Even today, some music-lovers will nod knowingly when they hear Brahms's comparison of Anton Bruckner's epic symphonies with a nightmare-scary giant snake which kills its victims in the inescapable embrace of its crushing coils. Poor Bruckner, ever the easy target of sneering critics. At once childishly obsessive and intensely spiritual, ultra-sophisticated musician and naive country bumpkin: even by composers' standards he stood out as weird. No wonder the music was so hopeless!
But Tom Service wants you to think of Bruckner as one of the greatest and most original symphonists of all time (whose symphonies really don't all sound the same), as much master of daring long-range musical form as of the perfect miniature.
David Papp (producer)
The Double Bass
It's huge; Its awkward; It's difficult to play; and while it’s totally pivotal to the musical spectrum, it's rarely talked about.
It's the epitome of the elephant in the room and yet, we'll discover why it is possibly the most underrated instrument in the orchestra.
Tom Service on the history and development of the largest and lowest pitched orchestral string instrument, and hears how it's played today. He's joined by performers Leon Bosch and Daphna Sadeh to discuss why the bass is much, much more than the elephant in the room.
Can music be gendered?
Can you hear 'masculine' and 'feminine' in music? And how have these concepts had an impact on music and how people have heard it over the centuries? With Tom Service.
Tom Service dispenses Style Counsel - what are the different eras in music history, and how can you tell them from each other? How did they come about and grow and change? And as Radio 3 is about to launch its New Year New Music season, is there an overarching distinguishing style in music today? Tom is joined by composer and writer Neil Brand at the piano for some answers.
The Key to Keys
What is a key? In western music, if all the intervals and possible chords in every scale in any major key are the same (and ditto for every scale and chord in every minor key), why do we need 12 major keys and 12 minor ones? What have keys meant to composers down the centuries and has that changed? Are keys now so last century (or even before that)? What even is a key? Why is the Pythagorean Comma important and what even is it?
So many questions... To attempt some answers, Tom Service enlists the help of harpsichord maker and tuner Andrew Wooderson, harpsichord player Masumi Yamamoto and musicologist Katy Hamilton.
David Papp (producer)