Insight with James Naughtie – the Music of War and Revolution

Talk 8 November 2007

The inimitable voice of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, James Naughtie talks about some of the most iconic war and revolutionary musical pieces by Bethoven, Verdi, Elgar, Shostakovich and Olivier Messiaen. 

James Naughtie has been a presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme since 1994. He is a former chief political correspondent of the Guardian, his Westminster career having begun on the Scotsman. As well as his news journalism, he has presented many music programmes on BBC radio and television, including the Proms from the Royal Albert Hall and live opera and orchestral music from across Europe. He has written three political books: Playing the Palace, The Rivals and The Accidental American as well as most recently a book about music The Making of Music: a journey with notes.

On the eve of Remembrance Sunday, James Naughtie talks about some of the most iconic and powerful pieces of war and revolutionary music.

The programme includes extracts from Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony No. 3, originally written to honour Napoleon Bonaparte, music by Verdi which inspired the risorgimento, Elgar’s Cello Concerto, inspired by the sound of the artillery of World War I rumbling across the Channel at night from France, songs by the first world war poet and musician Ivor Gurney, Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony, music by Olivier Messiaen written in a prisoner of war camp and music by Jewish composers in concentration camps.

Moderated by James Robbins – BBC Diplomatic Correspondent.