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Music Matters


The stories that matter, the people that matter, the music that matters

The stories that matter, the people that matter, the music that matters


London, United Kingdom




The stories that matter, the people that matter, the music that matters




Mahler's 8th Symphony

Tom Service talks to Stephen Johnson about his new book, 'The Eighth: Mahler and the World in 1910', in which he explores the meaning and context of one of the most gigantic and profound symphonies ever written. Music Matters also hears from three UK music institutions, who reveal the financial and artistic challenges they face as they start to plan for life after lockdown. Tom speaks to internet guru Jaron Lenier, too, who explains why COVID-19 is likely to produce profound changes in the...


Will classical music survive Covid?

Major players in the classical music world congregate online and take part in a debate hosted by Tom Service. With practitioners from around the globe, this landmark programme examines how the classical music industry can rebuild and sustain itself following the Covid-19 lockdown. With contributions from violinist Nicola Benedetti, founder of the Chineke! Foundation Chi-chi Nwanoku, the managing director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York Peter Gelb, the director of music at the Southbank...


Mark Anthony Turnage at 60

As composer Mark-Anthony Turnage turns 60, Kate Molleson talks to him about the influences he received from Oliver Knussen, Gunther Schuller and Hans-Werner Henze. He speaks candidly about continuing to want to compose pieces that challenge, and shares his thoughts about how Covid-19 might change the music scene over the coming years. In light of the recent death of George Floyd at the hands of the police in the USA, Kate reflects on the discourses of solidarity we’ve heard from within the...


Music and mental health

As Mental Health Awareness Week draws to a close, Kate Molleson surveys the musical world's responses to mental wellbeing. Opera star Renée Fleming talks about her 'Music and Mind Live' webinar series, which explores the impact of music on human health and the brain. Kate is joined, too, by the author, musician and neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin who will also feature in the webinar series. The composer Nigel Osborne introduces his X-System, which examines how the brain and body respond to...


Jonathan Biss, Elizabeth Kenny, Susanna Malkki and Cheer Up!

Tom Service talks to pianist Jonathan Biss about how Beethoven can help us all through lockdown isolation, and to lutenist Elizabeth Kenny about the far-sighted Italian Renaissance pioneer, composer, lutenist and theorist Vincenzo Galilei - father of astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei. As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, Tom talks to author Adrian Wright about his new book Cheer Up! - British Musical Films, 1929-1945. And, from the Music Matters archive, another chance to...


Ravi Shankar at 100

Tom Service talks to author Oliver Craske about his new biography, which marks the 100th anniversary of one of the 20th century's most influential musicians, Ravi Shankar. Composer, Erkki Sven Tuur turned 60 last year. He speaks to Tom, from his home on an island in the Baltic Sea, about his Ninth Symphony and how his orchestral piece Sow the Wind is especially relevant during these times. We continue to mine the Music Matters archive and there is another chance to hear Angela Hewitt talk...


An organ fest for a silent Easter

For many of us, Easter means organs and churches and the sombre tones of Good Friday moving to the joy of Easter Sunday. But this year, Easter is pretty much cancelled, and churches are shut. So organs around the world are silent - but not on Music Matters: Kate Molleson presents a mini organ fest, with contributions from Glasgow-based organist John Butt, who demonstrates his own home digital organ, and Canadian organist Rachel Mahon, who looks forward to when Coventry Cathedral is again...


François-Frédéric Guy

Music Matters speaks to Mark Pemberton, Director of the Association of British Orchestras, about the impact of Covid-19 on the financial stability of British orchestras and the livelihoods of the musicians who work for them. And we hear from conductor Jessica Cottis who reflects on the digital responses to the pandemic from across the musical world. Tom Service speaks to the French pianist François-Frédéric Guy about life during lockdown, and his recording project with the Sinfonia Varsovia...


Music beyond the crisis

This week, Music Matters surveys the impact of coronavirus on the UK's music industry as the Chancellor of the Exchequer launches a package of help to free-lancers, benefiting most musicians. Tom Service interviews Sir Nicholas Serota about Arts Council England’s plans to assist institutions and individuals cope with the crisis. Tom also talks to Peter Holman about his book 'Before the baton: musical direction and conducting in Stuart and Georgian Britain' - with a contribution by Kati...


