Sunday Feature

Episodes

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20020217

A drama-documentary presented by Richard Holmes exploring the creation and impact of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

20020317

Brothers Simon and Gerard Mcburney travel to Drohobycz in Ukraine, home of Bruno Schulz, the Polish-Jewish writer shot in 1942, and meet some of the handful of Jews who knew him.

20030126

A feature on the life of philosopher Edith Stein, who was born in 1891 into a German Jewish family, died in Auschwitz in 1942 and was made a saint in 1998 by Pope John Paul II.

20030406

The John Tusa Interview: Series of conversations with some of the world's greatest artistic originators.

This week John meets the painter, teacher and father of Brit Art, Michael Craig-Martin.

20030629

Another Country 4.

Two Cultures? Last in the series of four personal journeys.

Sunetra Gupta is a Reader in Epidemiology at Oxford University; she is also a novelist.

She was born in Calcutta, raised in Ethiopia and Zambia, and spoke Bengali and Amharic long before she mastered English - the language she now works and writes in.

These intersections of cultures - science and the arts - and traditions - the Bengal of Tagore and the scientific prose of 'Nature' - inform her life.

How does she move between these other countries of the mind and heart?

20030824

The Real O'Byrne Arnold Bax, composer of Tintagel Knight of the Realm, Master of the King's Music.

Dermot O'Byrne, hibernophile friend of revolutionaries in the 1916 Easter Rising, poet whose work was banned as seditious by the British Military Centre.

Strange though it may seem these two contradictory figures were the same man.

Bax, born into Victorian prosperity in South London, travelled to Ireland first in 1902, inspired by the poet WB Yeats.

He was to spend large periods of his life in the country until he died half a century later.

Petroc Trelawny explores Bax's Ireland, revealing the enigma of this establishment figure who felt happiest in Ireland.

20030907

Chile: Heart And Soul 30 years ago in Chile following the brutal coup d'etat of September 11th 1973, books and records were burnt on the streets while thousands were arrested and tortured, exiled and disappeared.

Chilean culture and society was devastated.

Journalist Jan Fairley was teaching in the south of the country at the time - thirty years on she returns to find a heady cocktail of sex and human rights integral to the new culture emerging as Chileans finally get to grips with their bloody past and forge a new open identity.

20031102

The John Tusa Interview.

John Tusa talks to Israeli-born video artist Michal Rovner.

20031116

Journeys In Thought 1.

Wittgenstein In Ireland In the spring of 1948, Ludwig Wittgenstein abandoned his post as Chair of Philosophy at Trinity College Cambridge in search of solitude and simplicity.

He was determined to finish the Philosophical Investigations - the work which would be his masterpiece and which would dominate the philosophical landscape of the twentieth century.

In the first of a new series exploring turning points in the lives of great thinkers, Jonathan Rée travels to the west of Ireland in Wittgenstein's footsteps.

20031207

John Tusa continues his series of conversations with some of the world's greatest artistic originators.

This week, he meets the veteran New York choreographer and dancer, Merce Cunningham.

20040222

The Day Carlos Died By Paul Heritage On July 16th 2003 Carlos Calchi was murdered.

Carlos never stood a chance.

In a moment Paul Heritage's life changed, as his lover was gunned down in a random act of slaughter.

The tragedy is that Carlos, a talented theatre director who wanted to change lives, was at the very receiving end of those he wanted to help.

This single ugly act led Paul Heritage and Kate Rowland in search of an answer.

The Day Carlos Died combines elements of the murder investigation with interviews with artists, politicians and prisoners.

One question dominated - does art matter when there is a war going on around you? Produced by Kate Rowland

20040307

The John Tusa Interview: John Tusa continues his series of conversations with some of the world's greatest artistic originators.

This week, he meets Canadian film director Atom Egoyan.

20040314

A Portrait of Salvador Dali 100 years after his birth, Dali is still a controversial figure.

Eric Shanes asks whether the artist sold out in his later career and became merely a wealthy showman.

Shocking! A Portrait of Salvador Dali 100 years after his birth, Dali is still a controversial figure.

20040418

Journeys in Thought

Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche is sometimes thought of as the philosopher of doom. In fact, when he took up his first academic job in 1869 in Basel, Switzerland, he was an optimistic young man, committed to the vocation of teaching, and overflowing with ideas - many of which he discussed with his close friend Richard Wagner.

In Journeys In Thought, a series about turning points in the lives and thoughts of famous thinkers, Jonathan Ree travels to Basel in the footsteps of Friedrich Nietzsche.

20040523

Something About Eleanor

She died 800 years ago; she lived for 82 years - a life that swirled with music, poetry, intrigue and infamy.

Mother of Richard the Lionheart, wife to the Kings of England and France, Eleanor of Aquitaine was the most powerful and enigmatic women of her age.

She has enchanted biographers ever since yet each has warped the mirror that they have held up to her.

She's been portrayed as the Queen of Courtly Love, as a murderess and even as a witch - all of this eclipsing her reputation as a politician, a diplomat and the founder of a dynasty of kings.

The classical historian and author Bettany Hughes travels from Poitou to Winchester, chasing the shadows of a powerbroker, a poetess and a female icon.

20040606

Landscape with Figure

Three days after D-Day, Keith Douglas, a tank commander in the Sherwood Rangers and probably the finest poet of World War Two, was killed by a shell burst in a field overlooking the Normandy village of St Pierre.

It was death that Douglas, a veteran of the desert campaign, anticipated in poems, such as Simplify Me When I'm Dead, written even before the experience of battle.

Sean Street retraces Douglas' last movements in an attempt to understand a soldier-poet 'by distance simplified'.

Also taking part are the poets J C Hall, Anne Stevenson and Tim Kendall, as well as Douglas' biographer Desmond Graham, Stuart Hills of the Sherwood Rangers and archive recordings of Douglas' last girlfriend, Betty Jesse, his comrade John Bethell-Fox and the Padre who buried him.

Three days after D-Day, Keith Douglas, a tank commander in the Sherwood Rangers and probably the finest poet of World War Two, was killed by a shell burst in a field overlooking the Normandy village of St Pierre. It was death that Douglas, a veteran of the desert campaign, anticipated in poems, such as Simplify Me When I'm Dead, written even before the experience of battle.

Sean Street retraces Douglas' last movements in an attempt to understand a soldier-poet 'by distance simplified'. Also taking part are the poets J C Hall, Anne Stevenson and Tim Kendall, as well as Douglas' biographer Desmond Graham, Stuart Hills of the Sherwood Rangers and archive recordings of Douglas' last girlfriend, Betty Jesse, his comrade John Bethell-Fox and the Padre who buried him.

20040613

On the Air

Steven Connor breathes in and out and thinks about the air, that most overlooked essential of all our lives.

Air is more than a universal physical necessity: the ideas of air and breath are diffused through the poetry, rituals and symbolism of all cultures.

We not only live on air, we also subsist on the complex idea of air.

Contributions from medical historians, classicists, air-therapists, musicians and the sound of the air itself help explore three aspects of the air: its positive associations with power; its negative associations with corruption, disease and intoxication; and the emerging idea of the air as a medium or habitat.

Air is more than a universal physical necessity: the ideas of air and breath are diffused through the poetry, rituals and symbolism of all cultures. We not only live on air, we also subsist on the complex idea of air.

20040704

An American's Guide to Failure: American satirist Joe Queenan grapples with old Europe and the idea of gallant defeat.

20040801

East Meets West Meets East

Christopher Cook explores the many ways in which artists from Eastern traditions are reinventing and reversioning western cultural classics. Focusing on music, the visual arts (including architecture and garden design), film and literature, Christopher asks how traditions merge and augment each other. Including interviews with Yo-Yo Ma, Tan Dun, Amit Chaudhuri and Gurinder Chadha.

20040815

Olivier Messiaen: Renaissance Man

Olivier Messiaen's Catholic faith was a mainstay of his personal life and a consistent feature of his music. But did it liberate or limit his creative work? Tom Service talks to Pierre Boulez, Olivier Latry, Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Père Jean-Rodolphe Kars -musicians whose lives were deeply affected by their association with this most spiritual of composers.

20040909

The Art of Laziness

Is indolence the enemy or ally of creativity? Who gets labelled lazy and why? Is idleness the refuge of the supine or is passive resistance possible? The poet and critic Patrick McGuinness traces the cultural history of idleness from the leisured Romans to the agitated indolence of the situationists in 60's Paris. With contributions from Andrew Motion, Mary Beard , Valentine Cunningham and David Dabydeen.

20040912

Nile Lands

1. Ethiopia

The Nile is the world's longest river, the lifeblood of one of the first great civilisations and the route which brought Europeans into the heart of Africa. Over four programmes, Zeinab Badawi visits the countries through which the Nile flows to explore how the river has shaped their different cultural identities and helped to form perceptions of Africa in the Western imagination.

Zeinab's journey starts at the source of the Blue Nile where the river seeps out of Ethiopia's Mount Gish at the Sekala Spring. Ethiopian tradition connects the river to the country's ancient Christian heritage: it is a river in the Garden of Eden, which gave refuge to the Virgin Mary on her flight from Egypt and brought the Ark of the Covenant to Axum.

20040919

Nile Lands

2. Uganda

Zeinab Badawi continues her cultural journey through the countries connected by the Nile, exploring how the river has shaped their identities and helped to form perceptions of Africa in the Western imagination.

For centuries the source of the White Nile was a mystery. The ancients thought it rose in the heart of Africa and there was talk of the "Mountains of the Moon". Even as late as the first half of the nineteenth century no one was sure. It was a British explorer, John Hanning Speke, who claimed to have settled the issue in 1862 when he saw a huge river leaving the then unnamed Lake Victoria in Uganda. Zeinab Badawi considers what led to this claim and what Ugandans then and now made of the discovery.

20041003

Nile Lands

Last of four programmes in which Zeinab Badawi visits the countries through which the Nile flows to explore how the river has shaped their cultural identities.

20041017

Unweaving the Rainbow

Kodwo Eshun investigates the growing field of sci-art collaborations, talking to funding bodies, scientists, artists and collaborators, examining the theory and practice behind this new frontier in arts practice.

The Arts Council has recently unveiled a raft of grants available to artists interested in working within scientific environments, in collaboration with scientific researchers. But CP Snow's 1959 definition of two isolated cultures suggests perhaps they are not the easiest bedfellows.

Contributors Include: Wayne McGregor, Dr Rosaleen McCarthy, Steve Wilson, Stanza, Jane Prophet, Lewis Wolpert, Sain Ede, Tim Marlowe, Jem Finer, Sarah Diamond, Marcus Dusautoy, Bronar Ferrin, Hannah Redler, Gabby Campbell Johnson, Nick Tandavanitj, Ken Arnold, Sid Thomas, Heather Ackroyd, Dan Harvey, Pam Winfrey, Roger Malina, and Dr Tom Humphries.

20041024

You Dance Because You Have To

In the 1930s and 40s two pioneering African-American dancers and choreographers independently set out to reclaim their dance heritage. Katherine Dunham travelled to Haiti and the Caribbean, Pearl Primus' destination was Africa. They returned to America with the authentic rhythms and dances of Africa and the Caribbean, reinvigorating a tradition which had been degraded by years of slavery and then diluted into minstrel shows and vaudeville. The dancer and writer Thea Barnes explores their work - its impact, its energy, and its political passion - and how their legacy has influenced today's generation of choreographers and dancers including Judith Jamison, Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, founder of Urban Bush Women, Robert Garland of Dance Theatre Harlem, and British choreographer Sheron Wray.

20041031

The Sufi and the Shrine: Among the 14th-century immigrants to Delhi were the Sufi, a branch of Islam which appealed to both Hindus and Muslims. William Dalrymple investigates.

20041114

The Meeting of Minds

1. The Berlin Conference, 1884

Meetings of Minds is a series looking at the dynamics of deliberation at three moments in history. Frances Stonor Saunders explores meetings which had huge significance beyond their four walls - beginning with the Berlin Conference of 1884, during which the European Powers formalised the Scramble for Africa and the interior was partitioned. Perhaps unsurprisingly for these colonial times not a single African was among the 14 delegations from across Europe, Russia and America. Frances examines how this diplomatic meeting was to have a consequence for the continent that can be traced to today and asks how straightforward is it when diplomacy dictates discussion. How do such meetings of minds work?

20041121

2. The Philadelphia Convention, 1787

The Philadelphia convention of 1787 was a landmark in American and world history.

Both its handiwork- the American constitution- and its example of the people's representation to govern themselves had a profound influence on subsequent experiment in government.

The revolutionary era was both exhilarating and disturbing - a time of progress for some, dislocation for others. Meetings of Minds discovers what happened at this gathering of what one historian called "the well-bred, well fed, well wed, and well read" and how its legacy is one we live with today.

20041128

Meetings of Minds

Frances Stonor Saunders concludes her series about great intellectual gatherings, exploring how they brought together for just a brief moment in history, competing personalities with conflicting ideas - in politics, diplomacy, art, economics and literature.

3/3. In Defence of Culture

Paris 1935. A huge conference was convened: the First International Congress of Writers for the Defence of Culture. It was attended by some of Europe's greatest literary figures: Boris Pasternak, Andre Malraux, EM Forster, Andre Gide, Aldous Huxley and Bertolt Brecht were amongst the 220 delegates from 40 countries. The whole affair was a thinly veiled communist front - but it turned into the last great showcase of European literary culture before it was swept away by war.

They were plagued with the question of how to respond to the spectre of the new dictatorships and social chaos that was growing around them. How should the world's great artists - apparently so important and so revered - confront the book burnings and propaganda? Frances Stonor Saunders brings back to life their speeches, arguments and protests. Could these most politically engaged of writers work together when they were needed most?

