My knowledge of Syria has always been scant but this programme was quite an insight.



Of all the composers I remember coming across at music college for the first time, the one who sticks out is Witold Lutosławski. This year being the centenary of his birth he is enjoying a high profile.

This Music Matters special includes conversation with his step-son. I often find that there are contradictions housed within many interesting people and Lutosławski is no exception.

40,000-year history of music

I’ve always admired Howard Goodall as a great communicator and evangelist for music. However, he comes across as slightly reactionary in this Start the Week discussion. He is discussing his new book/TV series Story of Music.

John Adams, in my humble opinion, gives a better account of himself and has some interesting opinions on mp3s and the problem of distractions when listening to music on computer.

The excellent dramatist, Stephen Poliakoff discusses his forthcoming Dancing on the Edge.

Singer Barb Jungr keeps it real from the point of view of making a living as a performer.

Howard Goodall’s series begins on BBC2 on Sat 26 Jan.

Riot at the Rite

One cultural and historical event I’d love to have witnessed is the riot which took place at the première of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” in 1913. That’s why I was very interested to hear Richard Witts present an alternative take on the motivations of some in the audience.

Present that evening, though possibly not throwing many punches, was Marcel Proust.

Another edition of Radio 3’s “The Essay” deals with the insertion of a musical character at the proof-reading stage of Swann’s Way.

Comfort and Joy

Do you ever get the feeling that one area of your life eclipses all others? Spare a thought for Alex Comfort.

In this edition of The Sunday Feature writer Matthew Sweet explores his life as pacifist, anarchist, anti-nuclear campaigner, novelist, gerontologist, doctor and writer of the book on 12 million British bookshelves. His son, Nicholas Comfort features.

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.


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

Civilian Drones

What is the connection between John Napier, Thomas de Quincey, Charles Darwin (the uncle), St. Cuthbert’s Church, Edinburgh and civilian drones? Scroll to 25.00 of this episode of Material World to find out.

Last Word

Amazing to think that a composer who was a contemporary of Gershwin and Copland has just died. Elliot Carter died this week aged 103. He wrote his first opera aged 90. I’ll bear this in mind the next time I think it’s possibly too late in life to start something.

You can hear about his life on Last Word. It’s the second article. The first is about Clive Dunn. There are a few surprises. Herbie Flowers, who penned the highly successful anthem to sentimentality, ‘Grandad’ tells with fetching modesty how the song was put together.

Also, Brian Cobby aka The Speaking Clock appears. Does the speaking clock still exist?

Matthew Bannister presents.


As the world’s largest democratic and non-democratic countries set about the process of selecting new leadership, Martin Jacques, author of When China Rules the World, compares the systems.