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Music Treats

It’s a treat of a weekend for classical music lovers and students, who should set their recorders in advance  if they plan on going out. Alternatively, these programmes will all be available to catch-up with on iPlayer.


Saturday’s highlights include 2nd part of  ‘Lucy Worsley’s Night at the Opera’ (9 pm BBC2), where the irrepressible Lucy explains the development of opera throughout the 19th century. Setting this in its historical context shows how the lives of ordinary people began to take centre stage, and especially the new freedoms being claimed by women.   BBC4 comes up with the goods on Sunday with ‘Jacqueline du Pré: a Gift beyond Words’ (8 pm), which marks the 30th anniversary of the cellist’s death in 1987. Her inspirational playing career was ended by multiple sclerosis at the age of 28, and she died at the age of 42. This is followed later in the same evening by ‘Jacqueline du Pré plays Dvorak’s Cello Concerto’ (BBC4 11.50 pm), a recording only recently recovered of a performance at the Royal Albert Hall in 1968. Immediately afterwards is ‘Classic Cellists at the BBC’ (Sunday night 12.40/ Monday morning 00.40 BBC4).

Sandwiched in between is ‘Hamlet from Glyndebourne’ (9 pm BBC4 Sunday) featuring a new operatic version of Shakespeare’s tragedy commissioned from the Australian composer Brett Dean, and using the original text as the basis for the libretto.

Further Resources

For those left wanting more of Jacqueline du Pré, the BBC World Service Witness website offers one of the most famous classical recordings of the 20th century.  In August 1965, the 20-year-old du Pré performed the Elgar cello concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir John Barbirolli. Available at www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p042lyzj

Du Pré was a guest on Desert Island Discs in 1977 and the programme can be found on the Desert Island Discs Archive . She talks about her illness in this clip  and explains how she found solace in teaching.

The influence of Jacqueline du Pré is explored in ‘The Jacqueline Effect’, a BBC Radio4 programme still available on the BBC website .