20050102

All Musics Are Created Equal: Gunther Schuller at 80

Gunther Schuller has done more than anyone to break down the barriers between jazz and classical music to create a new form which he described as 'Third Stream'. He can be seen as the godfather of the principle of crossover, fusion and the eclectic perspective which dominates music today. And his many-sided career as a player, composer, conductor, teacher and critic, reflects his many-sided view of music.

Geoffrey Smith explores Gunther Schuller's multifarious career and the controversies it has generated, talking with jazz musicians Joe Lovano and George Russell; composers taught by Schuller including Oliver Knussen, Mark-Anthony Turnage and Mike Gibbs; students from New England Conservatory in Boston and music critics.

20050116

We Still Breathe their Air: Across Europe there is a growing body of Romany literature. Simon Evans meets Romany writers working in the UK and the Czech Republic.

20050123

The Strange and Violent Case of Mr Biswas

Journeying through the Glasgow of the 1920s and 30s, writer and academic Sukhdev Sandhu goes on a personal quest to find the truth about a series of murders that have apparently been written out of Scottish history.

Once described as "the second city of empire" and a place "made fat on imperial trade", Glasgow was home to a sizeable ethnic population. But, as the race riots of 1919 demonstrated, there was an underlying tension that led to some startling and disturbing events. Recorded on location at key sites in Glasgow.

20050206

Africa Remix: As an African exhibition opens at the Hayward Gallery in London, Hassan Arouni meets artists from Mozambique, Algeria, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.

20050213

Europe of the Mind

1. Founded on Faith

Christianity has remained a potent force shaping ideas of European unity. Visiting Aachen, home of Charlemagne, and Cordoba, scene of extraordinary Christian, Jewish and Muslim encounter, historian Mia Rodriguez-Salgado reveals how religion moulded the way Europeans thought about their continent.

20050220

Europe of the Mind

2. Restless Europeans

The middle ages get a bad press... depicted as years of stagnation, constant warring and - worst of all - the black death. But medieval historian Miri Rubin has a very different view. She argues that these years are, in fact, the time when modern Europe is born.

Miri visits some of Europes great medieval cities and hears how constant migrations during this period transformed the cultural face of Europe, bringing new institutions, social hierarchies and attitudes that have changed little to this day.

20050227

Europe of the Mind

3/3. Eastern Promise

Historian and author, Misha Glenny, travels to the heart of the old Ottoman Empire, Istanbul, to explore Europe's next phase of expansion - admitting Turkey to the most powerful Christian club in history, the EU. We follow the fall of the mighty Ottoman Empire, and the rise of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's modern Turkey. Can Turkey cross over to the West?

20050313

Liver Birds and Laundrymen. Europe's Earliest Chinatown

Gregory Lee, Professor of Chinese at the University of Lyon, returns to his native Liverpool, where his grandfather arrived from China in 1911, to tell a personal history of the earliest Chinese settlement in Europe.

Today a gleaming traditional Chinese arch welcomes people to Liverpool's Chinatown but this overshadows darker stories of fear, exploitation and invisibility.

In Anfield cemetery Lee finds the graves of the Chinese who dug the trenches in the First World War. He recounts how, after serving Britain in the Second World War, Chinese sailors were deported, and how suspicion persists today in attitudes towards Chinese cockle pickers.

He also exchanges stories with Joe Phillips, the son of a Chinese sailor and a Liverpudlian woman, who, after ignoring it for years, has come to appreciate and explore his Chinese heritage.

20050320

A Rebel with a cause - Pierre Boulez at 80

No one in contemporary music arouses such fierce passion as the eminent conductor and composer Pierre Boulez, who celebrates his 80th birthday later this week. At one time a young firebrand who wanted to blow up opera houses, he's now an immensely powerful and much resented figure in the musical world.

Ivan Hewett looks at the enigmatic, restless creator behind the public figure, through interviews with friends and colleagues such as the conductor, Daniel Barenboim, the composers Betsy Jolas, George Benjamin and Maurice Jarre, the pianist, Pierre-Laurent Aimard and critics in London, France and New York.

20050327

Maroon Rebels: Robert Beckford investigates the history of the Maroon rebel slaves in Jamaica who fought and won their freedom against the British in the 18th century.

20050403

Oscar Niemeyer. The Architect with Rio in His Eyes: British architect David Adjaye profiles the maverick whose buildings have come to symbolise modern Brazil.

20050410
20050417

Going to Jonestown

25 years ago, in a remote jungle settlement in Guyana almost a thousand people and their leader Jim Jones killed themselves. Ever since, the writer Fred D'Aguiar, who grew up in Guyana, has been preoccupied by Jonestown, which put that country on the map and blighted its history. In a journey that echoes those of the victims, D'Aguiar - a black person living in America travels from the United States into Guyana's jungle interior to Jonestown itself. He searches for what it means to the Guyanese, talking to the writers Wilson Harris, Ian McDonald and Ruel Johnson, to people who knew Jones and the settlement, including the pilot who was the first to arrive after the atrocity, and students who were not even born when it happened. Exploring the social, political and mythic significance of Jonestown, D'Aguiar tests his imagination against the reality and responds with new work.

Music composed and performed by the Guyanese flautist, Keith Waithe.

20050424

Art, Sex and the Revolution: The Life and Work of Tina Modotti. An examination of the 1920s film star, famed mainly for her photographs, but also for her romantic affairs.

20050508

Something in the Air: Playwright Peter Nichols explores, in a unique personal memoir of the Second World War, the strange recordings of the Nazi swing band, Charlie and his Orchestra.

20050515

The Astor Place Riots

The curse of Macbeth, one of the most ill starred plays in theatrical history, took its greatest toll in the Astor Place riots in New York, one of the bloodiest riots ever to take place in the history of the United States.

On May 10th,1849, US militia killed 23 and wounded over 100 people. Was this just the unhappy climax of a longstanding feud between two actors? Not quite. Tim Pigott Smith traces the events on the streets of New York looking at and beyond this pivotal moment, examining the tensions between nations and the antagonisms between classes in a city ripe for reform.

20050529

Somaliland: A Relative Story

In 1991 the northern part of Somalia separated itself from the war-torn south of the country and declared itself the independent republic of Somaliland. After nearly 15 years of relative peace and democratic stability, its citizens insist it is a model African nation - yet the international community refuses to recognise its right to exist.

Shaheera Asante tells the extraordinary story of Somaliland, through the eyes of its people and of the Somali expat community in Wales, many of whom devote themselves to helping their relatives in nurturing the fledgling state.

20050612

John Tusa continues his series of conversations with some of the world's greatest artistic originators.

He meets the novelist William Trevor

John Tusa continues his series of conversations with some of the world's greatest artistic originators. He meets the novelist William Trevor.

20050619

Africa - Reviving Asmara

In the 1930s, Mussolini's imperial plans for Africa led to a massive rebuilding project in Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea. Money was no object - and talented young Italian architects transformed the place beyond recognition, in a Modernist style. Sited on a high plateau above the clouds, Asmara became as full of treasures as El Dorado.

Some of these designs used cutting-edge technology: a cinema with a retractable roof, the world's longest cable-car route and more traffic lights than Rome had at the time. Others were simply beautiful: curved facades, art deco awnings and plastered porticos. Asmara was going to be an architectural showcase for Mussolini's Fascist regime: a sophisticated modern city in the heart of Africa. The Italians intended to stay forever - but history had other ideas.

Today, Eritrea is one of the poorest countries in Africa. Having struggled to free itself from Italian, British and then Ethiopian oppression - it finds itself in need of vital economic development, but has few natural resources. However, despite all the years of fighting, Asmara has miraculously survived intact. Jonathan Glancey, architecture editor of The Guardian, travels to Asmara to see what is being done to preserve this national treasure.

20050626

Believing in Nigeria

As Nigeria struggles towards true democracy, religion has become increasingly dominant. Nigeria is one of the most religious nations on Earth, but also one of the most corrupt. In the south a massive wave of Pentacostalism promises miracles and material happiness, while the north has witnessed the tightening of Islamic Sharia law.

Anna Borzello travels from south to north to explore the religious climate of Nigeria. She examines the appalling violence of the middle belt - violence which has been blamed on religion and has cost thousands of lives.

What does this new religious intensity say about the future of Nigeria?

20050703

As part of the Africa Lives on the BBC season, poet and playwright, Gabriel Gbadamosi investigates the role of the book in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Talking to writers, publishers and readers he traces the history of book production and consumption from the 19th century to present day - from vanity publishing in dingy backrooms, to short stories in cyber-space, and the prize-winning literature of Soyinka, Ngugi Wa Thiongo and Ben Okri on sale internationally.

He talks to Cyprian Ekwensi, who at 84 is one of Africa's oldest living writers, and examines a new generation of young writers, like 28 year old Chimamanda Adichie, author of Purple Hibscus, who are reaching new readers, both within and outside Africa.

Set against this is the hard economic and social reality of a continent where poverty, insecurity and escapism mean good fiction often come second to motivational books, Christian tracts, romances and thrillers.

As part of the Africa Lives on the BBC season, poet and playwright, Gabriel Gbadamosi investigates the role of the book in Sub-Saharan Africa. Talking to writers, publishers and readers he traces the history of book production and consumption from the 19th century to present day - from vanity publishing in dingy backrooms, to short stories in cyber-space, and the prize-winning literature of Soyinka, Ngugi Wa Thiongo and Ben Okri on sale internationally.

20050710

New Kenya and the Maasai: Benjamin Zephaniah visits Maasailand to explore the state of this famous tribe in the modern era and ask if its way of life will disappear.

20050717

The Genius of George Stubbs

The work of Europe's greatest painter of horses is currently being celebrated in an exhibition at the National Gallery in London. Historian and biographer Jenny Uglow explores the brilliance of George Stubbs, and why he is now regarded as one of the country's leading artists.

With Mark Wallinger, Richard Cork and the Duke of Richmond.

20050722

Africa Remix

Hassan Arouni travels to Africa to meet artists from Mozambique, Algeria, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.

Drawing inspiration from sources as diverse as the colours of Kente cloth, the politics of modern Zimbabwe, brands of West-African beer and ceremonies of religious devotion, the artists Hassan encounters reflect the wealth and diversity of 21st-century African art.

20050724

When the Statue Walks

Two years ago, census takers in the United States announced that Spanish speakers had overtaken African Americans as the second biggest ethnic group in the United States. Immediately, white and black commentators lined up to condemn what they dubbed the brown explosion. But do numbers, in America, equal power?

From his home in Harlem, broadcaster Harry Allen travels a few blocks east, to Spanish Harlem, to discover what the huge rise in Hispanic numbers means. Along the way he talks to the artist James de la Vega; writers Francisco Goldman and Esmeralda Santiago; and the former Young Lord, Luis Garden a Costa.

20050731

In Search of Hans Christian Andersen

Two hundred years after the birth of Hans Christian Andersen, Michael Rosen and Lars Tharp travel to Denmark to uncover the truth about the unlikely creator of some our best loved tales.

20050807

Silence, Exile and Cunning

What should a German artist do under the Nazis? Most who hated Hitler fled the country, but not the passionately pacifist and anti-fascist composer Karl Amadeus Hartmann. Clinging to his native Munich, Hartmann wrote anti-Nazi music to be hidden away in his bottom drawer or for performance outside Germany - and survived to tell the tale. In Hartmann's centenary year, Piers Burton-Page explores Hartmann's inner exile and what it meant for his whole life and work.

20050911

Serialism's Sons and Daughters

When Arnold Schoenberg first revealed to the world his technique for 12 Tone Composition in the Piano Pieces Op 23, he was at once departing from the tradition of tonality that had served the great classical and romantic figures and laying down a gauntlet to future generations of composers.

Ivan Hewett seeks traces of Schoenberg's idea in the music of the last 80 years, visiting composers in Vienna, where Schoenberg is now considered part of the holy tradition, talking to second generation Schoenbergians, including Alexander Goehr and Gunther Schuller, and canvassing a selection of younger composers of differing styles, including Unsuk Chin, Tansy Davies and Dai Fujikura.

20050918

The Miraculous Journey of Margery Kempe

David Wallace assesses the first autobiography in the English language, The Book of Margery Kempe. He traces the final journey that its author, the 15th Century visionary Margery Kempe, made at the age of 60 from her home in Kings Lynn to Danzig, Wilsnack and Aachen. She passed through pilgrim boomtowns, crossing paths with crusaders who lived like kings and meeting merchants who wanted to be knights.

Featuring Prunella Scales as the voice of Margery Kempe, and historians Eamon Duffy, Peter Johanek, Kate Parker and Vincent Gillespie.

20050925

Interface the Mouse That Roared

Technology has now become such a ubiquitous part of everyday life, that instructing and engaging machines to do our bidding has become second nature. Every machine requires an interface, and every interface defines how we interact with the machine - it's the core of our relationship with technology. In the information age, the interface defines how we interact with the world.

Interface design and use blurs the lines between technology, psychology and design. Technologist and Broadcaster Paul Bennun asks where the logic of interface comes from? What do interfaces tell us about ourselves? How do they affect society?

Contributors Include: Inventor of the mouse, Doug Engelbart; David Weeks from Microsoft; Usability gurus Donald Norman, Bruce Tognazini, Jakob Nilsen; Author and interaction designer Alan Cooper; BAe test pilot Mark Bowman; product designer Theo Williams; professor of Philosophy Andy Clark; Musical Psychologist John Sloboda; Kentaro Toyama of Microsoft India; Ethnographer Elizabeth Churchill; Musical instrument designer Michel Weisman; PARC director Marc Bernstein; developers Stuart Card and Peter Pirrolli; techno theorist Lucy Suchman; Haptics developer Sarah McMains, and Design museum director Alice Rawsthorne, amongst others.

