Tales From The Stave

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
Mozart's Haffner Symphony2020073020200608 (R4)

A celebration of Mozart's genius through the autograph manuscript of his Haffner Symphony.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

Robert Schumann - Frauenliebe und Leben2019102420200601 (R4)

Clemency Burton Hill presents the series celebrating priceless music manuscripts.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

Smetana - Ma Vlast2015030320200629 (R4)

Smetana's hymn to his native Czech land - Ma Vlast is the manuscript subject this week.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

01Max Bruch's Violin Concerto2019101020200518 (R4)

Clemency Burton Hill presents the series celebrating priceless music manuscripts.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

Clemency Burton Hill is the new presenter of Tales from the Stave which begins its latest run in The Morgan Library in New York City. A violinist herself, Clemency explores one of the library's most valuable manuscripts, the Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26 by Max Bruch. With her is the internationally acclaimed Violinist Joshua Bell and the music scholar Michael Beckerman of New York University, along with the Morgan's head of Music Manuscripts Fran Barulich.

The Bruch is often coupled with the Mendelssohn concerto as the two stalwarts of the 19th century Violin repertoire.
As well as telling the story of Bruch's working relationship with the celebrated violinist Joseph Joachim and the detailed striving towards perfection of a composer still uncertain of his powers, Clemency also discovers the sorry tale of Bruch's attempts, later in his life, to sell the manuscript with the help of two American sisters who effectively defrauded him.
Joshua Bell has been playing the piece since he was eleven years old and he's fascinated to see evidence of Bruch's corrections and additions in this late stage of the pieces development. There are several examples of the composer taking advice from Joachim while seeking to perfect his first solo work for the Violin. By contrast, the glorious second movement Adagio appears almost pristine, suggesting that this was the essence of Bruch who was later to be frustrated by the astonishing success of his first Concerto and the limited impact of the rest of his output.

Producer: Tom Alban

02The Pirates Of Penzance By Gilbert And Sullivan2019101720200525 (R4)

Clemency Burton Hill presents the series celebrating priceless music manuscripts.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

In the second programme of the new series of Tales from the Stave Clemency Burton-Hill is back in the Morgan Library in New York to examine the manuscript and several bits of theatrical memorabilia that tell the story of the official debut of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance.
The story of their decision to open in New York and so tackle the American copyright 'Pirates' in their own back yard is a familiar one, but with the help of singers and scholars including Dan Kravetz, the President of the New York G & S society and sopranos Helen Donaldson and Sarah Caldwell Smith, as well as G & S scholar Marc Shepherd, we get a sense of the rush towards the opening night on 31st December 1879 and the way familiar hits like 'Poor Wandering One' and 'The Modern Major General' first saw the light of day. And given that it's Gilbert and Sullivan there's space for a rousing finale and a chance to hear a chorus cut from the show at the last minute. It's a programme that provides vivid insights into the ingenuity and effort that go into making a hit show full of frivolity and joy.

Producer: Tom Alban

03Robert Schumann - Frauenliebe Und Leben2019102420200601 (R4)

Clemency Burton Hill presents the series celebrating priceless music manuscripts.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

Robert Schumann's setting of poems by Adelbert von Chamisso, Frauenliebe und Leben, is a controversial concert choice in a post 'me-too' era. A male poet and male composer giving voice to a female narrator who describes her adulation for a man, her blossoming love, sex and ultimately sense of abject loss is tricky for any self-respecting female performer. But the craft and skill of the composing, the relationship Schumann had with his brilliant young wife Clara and the way that is reflected in the manuscript and the music is at the heart of this episode of Tales from the Stave.
Clemency is joined by Sopranos Naomi Louisa O'Connell and Alla Kravchuk along with pianist Brent Funderburk and the Juilliard professor Michael Griffel who explore the corrected copyists manuscript and the more extraordinary sketches made over two days, in which Schumann set down a clear vision of the full eight song cycle..

Producer: Tom Alban

Clemency Burton Hill presents the series celebrating priceless music manuscripts.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

0403Finzi's Clarinet Concerto2008042920200615 (R4)

Frances Fyfiield is joined by internationally-acclaimed clarinettist Emma Johnson.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

Frances Fyfiield is joined by internationally-acclaimed clarinettist Emma Johnson.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

10Sousa's The Stars and Stripes for Ever2014060320200608 (R4)

Frances Fyfield is back in Washington DC to celebrate the National march of the USA.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

1301The Dream Of Gerontius - Elgar2016061420160618 (R4)

Frances Fyfield sees the handwritten score of Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

Frances Fyfield sees the handwritten score of Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

1302Haydn's Drum Roll Symphony No 1032016062120160625 (R4)

Frances Fyfield and team explore the handwritten manuscript of Haydn's Drum Roll Symphony.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

