The musical and military features of the march seem pretty unpromising terrain for composers - you’ve got to constrain your creativity to two-time, easy to remember tunes that keep pace in strict time.
And yet the form of the march allows for more creativity than those strictures might suggest. Tom falls in with composers including Elgar, Coates, Sousa, Strauss, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven to discover how the march can beat the drum for many different ideas and emotions.
With historian, Prof Simon Heffer.
David Lang: The Little Match Girl Passion
Tom Service delves into David Lang's secular take on the Christian Passion: The Little Match Girl Passion. Winning the Pulitzer Prize in 2008, the work, scored for chorus and percussion, and lasting barely more than half an hour, takes inspiration from both Bach's St Matthew Passion and Hans Christian Andersen's famous children's story, The Little Match Girl.
Also Sprach Zarathustra: Strauss’s New Dawn
Made famous by Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, the tone poem Also Sprach Zarathustra which was composed by a young Richard Strauss in 1896 is much more than just two minutes of cosmic fanfare. Based on Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophical novel inspired by the ancient Iranian prophet Zoroaster, its nine sections explore everything from passion, science, joy and death, to learning, convalescing, dancing and night wandering…
But as a new year dawns how do the drama, power and epic sound worlds of Also Sprach Zarathustra ask and answer the fundamental questions of the universe and our place in it? Tom is joined by our witness philosopher Katrina Mitcheson to find out.
Producer: Ruth Thomson
Britten's Choral Christmas
Tom Service delves into the music of Benjamin Britten and explores the unusual stories behind some of his best-loved festive works, including St Nicolas and A Ceremony of Carols.
Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune: Half Man, Half Myth, All Debussy
Tom Service plunges into the heady sound world of Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune.
"The flute of the faun brought new breath to the art of music" according to composer Pierre Boulez - how does Debussy do it? A ten-minute piece of music that apparently broke all the existing rules of harmony and yet is as minutely detailed as any miniature.
And what do flautists make of the famous opening solo - we hear from principal flute player with the London Symphony Orchestra, Gareth Davies, who demonstrates Debussy's strange magic on a flute of the time.