20051009

Cold War in a Hot Continent

For much of the second half of the 20th Century, the Cold War superpowers fought a hot war in Africa, vying over newly independent states as they emerged from colonialism. Jane Standley asks why the Soviets and Americans got involved and reveals the often catastrophic consequences for countries such as Angola and Mozambique.

20051016

The Lion of Judah, The Gentleman of Bath

Haile Selassie was the Emperor of Ethiopia, the Conquering Lion of Judah. To Rastafarians he remains divine. But in the 1930s he was an exile, a gentleman living in Bath and a devout Christian who enjoyed the quiet delights of Malvern.

As part of Radio 3's Africa season, the poet and reggae scholar Kwame Dawes visits these three places to explore the contradictions of these roles. His aim is to find the identity of Ras Tafari and respond in new poetry.

20051023

You Must Remember This: Oral history is everywhere. Life stories leap from the screen, out of the airwaves and off the printed page. Oral historian Alan Dein investigates.

20051030

Terror, Faith and the Arts

On the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, David Skinner sets out to discover the artistic responses to the event in the music, literature and visual art of the time. He explores the political and religious backdrop to the plot and finds a broadside ballad narrating the events, a lost anthem celebrating deliverance from the Plot, and links between the playwright Ben Jonson and the plotters themselves.

20051106

Southern Road

Just prior to Hurricane Katrina striking the US coast, writer and poet Anthony Walton set off on a car journey from Montgomery in Alabama, the birthplace of the civil rights movement, to Richmond in Virginia, the confederate capital during the Civil War. Walton's aim was to explore and experience the areas that go to make up what is commonly called The South, and the role that history plays in defining the region today.

His journey takes him to the historic Tuskegee University in Alabama, founded by the pioneering African-American educationalist Booker T Washington; to a mega-church in suburban Atlanta; through the old South of Charleston; South Carolina; and the liberal South of Raleigh-Durham in North Carolina.

Walton's odyssey ends in Richmond on Monument Avenue - wandering along a parade of statues in memory of the confederate past that strangely looks forward.

20051113

John Tusa ends his interview series with an investigation into the origins of creativity itself.

Contributors include Bernardo Bertolucci, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Bill Viola, Simon McBurney, Merce Cunningham and Frank Auerbach.

John Tusa ends his interview series with an investigation into the origins of creativity itself. Contributors include Bernardo Bertolucci, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Bill Viola, Simon McBurney, Merce Cunningham and Frank Auerbach.

20051204

1/2. The Agony and The Ecstasy

Sarah Dunant presents a cultural exploration into the twin extremities of human emotion: pain and pleasure, and asks why, at different times in our history, we have placed more emphasis on one or the other of the two sovereign masters.

This programme focuses on how Christianity stands Classical ideas about pleasure and pain on their head. By placing the image of the suffering Christ at the centre of Western culture, pain becomes a way to redemption, and suffering in this life beats a path to pleasure in the next.

20051211

An American's Guide to Failure

Failure - what is it good for? American satirist Joe Queenan grapples with old Europe, and the idea of gallant defeat.

At a re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings, Joe noticed everyone wanted to be King Harold, and no one William the Conqueror, the guy who actually won. A transatlantic gulf slid into view.

With contributions from John Sergeant, Armando Iannucci, George Bush senior's speech writer, and a Frenchman who believes his country won at Waterloo.

20051225

Bulgaria's Voice

Singer Dessislava Stefanova travels back to her native country in search of the roots of women's choral singing in Bulgaria. She explores the development of the tradition during the Soviet era, and how by the 1980s it had become one of world music's most captivating and successful genres.

20060101

In Search of Hans Christian Andersen

Another chance to hear Michael Rosen and Lars Tharp's visit to Denmark to uncover the truth about the unlikely creator of some our best loved tales. The trip marked 200 years since Andersen's birth, and the journey threw up a number of surprises.

20060108

Charles Correa: Finding A New Indian Architecture

David Adjaye profiles Charles Correa, the modernist architect whose ground-breaking work has helped forge a national identity in post-colonial India. This is a journey through that land, as David travels to Correa's milestone building projects, talks to political and religious figures, and India's architectural elite, as well as the men and women who use the buildings and whose lives have been changed by his progressive philosophy.

Interviews with:

Charles Correa

Sam Miller - BBC journalist in Delhi

Sen Kapadia - colleague of Correa

Dr Jyotindra Jain

Romi Khosla

Nalini Thakur

JC Kapur

Professor Doshi

Presented by David Adjaye.

20060115

Growing American: Many writers from Britain and Europe have chosen to live and work in the US. What are the perils of such a choice, and what are the rewards? Novelist Claire Messud investigates.

20060122

Desperately Seeking Mozart

Paul Robertson sets out in search of the real Mozart, speaking to academics who have dedicated their life's work to paring away the mythology; as well as brain scientists, child psychologists and performers.

20060205

I'll Dig With It

In one of the most famous last lines of modern poetry, Seamus Heaney resolves to use his pen as a spade and excavate. Like many poets, Heaney is drawn to archaeology. Christine Finn, an archaeologist and poet herself, explores the connections between these two crafts.

She visits the bogs of Jutland, whose Tollund man inspired Heaney. She talks to U A Fanthorpe about her fascination with Sutton Hoo, and to Jeremy Hooker about shaping the layered, fragmented ground in poetry.

At a recent dig, with the poet Mario Petrucci, she tested the links between the poetic and archaeological process. Petrucci's new poem, Terranauts, written as a result, is heard here for the first time.

20060212

The Man with the Golden Brain

In the centenary year of Jean-Paul Sartre's birth, Kevin Jackson celebrates the philosopher, novelist and playwright's achievements. Contributions from Sartre's friends Olivier Todd and Michel Contat; his biographer Annie Cohen-Solal; writers Lisa Appignanesi and John Baxter; philosopher Simon Blackburn, not to mention Mrs Premise and Mrs Conclusion from Monty Python.

20060219

Beyond a Boundary

CLR James' book extolling the virtues and importance of cricket, both within and beyond the boundary, is accepted by many as the greatest of all cricketing essays. But can its sense of moral code, forged in the West Indies of his youth in the first half of the 20th century, survive the rigours of globalisation and the culture of 'get rich or die trying'?

CLR's nephew Darcus Howe returns to his own Trinidadian roots to put the book to the test, at a time when both cricket and society on the island appear to be in need of re-invigouration.

20060226

Paul Sacher, the Man Who Made 20th Century Music

Richard Morrison profiles one of the most powerful names in music in the last century.

Paul Sacher was named the third richest man in the world in the 1990s having married the heiress of the pharmaceutical company, Hoffmann-La Roche. He used his wealth to commission over 300 pieces from composers and conduct many of the premieres - including Bartok's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste.

Sacher's passion for new music led him to found an orchestra in his native Basle and transform musical life there so that it became a magnet for leading musicians and composers.

In the centenary of Sacher's birth, Richard Morrison travels to Basle to explore the many sides of Sacher - as a conductor, patron, businessman and lover - and delves into the Sacher Foundation where manuscripts of the leading composers keep his legacy alive.

With contributions from Pierre Boulez, Ann Sophie Mutter, Heinz Holliger, Elliot Carter, Harrison Birtwistle, Sacher's biographers Lesley Stephenson and Harry Halbreich and musicians from the Basle Chamber Orchestra.

20060305

Goodbye Confucius

For more than 2000 years, Confucian values formed the basis of Chinese society. But in the last century those values were brutally renounced as Maoist China jettisoned its ancient philosopher.

Rana Mitter explores how Chinese society and culture were turned upside down by the rejection of Confucian values. Rana travels from Qufu, where Confucius was born, to the centre of modern political power in Beijing, witnessing how in today's China, a second cultural revolution is underway.

Now Confucius is being rehabilitated as an ancient sage, contemporary business guru and tourist attraction, with Confucianism being promoted as a possible solution to the country's 21st-century dilemmas.

20060312

Coming out of the Cold, the New Siberia

Siberia evokes images of frozen tundra, Cossacks, Gulags and vast mineral reserves. But what is it really like to live there? What does Siberia mean to Russia and how important is it for the future? Who are the Siberians and what kind of cultural life exists in some of the coldest cities on earth?

Moscow journalist Arkady Ostrovsky braves Siberia's bleak winter weather to find out.

20060319

Writer and singer Shusha Guppy tells the fascinating story of how Islamic philosophers brought the treasures of classical Greek thought to the West.

By the 9th Century, the works of philosophers like Plato and Aristotle had largely been lost in the Latin West.

In the Islamic East it was a very different story.

For centuries they had been translating these and other Greek philosophical school works, harvesting the knowledge they contained and in turn, writing their own commentaries.

As the Islamic empire spread to Europe, that knowledge travelled with it.

By the 9th Century, the works of philosophers like Plato and Aristotle had largely been lost in the Latin West. In the Islamic East it was a very different story. For centuries they had been translating these and other Greek philosophical school works, harvesting the knowledge they contained and in turn, writing their own commentaries. As the Islamic empire spread to Europe, that knowledge travelled with it.

20060326

Designs for Learning

Between now and 2008, £17.5 billion will be spent refurbishing or rebuilding our schools. Journalist and author Deyan Sudjic finds out if it's money being well spent. Are we getting good quality school buildings that can stir civic pride and help regenerate run down areas, or are we repeating the mistakes of the past?

With the help of some of Britain's most respected architects, the programme surveys the landscape of school buildings from Cornwall to Yorkshire, and finds a mix of the good and the bad.

20060423

Shakespeare and Englishness

To celebrate St George's Day and the birthday of the Bard, Jonathan Bate and his guests examine the role Shakespeare has played - and continues to play - in the shaping of the national consciousness.

Catholic dissident or Protestant apologist? Voice of the commons or celebrant of Empire? Around the table are Peter Ackroyd, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Michael Dobson. With contributions from Michael Boyd, Ania Loomba, Richard Wilson, Eamon Duffy, David Dabydeen and David Crystal.

20060430

1/4. In Mobility There is Blessing. The Search for Sepharad

Broadcaster and film-maker Dennis Marks travels across the Mediterranean in the footsteps of the Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain in 1492. Travelling from Israel via Greece to Andalucia, he discovers a unique collaboration between Jews and Muslims which lasted half a millennium, and a culture which still influences our lives today.

20060507

The Search for Sepharad

Dennis Marks travels across the Mediterranean in the footsteps of the Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain in 1492.

2/4. Exodus

The journey takes Dennis, via Portugal and Italy, to the creation of a refuge under the protection of the former Ottoman Empire, where today Sephardic communities still cling tenaciously to their roots.

20060514

The Search for Sepharad

3/4. The Sublime Porte

In the Balkans, Sephardic Jews were afforded 500 years of relative stability and influence. In Istanbul and Izmir, this tradition persists despite the recent terrorist outrages, while in Thessaloniki, devastated by the Nazis in 1943, new shoots survive in the remains of an ancient society.

20060521

The Search for Sepharad

4/4. Next Year in Jerusalem

Ending his journey in Jerusalem, Dennis Marks reflects on the transformation of the world of the Sephardic Jews, following two World Wars and the Holocaust, into a melting pot of many civilisations drawn together from the four corners of the Earth.

20060528

Maroon Rebels: Robert Beckford investigates the history of the Maroon rebel slaves in Jamaica who fought and won their freedom against the British in the 18th Century.

20060604

Contemporary Art in the Middle East

Hassan Arouni explores the wealth and diversity of art in the region, and how it has been inspired by very different influences. Among the artists Hassan meets are the Iranian sculptor Parviz Tanavoli, the Iraqi painter Dia Azzawi and young Lebanese conceptual artists Ziad Abillama and Walid Sadek.

20060611

You Must Remember This: What is the story of oral history? Can it be trusted, has it remained true to its origins and where is it going? Oral historian Alan Dein investigates.

20060612

The Astor Place Riots

The curse of Macbeth, one of the most ill starred plays in theatrical history, took its greatest toll in the Astor Place riots in New York, one of the bloodiest riots ever to take place in the history of the United States.

On May 10,1849, US militia killed 23 people and wounded over 100. Was this just the unhappy climax of a longstanding feud between two actors? Not quite. Tim Pigott Smith traces the events on the streets of New York, looking at and beyond this pivotal moment, examining the tensions between nations and the antagonisms between classes in a city ripe for reform.

20060618
20060702

Beyond a Boundary

CLR James' book extolling the virtues and importance of cricket within and beyond the boundary is seen by many as the greatest of all cricketing essays.

CLR's nephew, Darcus Howe, returns to his Trinidadian roots to put the book to the test at a time when both cricket and society on the island are going through tough times.

20060709

Rembrandt 400

Director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor visits Amsterdam to reassess the qualities that make Rembrandt's subjects reach out to us today as long queues for exhibitions celebrating the 400th anniversary of the artist's birth snake round the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, evidence of the powerful hold his work continues to have.

The house where Rembrandt lived in Amsterdam prompts reflections on how his subjects were based on close observation, notably in his self-portraits and in the pictures peopled by those he knew, and particularly the women he loved.

The large-scale classical and Biblical scenes in the Rijksmuseum dazzle with their technical brilliance and mastery of paint, while the smaller drawings and etchings convey Rembrandt's intimate observation of the human qualities of tenderness and vulnerability.

These works soon made their way through the world and MacGregor follows their journey to British collections and to their continuing impact on artists working today.

20060806

The Poet Who Lost His Head

Introduced by Kevin Jackson, with readings by Derek Jacobi.

Francis Petrarch - first of the modern poets laureate - established the language for European love poetry with his sonnets to Laura. He has also been dubbed the first Humanist, the first mountaineer and a Romantic ahead of his time.

