz Liszt

    Extract from 2 Episodes from Lenau's Faust S.110 for orchestra; Mephisto waltz no.1

    Orchestra: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Ilan Volkov.
    • Hyperion, CDA67856.
  • Peter Schaffer

    Extract from Amadeus, read by Clarke Peters

  • 00:25

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Adagio from Serenade for 13 Wind Instruments K.361

    Performer: Members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Sakari Oramo.
    • BBC Recording.
  • 00:30

    Ernest John Moeran

    Extract from In the Mountain Country

    Orchestra: Ulster Orchestra. Conductor: Vernon Handley.
    • Chandos, CHAN 10235X.
    • Tr. 9.
  • Bernard MacLaverty

    Extract from Grace Notes, read by Maggie Service

  • 00:33

    Kaija Saariaho

    Extract from Nuits adieux

    Choir: BBC Singers. Conductor: Sofi Jeannin.
    • BBC Recording.
  • 00:34

    Edward Elgar

    Nimrod from The Enigma Variations

    Orchestra: BBC Philharmonic. Conductor: Juanjo Mena.
    • BBC Recording.
  • Rachel Weld

    Postcards on Context No. 2, read by Rachel Weld

  • 00:38

    Bramwell Tovey

    Pictures in the Smoke

    Performer: Bramwell Tovey. Orchestra: BBC Concert Orchestra.
    • BBC Recording.
  • Claude McKay

    The Harlem Dancer, read by Clarke Peters

  • 00:39

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Tango Alla Turca

    Music Arranger: Dan Whibley. Performer: BBC Philharmonic.
    • BBC Recording.
  • Zadie Smith

    Extract from Swing Time, read by Maggie Service

  • 00:43

    Cole Porter

    Night and Day

    Performer: Emma Tring. Performer: Margaret Cameron. Performer: Paul Plummer.
    • BBC Recording.
  • 00:48

    Dmitry Shostakovich

    Extract from Symphony No. 7 ‘Leningrad’, first Mvt.

    Performer: BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
    • BBC Recording.
  • Brian Moynahan

    Extract from Siege and Symphony, read by Clarke Peters

  • 00:50

    Antonín Dvořák

    Extract from Cello Concerto, 2nd Mvt.

    Performer: Pablo Ferrández. Orchestra: BBC Philharmonic. Conductor: Juanjo Mena.
    • BBC Recording.
  • Thomas Hardy

    Extract from Tess of the D’Urbervilles, read by Maggie Service

  • 00:53

    Benjamin Britten

    Extract from Hymn from Suite for Harp, Op. 83

    Performer: Louise Martin.
    • BBC Recording.
  • Shelley

    Music when Soft Voices Die, read by Clarke Peters

  • 00:56

    Frank Bridge

    Music when soft voices die

    Choir: BBC Singers. Conductor: Sakari Oramo.
    • BBC Recording.
  • Vikram Seth

    Extract from An Equal Music, read by Maggie Service

  • 01:00

    Joseph Haydn

    String Quartet in D op 20 No.4, 3rd Mvt.

    Performer: Lucy Baker. Performer: Martin Clark. Performer: Fiona Dunkley. Performer: Elinor Gow.
    • BBC Recording.
  • 01:02

    Wayne Shorter


    Music Arranger: Guy Barker. Orchestra: BBC Concert Orchestra. Conductor: Bramwell Tovey.
    • BBC Recording.
  • Philip Larkin

    For Sydney Bechet, read by Clarke Peters

  • Siegfried Sassoon

    Everyone Sang, read by Clarke Peters

  • 01:07

    Gerald Finzi

    My spirit sang all day

    Choir: BBC Singers. Conductor: James Burton.
    • BBC Recording.
  • E.M Forster

    Extract from Howard’s End, read by Maggie Service

  • 01:09

    Ludwig van Beethoven

    Extract from Symphony No. 5

    Orchestra: BBC Philharmonic. Conductor: Gianandrea Noseda.
    • BBC recording.


  • Sun 19 Jul 2020 17:00

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