Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Musical Purgatories

On the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death, Verity Sharp journeys through musical purgatories, sonic infernos and auditory visions of paradise.

The words of Dante Alighieri (d. 14th September 1321) have been central in shaping notions of Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio) and Paradise (Paradiso) in the West. A cornerstone of Italian literature and medieval theology, his Divine Comedy narrates the journey from damnation to grace, through encounters with saints and sinners and poets of the past. In the week of his death seven hundred years ago, Verity Sharp explores musical expressions of the struggle for the human soul, bringing together sounds from a variety of cultures and traditions. Noise artist Puce Mary offers a prayer to the “Ex-lady of delight”; Alasdair Roberts’ account of The Lyke-Wake Dirge brings glimpses of heavenly harp amongst the sombre refrains; and separated by nine centuries, Tanya Tagaq and Hildegard von Bingen use the power of the voice to give expression to the soul’s tribulations. Also in the show we’ve new creations from the inimitable jazz composer Henry Threadgill and high-energy dance music from Tanzania.

Produced by Phil Smith
A Reduced Listening production from BBC Radio 3

2 hours

Music Played

  • Dos Santos

    A Shot in the Dark

    • City of Mirrors.
    • International Anthem.
  • Puce Mary

    I Pray For Deliverance, The Size Of My Desires

    • I Could Go Anywhere But Again I Go With You.
    • Posh Isolation.
  • Rakhi Singh


    • Quarry.
    • Bedroom Community.
  • Desire Marea & Griffit Vigo

    Tavern Kween (Griffit Vigo Remix)

    • MUTE.
  • Scattered Purgatory 破地獄

    Limbo Litter

    • Lost Ethnography of the Miscanthus Ocean.
    • Guruguru Brain.
  • Hildegard von Bingen

    Symphonia et Ordo virtutum: O Euchari, in leta via

    Performer: Elin Manahan Thomas. Orchestra: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Conductor: Harry Christophers.
    • Eternal Light.
    • Universal Music Classics & Jazz.
  • Tanya Tagaq


    • Retribution.
    • Six Shooter Records.
  • Vera Kappeler & Peter Conradin Zumthor

    Orthopedia Avantgarde

    • Herd.
    • Intakt Records.
  • Kaspar


    • MFD.
    • Studio Lab'ut.
  • Alasdair Roberts

    A Lyke Wake Dirge

    • No Earthly Man.
    • Drag City.
  • Lucy Canchimbo

    Alabao: "Sábado de mañana" (Saturday morning)

    • Proyecto Alabaos.
  • Matteo Fargion & Andrea Spreafico

    Canto 1

    • Bad Dante Bad English Bad Opera.
  • Henry Threadgill

    Now And Then

    • Poof.
    • Pi Recordings.
  • Fimber Bravo

    Call My Name

    • Lunar Tredd.
    • Moshi Moshi Records.

    Wake Up, Fire

    • I Can See Everything From Here.
    • Prostir.
  • MC Kono

    Il Jini Song Wapi

    • Sounds of Pamoja.
    • Nyege Nyege Tapes.
  • Francesco Giannico

    Primum Mobile

    • Les Mondes Imaginaires.
    • Time Released Sound.
  • Dark Star Safari


    • Walk Through Lightly.
    • Arjunamusic Records.
  • Glenn Astro


    • Purple.
    • Tartelet Records.
  • Nikki Sheth


    • Sonic Mmabolela 2017.
    • Free Music Archive.
  • M. Ward

    Migration Of Souls

    • Migration Stories.
    • Anti-.
  • Mary Lattimore

    A Unicorn Catches A Falling Star In Heaven

    • A Unicorn Catches A Falling Star In Heaven.


  • Fri 17 Sep 2021 23:00

Is the synth the ultimate feminist instrument?

Is the synth the ultimate feminist instrument?

Five pioneering women and the technology they made their own...