Germaine Greer, Clive James, Nicholas Mann and others reflect on his enduring influence, while the pathologist in charge of the recent exhumation of Petrarch's bones reveals some bizarre findings.

20060820

Shostakovich, a Journey into Light

One hundred years after the birth of Dmitri Shostakovich, his music speaks to us perhaps more than ever.

Presenter Stephen Johnson was diagnosed with serious clinical depression and this is his story. That depression almost proved fatal, and it's the music of Shostakovich which he says has helped him survive. Yet Shostakovich is the composer of some of the darkest, most despairing music ever written. How can that music have something to say to Stephen and other people like him?

Stephen travels to Moscow and St Petersburg, the cities most closely associated with Shostakovich, to meet people who knew the man, and lived through the horror of the Stalinist regime. He tries to put into perspective why the music speaks to a deeper human spirit, why people globally still relate to Shostakovich, and what his music means in a country still coming to terms with its past.

20060821

Goodbye Confucius

For more than 2,000 years, Confucian values formed the basis of Chinese society. But in the last century those values were brutally renounced as Maoist China jettisoned its ancient philosopher.

Rana Mitter explores how Chinese society and culture were turned upside down by the rejection of Confucian values. Rana travels from Qufu, where Confucius was born, to the centre of modern political power in Beijing, witnessing how in today's China a second cultural revolution is underway, with Confucius being rehabilitated as ancient sage, contemporary business guru and tourist attraction. Confucianism is also being promoted as a possible solution to the country's 21st-Century dilemmas.

20060827

Songs of the Dark Times

Ivan Hewett explores Bertold Brecht's fascinating and often stormy collaborations with composers including Kurt Weill, Paul Hindemith and Hans Eisler.

With contributions from those who knew Brecht - his daughter, Barbara Brecht-Schall; director Carl Weber from the Berliner Ensemble; interpreters of Brecht songs, including veteran chansonnier Gisela May, Ute Lemper, Robyn Archer and Dominic Muldowney; and the directors David Hare and Stephen Unwin.

With Brecht's comments about music read by Simon Russell Beale.

20060903

Meetings of Minds

New series that, through analysis and dramatisation, examines meetings that changed the world. Writer and historian Frances Stonor Saunders tells the story of three conferences that profoundly influenced the shape of history and whose consequences still reverberate today.

1/3. Fifth Pan-African Congress - Manchester October 1945

In 1945, African Independence wasn't yet a movement, but more of an idea. This Manchester meeting changed that. Attended by intellectuals and the future leaders of Kenya, Ghana and Malawi - Jomo Kenyatta, Kwame Nkrumah and Hastings Banda - as well as many who went on to become their key advisors, it uniquely brought together a cadre of revolutionaries who went on to change the world. Frances discovers why this meeting is integral to the history of Africa and the British Empire.

20060910

Meetings of Minds

Series that, through analysis and dramatisation, examines meetings that changed the world. Writer and historian Frances Stonor Saunders tells the story of three conferences that profoundly influenced the shape of history and whose consequences still reverberate today.

2/3. The Council of Clermont and the Launch of the First Crusade

In 1095, Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade, inspiring thousands of Christians to set out on an armed pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The setting for this dramatic speech was the French town of Clermont, where Urban met with senior clergy for ten days of debate and decree as they struggled to resolve the problems besetting Christian Europe.

Frances travels to the Auvergne to explore this meeting of minds and the changing notions of violence, sin and salvation which led to the launch of the Crusade.

20060917

Meetings of Minds

Series that, through analysis and dramatisation, examines meetings that changed the world. Writer and historian Frances Stonor Saunders tells the story of three conferences that profoundly influenced the shape of history and whose consequences still reverberate today.

3/3. Fourth International Congress of Modern Architects - Marseilles and Athens 1933

In July 1933, Le Corbusier and 90 other delegates boarded a boat in Marseilles. Architects, engineers, writers and artists from 18 different countries spent the next 15 days, on board and in Athens, discussing ideas for the city of the future.

Though they didn't know it, but the delegates were creating a blueprint for the rebuilding of Europe's cities, about to be destroyed by the Second World War. Today, many argue that the Utopian ideas that came to dominate architecture after the 1933 Congress have led to misery and social breakdown for the inhabitants of those new towns and buildings. Frances explores how this meeting in 1933 changed the way we live today and how, as our cities continue to expand, it will go on to influence the way live in the future.

20061001

Seven Types of William Empson

Poet and critic William Empson is best known for his pioneering studies of English literature such as seven types of ambiguity, as well as his lyrical and witty poetry that made a big impact on other 20th Century poets.

Empson was born 100 years ago and there is now a revival of interest in his work - with new editions of his best-known books in print. Writers and commentators such as Christopher Ricks, Clive James, John Haffenden and Adam Phillips discuss Empson's life and work. They assemble their own 'seven types' of William Empson, with topics ranging from poetry and the east, to beards and aphorisms.

20061008

Henze at 80

In a reassessment of Hans Werner Henze in his 80th birthday year, Piers Burton-Page talks to not only the composer himself, but a clutch of people who know him well. They include Oliver Knussen, a composer who's conducted much of Henze's work; Paul Crossley the pianist; Peter Jonas, opera boss Munich who has championed much of his work; the singer Ian Bostridge; Sally Groves, Henze's long-time publisher and the German composer, Detlev Glanert.

20061029

The Painters' Painter: Dazzling Diego Velazquez

Recorded at the Prado in Madrid, Richard Cork goes on a mission to discover how Velazquez made paintings that continue to dazzle and amaze us, in particular Las Meninas, the most famous single work in the collection. Timed to coincide with the major exhibition at the National Gallery in London.

20061112

Strange Meetings: Wilfred Owen's Half-Known Roads

Paul Farley investigates the people and places that shaped Wilfred Owen's life and work.

He visits Broxton in Cheshire where Owen first felt called to poetry; Dunsden in Oxfordshire where, working for the vicar, Owen lost his faith but developed his empathy with the poor; Craiglockhart, the hospital for shell-shocked soldiers in Edinburgh, where Owen met Siegfreid Sassoon and developed his true voice; and he climbs to the attic room in Ripon where Owen wrote some of his most powerful poems.

Paul talks to the people living in these places now, historians, experts and Owen's biographer. Finally, he goes to the Sambre-Oise canal, where Owen was killed, and his grave in nearby Ors.

20061119

Factory 798

In Beijing, a factory that once produced military components has become China's hottest arts quarter, a centre for contemporary artists and galleries. Susan Marling meets publisher and 798 resident Huang Hung during a recent arts festival to find out why new Chinese art is so fashionable and about China's official response to its emerging artists.

20061126

Copenhagen: The City Within

Jonathan Glancey explores Denmark's rapidly changing cultural capital. What do the normalisation of the city's infamous commune of Christiania and the fierce controversy over newspaper cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed say about the country's traditionally stable view of itself?

20061203

Weird Tales: The Strange Life of H P Lovecraft.

Geoff Ward examines the strange life and terrifying world of the man hailed as America's greatest horror writer since Poe.

During his life Lovecraft's work was confined to lurid pulp magazines and he died in penury in 1937. Today, however, his writings are considered modern classics and published in prestigious editions.

Among the writers considering his legacy are Neil Gaiman, S T Joshi, Kelly Link, Peter Straub and China Mieville.

20061224

The Sisters of Aphrodite

Bettany Hughes searches for the real women behind the great Goddesses of pre-history. In an investigation that takes her through the museums of Europe to the shores of the eastern Mediterranean, she discovers that the lives of women otherwise lost to history can be traced from Bronze Age female figurines which have previously been assumed to depict deities.

Songs of the Dark Times

Ivan Hewett explores music's vital role in the development of Bertold Brecht's radical new political theatre through his fascinating and often stormy collaborations with leading composers including Kurt Weill, Paul Hindemith and Hans Eisler. Contributors include his daughter Barbara Brecht-Schall, Carl Weber, Gisela May, Ute Lemper, Robyn Archer, Dominic Muldowney, David Hare and Stephen Unwin. Simon Russell Beale reads from Brecht's comments about music.

20070107

The Tragical Adventure of Heinrich von Kleist

Ivan Howlett explores the life and work of one of the most tortured but brilliant writers of the early 19th Century.

Heinrich von Kleist died by his own hand in 1811 at the age of 34. He produced a body of work that eventually earned him a place in German literature next to Goethe and Schiller and was a major influence on Nietzsche and Kafka. He received practically no recognition in his lifetime, however, and even today he is little known outside Germany.

20070114

Pigment Envy: Harry Allen expounds his theories on racism.

20070121

The Struggle for Language

What happens to languages after drastic political distortion?

1/3. New German

Chris Bowlby hears how German, a once great international language of culture and science, is trying finally to banish the echoes of barbarism.

20070128

The Struggle for Language

What happens to languages after drastic political distortion?

2/3. Turkish

Maureen Freely hears how writers like Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk work with a language that had half its vocabulary expunged, or made politically incorrect, in a government reform that banned words of Arabic and Persian origin in favour of pure Turkish.

20070204

The Struggle for Language

What happens to languages after drastic political distortion?

3/3. Afrikaans

Will the collapse of apartheid in South Africa lead to the eventual demise of the Afrikaans language? For playwright Mike Van Kraan, this is personal. Brought up by his Afrikaans-speaking parents, he refused to speak the language as a young man as a means of fighting apartheid. Yet today, in the new South Africa, his children are coming home from school speaking Afrikaans. Mike goes on a personal journey to define for himself the struggle for the language. Contributors include F W De Klerk and Andre Brink.

20070218

Auden: Six Unexpected Days

Marking the centenary of the birth of WH Auden, poet Paul Farley crosses the Northern Pennines following an itinerary suggested by Auden in an article for American Vogue in 1954. Paul investigates how this once thriving mining area, renowned for its limestone, exerted a powerful influence over the young Auden and how it continued to resonate in his poetry throughout a career which lasted more than half a century.

20070225

The Eternal Rock

The two square miles of land mass that form the rock of Gibraltar have been invaded and contested by nearly every major civilisation in European history. This tiny piece of land has been slow to give up the secrets of its past, but Michael Portillo utilises modern archaeological methods to unearth its real history.

20070304

Chaplin, Celebrity and Modernism

Thirty years after the death of Charles Chaplin, Mark Kermode investigates the great comedian's celebrity role and influence on world culture from the modernists and Dadaists to the Russian avant-garde and imitators in Bombay. Privileged access to Chaplin's private archive reveals remarkable letters from Truman Capote, Winston Churchill and James Agee.

20070311

Educating Mill

An analysis of the psychohistory of the forging of a remarkable mind in Mill's own words and the thoughts of Mill scholars around the world.

John Stuart Mill laid the foundations for modern ideas about freedom - but his own remarkable education by his father is a story of compulsion and manipulation that still resonates today. Was Mill merely the product of a remarkable intellectual experiment? And could this 'thinking machine' ever break free?

JS Mill....Jamie Glover

James Mill....John Dougall

Other readings by Ioan Meredith.

20070318

Mind as Machine

Prof Maggie Boden, pioneer in cognitive science, meets the world's leading experts in Artificial Intelligence to find out how far the technology has come and what the future holds for AI and, importantly, whether it can help psychologists and philosophers explore what the human mind really is.

Fifty years on from the Dartmouth Conference, the meeting that gave birth to the field of AI, Mind as Machine will give a rare opportunity to hear leading philosophers Daniel Dennett and John Searle, AI experts Marvin Minsky and Rod Brooks from MIT and psychologists exploring the enduring questions about AI and the human mind.

20070408

John Dankworth in South Africa

It's just over 50 years since a young John Dankworth flew into Johannesburg to give a short series of concerts in South Africa. Unaware, until he arrived, of the growing menace of apartheid, he joined the protest movement.

In this programme, John returns to South Africa for the first time since then, to discover how music continued to be made during the years of struggle, and how it's doing in today's rainbow nation. He meets veterans Hugh Masekela and Jonas Gwangwa, visits a music school in Daveyton township, plus encounters younger musicians such as trumpeter Feya Faku, saxophonist McCoy Mrubata, and guitarist Louis Mhlanga.

From choir competitions to solo pianists, the programme paints a vivid picture of contemporary South African musical life and asks potent questions about the future.

20070415

Akram Khan

Dancer choreographer Akram Khan has won a string of prestigious awards and is one of the most talented and feted artists of his generation. He explores his roots with the help of artists he has collaborated with, such as Antony Gormley, Hanif Kureishi and Anish Kapoor.

We also eavesdrop on rehearsals, join Akram on tour and listen to performances as Akram explores Katak dance, Bangladeshi culture and Tabla rhythms.

20070422

Enter the Garden: Toru Takemitsu

The composer Takemitsu's music, philosophy and personality are explored alongside his attraction to the metaphor of the garden - 'I design gardens with music', claimed Takemitsu, a Japanese artist who found success on the concert platforms of the West before returning to the cultural influences of his birthplace.

Including interviews with his daughter Maki, film directors Masahiro Shinoda and Peter Grilli, composer Dai Fujikura, conductor Oliver Knussen, pop musician David Sylvian, a gardener from the Hama Rikyu garden in Tokyo and a previously unheard interview with the composer himself, recorded in the early 1990s.

20070429

The Poetic World of Newt

The name Newt on the secret police file in Communist Prague masked the identity of the poet Ivan Blatny. In his twenties, Blatny was one of the central figures in the cultural avant-garde, but when the Communists came to power in 1948 he defected to Britain, much to the fury of the Czechoslovak authorities, who opened a secret file on him and attempted to lure Newt back.

