BBC Broadcasting House, London

BBC Radio 3 to mark First World War Centenary with special programme season

Posted on on 30 May 2014
Share |

Two weeks of special programmes are to be broadcast on BBC Radio 3, telling the story of the First World War through the music of the time.

Much of the station's schedule from June 23-July 6 2014 will be dedicated to exploring the work of composers and musicians from Britain, Europe and across the world.

Programmes will consider the impact of the war on classical music, together with the spread of the gramophone, trench songs, the rise of jazz and the music of non-Europeans swept into the war by the imperial powers.

Roger Wright, who's in charge of both Radio 3 and the BBC Proms, says: "For two weeks Radio 3 will shine new light and provide contextual programming on the musical experience of millions as they lived through this historic conflict. 

"As the home of classical music, the station will be presenting well known and unfamiliar work, with a focus on musicians and artists of the time, specially created live music events and a unique range of speech programmes, drama and jazz, all designed to give our listeners a new insight into the music and culture of World War One."

Sarajevo concert

Radio 3 will join other European broadcasters on 28th June 2014 in marking the 100th anniversary of Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination. A concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra will be broadcast live from Sarajevo, featuring music from France, Germany and Austria in tribute to peace and international friendship.

Radio 3 says its schedule will be used each day to showcase the musical and cultural experiences of the major powers during the war.

Programmes will focus on Germany (June 25), Austria (June 27), France (June 30), Russia (July 1), the United States (July 2), and the Empires (July 3). Three days will be devoted to the UK (June 23, 24 & 26).

There will be new recordings by the BBC Orchestras of works not heard since 1919, as well as profiles of leading thinkers from the arts and sciences. They include the painter CWR Nevinson; writer and nurse Rose Macaulay; the artist, Otto Dix; sculptor Kathe Kollwitz; and the film director, Sergei Eisenstein.


The highlights of the two-week season also include:

*A Captive Audience - the BBC Concert Orchestra  explores the work of musicians held in British and German internment camps (June 26).

*World War One: Cradle of Jazz?  Presenter Alyn Shipton discusses the arrival of African American troops in Europe and the birth of jazz (July 6).

* Sound of Cinema - Matthew Sweet introduces music from the vast range of films inspired by the First World War (June 28)

* Professor Jay Winter, Editor of the Cambridge History of the First World War, will be the guest on the weekday morning programme Essential Classics (June 30-July 4).

*A week of programmes will reassess the work of Ivor Gurney, the musician and poet who was sent to the front and later suffered a series of mental breakdowns (June 29-July 4).

Radio 3's resident expert throughout the season will be Dr Kate Kennedy of Cambridge University, a leading researcher on the music of the First World War.

She says the programming will reflect the 'panoply of emotions' engendered by the conflict: "The arts have a unique role to play in expressing the shockwaves that run through culture in light of a cataclysmic event such as the First World War.

"Music, above any other art form, has the ability to offer solace, express patriotism, and act as a vehicle for public and private grief."

Full details of the season can be found here.

Source: BBC Radio 3

Images: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News