Our pick of the week's classical music programmes from 13-19 July
Music from Beyond the Veil
Tuesday 14 July, 1.30pm
Professor Paul Robertson examines the claims and counter-claims for musical mediumship and asks whether musical inspiration comes from within ourselves or if it could come from somewhere beyond. He recounts the story of how, 40 years ago, a Balham housewife and medium with little musical training created a sensation when she claimed to have received new works from beyond the grave from Liszt, Brahms, Beethoven, Rachmaninov and other great composers. Rosemary Brown’s abilities divided the musical world, with her supporters convinced that the works were genuine while her critics dismissed them as pastiche.
First Night of the Proms
Friday 17 July, 7.30pm
As this year’s Proms get underway, Stravinsky’s Fireworks starts the season off with a bang; the rest of the concert features themes, composers and performers who return across the summer. Pianist Stephen Hough, who’ll be performing all the Tchaikovsky concertos at the Proms, begins his journey with the rarely heard Third Concerto in E flat. And pianist sisters Katia and Marielle Labèque turn the spotlight on the theme of ‘multiple pianos’ when they perform Poulenc’s Concerto for two pianos. You can also watch the concert on BBC Two at 8pm (see TV highlights, below).
Debussy’s Summer of 1912
Saturday 18 July, 12.15pm
Lowri Blake talks to pianists Roy Howat, Peter Hill and Alasdair Beatson and musicologist Robert Orledge about Debussy’s music from the summer of 1912. It was a very hot summer and Debussy had no time to take his wife and seven-year-old daughter Chouchou on their annual trip to the seaside, much to her displeasure. He was composing his last completed orchestral work – the ballet Jeux –, trying to finish the second book of Preludes for piano, and working on numerous other projects. He also had a visit from Stravinsky and together they played through, as a piano duet, the score of The Rite of Spring.
First Night of the Proms
Friday 17 July, 8pm
From the Royal Albert Hall, the 115th Proms season launches with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under the baton of chief conductor Jiří Belohlávek. Clive Anderson introduces an exciting mix of music by Elgar, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky; and performances by singers Ailish Tynan and Alice Coote, and pianists Stephen Hough, and Katia and Marielle Labèque. During the interval there’s discussion and chat with the artists and some special guests. You can also hear the concert live on Radio 3 at 7.30pm (see Radio highlights, above).
How to be a composer
Saturday 18 July, 9.30pm
Journalist, critic and self-confessed music addict Paul Morley embarks on a year-long pursuit to the heart of his obsession. Morley begins a year of intense lessons and tutoring at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he joins the composition department as an undergraduate student. This is the first time Morley has been back in education since the age of 16, and it is by no means an easy year as he feels his way through his first lessons on rhythm and notation before finally composing his own music for an ensemble of young virtuoso musicians.