In the years that followed, his mental health gradually deteriorated and he spent most of the rest of his life in various psychiatric hospitals. David Vaughan explores the life and the poetry of Blatny, travelling to Brno to meet his family, to Prague to the see the police files and, poignantly, to the psychiatric hospitals in Suffolk where Blatny died in 1990.

Blatny continued to write poetry to his dying day, on scraps of paper salvaged by his nurse Frances Meacham, and his reputation is confirmed by the testimonies of the former playwright and president Vaclav Havel and by leading Czech writer Josef Skvorecky.

20070506

Something in the Air

In a unique personal memoir of the Second World War, playwright Peter Nichols explores the strange, chilling, now almost comical recordings of the Nazi swing band Charlie and His Orchestra, perhaps the oddest-ever surviving examples of black propaganda.

20070513

Charles Correa: Finding a New Indian Architecture

David Adjaye profiles Charles Correa, the modernist architect whose ground-breaking work has helped forge a national identity in post-colonial India. This is a journey through that land, as David travels to Correa's milestone building projects, talks to political and religious figures and India's architectural elite, as well as the men and women who use the buildings and whose lives have been changed by his progressive philosophy.

Featuring interviews with Charles Correa, BBC journalist Sam Miller, Sen Kapadia, Dr Jyotindra Jain, Romi Khosla, Nalini Thakur, JC Kapur and Professor Doshi.

20070520

The Splintered City: The Halifax Harbour Explosion, 1917

Sean Street tells the story of the biggest man-made explosion prior to the atomic bomb, when a munitions ship and, ironically, a refugee relief vessel collided, leaving Halifax, Nova Scotia, devastated. With 2,000 people killed and many thousands more injured, the world was changed as it initiated the first global response to a disaster and the academic study of catastrophe.

By the harbour and in the streets of the splintered city, Sean meets some of the survivors 90 years on and explores the causes and contradictions of the disaster

20070603

Elgar and Empire

To mark the 150th anniversary of Elgar's birth, historian Tristram Hunt explores how his music articulated the notion of British Empire: its triumph and its decline.

A controversial aspect of the composer, as many feel that Elgar's music is somehow tainted by the association with imperialist aims and ideals, this documentary presents different views about Elgar and Empire from historians Jeffrey Richards, John Mackenzie and Bernard Porter, pianist David Owen Norris and conductor Mark Elder.

20070610

Weird Tales: The Strange Life of HP Lovecraft

Geoff Ward examines the strange life and terrifying world of the man hailed as America's greatest horror writer since Poe.

During his life, Lovecraft's work was confined to lurid pulp magazines and he died in penury in 1937. Today, however, his writings are considered modern classics and published in prestigious editions. How did such a weird, wild and ungodly writer get canonised? Among the writers considering his legacy are Neil Gaiman, ST Joshi, Kelly Link, Peter Straub and China Mieville.

20070624

Return to Beirut

Last spring, Hassan Arouni visited Beirut to explore its thriving contemporary art scene. One year on, he returns to Lebanon to ask how the rising tensions of the last 12 months have affected the lives and work of Beirut's artists, and how the city itself has been transformed.

Hassan meets artists who are showing at the Venice Biennale, the first time that Lebanon has been represented at the international art exhibition. However, the creation of the Lebanese National Pavilion has proved controversial: what kind of art and which artists can best represent this increasingly fractured nation?

20070701

Forster in India: Sex, Books and Empire

EM Forster's personal passage to India was the key to both his great novel and his political radicalism. What drew this shy and retiring figure from British suburbia to the mysterious heart of a faraway subcontinent?

Taking a fresh look at the links between Forster's homosexuality, his critique of the Raj and his remarkably modern capacity for crossing racial and cultural borders, Zareer Masani rescues him from the stereotype of an old-maidish, closeted gay, writing tea-table novels.

20070722

Courting the East

Author and historian Jerry Brotton uncovers the complex history of relations between England and the Islamic world. They can seem constantly embroiled in animosity and misunderstanding, yet the records of the court of Elizabeth I tell a very different story, with a web of intrigue and alliance between the Ottomans, the Moroccans and the English Queen that leads all the way to Shakespeare's Othello.

20070805

Sibelian Landscapes

It is often remarked how the music of Sibelius seems to capture and evoke the very essence of his native Finland. Half a century after the composer's death, Stephen Johnson travels to Finland to explore some of the distinctive landscapes and cultural forces that shaped the Sibelius' creative imagination.

20070812

The Reconciler

Mike Ford examines the life and legacy of one of the 20th century's most influential and radical spiritual leaders, Brother Roger of Taize, whose murder in 2005 was mourned by millions. By bringing together divided Christians and pioneering a new style of church music, Brother Roger led a quiet revolution in postwar Europe.

20070826

Malory: A Tale of Two Texts. Prof David Wallace traces the histories of the two remaining versions of Le Morte Darthur, Thomas Malory's great work of Arthurian literature.

20070909

Louis MacNeice: The Cat, the Celt and the Cave

To celebrate the centenary of the Irish poet's birth, Paul Muldoon and other poets and critics offer personal assessments of Louis MacNeice's work.

They reflect on his Celtic inheritance and its influence on the work, test the premise in The Times obituary that MacNeice was 'a cat who walked by himself', and consider the circumstances of his death in 1963, occasioned by a visit to a cave in Yorkshire, followed by a drenching on the moors which led to pneumonia.

20070916

An American Legend: James Agee

Blake Morrison visits Agee's hometown in Tennessee and follows in his footsteps to Alabama to re-appraise this 'sovereign prince of the English language'.

He was described as 'probably the most charismatic man alive', looked like James Dean, lived hard and was dead by the age of 45. His account of the lives of poor white farmers in 1930s Alabama, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, is an exquisitely difficult classic, his film criticism set the standard in 1940s America, and his posthumously published novel, A Death in the Family, won the Pulitzer Prize. So why is the work of James Agee so little known here?

With contributions from Agee's children and biographers.

20070923
20070930

MindMaps

A series examining the ferment of ideas generated in a single city.

1/3. Geneva

Historian and Robespierre biographer Ruth Scurr visits Geneva to discover how three great thinkers interacted with the city.

In the 16th century, Calvin turned Geneva into the 'Protestant Rome'. In the 18th century, Rousseau and Voltaire clashed with each other here and their differing views of Geneva partly caused the feud.

20071007

MindMaps

A series examining the ferment of ideas generated in a single city.

2/3. Manchester: Masters and Men

Chris Bowlby visits the Victorian cotton capital to discover how its buildings evoke the confident period when Manchester liberalism became the dominant ideology.

As the middle classes prospered, free trade and dissent achieved architectural, as well as social and political, status. Local luminaries, such as Halle, Mrs Gaskell and Engels, also decisively shaped the way later generations have thought about capitalism and how we consume culture today.

20071014

MindMaps

A series examining the ferment of ideas generated in a single city.

3/3. Chicago: Factory of the Future

In series about how different cities have shaped our world, Felipe Fernández-Armesto probes the relationship between leading economists and political thinkers at the University of Chicago in the 1950s, including Milton Friedman and Leo Strauss, and the city itself.

George Steiner and Richard Sennett recall the Chicago of the time, and we learn how the celebration of individualism by some Chicago intellectuals contrasts starkly with other aspects of life in the Windy City.

20071028

Mind as Machine

Professor Maggie Boden, pioneer in cognitive science, meets the world's leading experts in Artificial Intelligence to find out how far the technology has come and what the future holds for AI and, importantly, whether it can help psychologists and philosophers explore what the human mind really is.

Fifty years on from the Dartmouth Conference, the meeting that gave birth to the field of AI, Mind as Machine will give a rare opportunity to hear leading philosophers Daniel Dennett and John Searle, AI experts Marvin Minsky and Rod Brooks from MIT and psychologists exploring the enduring questions about AI and the human mind.

20071104

Elgar and Empire

To mark the 150th anniversary of Elgar's birth, historian Tristram Hunt explores how his music articulated the notion of British Empire: its triumph and its decline.

Examining a controversial aspect of the composer, for many feel that Elgar's music is somehow tainted by the association with imperialist aims and ideals, this documentary presents different views about Elgar and Empire from historians Jeffrey Richards, John Mackenzie and Bernard Porter, pianist David Owen Norris and conductor Mark Elder.

20071118

As Big as Life

Lavinia Greenlaw travels to Great Village in Nova Scotia to explore the childhood landscape of Elizabeth Bishop, one of the most important poets of the 20th century.

Even though Bishop only lived in Great Village for three years in her infancy, the place, the people and the way of life resonate throughout her work.

20071125
20071202

Liquid Living

Paul Bennun goes on a seven day digital diet. News, food, entertainment and social life are all accessed solely through the portal of his computer screen. From his desktop he uses Skype to conduct interviews to assess the social implications and cultural ramifications of a life lived online.

We hear the arguments for and against the effects of virtual interaction, from the psychological repercussions of being able to contrive multiple web personas, to the social impact of flexible working conditions facilitated by wireless gadgetry, to the different ways of thinking required for Instant Messaging.

Featuring interviews with Howard Reingold (inventor of the term 'virtual community'), sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, 'cybershrink' Sherry Turkle and science-fiction writer William Gibson.

20071209

In the Beginning was the Song

Ivan Hewett explores the origins and evolution of music. The urge to make music is rooted deep in human nature, but why that urge arose in the first place is a hotly debated question that divides the scientific community.

Ivan Hewett goes in search of the answer, drawing on a fascinating body of evidence that ranges from Palaeolithic cave settlements and observations of apes making music, to laboratory studies of infants' musical abilities, and a new brain-scanning experiment to map the neural basis of the music faculty.

20071216

RAND - All Your Tomorrows Today

Ken Hollings unravels the origins and achievements of the world's ultimate think tank. For over 60 years, the RAND (Research and Development) Corporation has been thinking the unthinkable and dreaming of multiple futures for America and the world.

It makes ideas, not machines, but its contribution to the entire information age of satellites, systems analysis, computing and the internet has been crucial. Once labelled a 'malevolent university', it has been credited by some with near limitless influence since its beginnings in 1945.

20071223

A Cloud in a Paper Bag

This drama-documentary by biographer Richard Holmes tells the story of the first decades of ballooning 200 years ago.

Today's sport was then a scientific revolution underwritten with poetry. Getting up and staying aloft was a huge challenge, and what the pioneer balloonists saw from their baskets changed the way we think about the world. In the race to be the first across the Channel, the age old rivalry between Britain and France was renewed.

With Nicky Henson, John Lightbody, Peter Marinker and Eleanor Tremain.

20071230

Oscar in America

One hundred and twenty five years ago this month, a flamboyant young man sailed for England after a visit to America that proved seminal towards his development into one of the literary greats.

Owen Dudley Edwards recounts how a trip to promote a comic opera turned into a year-long tour that educated America about aesthetic ideas, and about its educator, the Apostle of Aestheticism, Oscar Wilde.

On this tour, Oscar gave no less than 140 lectures over 260 days, met leading figures from government, arts and culture, and created a legacy both for an emerging nation and for himself as an emerging writer.

Mingling epigrams, history and literary lore are Oscar's grandson Merlin Holland, tour guide John Cooper, historian Mary Warner Blanchard and critic Declan Kiberd

20080113

Rules of Engagement

In the face of climate change and ongoing war, what can artists do to bring about change? British artist Cornelia Parker considers what she and others can usefully contribute without being annexed by the cause.

In her research she talks to artists and philosophers including Noam Chomsky, Mark Wallinger, Gustav Metzger and Shelley Sacks.

20080127

Malory: A Tale of Two Texts

Prof David Wallace traces the histories of the two remaining versions of Le Morte Darthur, Thomas Malory's great work of Arthurian literature. He considers what they reveal about the times in which they were made and the times in which they were read.

With readings by Andrew Motion.

20080203

South American Currents

A new series offering fresh cultural perspectives on South America.

1/3. Colombia - An End to Solitude?

Forty years ago, the novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote of the afflictions of Colombia, his country of birth. Now a new generation of Colombian writers are trying to find a way out of that 'solitude' in order to describe the complex, violent but exuberant reality they live in.

Novelist Juan Gabriel Vasquez takes us with him to the Colombian capital Bogota to share the elements of 21st century urban life in South America that have inspired his work.

20080210

South American Currents

A new series offering fresh cultural perspectives on South America.

2/3. Argentina - Dancing to the Music of the Mind

Buenos Aires has more psychoanalysts per head of the population than any city outside New York. Why does every taxi driver argue the merits of Lacan versus Freud?

Argentinian film director, writer and tango enthusiast Edgardo Cozarinsky talks to artists, dancers, novelists and other Argentinians to find out why psychotherapy has such a pervasive influence - even in the tango bars.

20080217

South American Currents

A series offering fresh cultural perspectives on South America.

3/3. Peru - The Padlocked Town

Exploring the theme of disappearance, Peruvian-American author Daniel Alarcon journeys deep into the Andes, to Corongo. Now known as the 'Padlocked Town', Corongo is a semi-deserted place which residents left as they searched for a more stable and prosperous future in the capital city.

Daniel follows their journey to Lima, finding out how Andean culture has transformed the identity of the sprawling city over the past 30 years. He also discovers how a major earthquake in 1970 followed by years of political violence has forced the disappearance of many similar Andean towns and villages.

20080224

Retreat to Bug River

Rana Mitter traces the dramatic events of August 1920 when the Red Army marched on Warsaw in the hope of exporting the Bolshevik revolution to Poland, Germany and beyond.

In conversation with historians Norman Davies and Timothy Garton Ash, veterans of the Polish-Soviet war of 1919-20 and their relatives, Rana brings to life the day-by-day events of August 1920 and asks how the Battle of Warsaw continues to influence Poland and the wider region.