Musical communication

Kate Molleson hears from the author, musician, and researcher Matt Brennan about his new book, ‘Kick It: A Social History of the Drum Kit’. We speak to the Scottish singer, songwriter, and composer, Karine Polwart, as she shares her ideas about music’s power to communicate in today’s world. As she embarks upon a project to share all thirty-six movements of Bach’s six Cello Suites during the coronavirus outbreak, Music Matters revisits a discussion with the cellist Alisia Weilerstein. And as...


Vikingur Olafsson, ENO Figaro, Prokofiev operas

Sara Mohr-Pietsch talks to Icelandic pianist Vikingur Olafsson, whose new CD juxtaposes the music of French composers Rameau and Debussy, author Christina Guillaumier on her new book The Operas of Sergei Prokofiev, as well as Russian music expert Gerard McBurney, and visits English National Opera in London to chat to cast and director Joe Hill-Gibbins of a new production of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.



Tom Service interviews Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen, who at the age of 33 is a phenomenon of vocal nature and is critically acclaimed for her performances of Wagner and Strauss. On the eve of International Women's Day 2020, we talk to Alice Farnham who launched what has become the RPS Women Conductors course back in 2014. She assesses how things have changed since and what the expectations are of young female conductors wishing to develop a career at the podium. Music Matters also hears...



Kate Molleson heads down to Covent Garden where rehearsals are under way for a new production of Beethoven's Fidelio at the Royal Opera House. She speaks to conductor Sir Antonio Pappano, director Tobias Kratzer and soprano Amanda Forsythe, who sings Marzelline. Fidelio is sometimes considered a problem opera, with its mix of comic and serious, but Kratzer emphasises the deep themes of political revolution and unjust imprisonment, while for Pappano, Beethoven's score opened a new world for...


The secret life of musical instruments

As he returns to his native Scotland to conduct the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Bruckner’s mighty eighth symphony, Kate speaks to the conductor Donald Runnicles about his relationship with the composer’s music and a lifetime spent making music. Kate visits Xenia Pestova Bennett at Queen Mary University of London to hear about her second album which features a new instrument, the Magnetic Resonator Piano. She tells Kate about her creative responses to the effects that electromagnets...


Going with the flow

Music Matters speaks to the violinist Tasmin Little about her involvement in music education, life as a recording artist, and her plans as she prepares to step down from the concert platform after an illustrious career that has spanned more than three decades. Kate Molleson hears from music journalist Philip Clark as he reflects on the time he spent shadowing the Dave Brubeck Quartet during their British tour as well as the epic interview he recorded with the jazz legend – all the subject of...


Anna Thorvaldsdottir

Presented by Kate Molleson. Kate meets the Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir, whose big orchestral pieces feature layers of dense sound reflecting her inner world and nature as well - she's composer-in-residence of The Iceland Symphony Orchestra, currently touring the UK. With the UK having left the European Union, Kate explores the challenges facing music industry, with Thorben Dittes (Director of the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Classical Music Programme, Sage Gateshead), Tom Kiehl...


Roger Norrington

Image Credit: Chris Christodoulou Another chance to hear a special interview with Sir Roger Norrington, as he speaks to presenter Tom Service about his distinguished career in music, and in particular his relationship with Beethoven in the composer's 250th anniversary year, including his groundbreaking and seminal recordings of the symphonies with the London Classical Players, and his distinctive and influential approach to historically informed performance practice in music from Monteverdi...


Choreographic, operatic and symphonic revelations

Tom Service speaks to Carlo Rizzi, Sir Mark Elder, and four leading conductors


Musical communion

Violinist Nicola Benedetti leads an international career as a violinist but she is also one of the world’s leading advocates for high quality music education and the transformational effect music can have on all young people. She talks to presenter Sara Mohr-Pietsch about her Foundation and her passion to inspire and enrich the lives of children across the UK. And in Beethoven’s 250th anniversary year, the Belcea Quartet marks a quarter century of its own by performing all of the composer’s...



This week Kate talks a bracing walk along the sea shore in Blyth, Northumberland, and talks to wildlife sound recordist and composer Chris Watson about his life and work. Starting out as a musician at the centre of the Sheffield electronic revolution, making music with tape recorders with his band Cabaret Voltaire, influenced by the sounds of heavy industry, Chris eventually turned his back on the lure of pop-fame to pursue a career in TV and film, providing the sound tracks for nature...