Frances Fyfield and team explore the handwritten manuscript of Haydn's Drum Roll Symphony.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

1303The Lark Ascending - Vaughan Williams2016062820160702 (R4)

Frances Fyfield explores the manuscript of an enduringly popular classical music hit.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

Frances Fyfield explores the manuscript of an enduringly popular classical music hit.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

1401Rossini's The Barber Of Seville2016112920161203 (R4)

The series celebrating music manuscripts returns with Rossini's The Barber of Seville.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

The series celebrating music manuscripts returns with Rossini's The Barber of Seville.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

1402Puccini's Madame Butterfly2016120620161218 (R4)

A celebration of the autographed manuscript of Puccini's masterpiece, Madame Butterfly.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

A celebration of the autographed manuscript of Puccini's masterpiece, Madame Butterfly.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

1403Vivaldi's Gloria2016121320161217 (R4)

The series celebrating original manuscripts ends with Antonio Vivaldi's joyous Gloria.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

The series celebrating original manuscripts ends with Antonio Vivaldi's joyous Gloria.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

15La Traviata2017050220170506 (R4)

Frances Fyfield music series returns with a look at the manuscript of Verdi's La Traviata.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

Frances Fyfield music series returns with a look at the manuscript of Verdi's La Traviata.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

15Puccini's La Boheme2017051620170520 (R4)

Frances Fyfield's latest series of musical explorations concludes with Puccini's La Boheme

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

Frances Fyfield's latest series of musical explorations concludes with Puccini's La Boheme

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

15Respighi's Roman Trilogy2017050920170904 (R4)

Frances Fyfield and her team explore the manuscript of Ottorino Respighi's Roman Trilogy.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

Frances Fyfield and her team explore the manuscript of Ottorino Respighi's Roman Trilogy.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

16Delius - On Hearing The First Cuckoo In Spring2018010920180113 (R4)

Frances Fyfield ends this series of Tales from the Stave with a look forward to the new year in the form of Delius' orchestral favourite 'On Hearing The First Cuckoo In Spring'. Now one of the most popular pieces in the British music repertoire it began life as one of two pieces for small orchestra. The melody has its origins in a Norwegian Folk song set by Delius' friend Edvard Grieg. All that we have left of Delius manuscript is a few pages of detailed sketch material. The final manuscript was sent to Germany for publication in Germany in 1912 and was lost. Frances is joined by the conductor Alice Farnham, the scholar Nigel Simeone and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Clarinettist Joanna Patton.

Producer: Tom Alban.

Frances Fyfield and her team explore Delius's On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

Frances Fyfield ends this series of Tales from the Stave with a look forward to the new year in the form of Delius' orchestral favourite 'On Hearing The First Cuckoo In Spring'. Now one of the most popular pieces in the British music repertoire it began life as one of two pieces for small orchestra. The melody has its origins in a Norwegian Folk song set by Delius' friend Edvard Grieg. All that we have left of Delius manuscript is a few pages of detailed sketch material. The final manuscript was sent to Germany for publication in Germany in 1912 and was lost. Frances is joined by the conductor Alice Farnham, the scholar Nigel Simeone and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Clarinettist Joanna Patton.

Producer: Tom Alban.

Frances Fyfield and her team explore Delius's On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

16Mendelssohn's Elijah20171226

The series celebrating music manuscripts returns with Mendelssohn's Oratorio Elijah.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

16Puccini's Turandot2018010220180310 (R4)

Frances Fyfield is in Milan to explore the manuscript of Puccini's last opera Turandot.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

Frances Fyfield continues her series celebrating the handwritten scores of great pieces of classical music with another visit to the Ricordi Archive in Milan. This time she and the South African soprano Golda Schultz are allowed the rare chance to explore the huge orchestral manuscript of Puccini's final and unfinished opera 'Turandot'. At this stage in his career Puccini was the star of the Ricordi music publishing establishment, as evidenced by the specially monogrammed manuscript paper and the sheer scale of orchestra with which he was encouraged to work. With the guidance of the archival scholar Gabriele Dotto, Frances, Golda and the musicologist Nigel Simeone explore the score's many operatic highlights including the death of the slave girl Liu and the famous tenor aria Nessun Dorma, beloved of opera and football fans alike. Ricordi have also preserved the sketch material for the final, unfinished Act, left behind at the time of Puccini's untimely death. We know how he intended the piece to end, and a version with the icy Princess Turandot melting in the face of the love of Prince Calaf is familiar to many opera goers. However, Gabriele Dotto believes that the sketches and the state of the Opera as he left it suggest Puccini might have had second thoughts.

Producer: Tom Alban.