20080302

The Moving Power of Art

As the BBC and the British Council shift their focus to the Middle East, novelist Hisham Matar asks how countries use culture as a political tool and where he fits in as a young Arabic writer living in the West.

He visits the new Korean Art Centre in London and the Islamic Gallery in the Victoria and Albert Museum. He also talks to the man who coined the term 'soft power', Prof Joseph Nye, to artist Tracey Emin and to director of the Britsh Museum Neil MacGregor.

20080309

Joined-Up Artists

Tim Marlow charts the history of cultural collaboration, increasingly popular in recent years, and examines its importance to the arts today.

With archive interviews with artist Robert Rauschenberg and choreographer Merce Cunningham, and discussions with leading producers in the arts such as Jude Kelly and Tom Morris, and audio artist Robin Rimbaud (alias Scanner), whose collaborative partners range from Radiohead to the Royal Ballet.

20080316

Raymond Williams: Keywords

Two decades after his death and 50 years after his landmark work Culture and Society, friends, admirers and critics including Geoff Dyer, Terry Eagleton, David Hare and Lisa Jardine discuss the life and the somewhat controversial legacy of cultural historian Raymond Williams.

20080323

Nature writer Richard Mabey presents an exploration of spring and its influence on literature and art, with bird expert Mark Cocker, nature writer Ronald Blythe and Cornish artist Kurt Jackson, best known for his dramatic landscapes and his ecological artistic work.

20080330

Homer's Landscapes

Adam Nicolson travels along the eastern Mediterranean, from the Ionian Sea to the western coast of Turkey to trace the origins of the poems at the root of modern European thought.

1/3. The Poet and His World

Visiting the island of Chios, where Homer might have come from, and then travelling on to Troy and Ithaca and sailing the Aegean, Adam reads The Iliad and The Odyssey, to explore their landscapes and world from which these important epic poems emerged.

20080406

Homer's Landscapes

Adam Nicolson travels along the eastern Mediterranean, from the Ionian Sea to the western coast of Turkey to trace the origins of the poems at the root of modern European thought.

2/3. The Iliad

Adam travels to Homer's Troy, walking the plains and visiting the ruins of its citadel, finding that although Homer is thought to have been blind, it is possible to directly map Homer's great poem of war onto the coastline of the Aegean, the beach of the Greek camp, the Scamander River and the hewn stone walls of Troy.

20080413

Homer's Landscapes

Adam Nicolson travels along the eastern Mediterranean, from the Ionian Sea to the western coast of Turkey to trace the origins of the poems at the root of modern European thought.

3/3. The Odyssey

Adam concludes his exploration of the enduring grip of Homer's epic poems, beginning on a wooden sailing boat as he follows Odysseus on his long and adventure-strewn journey home from Troy.

20080420

An American Legend: James Agee

Blake Morrison visits Agee's hometown in Tennessee and follows in his footsteps to Alabama to re-appraise this 'sovereign prince of the English language'.

Described as 'probably the most charismatic man alive', he looked like James Dean, lived hard and was dead by the age of 45. His account of the lives of poor white farmers in 1930s Alabama, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, is an exquisitely difficult classic, his film criticism set the standard in 1940s America, and his posthumously published novel, A Death in the Family, won the Pulitzer Prize. So why is the work of James Agee so little known here?

With contributions from Agee's children and biographers.

20080427

The Splintered City: The Halifax Harbour Explosion, 1917

Sean Street tells the story of the biggest man-made explosion prior to the atomic bomb, when a munitions ship and, ironically, a refugee relief vessel collided, leaving Halifax, Nova Scotia, devastated. With 2,000 people killed and many thousands more injured, the world was changed as it initiated the first global response to a disaster and the academic study of catastrophe.

By the harbour and in the streets of the splintered city, Sean meets some of the survivors 90 years on and explores the causes and contradictions of the disaster.

20080511

Herzl from Here

Frances Stonor Saunders talks to Israeli, Palestinian and other international historians about the life and ideas of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism. An Austro-Hungarian journalist, Herzl became the leading spokesman for an independent Jewish state, promoting the movement on an international scale and ultimately securing the creation of Israel in 1948.

20080518
20080525

Paradise or Nightmare - DH Lawrence in Cornwall

DH Lawrence biographer John Worthen looks at the writer's retreat to Cornwall following the controversy over his novel The Rainbow and the horrors of World War I. Worthen talks to fellow Lawrence scholars Fiona Becket, Mark Kinkead-Weekes, and Christopher Pollnitz about the impact of this period on Lawrence's life and work.

Lawrence may have loved Cornwall, and completed Women in Love - one of his best novels - there, but the violence of the war eventually caught up with him, and he and his wife were expelled on suspicion of spying in October 1917. This experience surfaced in his later Novel Kangaroo - in a the chapter which he called The Nightmare.

20080601

Soundings

In a rare interview recorded in 1998, the artist Robert Rauschenberg who died last month at the age of 82, talks to Tim Marlow about his innovative career in which he created some of the icons of post-war American art. Rising to fame in New York in the 1950s, he was close friends with other important figures of modernism like musician John Cage and painter Willem de Kooning.

Rauschenberg's collaborators, including the choreographer Merce Cunningham, explain how he managed to blaze a trail for the contemporary desire to blur the boundaries between different art forms.

20080608

A Tale of Two Skulls

Artist Jane Wildgoose explores the complex issues surrounding the possession, scientific analysis and public display of human remains by tracing the history of two human skulls in her own private collection. After inviting counsel from an array of experts in diverse fields, she then takes action to secure an appropriate fate for the two skulls.

20080615

The Red Piano Factory

Petroc Trelawny visits the Chinese city of Guangzhou and the Shanghai Conservatoire as well as fast-food style piano kindergartens and the biggest piano factory in the world to find out why China is gripped by piano fever. Tens of millions of shoolchildren are learning the instrument and Western classical music is in the ascendancy. Yet less than four decades ago, classical music was banned and pianos were smashed as symbols of Western decadence.

Part of Radio 3's Focus on China season.

20080622

Flowers in the Backyard - China and its Minority Cultures

Isabel Hilton reports from China's capital Beijing, on the country's uneasy relationship with its minority cultures, talking to writers and academics of the Han ethnic group, which makes up over 90 per cent of the population.

She finds out how the Han have used minority cultures to broaden their own understanding of China, and also meets cultural figures from the variety of minorities groups, who describe their experiences of living within such a massive majority.

Part of Radio 3's Focus on China season.

20080629

Ideas - The British Version

Series exploring the origins of British intellectual traditions and their subsequent influence here and abroad.

1/3. Historian and broadcaster Tristram Hunt examines the English philosopher John Locke's Letter Concerning Toleration and follows its influence across history and the world. Written in 1689 at a time of Protestant persecution, Locke's work called for a new understanding of the relationship between religion and the state.

Tristram visits Holland - where Locke wrote the Letter in exile - to hear about religious tolerance there and how it compared with contemporary England.

Many Huguenots had fled religious persecution in France and he also visits one of their churches in London - which now functions as a mosque - to see what effect Locke's thinking had on the English establishment and faith communities of the 17th century as well as assessing its relevance today in multi-faith Britain.

20080706

Ideas - The British Version

Series exploring the origins of British intellectual traditions and their subsequent influence here and abroad.

2/3. Historian and broadcaster Tristram Hunt explores how the rise of Socialism in the early 20th century prompted liberal British thinkers to develop a 'middle way' between the red-blooded Left and unfettered capitalism.

20080713

Ideas - The British Version

Series exploring the origins of British intellectual traditions and their subsequent influence here and abroad.

3/3. The Free Market

Exploring the origins of British liberalism, historian and broadcaster Tristram Hunt looks at the economist Adam Smith's theories of the free market and sees how they have shaped modern economic thinking.

20080720

The Trial of Ezra Pound

To mark his release 50 years ago, historian Sean Street investigates how Ezra Pound, one of the 20th century's most important poets, was accused of treason by the US Government and held for years in a mental hospital after he made a series of anti-American and anti-Semitic broadcasts in Italy.

The programme investigates the significance of the case today, asking whether he committed treason or inconveniently used his right to free speech. With contributions from Pound's daughter Mary de Rachewlitz, his biographer David Moody and the playwright Bernard Kops, who wrote a play about Pound, in order to find out how we should view the complex and controversial poet.

20080803

Wee Have Also Sound-Houses

Fifty years after the creation of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, the programme examines the life and legacy of one of the great pioneers of British electronic music - the Workshop's co-founder Daphne Oram.

As a child in the 1930s, Oram dreamed of a way to turn drawn shapes into sound, and she dedicated her life to realising that goal. Her Oramics machine anticipated the synthesiser by more than a decade, and with it she produced a number of internationally-performed works for the cinema, concert hall and theatre.

Daphne Oram was among the very first composers of electronic music in Britain and her legacy is the dominance of that soundworld in our culture today.

20080807
20080810

A Brief History of Cunning

American writer and satirist Joe Queenan traces the history of cunning, from Odysseus to Karl Rove, via Machiavelli, Richard Nixon and Margaret Thatcher. He talks to experts, observers and practitioners of the dark arts, from Professor of Classics Edith Hall to Tim Parks, translator of Machiavelli's The Prince. In Italy he meets a commentator who describes cunning as a pathology of intelligence, while former Conservative party treasurer Lord McAlpine sees it more as a 'little nudge here, a little nudge there'.

Other contributors include writer Kathy Lette, Italian journalist Beppe Severgnini, law professor Don Herzog, and actor Francis Urquhart, prime minister in the BBC's House of Cards.

20080812

Missing Moscow

In the midst of Moscow's huge building boom, Professor Ricky Burdett visits the city to investigate claims that its architectural treasures, including important early Modernist buildings, are being destroyed or ignored in the rush to modernise and forget a painful past. Also, Lord Foster gives an account of his projects in Moscow, including the tower that will be Europe's tallest.

20080824

Vaughan Williams: Valiant for Truth

Marking the 50th anniversary of the death of Ralph Vaughan Williams, Stephen Johnson presents an elegiac portrait of the man and composer. Travelling across England - the country Vaughan Williams so loved - to see the places he lived and worked, and meet the people who knew him, Johnson tries to get a little closer to an underrated mind.

With contributions from the philosopher AC Grayling, biographers Simon Heffer and Michael Kennedy, Vaughan Williams's musical assistant Roy Douglas as well as friend and colleague Simona Pakenham.

20080907

In the Beginning Was the Song

Ivan Hewett explores the origins and evolution of music. The urge to make music is rooted deep in human nature, but why that urge arose in the first place is a hotly debated question that divides the scientific community.

Ivan Hewett goes in search of the answer, drawing on a fascinating body of evidence that ranges from Palaeolithic cave settlements and observations of apes making music, to laboratory studies of infants' musical abilities, and a new brain-scanning experiment to map the neural basis of the music faculty.

20080910

Joined-Up Artists

Tim Marlow charts the history of cultural collaboration, increasingly popular in recent years, and examines its importance to the arts today.

Including archive interviews with artist Robert Rauschenberg and choreographer Merce Cunningham, and discussions with leading producers in the arts such as Jude Kelly and Tom Morris. Plus audio artist Robin Rimbaud (alias Scanner), whose collaborative partners range from Radiohead to the Royal Ballet.

20080921

Remember, Remember

Psychologist Susan Blackmore investigates how we are outsourcing the memory of our lives to digital devices and asks whether that is changing the nature of human memory. She hears from a 'lifelogger' who is recording every detail of his daily life - and from an academic who has taped 220,000 hours of audio and video of his infant son. She asks whether we will all end up doing the same and how this will affect the way we remember our own lives.

20081019

Byzantium

To coincide with an exhibition at the Royal Academy, Prof Judith Herrin visits Istanbul to trace the history of the Roman city of Byzantium and examine the crucial role it played in the development of Europe.

She explores how Byzantine civilisation made possible Europe's transition to modernity; the fact that it has no modern successor state; how it combined Christianity with ancient Greek learning and Roman imperial ideology; and its systems of government, laws, taxes, education and defence.

20081026

Raymond Williams: Keywords

Friends, admirers and critics including Geoff Dyer, Terry Eagleton, David Hare and Lisa Jardine discuss the life and the somewhat controversial legacy of cultural historian Raymond Williams.

A hero to the British Left and to generations of students, Williams was one of the most influential intellectual figures of the post-World War II years. Among his best known books are Keywords, in which he provided an account of changes in culture and society through the transformations of the words we use.

With readings by Ioan Meredith.

20081109

Rebellion and Fear - Artists in the Great War

Richard Cork explores how the First World War figured powerfully, and in strikingly different ways, in the lives and work of the early avant-garde art movement in Europe.

We hear about Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the founder of futurism, visiting industrial cities of including London in 1912, urging artists to rally and embrace modernity. It moved artists such as Jacob Epstein and Wyndham Lewis as well as the poet Ezra Pound to create significant works celebrating industrialisation.

Richard also talks to minimalist composer Michael Nyman about the work of David Bomberg another of the futurist artists influenced by Marinetti. A longtime admirer, Nyman is contemplating composing an opera on Bomberg's work and its relationship to the First World War.

20081116

A New Image for the Housing Estate

Author and education consultant Dreda Say Mitchell investigates the issues surrounding today's housing estates, asking whether they are a concrete hell or a visionary architectural statement. She returns to her childhood home and, with the help of her family, friends, former neighbours and her own memory of living on one, sets out to explore both the image and the reality of daily life on a housing estate.

And with the assistance of housing designer Wayne Hemingway, author Lynsey Hanley and professor of social policy Anne Power, Dreda compares and contrasts residents' solutions to the various problems endemic to estates with those put forward by professionals.

