James Naughtie, in this major BBC Radio 4 series, uncovers
the roots of our music, revealing how composers and performers,
princes, patrons and chance happenings built a classical tradition
that has become the soundtrack to our history. Volume 2 opens
with the modernism of Wagner and Liszt and takes us up to
the current day examining the work of Tavener, Birtwistle
and Maxwell Davies...
Making of Music: Volume 2 is
not a release for the casual listener. It might be stating
the obvious, but you'll need to have a fairly serious interest
in classical music to really appreciate this. If you only
have a passing familiarity with composers like Bartok and
Elgar then you really won't get much out of this collection.
Naughtie takes us through different eras and examines how
various elements helped build the diverse range of classical
music that is open to music fans worldwide.
the eve of a century of cataclysmic political and social upheaval,
music reflected the spirit of the age. To contemporary ears
Wagner's music was revolutionary and shocking, his lifestyle
seen as a threat to moral traditions. The Paris Exhibition
in 1889 brought the gamelan music of the distant Far East
to Europe, fascinating composers like Debussy, whilst Verdi
and Smetana were giving voice to the nationalist movements
rising up in their countries. But as Europe moved towards
the First World War and the Russian Revolution, the contrast
between Elgar's nostalgic, elegiac style and Stravinsky's
Rite of Spring was telling.
Schoenberg and Bartok rejecting the classical style and writing
intellectual, almost scientifically-based music, and with
jazz and film scores emerging as new art forms, the question
of the purpose of music became more relevant than ever before.
Music for the elite - or music for the masses? Nowhere was
this debate more intimately connected with politics than in
composers and musicians fled Europe for America or remained
to suffer the consequences of war in the 1940s, new styles
emerged, and with rapid technological change the musical landscape
broadened as never before. And in the Britain of the Beatles,
the classical giants Britten and Tippett gave way to Tavener,
Birtwistle and Maxwell Davies, arguably a generation of composers
who combined tradition, modernity and accessibility.
presentation is a flawless as you'd expect. And, as this is
a subject that he obviously cares passionately about, the
enthusiasm comes across in this beautiful collection.
music fans really should add this to their collection - it
really does offer plenty of insight into the music that we
all know and love, and now a new appreciation can be given
to the origins of a lot of the composers examined here.