Ralph Vaughan Williams

Every time I come across Stuart Maconie I’m impressed by his enthusiastic and honest-sounding take on life.

Here he is on Radio 4’s Great Lives discussing that most English of composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams.


The Human Voice

The possibly intertwined origin of music and language is just one of the ideas touched upon in this Start the Week special.

Professor Michael Trimble, author of Why Humans Like to Cry: Tragedy Evolution and the Brain contributes from the scientific side of life while Mary King, Rolando Villazon and composer Mark-Anthony Turnage describe the interaction of emotion and performance.

Musical Christmas Ghost Story

If there is such a thing as a musical Christmas ghost story then this is a contender.

Blake Morrison and Gavin Bryars offer a modern-day reworking of Jules Verne‘s 1893 tale “Mr. Ray Sharp and Me Flat.” If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between, say, D# and Eb now’s your chance to find out.


To which branch of crime-fighting would a musician be best suited? Forensic Phonetics? This programme features the tracking down of Weirside Jack – the Ripper Hoaxer – through recordings he made to taunt the police. There is also something amazing about background electrical hum and a mention of the effect on voices of use (and need) of heroin.

If you consider yourself to have a good ear, try your luck at the ‘voice identity parade’.

Meanwhile, this edition of Word of Mouth touches, amongst other things, upon the effect of alcohol on speech.


Some institutions seem so established that it’s easy to overlook their origin. This documentary charts the beginnings and the not always smooth road of the London Symphony Orchestra