20090125

Poet and Burns scholar Professor Robert Crawford of St Andrews University, examines how Robert Burns became a sensation at home and abroad.

With contributions from Douglas Dunn, who considers the strength of Burns's verse, Professor Fiona Stafford, who discusses whether Burns was the first romantic poet and David Hopes, who asks whether Burns's image is going to be renewed again in the making of the new birthplace museum.

There is also debate on Burns's newest scholarly incarnation as a radical, and Dr Leith Davies looking at how the once very male and clubbable world of the 'Burns club' and Burns Supper now contends with new cultural fusion such as Gung Haggis Fat Choy, which melds Burns night with the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Robert Crawford on why Robert Burns was a poet and songwriter of international importance.

20140216

In this two-part Sunday Feature, Michael Goldfarb investigates one of history's most remarkable coincidences: the first Greek philosophers, the Buddha and Confucius all lived at precisely the same time, the 6th century BCE. What they had in common was they were the first to create thought systems in which Man, not the Gods, was the measure of all things. It was arguably civilization's greatest leap forward. Yet, despite their teachings these thought systems became faiths anyway.

Why this coincidence? Were these thinkers in touch with one another? How did these teachings become religions?

In part two Michael Goldfarb goes on pilgrimage in India and China to tell the story of how Buddhism and Confucianism, two faiths without God, became religions. He talks to scholars and monks about the human need for faith and how even rationalism is becoming a kind of religion in the West.

20170924

A conversation between contemporary figures and archive recordings of James Baldwin.

In this documentary we hear archive of the renowned American writer James Baldwin in conversation with contemporary writers and activists. Exploring the reasons behind the resonance and resurgence of his work and analysis thirty years after his death.

Baldwin was a gay African American writer whose novels including Go Tell it on the Mountain and Giovanni's Room made him a leading thinker on America, sexuality and race from the 1950s onwards.

With new documentaries, films, essays and activists explicitly using Baldwin as a touchstone - what is it about Baldwin's insight and art that has prompted such a resurgence of interest? And how might he help us understand the contemporary moment

Writers including The Good Immigrant's Musa Okwonga, Mitchell S Jackson and the New Yorker's Hilton Als, community organiser Imani Robinson, academic Robert Reid-Pharr and Baldwin biographer and academic Magdalena Zaborowska unpick his work and find moments of personal shared experience.

Produced by Shanida Scotland with Eleanor McDowall
A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 3.

In this documentary we hear archive of the great American writer James Baldwin in conversation with contemporary writers and activists. Exploring the reasons behind the resonance and resurgence of his work and modes of analysis thirty years after his death.

Writers including The Good Immigrant's Musa Okwonga and the New Yorker's Hilton Als, the Black Lives Matter activist, Patricia Cullors, academic Robert Reid-Pharr and Baldwin biographer and academic Magdalena Zaborowska unpick his work and find moments of personal shared experience.

What would Baldwin say of his beloved Europe, facing the seismic challenges of the growth of far-right movements, terrorism and debates surrounding the free movement of people? And as America enters its ninth month of the Trump presidency? Is his work more important than ever?

In conversation with the man himself, they explore how his work illuminates the complex spoken and unspoken racial and social tensions of 20th Century America as well as gay and bisexual life in Europe and the States well before the gay liberation movement of the late 1960s. With new documentaries, films, essays and activists explicitly using Baldwin as a touchstone - what is it about Baldwin's insight and art that has prompted such a resurgence of interest? And how might he help us understand the contemporary moment?

Produced by Shanida Scotland with Eleanor McDowall
A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 3.

20171008

John Tusa revisits the three provincial German towns where he first discovered opera.

John Tusa revisits the provincial German towns where as a 19-year-old national serviceman he first discovered opera in 1955 and finds out why, 62 years on, it's still thriving there.

Back then, he was based in the centre of the country, at the garrison in Celle. None of his fellow officers seemed to think it at all unusual when John vanished off from time to time to spend an evening in nearby Hanover glorying, for example, in the Verdian climaxes of what was billed as "Die Macht des Schicksals". Though only when the orchestra struck up the opening bars of The Force of Destiny overture did John realise what he'd booked seats for!

From Hanover, it's a 300-mile round trip to Essen, in the much-bombed Ruhr valley, but to enjoy the wonders of Mozart's Idomeneo, or to travel to the far north of the country to have his first ever taste of Wagner, it was worth it...

More than 60 years on, original programme pages in hand, John retraces those journeys to find out what makes German opera, outside the great houses of Berlin and Munich, tick. Because tick it certainly does.

Along the way, John meets the current "Intendants" (directors) of all three houses, their artistic directors and house singers. Today, still, Germany counts its opera houses in the dozens - as many as 80 or 90 of varying sizes - most with an ultra-loyal public who are happy to pay not-many euros to enjoy often world-class singing and playing. So what's the trick? And - in the Facebook age - is the audience of young people shrinking? And what are the houses doing to counter that?

Oh, yes: and at Hanover, John enjoys the latest Forza del Destino, while in Essen, it's still Mozart (Clemenza di Tito in 2017), and in Kiel, he catches up with Wagner - The Valkyrie.

Producer: Simon Elmes.

"a Radio Road Movie With Dana Gioia, Poet Laureate Of California, As He Reads In Every County In The State"20171001

Dana Gioia, Poet Laureate of California, reads and listens in every county in the state.

The role of the Poet Laureate of California is to encourage poetry throughout the state. So, when Dana Gioia was appointed he set out to visit and read in every single county in the state.

There are 58, stretching from Del Norte 1,000 miles south to Imperial, bordering Mexico; from the redwood forests to the desert; densely populated Los Angeles (almost 10 million) to almost empty Modoc (fewer than 10,000); with established communities from Mexico and Europe joined recently by people from the Far East.

Everywhere Gioia is joined by other poets and young people participating in Poetry Out Loud. For several years Gioia was Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. One of his initiatives was this nationwide competition for young people to memorise and recite poems. It is astonishingly popular.

40-odd counties in, producer Julian May joins Gioia to create a radio road movie for Radio 3. Gioia reads in a pub yard in Mariposa, a gold-mining town, while humming birds dart and hover. In a library in Madera, roasting in California's central valley, a woman from Peru recites a Spanish love poem. In marches a squad of lads from the juvenile hall youth correctional facility. Each, says Officer Martinez, can recite a poem by heart. There is an event in Turlock, settled by Assyrians, another in San Diego near Mexico and, in his home county, Sonoma, Gioia performs in a vineyard.

All this in 'Every County in the State of California', a radio road movie.

Producer: Julian May.

1816, The Year Without A Summer2016041020161218 (R3)

Known as the 'year without a summer', 1816 brought devastating extremes of cold and wet weather to Europe, New England and beyond. To mark the 200th anniversary of this strange weather year, New Generation Thinker and cultural historian Corin Throsby explores its turbulent effects.

No one knew at the time that this weather had been caused by the massive eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia the previous year. The largest volcanic eruption in recorded history, Tambora had ejected an immense amount of sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere, which enveloped the Earth, cooled temperatures and disrupted global weather patterns.

As science and superstition jostled and crops failed, the climatic conditions penetrated every corner of public and personal life: politics, religion and art. Its presence is there in the creation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Byron's poetry, and Turner's rain-soaked sketchbooks - and perhaps his fiery sunsets. For many, it brought on a distinctly apocalyptic mood.

In this programme, Corin Throsby marvels at the evidence for Tambora's eruption, preserved in ice cores held at the British Antarctic Survey headquarters, where she speaks to Dr Robert Mulvaney. At Tate Britain she discusses environmental art with Professor John Thornes. Other contributors include Gillen D'Arcy Wood, Alexandra Harris, Nicholas Klingaman and Daisy Hay.

Producer: Caroline Hughes

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 3.

First broadcast in April 2016.

18th Century Season: Liquid Assets - Handel's Finances2009041220140413

Peter Day, BBC Business Correspondent looks at Handel's extraordinary success on the stock market and looks into financial matters involved in putting on operas and oratorios in eighteenth century London.

Handel speculated in the newly formed London stock market throughout his life in the capital. Strikingly, he put money into South Sea stock in 1716 when prices were low and had sold up by 1720 when the South Sea credit bubble burst in one of the great financial cataclysms in fiscal history. Many others lost fortunes, including Sir Isaac Newton, warden of the Royal Mint. Handel profited handsomely and, while others shied away from the uncertainties of speculation, he continued to invest throughout his life. From 1744 Handel's investments just grew and grew.

Talking to Handel experts and financial historians, Peter Day enters the tough economics of eighteenth century music making and visits the Bank of England to see Handel's extravagant signature on numerous ledgers as he traded annuities.

First broadcast in April 2009.

50 Years Of The Traverse Theatre20130317

Joyce McMillan marks the 50th anniversary of the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh's powerhouse of new, Scottish and international drama.

The Traverse is one of the two most important theatres for new writing in Britain (the other being the Royal Court). It was founded by the artist Ricard Demarco, publisher John Calder and producer Jim Haynes, to provide 'the fringe all year round'.

In a tiny first floor room in what had been a brothel seats were arranged on either side of the acting space. Terry Lane, the first artistic director, thought this was 'traverse' rather than 'transverse'. He realised his mistake but it was too late - the name stuck, through moves to larger premises in the Grassmarket, then the purpose-built, twin auditoria complex it occupies today.

On the second night Colette O'Neil was stabbed onstage. Ever since the theatre's work has been dangerous and intense. It has nurtured major playwrights, such as Gregory Burke, David Greig and Liz Lochhead. The roster of its actors is extraordinary - Robbie Coltrane, Tilda Swinton, Alan Cumming and Siobhan Redmond. Artistic Directors include Max Stafford-Clark, Jenny Killick and Orla O'Loughlin. The theatre constantly develops new writing, acting and directorial talent: it celebrated its 50th birthday with 50 new, 500 word plays.

Joyce McMillan 'The Scotsman's' Political Columnist as well as Theatre Critic, has been reviewing Traverse shows for three decades. She interviews several of these writers, directors and actors. The programme includes location recordings and excerpts from famous productions.

Joyce considers, too, the role of the theatre in the light of recent developments, such as the founding of the National Theatre of Scotland, and the possibility of independence.

Producer:Julian May.

A Brief History Of Being Cold2013012020140112

Alexandra Harris presents a cultural history of the cold and how it has shaped the British. With the help of poets and writers including Simon Armitage, A.S. Byatt, Katherine Swift and Adam Gopnik Alex looks at the way our literature began with the cold in poems like 'The Seafarer' and 'The Wanderer'. Making winter a synonym for age and endurance the Anglo-Saxons wrote poetry mesmerised by the beauty and horror of cold. In Yorkshire Simon Armitage discusses his translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight imagining the Pennines crossed by Gawain, hung with icicles on his hunt for the Green Knight. And the gardener Katherine Swift takes us on a winter tour of her garden in Shropshire.

A Brief History Of Cunning20090614
A City On A Hill20101212

The city of Safed, which perches on the top of the hill in the Northern Galilee, is virtually unknown outside Israel and Judaism. Yet it has been home to an extraordinary school of scholars and mystics who redefined Jewish faith and law and attracts thousands of tourists, artists and modern-day mystics.

Among the towering figures from Safed's past is Isaac Luria, known as 'the Lion', an Egyptian rabbi and master of the mystical tradition of Kabbalah. His teachings were disseminated after his death and have become central to the Hassidic movement of Central Europe, which is growing ever stronger in modern Judaism. Another revered rabbi is Joseph Caro, known as 'The Master', a Spanish rabbi who became the supreme legal authority of the Jewish world, ruling on disputes brought to him from France to Turkey. He distilled his learning into the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) which remains the central text on the interpretation of Jewish law.

Safed today is home to just 30,000 people. Yet it is one of the few places in Israel that has been continually occupied by Jews since biblical times. The city's story mirrors that of Israel's past as a whole. In the 1920s, Safed Jews were massacred by local Arabs: in 1948 it was conquered by the Palmach forces who forced out the Arab population. Among those who left with their families was Mahmoud Abbas, now president of the Palestinian Authority.

The city proudly proclaims itself to be the world centre of spirituality and Jewish culture. It is central to the practice of Kabbalah or Jewish mysticism and home to religious scholars and artists from all over the world. Teenagers from Europe and America travel to Safed for a particularly Jewish experience and hundreds of tourists visit each day. Mayor Ilan Shohat was even dragged out of bed earlier this year for a visit by the popular music star Madonna, who has recently embraced Kabbalah.

The Jewish commentator Clive Lawton explores Safed's streets and alleyways arriving in time for Shabbat, the weekly festival of the Sabbath, the glue that holds all Jews together. He visits the synagogues and joins in the joyous ceremonies, singing the famous love song to Shabbat known as Lecha Dodi, which was written in Safed. He wanders among the tombstones in the city's cemeteries and witnesses the ultra orthodox venerating the rabbis who were drawn to the area so long ago.

Producer: Mark Savage.

Clive Lawton explores the Israeli city of Safed, the 'world capital of spirituality'.

A Column For Infinity20171112

Patrick McGuinness discusses Brancusi's war memorial, the Endless Column in Romania.

Brancusi's sculptural series in Targu Jiu, South West Romania, is a powerful memorial to the First World War, culminating with the Endless Column - he called it "a column for infinity". It is one of the great art works of the twentieth century: its simplicity, directness, and modularity helped to define the fundamental principles of modern abstract sculpture. Here, the writer Patrick McGuinness travels to the site to piece together the story of Brancusi's important work and its significance in the country today.

This is a story about a war memorial, but this is no ordinary piece of commemorative public art. It carries no specific reference to the dead of 1916 or of their heroic actions and their sacrifices. No names or dates are engraved into it. There are no slogans or mottoes, horses or lions or statesmen, saints or soldiers.