Frances Fyfield is in Milan to explore the manuscript of Puccini's last opera Turandot.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

Frances Fyfield continues her series celebrating the handwritten scores of great pieces of classical music with another visit to the Ricordi Archive in Milan. This time she and the South African soprano Golda Schultz are allowed the rare chance to explore the huge orchestral manuscript of Puccini's final and unfinished opera 'Turandot'. At this stage in his career Puccini was the star of the Ricordi music publishing establishment, as evidenced by the specially monogrammed manuscript paper and the sheer scale of orchestra with which he was encouraged to work. With the guidance of the archival scholar Gabriele Dotto, Frances, Golda and the musicologist Nigel Simeone explore the score's many operatic highlights including the death of the slave girl Liu and the famous tenor aria Nessun Dorma, beloved of opera and football fans alike. Ricordi have also preserved the sketch material for the final, unfinished Act, left behind at the time of Puccini's untimely death. We know how he intended the piece to end, and a version with the icy Princess Turandot melting in the face of the love of Prince Calaf is familiar to many opera goers. However, Gabriele Dotto believes that the sketches and the state of the Opera as he left it suggest Puccini might have had second thoughts.

Producer: Tom Alban.

Frances Fyfield is in Milan to explore the manuscript of Puccini's last opera Turandot.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

16Puccini's Turandot2018010220200622 (R4)

Frances Fyfield is in Milan to explore the manuscript of Puccini's last opera Turandot.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

17Debussy: La Mer2018062620180630 (R4)

Claude Debussy, who died a hundred years ago, has often been described as an impressionist composer. If that label has any validity then it's best applied to his orchestral masterpiece La Mer. Completed in 1905 it's three movements are the composer's attempt to capture the impact of the shifting power of the sea. The minutely detailed and busy manuscripts are held at the Bibliotheque Nationale de France and Frances Fyfield and her team including the leading French conductors Francois Xavier Roth and Brian Schembri, along with Professor Barbara Kelly are given the chance to see it by the library's head of music Mathias Auclair.
The astonishing precision of the penmanship and the attention to detail which goes into creating the sweep and impressionistic sensations of waves, wind and spray are alive on every page.

Producer: Tom Alban.

Frances Fyfield's team explore the astonishing manuscript of Debussy's La Mer.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

17Ethel Smyth: The Wreckers2018061920180623 (R4)

Ethel Smyth's Opera The Wreckers was first performed in Leipzig in 1906 before a limited number of productions in pre First World War Britain. However, the Overture was a perennial favourite at the BBC proms from 1913 to well after the 2nd World War.

The handwritten manuscript of the Opera, in three handsome volumes, is held at the British Library and Frances Fyfield is joined there by conductor Odaline de la Martinez and tenor Justin Lavender, both of whom performed the Opera at a BBC Prom performance in 1994. With them is the scholar Dr Sophie Fuller and the British Library's head of Music Manuscripts Richard Chesser.
Unlike many of the manuscripts that have appeared on Tales from the Stave over the years, Smyth's Opera has not had the benefit of a final critical edition which gathers all her thoughts over the years of composition and initial performance. There's a fair amount of detective work to be done in working out how many changes she made to the score after the first performance in Leipzig and the subsequent ones in London, but what is abundantly clear from the busy hand and heavily worked pages, is that this was a work written with passion and confidence and the notes at the end, clearly a response to hearing it, are evidence of a figure who was striving against the odds.

As well as the boisterous, seascape inspired music and the gentler folk melodies, there's material which may well have inspired later works by Benjamin Britten.
Ethel Smyth's life and the decline in her music making as her hearing failed may have much to do with the limited attention her music gets today. However for her champions there is ample evidence in the British Library Archive to suggest that people should look, and more importantly hear again the work of this pioneering figure.

Producer: Tom Alban.

Frances Fyfield celebrates the music manuscripts of Ethel Smyth's opera The Wreckers.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music

17Gabriel Faure: Requiem2018061220180616 (R4)

Gabriel Faure's gentle and life-affirming Requiem is the subject for the first in the latest series of Tales from the Stave. Frances Fyfield is joined by the choral composer and former King's Singer Bob Chilcott who, as a young treble sang the Pie Jesu on a 1967 recording with Sir David Willcocks. Alongside him is the Fauré biographer Jessica Duchen and the host at the Biblioteque de France, Mathias Auclair.

The Requiem, completed in 1888 is one of Faure's few large scale choral works, but the manuscript pages are kept in modest library folders. Although the handwriting is careful and clear these are working documents with extravagant and curiously beautiful crossings out and re-workings. Much of that process is towards simplicity and clarity, a far remove from the drama of Requiems by Verdi or Mozart. Faure himself referred to it as something more like a lullaby of death. The 'sleep of death' he envisaged doesn't seem to give him pause. Instead it's full of light and optimism.

Producer: Tom Alban.

Frances Fyfield's music series returns with the original score of Faure's Requiem.

Series that tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music