Classical Cuts

Tom Robinson traces the origins of our own aural landscape in the classical music of another age.


0101Air On A G String2004100520050801

The second movement of JS Bach's Orchestral Suite in D is perhaps better known as the 'Hamlet cigar music'.

As well as Jacques Loussier's jazz arrangement made famous by that ad, it has also inspired a number of pop songs, including A Whiter Shade of Pale and the 1998 rap hit Everything's Gonna Be Alright.

0102The Flower Duet2004101220050802

Only a few moments of Léo Delibes' 1883 opera Lakmé have survived into the modern era.

The duet for sopranos Sous le dôme épais was rescued from obscurity by Howard Blake when he used it in the film The Hunger and then in an advert for British Airways.

The Flower Duet, as it's known, has since become an opera classic.

0103Dvorak's Largo2004101920050803

A melody from the slow movement of a symphony by a Czech composer living in America has become indelibly linked with an image of old England.

Among those wondering whether 'it's as good today as it's always been' are piano teacher Pauline Hall, advertising executive Frank Lowe, design guru Stephen Bayley and Oxford don Peter Franklin

0104Pachelbel's Canon2004102620050804

Tom discovers how a short canon by a 17th-century composer became a must for weddings and a part of the audio architecture at a New York railway station.

With Tess Knighton of Early Music magazine, Alvin Collis of the Muzak Corporation and Christopher Warren-Green of the London Chamber Orchestra.

0105 LASTSibelius's Fifth Symphony2004110220050805

The horn call in the last movement of Sibelius' Fifth Symphony was inspired by the sight of swans taking flight from a lake near the composer's home in Finland.

70 years later the melody became the hook for a pop record by Strawberry Switchblade.

With pop producer David Motion, wildlife expert Carl Mitchell and musicologists Peter Franklin and Glenda Goss