In theory Britain and Romania were allies, and it's easy in Britain to assume that there was one war - our version of it of course - and everyone was fighting for the same thing. In Romania World War One is also known as the War of National Unification. Could the expansion of Romania be symbolically represented in Brancusi's memorial?

Constanin Brancusi was born in 1876 to a large peasant family. As a boy he worked as a shepherd and carved birds and animals from the oak wood he found in the forest or from rocks along the riverbed.

As a young man he studied in the new arts and crafts school in nearby Craiova, then in Bucharest before he set out for Paris, the art capital of the world.

He joined in the ferment of Modernism, finding his own artistic language but without abandoning his roots. Whether he's young or old, in a Paris brasserie with his artist friends or alone in his studio, he's mostly pictured wearing a rough woven Romanian peasant jacket, wooden clogs and a big bushy beard. Sophisticated Parisian artist or Romanian peasant? Brancusi was both.

Patrick McGuinness lived in Bucharest in the 1980s and later wrote the novel The Last Hundred Days drawing on his experience of the end of the Ceausescu era. He talks to leading Romanian poet Ana Blandiana, historians Lucian Boia and Ioana Vialsu, Brancusi's engineer's daughter Sorana Georgescu Gorjan, artists Alexandra Croitoriu, Antony Gormley and others.

Producer: Kate Bland
A Cast Iron Radio production for BBC Radio 3.

Brancusi's sculptural series in Targu Jiu, South West Romania, is a powerful memorial to the First World War, culminating with the Endless Column - he called it "a column for infinity". It is one of the great art works of the twentieth century: its simplicity, directness, and modularity helped to define the fundamental principles of modern abstract sculpture. Here, the writer Patrick McGuinness travels to Targu Jiu to piece together the story of Brancusi's important work and its significance in the country today.

This is a story about a war memorial, but this is no ordinary piece of commemorative public art. It carries no specific reference to the dead of 1916 or of their heroic actions and their sacrifices. No names or dates are engraved into it. There are no slogans or mottoes, horses or lions or statesmen, saints or soldiers.

In theory Britain and Romania were allies, and it's easy in Britain to assume that there was one war - our version of it of course - and everyone was fighting for the same thing. In Romania World War One is also known as the War of National Unification. Could the expansion of Romania be symbolically represented in Brancusi's memorial?

Constanin Brancusi was born in 1876 to a large peasant family. As a boy he worked as a shepherd and carved birds and animals from the oak wood he found in the forest or from rocks along the riverbed.

As a young man he studied in the new arts and crafts school in nearby Craiova, then in Bucharest before he set out for Paris, the art capital of the world.

He joined in the ferment of Modernism, finding his own artistic language but without abandoning his roots. Whether he's young or old, in a Paris brasserie with his artist friends or alone in his studio, he's mostly pictured wearing a rough woven Romanian peasant jacket, wooden clogs and a big bushy beard. Sophisticated Parisian artist or Romanian peasant? Brancusi was both.

Patrick McGuinness lived in Bucharest in the 1980s and later wrote the novel The Last Hundred Days drawing on his experience of the end of the Ceausescu era. He talks to leading Romanian poet Ana Blandiana, historians Lucian Boia and Ioana Vialsu, Brancusi's engineer's daughter Sorana Georgescu Gorjan, artists Alexandra Croitoriu, Antony Gormley and others.

Producer: Kate Bland
A Cast Iron Radio production for BBC Radio 3.

A Cultural History Of Syphilis20130526

In the 1490s an apparently new and terrifying disease struck Naples in Southern Italy and swept fire-like across Europe, reaping a dreadful human cost.

It must have been as though hell had come early to earth: pustules spread across the genitals and the faces of its many sufferers, unbearable gastrointestinal pain followed upon fevers, screamingly severe headaches and other symptoms. Finally, flesh fell from bones. Syphilis had arrived in Europe, where it would stay, misunderstood, lacking any form of cure, for nearly 500 years.

In its reign (before penicillin all but stopped the scourge in its tracks) syphilis held up a mirror to civilisation and radically influenced social and cultural outlooks as well as the histories of medicine and welfare. Syphilis also spread to the arts where the communities of writers, musicians and painters bore the full force of its impact. When, in the 1980s, AIDS struck, it evoked panic and prejudice bearing striking resemblance to the dawn of syphilis in the early sixteenth century.

In this BBC Radio 3 Sunday Feature, the writer Sarah Dunant examines the impact "The Great Pox" made in the arts and the wider world in key European cities Florence, Ferrara, Paris and finally central London, where a chance discovery by Alexander Fleming ended half a millennium of suffering.

With contributions from Dr. Jonathan Sawday, author of The Body Emblazoned: Dissection and the Human Body in Renaissance Culture; Dr. Kevin Siena, author of Sins of the Flesh: Responding to Sexual Disease in Early Modern Europe; Professor Stefano Manfredini of the University of Ferrara who has made a study of the early development of cosmetics in relation to syphilis, and cultural historian Dr. Jann Matlock, senior lecturer in French at University College London.

A Cultural History Of The Plague2014113020150813 (R3)

Laura Ashe's documentary discovers how plague has changed our social and cultural landscape. The disease moved west into Europe from China along trade routes in the 1340s, travelling around one mile per day. It killed between one and two thirds of those infected - you could be perfectly healthy in the morning, and dead by late afternoon. 1348 was 'the year the pestilence of men raged in England' and it never really went away until the last great visitation, in 1665.

Laura Ashe visits the site of a plague pit with historian Richard Barnett to discuss the physical marks left by it on our cities; discusses the plague's legacy in folklore with Diane Purkiss at an abandoned 'plague village' in Oxfordshire; visits the British Museum Print Room to examine the Holbein's Dance of Death woodcuts; and explores the cultural legacy of the plague from Daniel Defoe's 'A Journal of the Plague Year' to the current craze for zombie movies.

We hear voices of plague victims and witnesses from across Europe - priests and monks from the fourteenth century; and the plague as it appears in literature from Chaucer, Langland and Boccaccio, to Defoe and Camus. And Laura discusses with virologist John Oxford the ways in which our cultural memories and fears of plague inform our response to contemporary emergences - particularly Ebola. More than three centuries after the last European outbreak, the plague continues to grip our imaginations as firmly as ever.

Producer: Jane Greenwood

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3.

Laura Ashe's documentary discovers how plague has changed our social and cultural landscape - a prelude to Radio 3's broadcast over the next two weeks of a dramatisation in ten parts of one of the great plague-inspired works of literature Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron, set amongst a group of 14th century Florentines, sheltering from the Black Death.

The disease moved West into Europe from China along trade routes in the 1340s, travelling around one mile per day. It killed between one and two thirds of those infected - you could be perfectly healthy in the morning, and dead by late afternoon. 1348 was 'the year the pestilence of men raged in England' and it never really went away until the last great visitation, in 1665.

A Flapper's Guide To The Opera20171022

Alexandra Wilson takes a flapper's journey back to 1920s operatic London.

Opera Historian Dr Alexandra Wilson dons her cloche hat and steps into the shoes of a flapper for a journey back to 1920s London. Jazz was the new fad imported for America, dance clubs were taking the city by storm and cinemas were popping up on every corner. But what was the place of opera in this new entertainment world? Based on new research, this feature will guide listeners around the heady operatic world of 1920s London to some of the venues where opera was thriving, including music halls, cafes and schools. This was a time when opera was not 'elite', and rich and poor rubbed shoulders at the opera, just as opera itself interacted in fascinating ways with jazz, music hall, and celebrity culture.

With contributions from modern-day performers and historians, alongside comments from 1920s' critics, conductors and audience members, Wilson challenges the idea that the interwar period was an operatic wasteland, sandwiched between the Edwardian 'golden age' and the emergence of a subsidised operatic establishment after World War Two. Opera was very much alive in the 1920s, and hugely diverse - a People's opera.

Producer - Ellie Mant.

A Guernica For Gotham2011091120120830

Judith Kampfner on the best interpretation in the arts of the 9/11 attacks.

10 years ago, Judith Kampfner, then a reporter for WNYC, New York Public Radio, was given assignments in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 to interview artists and arts institutions about how the tragedy would impact art. At a meeting with Glenn Lowry, head of the Museum of Modern Art, she asked if there might be an equivalent of Picasso's iconic Guernica. He answered that if anyone could respond passionately, then New York City artists - from all genres - could. Now, on the tenth anniversary, she revisits Lowry to ask him who or what he would single out as having commemorated or paid tribute to the destruction of the Twin Towers and its impact. His answer is surprising and leads Kampfner on a quest to talk to an artist whose work was censored, a musician who took ten years to debut his work, a novelist who resents the fact that 9.11 is the elephant in the room that she must tackle and a playwright who was obsessed with the World Trade Center. Interviewees include composer Steve Reich, writer Meg Wolitzer, sculptor Eric Fischl and art critic Arthur Danto.

A Life In Study: Robert Lowell20170917

Colm Toibin profiles the brilliance and the madness of American poet Robert Lowell.

Author Colm Toibin profiles the turbulent and brilliant life of American poet Robert Lowell, once considered the greatest living poet in English.

Four decades ago, the American poet Robert Lowell (1917-1977) died quietly in the back of a New York taxi. In his arms, he clutched a priceless portrait of his third wife, the Guinness heiress Lady Caroline Blackwood. Yet Lowell was on his way to see - and hopefully reconcile with - another woman: his beloved second wife, Elizabeth Hardwick. At the time of his passing, he had - almost unwittingly - embroiled both former wives in a scandal that had polarised the American literary community.

It was a strange, tragic end to what was one of the most brilliant careers in the history of 20th century letters. In his lifetime, Robert Lowell was arguably the most celebrated poet in America - not just a writer, but a major public figure: a "Boston Brahmin" whose ancestors had arrived on the Mayflower and helped found the American nation. Lowell's groundbreaking 1959 volume "Life Studies" had introduced a generation of readers to the idea of "confessional" poetry - stanzas that drew candidly from the poet's experience - and he was a teacher to Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton and several other poetic giants. Erudite, charming and hugely personable, Lowell not only attracted a large and loyal circle of friends, but poured his vast intellectual powers into verses that were dense with historical allusion, dazzling linguistic turns and deep emotional insight. Everything - all of history, all of humanity - seems at Lowell's fingertips, and in his finest poems - among them "For The Union Dead", "Skunk Hour", "The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket" and "Man and Wife" - he seems uniquely to be placing his own experience and history on a vast, almost unimaginable canvas of human history. In his pomp, his poems seemed to carry on the great, sweeping modernist tradition of TS Eliot, WH Auden and Ezra Pound.

Yet Lowell's vast literary and intellectual imagination carried with it deep personal cost. Lowell suffered for most of his life with what would now be thought of as bipolar disorder. Not only did his "manias" cause him to be repeatedly institutionalised, they irreparably fractured many of his relationships, hurt those closest to him, and scarred his ability to create. Only in recent times can we understand his behaviour as a hereditary mental illness - as part of the same great, difficult inheritance that brought him wealth, fame and privilege as a member of the American aristocracy.

Forty years on, Lowell's star has waned. His reputation seems no longer to be in the highest reaches of the poetic firmament: he's a writer who is more read-about than actually read. In 2017, is his poetry simply too difficult, too wilfully intellectual, too privileged, too white and male? Or does the secret of his decline lie in that murky scandal - a still-raw controversy about the limits of a poet's private and public worlds - one that still inflames passions today?

Written and presented by the writer Colm Toibin, in this documentary Robert Lowell's remarkable life and career is remembered and appraised by those closest to him, shedding new light on one of the giants of 20th century poetry.

Producer: Steven Rajam.

A Most Ingenious Paradox: Loving G&s To Death?2015062820160805 (R3)

Mike Leigh's operatic directorial debut took place at ENO last year with his production of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance", due to be revived in 2017.

Leigh once berated directors for failing to understand G&S, resulting in "boring, bland, sentimental, self-conscious, often gratuitously camp productions, which entirely miss their point". So what is their point, and how should they be performed in the 21st century?

The tradition of Gilbert and Sullivan performance is still alive and kicking both in the UK and internationally. University G&S societies enjoy healthy membership, local amateur companies still exist, and there is a dedicated international festival in Harrogate.

But it can be argued that what keeps G&S alive is also what kills it. Cosy, comfortable urbanity, middle-brow high jinks, the old tradition-bound productions of D'Oyly Carte, and the reluctance of the British musical establishment to take it all seriously.

Martin Handley, who himself has conducted many productions, examines the paradox that is the continuing survival of G&S.

He speaks to directors Mike Leigh, who wants to let the operettas speak for themselves, Sir Jonathan Miller, whose famous production of The Mikado continues to be revived over 30 years on, and young director Sasha Regan, whose all-male productions are bringing the works to a whole new audience. Martin also speaks to singers Barry Clark, who speaks of the dying days of the old D'Oyly Carte Company, Dame Felicity Palmer, who has taken on several of the problematic "older woman" roles, and also younger singers who haven't grown up with the tradition. He also hears from the amateur scene, and speaks to G&S scholars Dr Ian Bradley and Dr Carolyn Williams who reflect on the social landscape of G&S participation and fandom, the male-dominated world of the lyric-quoting obsessive and the rather conflicted female view - great fun to perform but what of the inherent Gilbertian misogyny and the somewhat cardboard cut-out emotional style?

This is an exploration of the state of G&S in the contemporary cultural landscape : its tenacious survival, the various routes it takes to get to the stage, both amateur and professional, and its unexpected renaissance in Universities and colleges, where it is blossoming and where much of its future may lie. Is the occasional professional production enough to keep it going, and to mainta